Sriracha makers get more time to solve spicy smell problems

Sriracha plant owner David Tran arrives at the Irwindale city council meeting.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times

Irwindale officials decided Wednesday to delay the adoption of a resolution that would have officially designated the spicy smell of Sriracha hot sauce a public nuisance.

The city and sauce maker Huy Fong Foods have agreed to discuss a solution and the City Council decided to table the issue until a council meeting on May 14, said City Atty. Fred Galante.

“We’ve been in communication since the last hearing to see if there is a way to resolve this whole matter,” Galante said.


Galante declined to say what new information prompted the council to delay the resolution. The council voted unanimously to declare the operations of Huy Fong Foods a public nuisance at an April 9 meeting, and adopting the public nuisance resolution Wednesday would have given Huy Fong Foods a 90-day deadline to fix the smell.

Galante said the delay gives him time to work with Huy Fong’s attorney, John Tate, on a settlement. Galante wouldn’t discuss specifics but said he hoped to have the issue resolved before the next council meeting.

Tate said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the council’s decision. He doesn’t know of any specific deal to end the dispute, but he welcomed the chance to resolve the dispute.

“Our priority has always been and continues to be getting this resolved with enough certainty so that there won’t be problems reoccurring during the grinding season when the company is vulnerable,” Tate said.

Several political candidates and representatives of economic groups spoke out against the city’s action at the meeting Wednesday, and a group of employees and Sriracha fans staged a small protest outside the council chambers.

Citing an uncertain business climate, Chief Executive David Tran recently hinted that he was considering a move out of Irwindale. Offers have poured in from dozens of cities and states across the country. In the past week local, state and national politicians have offered their support and lobbied for the factory’s relocation.

Galante said Tran confirmed at the Wednesday meeting that he would not be relocating. Tran said in an email to The Times on Thursday that he “hopes to” stay in the city.

The long-simmering dispute began last September when a few Irwindale residents began to complain of a spicy, smell that inflamed asthma and caused coughing, choking and heartburn. The city sued the hot sauce maker in Los Angeles Superior Court and won an injunction ordering a stop to any “odor-causing” activities. A trial date has been set for November, but Galante said they are hoping to settle out of court.

Twitter: @frankshyong