April 12, 2008 Meeting Summary

April 12, 2008

Preparation

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

Acknowledgments

Susan brought cake.

Attendees

8 members

Meeting

Agenda Items:

  • Ice Rink project status
  • PWP contractor trucks blowing horns update
  • former St. Luke property developer meeting
  • 650 Sierra Madre Villa update
  • Public building projects and Design Review
  • City Capital Improvement Budget deliberations
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Public Health Emergency Exercise at PCC-CEC on Tuesday April 15

The meeting began at 11:23 am

  • Ice Rink project status
    • On Monday March 10 City Council heard agenda item 5B4
      • Agenda Report
      • Streaming video of meeting
        • Click on March 10, 2008.  Once it starts playing you can go directly to the ice rink item by choosing "5.B.(4) REJECTION OF ALL BIDS..."  from the menu underneath the picture.
      • The item had been heard already by the Council's Finance Committee in the afternoon.  (Had not realized this beforehand - should have gone to that meeting.)
      • Councilman Tyler summarized the results of that meeting:
        • now expecting to be ready to open new facility sometime in 2010, as early as March or as late as December
        • PCOC has said this schedule works for them and the ice rink won't be kicked out of Civic Center before the new facility is ready
        • estimates of expected visit volume and rink utilization are more then 2 years old, so staff is supposed to work with ice rink operator to update them
        • staff is directed to get revisions done and be back to City Council before 6 months if at all possible
        • Councilman Holden suggested setting up a non-profit entity for fund raising.  Staff to talk to the Pasadena Parks and Recreation Foundation?
        • Councilman Holden suggested having a parking fee instead of free parking to help raise revenue.  A "small fee" not as high as the one at the current rink.  Staff is to look into that.
        • Staff is to work with the skating community to make sure their needs are met. (No mention of working with neighbors or other interested parties.)
      • No mention was made during the meeting of the location or environs of the proposed rink, the neighborhood, the next door park, or PCC.
      • Director of Public Works, Martin Pastusha presented the staff report with additional details:
        • current construction budget is indeed $12 million, so lowest bid 90% higher
        • they think they can save $1 to $1.2 million in construction right off by a combination of:
          • redesign of roofing system
          • look into solar power / arrays
          • changes to window glazing
          • changes to interior finish
        • will also look into whether can reduce overall construction costs by having a more "squared building", using more conventional construction instead of architecturally significant.
        • will look into parking fee
        • will look into sports foundation through Pasadena Parks and Rec foundation
        • will look into new financial projections for revenue
        • projections are that construction costs will stay relatively flat into 2009.  Some increasing costs, such as oil, offset by decreasing costs due to less demand
      • Councilman Madison (not a member of finance committee)
        • expressed strong opposition to parking fee (only councilman to say so)
          • virtually unheard of at other rinks
          • one attraction of this site was ability to not charge for parking
          • noted he thought there was free parking in surrounding area and charging fee would make it hard to manage traffic
          • lots of problems at current facility due to paid parking - hard for many parents to afford
        • urged looking into private fund raising
        • commended PCOC board as being very supportive in past (he is council rep on that board) and suggested they may be able to offer additional help with financing
        • suggested looking into naming rights
        • noted could be more harmful then helpful to eliminate services such as food service and pro shop
      • Councilwoman McAustin asked if staff had talked with outside entities for possible financial support
        • Interim City Manager Melekian indicated staff had had some preliminary discussions which looked promising but did not want to raise any expectations yet.
      • No other Council member spoke, including Haderlein. No idea what he or others may have said in Finance Committee.  Subsequently, Haderlein responded to an e-mail on the subject with "I don't think that the parking fee idea has merit."
    • Primary new concerns for neighborhood as a result of this are:
      • Parking fee is very bad idea from our standpoint
        • One reason we've been relatively neutral about putting that huge view blocking, open space hogging, potentially big nuisance of a facility there is that plans always were for parking to be free so users would not be driving around and parking in our neighborhood (like the many PCC students who don't want to pay for parking).
        • Immediately next to the proposed ice rink site is Viña Vieja Park, including the very popular dog park. That free parking is already very oversubscribed at busy times such as weekends and evenings.  Park visitors are already parking way up and down Orange Grove Blvd at busy times even though it is a substantial distance from the dog park location.  If the pedestrian path to our neighborhood were not as long and circuitous as is the current temporary path that goes through the planned ice rink location, dog park visitors would also be parking in our park adjacent neighborhood and walking in via the pedestrian path.
