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Sriracha truce brokered with help of Gov. Jerry Brown's office

Politics and GovernmentGovernmentEconomic PolicyPublic OfficialsLobbying
After Texas officials wooed Sriracha maker, Gov. Jerry Brown's office helped broker resolution with Irwindale
Recent Sriracha factory negotiations were facilitated by Gov. Jerry Brown's office

The disagreement between Irwindale officials and the maker of Sriracha hot sauce concerned local regulations, so it was no surprise that lobbying by U.S. senators, Texas politicians and L.A. city councilmen had little effect. 

As the conflict dragged on, many local leaders feared Chief Executive David Tran would follow Toyota's example and leave California for Texas. But those fears were eased Wednesday when the Irwindale City Council decided to drop their lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods and table a resolution declaring the factory a public nuisance. 

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FOR THE RECORD

An earlier version of this post said Nissan had left California for Texas. It was Toyota.

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It's still not clear why the city relaxed its position on the smell of Sriracha, and Irwindale officials did not return calls for comment Thursday.

But officials with Gov. Jerry Brown's Office of Business and Economic Development helped broker a meeting Tuesday between Irwindale officials and Tran that ultimately brought the conflict to an end, sources said.

“I am pleased the city of Irwindale agreed to drop the lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods and work with CEO David Tran on a resolution,” said Kish Rajan, director of the business and development office.

“This week (governor's office) staff was glad to take part in positive conversations among city officials and Mr. Tran that ultimately we expect will balance the public interest and keep the Sriracha plant in California,” he continued.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. first contacted the governor's office a few months ago, said Lawren Markle, director of public relations.

Several other groups joined the effort and lobbied for the governor's involvement, including the Latino Business Assn., which sent Chairman Ruben Guerra to Sacramento to hand out bottles of Sriracha to state legislators. 

Irwindale officials also contacted the governor's office for help negotiating a solution, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Together, Irwindale and the governor's office scheduled a visit to the Sriracha hot sauce factory to conduct a closed-door meeting, the source said.

Two representatives from the governor's office toured the factory with Irwindale officials Tuesday and sat in on the closed-door meeting between Mayor Mark Breceda, Councilman Julian Miranda and executives from Huy Fong Foods. But the governor's office did not offer any special incentives, the source said. No attorneys were present.

After the meeting, Breceda announced the city planned to drop its lawsuit, and the next day, the City Council unanimously voted to table a resolution declaring the factory a public nuisance. 

The thaw in relations comes just a few weeks after the Sriracha factory hosted a delegation of seven Texas officials, including three state politicians and representatives from the state's agricultural, economic development and tourism departments. 

Tran began to invite the overtures of other states back in April. It was never clear that Huy Fong Foods wanted to leave California, and doing so would have required leaving long-standing relationships with local pepper and vinegar suppliers, as well as relocating employees.

But because the company faced so much uncertainty in Irwindale, Tran had begun to consider it, he told The Times.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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