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Some In Irwindale Still Not Happy About Smelly Neighbor, Sriracha


Now to a hot topic in the city of Irwindale, California. Last month, the city council declared a factory that makes Sriracha, a hot sauce, a public nuisance. Some people who live in Irwindale say they feel it in their eyes and throats when chilies are ground at the factory. And the city gave plant owner David Tran until June 1st to install odor-abatement technology or else, they say, the city will do it for him. Well, now, David Tran says he might just move the factory. Here's NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: A few years ago, David Tran began moving the factory that makes his famous hot sauce to the city of Irwindale. Before that, Irwindale was famous as a possible site for a NFL franchise that so far hasn't materialized. Now, it's become infamous as the place that may be forcing a rapidly popular condiment to seek a home elsewhere.

Since it opened, some residents complained about spicy fumes from the Sriracha factory. Tran has been engaged in a series of legal skirmishes with the city that enticed him to relocate there in the first place. Not your optimal business scenario.

NICK VYAS: I think this is not your classic case of public-private partnership.

BATES: Nick Vyas is at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. He says Irwindale's wrangle with Tran's Sriracha factory sends a message not only to Tran's business but beyond.

VYAS: It's quite obvious that business, when they do their relocation strategy and the decision matrix, they look at the local regulations and the city officials' willingness to work with their businesses.

BATES: Since having been declared a public nuisance, David Tran has received several offers both within and outside the state for him to relocate to what representatives promise is a more welcoming, less stringently regulated environment. For months, Tran politely ignored them but not anymore. He's now invited several for a factory tour. On May 12th, Texas State Representative Jason Villalba, who describes himself as a longtime Sriracha fan, will arrive from Austin to make his pitch.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Karen Grigsby Bates
Karen Grigsby Bates is the Senior Correspondent for Code Switch, a podcast that reports on race and ethnicity. A veteran NPR reporter, Bates covered race for the network for several years before becoming a founding member of the Code Switch team. She is especially interested in stories about the hidden history of race in America—and in the intersection of race and culture. She oversees much of Code Switch's coverage of books by and about people of color, as well as issues of race in the publishing industry. Bates is the co-author of a best-selling etiquette book (Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times) and two mystery novels; she is also a contributor to several anthologies of essays. She lives in Los Angeles and reports from NPR West.