        • As long as there is any pedestrian access between the park and the ice rink (and that is planned), then requiring payment for ice rink parking will result in ice rink patrons using free park spaces, potentially displacing more park patrons to greater distances or discouraging them from using the park.
        • Not having pedestrian access between the park and the ice rink would cut off pedestrian access from Orange Grove and that would make the ice rink even less accessible for those who wish to access it without driving (bicycle, foot and/or public transit).  It is a long way around.
        • Our neighborhood was hoping that once the ice rink parking was located immediately south of the dog park, frequent dog park users would learn that they could come via Foothill and use the supposedly usually mostly empty ice rink parking and have a shorter walk to the park instead of clogging up Orange Grove or our neighborhood streets and walking further.
        • If the pedestrian path from our neighborhood to the park is moved to its planned location going directly into the park, then not only will park users be parking in our neighborhood but it will convenient for ice rink users.  If it is not moved, then our neighborhood will be an even more obvious place for ice rink users to park for free since the path would likely be along the ice rink access road.
        • You can't say on the one hand that the ice rink will be used by and affordable for regular people, but on the other hand claim they will readily pay for parking when free parking is available just slightly further away.  Especially anybody who comes to the place more then once.  Our experience with PCC students proves it.
        • There was talk of the parking fee being "small".  The parking fee for PCC isn't particularly high, but it is still avoided.  Costs of devices for charging a parking fee are not insignificant.  Need to consider whether the revenue gain will actually be sufficient to pay for that and parking enforcement for the rink lot and surrounding areas that will have to have restricted parking instituted.
      • Redesign into conventional "squared off" building
        • Could potentially mean we'd have to look at a really ugly building without any attempt to reduce the monstrous visual impact.
        • Need to reinforce calls for visual screening from huge size of building and from building, parking, and vehicle lights.
        • Need to request again that official and public landscaping plans include the area east of the property itself, including the access road and the Avocado frontage.  Tired of vague verbal assurances and no actual plans.
        • Sent an e-mail to Haderlein on this subject but received no reply.
      • Probably should be lobbying others.  City planners, other council members, PCC board members.
  • PWP contractor trucks blowing horns update
    • As of March 17, the contractors had been instructed by Pasadena Water and Power not to blow their horns and were reminded to be "extremely courteous" to the neighbors.
    • If there are any more problems, please note the day and time and report it to eewna and/or Rhonda Stone and/or Joe Awad of PWP.
    • Meeting attendees reported not hearing the horn blowing recently.
  • former St. Luke property developer meeting
    • DS Ventures, the developer that now owns the former St Luke hospital parcel, held a meeting with neighbors on Wednesday March 19.
    • Notification was via door hangers on houses in immediate vicinity, possibly as late as the Monday before the meeting.  Councilman Haderlein heard about it via a neighbor and word was then disseminated more widely via e-mail from his field rep Rhonda Stone to neighborhood leaders and other parties known to be interested, and in turn via e-mails from them.
    • Your president was not able to attend the meeting to get a first hand account
    • According to Pasadena Now article on March 20, 2008
      • meeting was very contentious
      • attended by about 70 residents
      • plan described as building a seniors assisted care and independent living "campus"
      • three new buildings housing independent living units, three new medical buildings, new parking structure
      • buildings would be two to four stories high
      • 300 units of residential and commercial space
      • hospital building exterior would be preserved, interior would be converted to senior independent living units
      • developer said urgent care facility would lend itself to the nature of proposed uses, but did not identify a location for such a facility or provide further details
      • Haderlein was there and said developer's actions were inexcusable and disrespectful
      • Separately, Haderlein told Pasadena Now he felt the developer was ramming it down the community's throat and complained about the limited and ineffective meeting notice
      • reportedly developer intended to put plan into city process last week in March
    • Separately, Councilman Haderlein sent out this link to a webs site of a neighborhood organization in the San Fernando Valley which is fighting with the developer over a property there and complaining about another development already completed by the developer
  • 650 Sierra Madre Villa sold
