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Updated: 10 hours 15 min ago

Langham Pasadena Suspending Public Operations

Wed, 2020-04-08 09:27

[Updated with comments from the hotel]

The Langham Hotel has closed its door to the public until further notice according to a letter obtained by Pasadena Now.

“We will be temporarily suspending operation of The Langham Huntington, Pasadena,” said Paul Leclerc, managing director of the hotel in a prepared statement. “Please be advised that during our operational suspension, the hotel’s buildings, grounds, gardens, pool facility and tennis courts will be closed and not accessible to the public.”

According to Leclerc, security will patrol the hotel 24 hours a day.

“Our hope is to be back in operation and open to the public as soon as this situation is over. Once we have determined a date to resume business we will inform you accordingly,” Leclerc said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom included hotels as an essential business in his March 19 Safer at Home order that locked down the state and only allows local residents to leave their home for essential reasons, including shopping and exercising.

However, the lockdown of the state has kept people at home and few people are renting hotel rooms.

As of April 1 more than seven out of 10 hotel rooms were empty across the country, according to Smith Travel Research (STR), a Hendersonville, Tennessee based company that tracks supply and demand data for multiple market sectors, including the global hotel industry.

STR also said that since the COVID-19 crisis began escalating in mid-February in the U.S., hotels have lost more than $7.5 billion in room revenue.

The numbers are rapidly increasing, and hotels are currently on pace to lose more than $500 million in room revenue per day based on current and future reported occupancy rates.

This pace means a loss of $3.5 billion every week and will only further escalate as the situation worsens.

Most hoteliers are already reporting projected revenue losses of greater than 50 percent for the first half of the year.

The human toll is equally devastating with major hotel managers already reporting significant layoffs and furloughs.

The hotel opened in 1907 as the Hotel Wentworth and was built by Civil War veteran General Marshall C. Wentworth, and designed by Charles Frederick Whittlesey in the Spanish Mission Revival-style. It closed a short time later and was

purchased by railroad tycoon Henry E. Huntington in 1911 and reopened in 1914 as The Huntington Hotel.

Eventually if became the Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel. In October 2007, the hotel was sold to Great Eagle Holdings for $170 million and renamed The Langham Huntington, Pasadena.

Local Businessmen Start Fund to Help Hard-Hit Nonprofits

Wed, 2020-04-08 05:53

If times were normal, this would be the start of the fundraising season, with many local nonprofits holding spring benefit events or gearing up money drives to help finance another year’s worth of good work.

But the coronavirus crisis has largely shut down those financial lifelines — leaving nonprofits and other service providers particularly strained at a time when their work is especially needed for vulnerable populations.

Pete Kutzer and Patrick Chraghchian hope to change that.

Kutzer, managing partner of the South Pasadena-based Edgewood Realty Partners, and Chraghchian, president of the Pasadena architectural and construction firm Adept, have started a fund to help a dozen local nonprofits and other organizations that Kutzer called “kind of the backbone of social services in Pasadena.”

Those organizations include, among others: Huntington Hospital; Union Station Homeless Services; Pasadena’s Fire Department and Police Foundation; the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena; Friends in Deed, which helps homeless and other at-risk people; and Young & Healthy, which connects underserved kids with medical, dental and mental health care.

“There’s obviously a profound and immediate need for it,’’ Kutzer said.

In fact, Kutzer and Chraghchian have seeded the fund with $50,000 of their own money, spread out among 12 local organizations – and now the two men are reaching out to other businesses to chip in as well … while still recognizing this is a tough time for many businesses to get charitable.

“Of course, a lot of businesses can’t afford to do it right now, but for the folks who can, we want to do that,’’ Kutzer said.

Kutzer and Chraghchian have connected with the Pasadena Community Foundation to coordinate their fundraising campaign. PCF is a 67-year-old Pasadena philanthropic organization that manages and invests charitable assets – and has an unmatched knowledge of the local non-profit landscape and where needs are most acute.

“They really know which areas of town are in need and who’s getting assistance where,’’ Kutzer said.

In a letter announcing the creation of their fund, Kutzer and Chraghchian wrote, “This is a period of profound challenge for the greater Pasadena area.

