March 8, 2008 Meeting Summary


E-mail reminder.   Non e-mail phone list was phoned.


Susan brought scones.


14 members and one guest


Agenda Items:

  • Annual Election
  • Ice Rink project status
  • Summary of community meeting about planning process
  • 650 Sierra Madre Villa sold
  • CVS Pharmacy permit request for 24-hour and alcohol sales
  • Proposed East Pasadena YMCA
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Pasadena Conference on Aging, March 18, just up the hill from us
    • former theater status
    • Wickes furniture closing
    • PWP contractors blowing their truck horns at Alameda/Avocado gate
    • too short left-hand turn light northbound Sierra Madre Villa to westbound Foothill
    • Pleasures club on Foothill now officially closed
    • potential for light/x-walk across Sierra Madre Villa at Electronic Drive

The meeting began at 11:15 am

  • Annual Election
    • No one new volunteered for any of the officer positions, so once again there were no choices on the ballots.  Candidates were the same as previous officers, Laura Ellersieck for President, Susan Chu for Vice President and Kathy Vacio for Treasurer.  The Secretary position was and remains unfilled.
    • Attendees filled out and deposited ballots as they arrived and signed in.
    • Should think about how we might support absentee voting for future elections.
    • Need to get back to working on bylaws.  It is possible that there might be more willing candidates if the officer duties were actually defined.
    • Near the end of the meeting, ballots were counted by Tim Price from the Daisy Villa neighborhood across the wash, who had come to visit us.
    • Results were 14 ballots cast.  14 votes for Laura Ellersieck for President and Susan Chu for Vice President.  12 votes for Kathy Vacio for Treasurer, and 1 write-in vote for Kathy Vacio as Secretary.
  • Ice Rink project status
    • On Monday March 10 Council agenda, item 5B4
    • Asking Council to reject all the bids received and opened Dec 28.
    • Lowest bid is 90% higher then Engineer’s Estimate
    • Expect to take 6 months to rescope project and re-bid project.
    • Rescoping includes
      • reevaluating the projected revenue numbers to see if they can raise it to support additional cost
      • looking into finding some other funding sources
      • looking into substituting some less expensive materials
    • hoping construction costs are now falling and might be less by time of re-bid.
    • hoping financing costs will be lower by then (currently they are higher then were)
    • Estimating that rescoping and redoing the bids will cost $500,000.
    • Updated budget and appropriations request will be presented to Council after new bids are received
    • As usual, staff report makes no mention of how this is going to affect the Civic Center reconstruction even though it is now clear there is no way the original purpose of moving the ice rink out of the civic center ballroom can be met in time.
    • Member from Orange Grove expressed big concern about the possibility of construction trucks  arriving and departing via Orange Grove and also the likelihood they might sit idling and polluting for long periods while waiting to enter the site.
    • Discussed that we should try to contact PCC board member for our area to ask what the board knows about the agreement with the city for the new easement across PCC land off Foothill and what the story is behind the reported refusal to allow construction access via that route. Especially now that the traffic signal on Foothill at the PCC driveway should be long since completed by the time ice rink construction starts, that route is so much better in every way then the alternatives.  Yes, it could inconvenience PCC students using the parking lot, but at least they are adults.
  • Summary of community meeting about planning process
    • On March 5, Councilman Haderlein held a meeting to explain the city’s planning/development process for private property, mainly larger commercial developments
    • Richard Bruckner, Director of Planning and Development, and Scott Reimers, Associate Planner were there to do the explaining
    • Planning and Development department deals with planning and permitting for private property in the city.    Public Works deals with development on city owned land.
    • Richard Bruckner said they are guided in general by the city’s General Plan Principles and they go back to them all the time.  Noted that there are about 170 different zones, including overlays, in Pasadena and it is very hard to keep track of all of them.   Constantly reviewing some aspect of the General Plan or a Specific Plan.  Focusing in coming months on a new Open Space Element of the plan and later this year on the Land Use Element.
    • Scott Reimers went through a process flow chart of the major review steps a development has to go through.  Legislative review process is used whenever a decision has to be made by the City Council, such as a zoning change or master or general plan amendment.  Otherwise it goes through “Quasi-Judicial” review process where a Hearing Officer makes the decisions (though appeals can cause it to end up before the Council).
    • A handout sheet was provided with each flow diagram and also a sheet with a glossary on one side and a list of the general plan principles on the other.
    • Focus of discussion was those steps where there is public notice and the public is allowed to comment.
    • A point was made that when someone attends a hearing they should fill out a speaker card whether or not they intend to speak.  Might decide by the time you would be called that you want to say something.   If not, can just decline to speak when called.  Also, if you mark the box to get a “decision letter”, even if you have to leave before the end of the hearing they will send you a copy of the letter which says what decision was reached.
    • Several attendees complained that they believe the city staff and council just let developers do whatever they want.  Richard Bruckner said that there are probably dozens of times a week that developers are told “no” they can’t do something.
    • Developers are supposedly encouraged to meet with neighbors/community early in the process, but they cannot be forced to do so.
    • First official notice public gets comes early in the process only if the project is determined to have “communitywide significance”.  Criteria are greater than 50000 sq ft with at least one discretionary action, fifty or more housing units, or as determined by Planning Director.  If it is determined to have community wide significance, then the City Council is given a short information only presentation about the project.  They can’t express an opinion at that time because that pre-judgment could later disqualify them if it came to the council for some decision.  Councilpersons can just ask some general questions and request review by commissions that otherwise would not be involved.  While the Council people can’t say much, citizens can voice or submit their comments.
