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Irwindale Council declares Sriracha smell a public nuisance

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The Irwindale City Council has voted unanimously to declare the spicy smell of Sriracha hot sauce production a public nuisance.

Once the council adopts an expected official resolution at its next meeting, hot sauce maker Huy Fong Foods will have about 90 days to mitigate the odor, which residents say burns their eyes and throats at certain times of day.

The 4-0 vote during a Wednesday night hearing came despite assurances from company attorney John Tate that Huy Fong Foods planned to submit an action plan within 10 days and have the smell fixed by June 1.

Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District have been performing tests at the facility and have offered to help the company craft a mitigation plan. Although they would not release the test results, AQMD officials indicated that the smell issues could be resolved with active carbon filters -- a technology the company has used in the past.

"The City Council is determined to assert its authority regardless of the status of the odor remediation efforts," Tate said.

Irwindale already has sued Huy Fong Foods in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that the sauce maker breached terms of its development agreement and created a public nuisance. A judge granted the city a preliminary injunction and a trial is set for November.

The Council sought another public nuisance designation as insurance in case Huy Fong Foods does not install smell mitigation measures, officials said. At the Wednesday hearing, the Council asserted the city has the right to eventually enter the factory and make the changes itself, while assessing the costs to the factory. 

Complaints about the Sriracha odor have attracted widespread attention; one Irwindale public hearing saw a group of 100 protesters cram into the council chambers.

No demonstrators showed up Wednesday night. But state Sen. Ed Hernandez sent a representative to deliver a statement, calling Huy Fong Foods one of the "shining stars" of the San Gabriel Valley's vibrant business community and offering to help the sauce maker find a home in a neighboring city.

"I ask that the city of Irwindale reject this inflammatory and unnecessary 'public nuisance' designation and constructively work with Huy Fong Foods to resolve these issues," Hernandez said in a statement.

Councilman Albert Ambriz said that the city wants to keep the hot sauce factory.

"I respect the fact that they are here. But they know there's a problem and it needs to be fixed," Ambriz said.

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frank.shyong@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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