Opinion: Sriracha might relocate? Anywhere but Texas

Sriracha chili sauce is produced at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Huy Fong Foods, maker of the famous Sriracha chili sauce, is considering leaving the city of Irwindale, and maybe even California, after the City Council declared the spicy odors from the company’s factory a public nuisance.

And of course, Texas is among the first states trying to persuade Sriracha founder David Tran to leave California. State Rep. Jason Villalba of Dallas has been reaching out to Tran for months now, saying he was troubled by the company’s experience with “excessive government interference.”

“You have worked too hard and have helped too many people to let government bureaucrats shut down your thriving business,” Villalba wrote in a letter to Tran.

Finally, last week, Tran invited Villalba and a delegation from Texas -- as well as representatives from other states and cities that have reached out -- to come visit the plant and smell it for themselves to determine if their communities would mind the odors.


Texas, it’s time to back off. First, Gov. Rick Perry makes multiple trips to our Golden State to poach businesses, and now local representatives are trying to take advantage of an embarrassing local government squabble.

Irwindale is certainly not helping to change California’s reputation as a hard place to do business. This is a city that lured Huy Fong Foods to move from nearby Rosemead and build a new, $40-million factory. Irwindale sold the company the property -- which was originally purchased with redevelopment money for affordable housing -- and helped finance the new plant. Within the first year at its new location, some neighbors began complaining about the chili smell, saying it was causing them to gag, cough and experience nose bleeds. Since then, the city that wooed the Sriracha maker has come close to shutting the plant down.

So how would business-friendly Texas handle this situation? Ignore residents’ complaints? Tell them to stock up on tissues for their bloody noses and stop complaining about a “thriving business?” Irwindale may not be the poster child for effective conflict resolution, but the fact is, there is a conflict and “government bureaucrats” have a responsibility to address problems that arise between businesses and neighbors, not simply roll over neighbors in the name of limited government.

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Follow Kerry Cavanaugh on Twitter @kerrycavan and Google+