Controversial slaughterhouse gets to stay in Rosemead
Owners of a Rosemead slaughterhouse who accused city officials of racial and religious discrimination in a federal lawsuit have come to an agreement with the city that allows them to keep their business doors open.
Quan and Dana Phu opened Chinese American Live Poultry two decades ago on Garvey Avenue and quickly built up a devoted clientele for freshly killed birds that come with the head and feet intact. During the holidays, the line would snake out the door.
But after years of resident complaints about the odor and traffic congestion, city officials voted to shut down the business.
The Phus filed suit against Rosemead in March, arguing that they provide an essential service to a predominantly Asian community that relies on whole birds for family meals. Many Buddhists also use the poultry as offerings to ancestors when praying, the lawsuit said.
The two parties reached a settlement earlier this month that allows CAL Poultry — which won a preliminary injunction to stay open during litigation — to install an air ventilation system to mitigate odor, modify a parking lot and install new signage.
“We’re really happy — actually we’re more than happy,” said Dana Phu, 42. “We’ve been fighting this for a long time and finally we came to the conclusion we had been asking for all these years. We’ve been asking the city to give us an opportunity and work with us. Right now it’s a win-win situation for both sides because it was a long, expensive fight. It’s good for the community as well. Our customers said they should have done this a long time ago.”
The slaughterhouse has been a contentious issue for years, and one council member pledged during her campaign to shut down down the business, sending out postcards that made reference to "Avian flu."
The Phus had made multiple requests for permission to renovate and address the odor. But city officials refused because of an ordinance that banished slaughterhouses shortly after their business opened. CAL Poultry had been grandfathered in but barred from making any changes.
Mayor Sandra Armenta said allowing them to upgrade would have meant changing the ordinance and paving the way for other slaughterhouses in the area.
“The city being discriminatory was never an issue, the issue was land use,” Armenta said. “With this agreement I’m ecstatic to know that allowing them to make the changes will address all the different concerns of our residents but still not allow other slaughterhouses to come into Rosemead.”
The Phus have until early November to submit their plans, documents and fees for property improvements.
-- Corina Knoll
Photo: Dana Phu, whose family owns Chinese American Live Poultry, holds a pair of freshly slaughtered chickens that are ready to be sold in Rosemead in this 2009 file photo. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times