Council to Appoint New Member

The resignation of Howard Vipperman on October 11, 2012 left a vacancy on the City Council, which the Council chose to fill by soliciting applications from interested individuals.
By the deadline of October 16, 2012, the City received eight applications for the open seat.
At a Special Meeting on October 18th, the Council narrowed the field to 5 for interviews.

According to city records, all candidates, except Larry Black who did not return a ballot, voted for the Road Tax in the recent election, which was defeated by the voters 2-1.

The Candidates

Ray Fernandez

A resident since 2003, Mr. Fernandez is a real estate developer and past president of the Building Industry Association of Southern California.
He was a member of the Planning Commission from 2009-11.
He is a member of the City Roads Committee, which meets in private.

Mr. Fernandez declined to answer questions for this article, however we have found public comments he has made regarding the issues.

Of the tripling of the Road Tax to $527 he said at a City Council meeting, “To me that’s cheap. I would have spent more money.”

Regarding whether the City should allow low income housing, Mr. Fernandez stated at a joint City Council/Planning Commission meeting in 2009, “We have that land on West Rd. Why can’t we rezone that to multi-family, high density”

At a 2009 Planning Commission hearing about potential runoff from new construction, Mr Fernandez stated that the neighbors needed to protect themselves from runoff, not blame the person up the hill.

Michael Higgins

Mr. Higgins has lived in La Habra Heights for 23 years.
According to his submitted resume, he spent the majority of his career, 28 years, as a builder and developer of residential and commercial buildings.
He also received 5 patents in water-free technology.

Since 2010, Mr. Higgins has been editor of the La Habra Heights Improvement Association’s Heights Life publication.

Mr. Higgins included multiple articles supporting the tripled Road Tax in the Heights Life, but no information regarding opposition to it. The community ultimately defeated the Tax by a 2-1 margin.

Mr Higgins wife, Pamela McVicar, is a paid member of the La Habra Heights County Water District Board.

Regarding paying for Fire/Paramedic and Roads, Mr. Higgins said those are big hot issues and he’d look to the community for solutions; finding a pathway to satisfy all the factions and get the job done.

On volunteers, he said he is 100% for volunteers, and would want to use the expertise that resides in the community to solve problems. Mr. Higgins stated committees that are going to offer solutions should meet in public.

He said he doesn’t like to raise taxes and the city has a lack of financial resources with limited ways to get funds, but doesn’t know if raising taxes would be the best solution.

Mr. Higgins says “absolutely not” to higher density and low income housing.

Larry Black

Mr. Black, a marketing professional, has lived in the city over 20 years, and has volunteered on the Planning Commission for 9 years, most of those as the Chair.
He ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in 2011.

The Planning Commission has had only 1 new home project brought before it by Staff in over 4 years. Many months there are no meetings, as almost all development is now approved over the counter.

Mr. Black did not respond to questions prior to publishing.

Bill Phelps

Mr. Phelps is a retired law professor and attorney, and a resident for over 14 years.
Mr. Phelps has offered his expertise recently in controversial city issues.
He offered opinion and comment on some of the legal problems of the Water District’s trafficking agreement with Rowland Water District, which uses the infrastructure of La Habra Heights ratepayers to serve another district.
He also participated in the vegetation view preservation ordinance hearings, which was ultimately turned down by the City Council.

Jane Williams

Ms. Williams is a 34 year resident.
She has been involved with the community in one way or another since arriving.
From 1995 until this past August, she was editor of the La Habra Journal.

Regarding paying for Fire & Paramedic service and the Roads, Ms. Williams said she would like to do research and get the most service for the least money.

She said encouraging volunteers and bringing back committees that meet in public is up to a City Council decision.

Regarding raising taxes, she said if there is not enough in the budget to keep the roads in shape at some point there would need to be a roads tax, but not as high as the recent proposal.

On high density, low income housing, she said "absolutely not".