Texas courting Sriracha after Cal. zoning issues

Texas courting Sriracha after Cal. zoning issues

Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Huy Fong Foods Inc. Sriracha sauce is displayed for sale during the grand opening of a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will phase out 10 chemicals it sells in favor of safer alternatives and disclose the chemicals contained in four product categories, the company announced Sept. 12. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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by JASON WHITELY

WFAA

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Updated Monday, May 12 at 9:18 AM

IRWINDALE, Calif. – Dallas State Representative Jason Villalba is leading a team of state officials to meet with the owner of Sriracha hot sauce, which is considering leaving the state after a high-profile backlash from the local government.

Rep. Villalba, State Senator Carlos Uresti, and State Rep. Hubert Vo, along with officials from the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the Texas Department of Agriculture, will meet with David Tran, owner of Huy Fong Foods, at 11:30 a.m. Dallas time on Monday.

Rep. Villalba and state leaders will then meet privately with Tran to discuss possibilities of getting Huy Fong Foods to Texas. Afterwards, both sides will address reporters.

“I am confident that this group will be able to communicate with Mr. Tran and his colleagues at Huy Fong Foods, the benefit of conducting business in the Lone Star State where frivolous litigation is not business as usual,” Villalba said in a statement.

He has pushed for a meeting with Huy Fong Foods for several months.

The hot sauce maker is considering leaving California after neighbors there started complaining last fall that strong spicy fumes were making the plant a public nuisance.

In November, the city sued and won a temporary, partial shutdown.
 
On Wednesday, the Irwindale City Council will hold a hearing to decide whether to officially declare the Sriracha plant a public nuisance. 

If city officials declare the factory a public nuisance, Huy Fong officials will have a set period of time to comply with the city's demands to fix the smell, according to The Los Angeles Times. 

It’s uncertain if Huy Fong Foods will actually move from its four-year-old factory, just east of Los Angeles but the company could expand operations, Villalba said, and build a new plant in Texas as the condiment becomes more popular. 

The visit by the Texas delegation is getting extra attention in Southern California especially after Toyota announced it was moving its North America headquarters from Torrance, Calif. to Plano. 

Though he represents North Texas, Villalba said San Antonio and cities in the Rio Grande Valley would likely be most suitable for Huy Fong Foods. 

Governor Rick Perry has made news traveling the country touting Texas’ business-friendly climate, but few  other state leaders have done so – much less Villalba, a freshman legislator. 

The Republican, representing District 114 in Dallas, has spent the last few months raising his profile. 

Earlier this year, he reached out to the four candidates in his party running for lieutenant governor, asking them to tone down their immigration rhetoric worrying that it could have a backlash for the GOP. Villalba told WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics that he even spoke privately with Sen. Dan Patrick before his highly publicized immigration debate with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. 

Villalba has also spoken to conservative groups about the need to include more Latinos in the Republican Party. 

E-mail: jwhitely@wfaa.com

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