    • According to LA County Assessor web site, the SMV/Rosemead corner parcel (just north of Allstate building) was sold for just over $6 million in mid-November '07.  Last month were speculating whether it might be the same developer as has the two parcels to the south of it.
    • That appears not to be the case.  According to the assessor, the owner of the SMV/Rosemead corner parcel is:
      GREEN CAT LLC with a mailing address on North Lake Ave.
  • Public building projects and Design Review
    • Until now, city building projects such as the proposed Ice Rink have been subject to a different and more lenient review process then private developer projects.
    • Review of the design by the Design Commission has been only "advisory to the City Council".   In other words, the Commission had no decision making authority.  City planning staff therefore did not need to take that review seriously and could just give a cursory presentation after the design was basically completed.   Private developers would need to provide a concept design which could be completely modified/rejected by the Design Commission.
    • Although the City Council has had the decision making authority, unless they specifically asked they might not see the design until construction bids were in and they were being asked to approve proceeding with the construction.
    • This is how it worked with the Ice Rink, and the debacle of the Design Commission hearings for it last year was kind of the last straw which led to this policy being revisited.
    • There are many, including some council members, who find at least some of the results of the Design Commission review to be lousy.  However, a serious presentation to the Design Commission allows for public visibility and input that can otherwise be avoided.  And if council members don't like the results  of Commission review they should look into whether the city code or written design guidelines is leading to those results and/or appoint somebody else.
    • On the City Council agenda for Monday April 14 is a proposal to change the code so that the public and private development processes are alike.
    • It does however, include an important loophole that can be used to completely avoid any Design Commission review at all.  This is described as "a provision allowing the City Manager and executive directors of the Rose Bowl and Convention Center to bring projects directly to the City Council if there are concerns about budget and/or schedule."  In the "Fiscal Impact" section of the agenda report it states: "The proposed amendment is not expected to affect the cost of publicly funded projects because the code already requires design review, and there is a provision in the code amendment to allow some projects to proceed directly to City Council if there are concerns about the effects of design review on budget or on schedule."   So, all city staff has to do is diddle around with a project until the schedule is too tight for review.
  • City Capital Improvement Budget deliberations
    • City Council's yearly look at the Capital Improvement Budget is about to begin.  This will be budgeting for fiscal years 2009 - 2014.
    • They will look at various aspects over four successive Finance Committee meetings from April 21 to May 12.  Finance Committee meetings are held on Monday afternoons prior to Council meetings.
    • Technically it is on the Council agenda each of those dates as well, but until May 12 when they are supposed to adopt the budget, the Council won't do anything for the item except listen to public comments from those unable to get to  the Finance Committee meeting to comment.
    • A copy of the Recommended FY 2009-2014 budget for review is supposed to be in each library branch. (But Hastings Library did not have a copy as of the time of our meeting.)  It can be quite interesting to browse through.  For example, the Walnut/Kinneloa street extension project that is about to happen had been in there, unfunded, for many years.
    • It might be that a project such as a signal light on Sierra Madre Villa at Electronic Drive should be in the CIP, even if unfunded.  It at least puts it on the radar of city staff to look for funding sources.
    • Here are the anticipated dates various sections will be discussed:
      • On April 21, 2008
        • Streets and Streetscapes
        • Transportation and Parking Facilities
        • Street Lighting and Electrical System Undergrounding
        • Street Lighting
      • On April 28, 2008
        • Municipal Buildings and Facilities
        • Parks and Landscaping
        • Arroyo Projects
        • Pasadena Center lmprovements
        • Rose Bowl lmprovements
      • On May 5, 2008
        • Technology Projects
        • Sewer and Storm Drains
        • Water System
        • Electric System
      • On May 12, 2008
        • Wrap-up
        • Agenda report for adoption
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Public Health Emergency Exercise at PCC-CEC on Tuesday April 15
      • A Citywide Public Health Emergency Exercise, aka. a disaster simulation, will be held on Tuesday April 15, 2008 next door to us at "Pasadena City College East", 3035 E. Foothill Blvd.
      • You are invited to go and participate or observe.
      • The invitation says to arrive between 11 am and 1 pm.
      • It will involve Pasadena Public Health Dept, Police, Fire, City College, school district (PUSD), Huntington Memorial Hospital, American Red Cross, other Mutual Aid agencies, and the "Pasadena Community".
      • More information from [email protected] or call 626 744-6177

Next meeting is May 10, 2008.

Adjourned about 12:20 pm

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