“COVID-19 has infected many people in our community, and our medical professionals, first-responders, and social service agencies are already feeling great strain. Many people are volunteering to help, both with funding and time to support those impacted by this pandemic.

“The business community is also mobilizing to help. We and our companies will be working with area business leaders, and local Chambers of Commerce, to encourage a strong response to this crisis. We also want to help bolster the non-profit organizations that keep our community healthy and vibrant.’’

The letter went on to say: “Many of them have had their normal fundraising efforts stymied by this crisis, which in turn threatens the support they can provide their constituents.

“For those who have not already done so, we encourage all our business colleagues to join in. The Pasadena Community Foundation (PCF) is an anchor of support to local organizations, and is helping coordinate this response.’’

The letter suggests that, for more information, potential donors visit the PCF’s website at, reach out directly to one of the organizations to which the pair has already contributed (see below) “or to one of the many other organizations which are active in this effort.”

“We are all in this together,’’ the letter concludes.

The complete list of organizations to which Kutzer and Chraghchian contributed is:

* Union Station Homeless Services (

* Huntington Hospital (

* Huntington Medical Research Institutes (

* The Pasadena Fire Department (

* The Pasadena Police Foundation (

* The Pasadena Educational Foundation (

* The SoCal Women’s Conference (

* The Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena (

* Friends in Deed (

* Young & Healthy (

* The Armory Center for the Arts (

* Muse/Ique (

L.A. County Launches $500,000 Employer Assistance Fund

Mon, 2020-04-06 13:31

Los Angeles County is launching a $500,000 fund to provide grants of up to $10,000 each to local businesses in need, officials announced Monday.

Business owners should act fast, as applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis and closed once 150 applications are received.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the Board of Supervisors and the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services joined together to create the fund.

“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted residents and businesses throughout Los Angeles County,” Barger said. “It is vitally important that we pursue every resource available to support local business and help maintain good job opportunities throughout the region.”

The Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services will host a webinar at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday — accessible at — to guide business owners on how to apply. The application site will open Wednesday at 8 a.m. at

About 25% of awards will be reserved for social enterprises that demonstrate a need and ability to serve vulnerable populations. Priority will also be given to businesses in unincorporated areas of the county.

Supervisor Hilda Solis said an unprecedented response is required.

“Los Angeles County will assist our most burdened businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis with the launch of our Employer Assistance Grant Fund,” Solis said. “This innovative state-funded program will help our local businesses, including nonprofits and social enterprises that serve our communities’ most vulnerable individuals. This unprecedented global pandemic requires an unprecedented response, and L.A. County stands ready to offer relief to our small businesses.”

In order to qualify, businesses must:

— be a for-profit corporation, partnership, or nonprofit with a for- profit activity in Los Angeles County;

— have between two and 50 full-time employees;

— have less than $2 million in gross receipts or annual revenue;

— have been established on or before Dec. 4, 2019;

— be able to produce tax returns; and

— demonstrate significant economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. Businesses that have demonstrated evidence of a loss of revenue of at least 20% will have met this burden.

Businesses can use the money to:

— pay mortgages, rent or utilities;

— cover working capital costs;

— pay for inventory;

— bridge funding to other lenders, such as Small Business Administration Payroll Protection; and

— pay down other debt incurred before the covered period.

The grants may not be used to pay outstanding taxes, legal judgments, employee payroll or benefits or for lobbying.

The WDACS acting director, Otto Solorzano, thanked state officials for making monies available for the fund, which he said would be the first of its kind in California.

“Thank you to Gov. (Gavin) Newsom and (the California Employment Development Department) for providing this critical funding for L.A. County’s businesses, and to the Board of Supervisors for their support of this essential program,” Solorzano said. “The Employer Assistance Grant Fund will provide some of our local businesses with desperately needed capital at a critical time, allowing them to retain workers and remain in business.”

COVID-19 Webinar Aims to Help Businesses Survive

Fri, 2020-04-03 18:51

Amid a highly difficult economic climate in which the Coronavirus panic has caused 10 million American workers to file for unemployment in the past two weeks alone, Farshad Asl sees an opportunity to spread a message of hope and encouragement to business leaders.

