Briefly In Neighbors

Aliso Viejo's Deputy of the Year to be honored

The City Council will honor Orange County Sheriff's Department Deputy Gil Torrez at its Jan. 18 meeting as Aliso Viejo's Deputy of the Year for 2011.

Torrez has served Aliso Viejo since June 2004. He has served as a Selected Enforcement Team member twice and currently serves as the Aliso Viejo Terrorism Liaison Officer. He also earned a Medal of Lifesaving for saving a child from drowning.

"Gil has been committed to public service for most of his life," Lt. Bob Osborne, chief of Aliso Viejo Police Services, said in a statement. "To Gil, the words service, duty and honor are more than just words ... they are a way of life."

Torrez joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1990 and served until 1994. He has been married to his wife for almost 19 years and has three children.


Laguna Niguel mayor is new OCTA chairman

Laguna Niguel Mayor Paul Glaab was unanimously chosen as the new chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors.

Previously the vice chairman, Glaab joined the OCTA board in 2006 and has helped serve on several committees including as chairman of the Highways Committee.

"It's an honor to be chosen by my peers to lead an agency that is vital in ensuring Orange County's quality of life," Glaab said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to a year in which we successfully deliver transportation improvements to residents and businesses in all corners of our county."

Glaab takes over for outgoing Chairwoman Patricia Bates, the Orange County supervisor for the 5th district.


Beach Pit BBQ closing in Aliso Viejo

Beach Pit BBQ, which started with six Orange County locations, is down to three after its most recent closure in Aliso Viejo.

Beach Pit BBQ closed its Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach restaurants in the fall.

Owner Tim DeCinces cited high rent costs and the mall setting that made the three locations fail.

"BBQ isn't a staple for Southern Californians like tacos, burgers or pizza. It is more of an experience or novelty dining choice," DeCinces said in an email. "Going into a strip mall lost the character of visiting our original three stores. In addition, we had to compete with other dining options such as tacos, burgers, pizza and sandwiches that people eat more often."

DeCinces said the remaining locations in Costa Mesa, Tustin and Old Towne Orange provide an experience and ambience that's appealing to its patrons. Costa Mesa has the feeling of a backyard BBQ, he said, and Tustin's location is housed in a historic roadhouse garage.

The Tustin location is also in the stages of acquiring a liquor license, has had a minor remodel and the chef is adding some unique Southern Roadhouse style items to the menu.

"I'm very happy to now focus on maximizing the experience for our guests and fans of the original three Beach Pit BBQ locations in authentic settings," he said.

DeCinces said no further closures are expected.

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Car washes agree to pay workers back wages

A group of car washes in Northern and Southern California that allegedly underpaid workers and routinely denied them breaks will pay more than $1 million in restitution for unpaid wages and civil penalties, state officials said Tuesday.

"Workers at these car washes were taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers who illegally denied them the pay and benefits they earned," said State Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris. "The resolution of this case will allow workers to receive the pay they are owed."

The suits were filed against car washes in Santa Monica, Venice, San Ramon, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Irvine, Folsom and Fair Oaks in October 2010.

In a statement describing the legal settlement, officials said investigators found the car washes "routinely denied workers minimum wage and overtime, failed to pay wages owed to those who quit or were terminated, denied rest and meal breaks, and created false records of time worked."

—Kelly Parker, Joanna Clay and Los Angeles Times

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