Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Norm Reeves to use former strawberry field as storage facility, making locals restless

Jenny Gonzalez and Benjamin Garcia

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Since Honda brand cars owned by the Norm Reeves dealership were seen parked in the empty lot during the summer, students, politicians and community members all have something different to say about Cerritos College transforming the former strawberry field to a storage facility for the aforementioned dealership.

According to Dr. Jose Fierro’s President’s Message, given on Aug. 6, 2017, the district will receive a monthly rent payment of $35,500 for facility usage, which provides 20 times more revenue than Manassero Farm.

Norm Reeves was scheduled to take possession of the lot August 14th. As part of the agreement, Norm Reeves Honda will make an annual contribution to the Cerritos College Foundation to support student scholarships in addition to the rent.

The president finished his statement on the matter by saying “We are excited to partner with Norm Reeves, especially considering that this could provide additional opportunities for our automotive program students.”

Later in the month on Aug. 25, the college held a public forum — inviting members of the community to voice their “concerns” to the administration, including The Board of Trustees. Also present were representatives from Norm Reeves Honda Dealership who refused to comment.

Dr. Elena Macias who lives in Cerritos, and has retired from teaching in higher education commented about the alleged lack of effort to be forthcoming about allocation of funds collected by leasing the lot to the C.A.R. Group after the forum had commenced.

“I didn’t hear much of a plan,” started Macias, continuing, “I don’t know what percentage of those dollars are going to an endowment. It sounded like only the donation is going towards the endowment; it sounded like only the +$400,000 is going into regular staffing; and that doesn’t make sense to me.”

The retired instructor went on to say that the community loved the strawberry field and that it was” a shame to see it go,” especially without notice.

She added that because Cerritos College is an institution in our community, it doesn’t “live and stand alone, it relies on public good will as much as it does on public revenue,” it should take into “consideration the feelings, concerns and problems that the neighborhood […] has” and how it feels it be “exacerbated.”

In the same crowd was one environmental activist Sarah Patricia Oeso who shared a different point of view after the forum — saying that the “complaining” of the locals “shows how privileged this community is.”

Oeso went on to cite Vernon’s Excide issue, Paramount’s Chronium 6 issue, Torrance with its Tesoro and Excide issue — explaining that “they’re fight all these serious environmental impacts that are killing our communities” and not complaining about dust from a parking lot.

She concluded her statement by saying that the residents are “probably completely unaware of much deadlier issues that these communities are going through.”

To all the concerns of the community members, The Board of Trustees answered with proposed solutions in a regular meeting held on Wed., Sept. 6 including:

  • The contract amendment with the C.A.R. group will not allow for the vehicles to be loaded and unloaded on or around campus.
  • There will be little impact on local traffic given the amount of activity on the lot; as it will be solely used for over-flow storage, and not for day-to-day movement.
  • In regards to “dust mitigation,” a layer of decomposed granite (DG) will be employed to keep dust for sweeping up as vehicles drive over it.
  • Fence fabric will be applied to the wire fence that surrounds the lot; this will act as a wind barrier, keeping down dust.
  • Spraying over or replacing the fabric in the event that it is defaced.
  • “Installing or planting” yellow trumpet flower vines on the fence which wil take year to cover the fence, blocking the view from 166th St.
  • “Placing” 10 ornamental pear trees on the Cerritos College side of 166th St.
  • “Cleaning” the damaged sidewalk in the same area as the proposed pear trees
  • Installing 17 light fixtures that are matched to the color scheme of the existing Lot C 10 parking lot.

Lopez demonstrated that there is no impact regarding parking lot lighting, and going on to state that the existing streetlights along Alondra Blvd. and Studebaker Rd. influence lighting to the adjacent area more than the campus lighting patterns.

After that, Trustee Carmen Avalos made a comment in regards to how she thinks it is unfortunate that the matter of the proposed storage facility for Honda Norm Reeves has been politicized, due to the fact that it affects one of the communities Cerritos College serves.

She continued that the college serves 14 cities other than the city of Cerritos; adding, “the reality is the revenue for that particular area is coming back to the community in terms of keeping lighting on to provide access to students,” suggesting that that is the focus.

She then called to mind the fact that not every request is granted, saying that there should be a reasonable request that will benefit both parties.

The city of Cerritos will have a council meeting on Monday Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. that will likely address the concerns of the residents regarding the changes to the lot.

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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.
Norm Reeves to use former strawberry field as storage facility, making locals restless