That’s why he’s organizing and hosting a free series of “Covid-19 Business Survival and Empowerment” webinars starting tomorrow and running through April 11 and 18 as well. All three sessions start at 2 p.m. and will last 90 minutes, including a Q&A session with panelists.

Space is limited to 500 participants worldwide due to Zoom hosting platform restrictions. Registration is available at Saturday’s webinar will feature Eszylfie Taylor, the president and founder of Taylor Insurance & Financial Services, who serves as a financial advisor to individuals, business owners, and high net worth families from his offices in Pasadena.

Asl, the CEO and founder of Top Leaders, Inc., decided to extend the webinar series over a 3-week period, in response to popular demand from the community after the success of the recent pilot webinar. He is also the regional director of Bankers Life and best-selling author of “The ‘No Excuses’ Mindset.”

“Last week’s webinar was completely sold out. This week’s event is already nearing capacity,” says Asl. “We are considering doubling the number of participants for this week, but even that may fall short to meet the demand. People need assistance and leadership at this critical time. The objective of the series is to and inform, equip and inspire participants to not only survive, but thrive, during the current crisis.”

Aside from Asl and Taylor, this Saturday’s upcoming event will feature two other distinguished speakers, who will address the concerns of entrepreneurs and companies, share vital resources and empower participants with a sense of leadership. They include corporate business attorney Roger Doumanian, also a Certified Business Coach, influential public speaker and author of “The Six Pillars of Business Success,” and Victor Arceo, President of AVIVA Home Improvement, Inc., and a prominent community leader and entrepreneur.

“All my life I’ve been a student of leadership and I’m a true believer in serving others,” says Asl. “There are a few life changing moments in my life that centered on how can i be of service to people and lift them up? Now with Covid 19 people are panicking and feeling hopeless, so giving them hope that this is not the end of the world is a way of helping in these challenging times.

“I contacted marketer and business attorney friends of mine and decided to have this panel of experts with an instructor and have them in different areas. Last week we had the former mayor of Thousand Oaks as our special guest,” Asl adds. “We all have the gift of different perspectives. I do the leadership aspect, providing inspiration. The attorney gives updates of everyday changes being made, and online marketing experts provide help in growing business.”

The series started strong out of the gate, with over 400 participants signing up and 200 actually listening in last week. As of Friday morning, Asl had over 300 interested participants awaiting the webinar, and he hoped to “max out” by the start time Saturday.

“This is changing every day every week, because we don’t want people to go through this alone.” says Asl, who engages in public speaking and executive coaching through Top Leaders. “I’m going through this myself. In three weeks, we went from face to face sales to virtual sales. Nobody lost business in our group, since everyone’s working from home.

“This is a time where leaders need to be visible, not hide, and have leaders who show up more than ever,” he continues. “They did a great job after 9/11 and this is no different, it’s a global situation. Don’t think about selling right now, think about serving, and everyone will win.”

Claremont McKenna Study: Overall Consumer Confidence Drops Due to Quarantine

Thu, 2020-04-02 15:07

Consumer confidence in the Southland and throughout the state plunged 47% in the last days of March as a consequence of the stay-at-home order — but the Inland Empire has not been hit as hard as other areas, according to results of a survey announced Thursday.

The quarterly California Consumer Sentiment Index captures the real- time decline as events unfolded regarding the global pandemic.

“An index at this level is typically seen in the depths of a bad recession, such as the 2008 financial crisis,” according to Cameron Shelton, an economics professor at Claremont McKenna College. “But it usually takes six to nine months from the onset of the recession for sentiment to deteriorate this far. Having such a rapid drop in just over two weeks is new territory.”

But when compared to other regions of California, the Inland Empire has suffered a comparatively lesser decline in consumer sentiment. The Inland Empire has also, according to the study’s respondents, suffered relatively less in terms of layoffs and reduction in hours compared with usually strong labor markets of Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“After years of bearing the brunt of most economic downturns, it appears that the Inland Empire’s position as a logistics hub is a benefit during this global pandemic, as delivery of goods is vital,” Shelton noted. “While import/export shipments through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are down at least 15%, and that has affected the part of the industry which handles foreign trade, domestic e-commerce is booming. Amazon, the Inland Empire’s largest employer, is hiring.”