    • Developer and city resident Bob May gave a short presentation of a private developer’s perspective
    • Questions and answers gradually devolved mostly into a few people going on and on about their point of view on something rather then asking questions directly related to the subject matter.
    • One potentially useful discussion was about how unnotified people feel they are about the various hearings.  Notice is at best inconsistent.  Sign boards are frequently very difficult to see.  Notices sent to within 500 ft or whatever isn’t far enough, especially when traffic is an issue.  Notices to neighborhood leaders are inconsistent.
    • Also at the meeting, ordinary citizen John McDonnell was introduced and given a certificate of appreciation for his self-made and carried out project to beautify New York Drive by planting and caring for oak trees.
  • 650 Sierra Madre Villa sold
    • According to LA County Assessor, the SMV/Rosemead corner parcel (just north of Allstate building) was sold for just over $6 million in mid-November ’07.
    • Makes one wonder if it’s the same developer who’s got the two parcels to the south of it.
    • A development proposal has not been resubmitted yet for the “Allstate” and “Burroughs” parcels.
  • CVS Pharmacy – permit request for full alcohol sales
    • Permit hearing, originally scheduled 2/20 requested both full alcohol sales and being open 24 hours.
    • The 24 hours request was withdrawn after a meeting with neighbors and staff and the hearing was rescheduled to allow time for staff reconsideration of the request.
    • Hearing for full alcohol sales now scheduled for 3/13
    • City staff is recommending against the permit because
      • There are already 3 full alcohol for off-site use establishments in the census tract and the state dept of Alcoholic Beverage Control considers more then two to be over concentration
      • A 1996 City resolution with guidelines for granting such a permit requires five findings of public benefit be made (employment, taxes, unique addition, contributing to long term development goals, upgrading of area).  None of those required benefits is expected.
      • Site is in close proximity to sensitive uses, ie residential.
    • Permit request 5023
    • 3885 East Foothill Blvd., NW corner Foothill & Michillinda
  • Proposed East Pasadena YMCA
    • Pre-plan review presented to City Council on March 3
    • agendas/Mar_03_08/10A.pdf
    • agendas/Mar_03_08/10A ATTACHMENT A.pdf
    • To be located on 2.16 acres currently owned by Avery International, parcel to be split.
    • South of current Avery International Building south of Bradley street, west of Edison power lines, north and east of flood control channel and flood control land.
    • 130 parking spaces on it’s land, 119 additional to be on land leased from Edison.
    • two story 41,000 sq ft building
    • traffic study and initial environmental study to be done by April
    • Supposed to be a neighborhood meeting in April.   (Probably aren’t any residential neighbors within the required notification distance.)
    • City Council has to approve a zoning amendment for the site which is zoned PD-1 – Eaton Canyon Industrial Park.  It is needed because the split off parcel would be less then the currently required size and because current zoning doesn’t provide for the proposed usage “clubs and lodges”.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Pasadena Conference on Aging on Tuesday March 18, 8 am to 2:30 pm
      • Just up the hill from us at First Church of the Nazarene, 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd
      • Free, includes breakfast and lunch
      • 42 different workshops being presented
      • Tables with pamphlets and assorted stuff being given away
      • You don’t have to attend the whole time
      • If interested, RSVP to Souci Hovsepian 626 744-6927, [email protected]
    • former theater status
      • have heard that the area zoning/plan does not allow for the land owner proposal for a Babies R’ Us
      • landowner does not seem to be progressing to any other plan, so future still totally unknown
    • Wickes furniture closing
      • mention was made that maybe Babies R’ Us could go into that building
    • PWP contractors blowing their truck horns at Alameda/Avocado gate
      • neighbors mentioned that big trucks under contract to Pasadena Water and Power have been blowing their horns repeatedly when they find the gate at Avocado and Alameda closed.
      • also mentioned a perception that when there are multiple trucks they seem to get into a horn blowing competition with each other.
      • contractor name on trucks is something like Polk & Stein
      • will contact PWP/city to complain
    • Too short left-hand turn light northbound Sierra Madre Villa to westbound Foothill
      • attendees mentioned noticing that the turn signal is now really short, allowing at most 3 cars to turn.  When there is a truck nothing else gets to turn.
      • This is now leading to some people who are aware of this problem to instead go straight across at Foothill and instead turn left on Mataro or La Tierra and proceed through the neighborhood street to Santa Paula Ave and then back south to Foothill.
      • Question arose as to whether light is controlled by Caltrans.  Don’t think so, think it is city.
      • Need to complain to city’s traffic department about why that signal is so short instead of paying attention to the sensors in the lane and letting the waiting cars clear the turn.
    • Pleasures club on Foothill now officially closed
      • It was noticed that the so called “Gentleman’s Club” that was on the south side of Foothill (across from the shopping center with Ralphs) has now been closed and fenced off.  Finally it is really gone.
    • potential for light/x-walk across Sierra Madre Villa at Electronic Drive
      • Question was raised as to whether there has been any news about potentially putting a cross-walk/signal light on Sierra Madre Villa at Electronic Drive.
      • Have no knowledge of any formal plans.  Only have heard that it could come about as a mitigation measure as a result of further development such as of the former Allstate property.
      • Need to ask if it shouldn’t be added to the city’s Capital Improvement Program, and if so how that is done.
      • Discussed the lighted pedestrian crosswalk at Sunnyslope on Orange Grove and the strange activation system.  Apparently there is a camera on a pole which is supposed to notice when pedestrians are there and cause it to light up.  But it is frequently lit when no one is there and not lit when someone is.  Why not just have a push button?  Pedestrians are used to them and it is proven low tech functional.  Maybe because the crosswalk itself isn’t controlled so pedestrians aren’t told when they can cross.

Next meeting is April 12, 2008.

Adjourned about 12:50 pm