In the 1950s, Los Angeles County produced more milk and dairy products than any other county in the nation. Now, one of the last remaining links to that history is facing an uncertain future.
Broguiere’s Farm Fresh Dairy, known for selling glass bottles full of milk, chocolate milk and egg nog freshly processed on site and made famous by visits from Huell Howser, is threatened by a proposed railroad construction project in the city of Montebello.
Dairy owner Ray Broguiere Jr., whose family has operated the beloved business for nearly a century, isn't happy about it. “This has turned into a real mess,” he told us.
Though Broguiere said he's been involved since the beginning of the planning stages, the problem is, plans keep changing — “three times in the last few months."
The proposed underpass for Maple Avenue — where Broguiere's is located — would leave the classic, drive-through dairy inaccessible from the street, which the city wants to make lower than it currently sits.
The project, which is still in the planning stage, is part of the Alameda Corridor East, a large-scale initiative to create grade separations between surface streets and the railroad via underpasses or overpasses. Several of these have already been completed across the San Gabriel Valley.
Broguiere said he was initially told the city would move the dairy to a nearby property owned by his sister, and it seemed like a reasonable enough solution. Then the city proposed building a 300-foot circular driveway connected to Mines Avenue — but that seemed unfeasible to Broguiere. There's also the looming threat of eminent domain, which has been a hot issue in Montebello for more than 25 years.
“It’s an ongoing thing,” Broguiere says. Ultimately, he believes the situation comes down to the city wishing to force him out and redevelop the property.
Broguiere isn't just crying over spilled milk. The property has a rich history dating back to the 1920s, when his grandfather converted his lemon orchard into the namesake dairy, where cows grazed freely — as they did in much of the southeastern portion of the county.
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“My family has been here over 100 years," Broguiere says." I don’t want to move.”
And his family’s dairy isn't the only business that could be affected by the Alameda Corridor East. Broguiere estimates that 15 to 20 properties will be impacted by the grade separations of Maple Avenue and Montebello Boulevard. For his part, he’s hired an eminent-domain attorney and vows to fight.
The next — and perhaps most major — battle will take place July 13, when the city council convenes to discuss the project at 6:30 p.m. at Montebello City Hall. Broguiere hopes folks will show up in support of his dairy. For now, you can show your support by simply stopping by the dairy to pick up some milk — or chocolate milk, if you've got a sweet tooth.
Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy, 505 S. Maple Ave., Montebello; (323) 726-0524. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-2 p.m.