Overall, the California Consumer Sentiment declined an unprecedented 47% on the previous quarter to 51.5, according to the Chapman-CMC Consumer Sentiment Survey, based solely on responses from March 20 to 26.

By comparison, the fourth quarter 2019 California Index stood at 96.9, according to the study.

“In early March, when the field survey began, respondents were concerned but cautiously optimistic,” Shelton said. “As events unfolded, we were able to track on a daily basis a marked drop culminating in a precipitous decline in the last week of our study.”

The California Consumer Sentiment survey provides quarterly data that is one tool for businesses and governments as they monitor economic indicators.

“Rather than looking at the typical quarter-over-quarter results, which would clearly be an overestimate of consumer sentiment, we believe that the true picture of sentiment can best be drawn from the final days of the survey,” said Shelton, director of the Lowe Institute of Political Economy and McMahon Family Associate Professor of political economy at Claremont.

The California Index is based on a survey of 2,000 households from across the state regarding business conditions and their personal financial position. There were just more than 600 respondents from March 20 to 26, which is more than the total respondents for some national surveys, according to the university.

East Pasadena Office Complex Sells for $78M

Thu, 2020-04-02 05:44

Pasadena Corporate Park, a three-building office complex containing 260,000 square feet at 250 North Halstead Street and 3475 East Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena, has been sold for a gross sales price of $78 million, the seller, Columbia Property Trust Inc., announced Tuesday.

Among the major tenants in the complex are environmental consulting and engineering firm Tetra Tech and technology banking firm Green Dot Corporation.

Just last year, Columbia secured a 65-month renewal with Tetra Tech for 61,000 square feet on the property for the firm’s headquarters, according to a report by real estate news publisher Commercial Observer.

The complex was built in 1961 and underwent a major renovation from 1999 to 2001, Columbia said on its website.

Columbia Property Trust declined to reveal the identity of the buyer. The report said Columbia took a loss, having acquired the property in 2007 for $116 million from IndyMac Bank, which went defunct shortly after and was succeeded by Pasadena-based OneWest Bank.

Pasadena Corporate Park is 94 percent leased, Columbia Property’s website showed.

Pasadena Lab Upends Daily Activities to Focus on Developing COVID-19 Test

Thu, 2020-04-02 05:41

A physician-owned Pasadena medical corporation has dropped its research programs to focus instead on developing diagnostic tests for coronavirus.

A statement by OmniPathology last week said the company, recognizing the urgent need for a new COVID-19 test, “reallocated all its research and development resources” to develop the new test.

OmniPathology, a Pasadena-based physician-owned professional medical corporation that specializes in providing academic level pathology services, has launched their new Laboratory Developed Test (LDT) for COVID-19 in response to the US Food and Drug Administration’s policy announcement in February seeking the development of diagnostic tests for coronavirus.

The LDT, which the company calls Omni-COVID-19 Test, will use real-time PCR technology and will be performed on the Becton Dickinson BD-Max system using its open access feature.

PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a laboratory technique used to make multiple copies of a segment of DNA, especially from very small or mixed samples, and in the process offers increased precision, more reliable measurements and absolute quantification.

OmniPathology said the test will be performed on swabs collected by physicians, nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals. The test will take two hours and the initial capacity will be 110 tests per day. As national needs continue, OmniPathology said they will be increasing their throughput to more than 550 tests per day during the following weeks.

The statement said OmniPathology plans to submit the LDT to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization (EUA) within the next two weeks.

“This fast response by OmniPathology and its team is a testament to the company’s commitment to its role as a leading laboratory and its understanding of its responsibility in finding solutions to this national crisis,” Dr. Mohammad Kamal, OmniPathology Founder and CEO, said. “This test will be available to our local community in Pasadena and Los Angeles with results available on the same day and up to 24 hours. We are working with local health authorities to ensure tests are offered to those who are most in need according to the most recent guidelines.”

OmniPathology, whose offices and laboratory are located at 11 W. Del Mar Blvd. Suite 203 in Pasadena, specializes in gastrointestinal pathology, gynecology and male health and provides state-of-the-art molecular and cytogenetic testing with specific focus on screening and early detection of anal, cervical, colon and esophageal cancers.

For more information, visit