January 10, 2009 Meeting Summary


E-mail reminder was sent.


Susan brought cupcakes.


6 members


Agenda Items:

  • Ice Rink Project Update – City Council results
  • City’s tree protection ordinance modification discussions
  • St Lukes property development plan made public
  • Walnut & Kinneloa extension & improvements funding
  • SE Foothill / Sierra Madre Villa corner development update
  • Hastings Branch Library 50th Birthday Celebration
  • Plan for annual election of officers
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss

The meeting began about 11:25 am

  • Ice Rink Project Update – City Council results
    • In the December 15 meeting the Council discussed the “information item” regarding potentially funding the ice rink project by borrowing the construction costs from other city funds until the municipal financing market improves and then paying those other funds back from the issuance of revenue bonds.  The city’s general fund would have to pay the interest.  Staff also mentioned that the bonds would probably be issued in conjunction with other city projects.
    • In response to a question, staff indicated Edison it is ok with using property directly east for overflow parking.  Did not mention use of PCC lot.
    • Councilperson McAustin seemed to offer the most skeptical questioning of the proposed financing.  She asked why the hurry, but the City Manager didn’t seem to understand her question.  Councilman Tyler was relatively reserved in his questioning.
    • Councilman Holden seemed to be questioning making it a priority over other projects.
    • Councilman Madison pushed very strongly for the project, including going forward as soon as possible no matter what financial nonsense is required.  He also got the discussion taken out of order, before the broader city financial problems discussion, and thus out of context.
    • Vice-Mayor Haderlein leaned heavily for it as well, saying should not just focus on profit/loss because the project has recreational benefit to the community.
    • There was no mention during the discussion that the project was originally sold as one which would not take any taxpayer funds.  That it would only be approved if it was self supporting.
    • Mayor Bogaard spoke last and seemed to be trying to summarize the situation.  He mentioned the “doctrine of increasing compulsion from all the decision already made”.  He also mentioned that there is lots of support in the community, but he restated that as the “regional community”.
    • There was no discussion about why it is necessary to move forward right now as opposed to waiting a few more months to get a better indicator of the trajectory of the economy and finances.  The only reason given in the staff report for going forward with construction immediately is that it might save on costs.  But there was no discussion about whether costs were likely to rebound quickly or stay down for awhile.  No discussion of the ramifications to the potential management agreement if construction is delayed.
    • Because the financing issue was only an informational item, there was no decision taken on it.
    • The Council approved without objection paying the architect more to revise the interior design plans to the request of the new potential management LA Kings/PIV.
    • So staff will forge ahead with the redesign, negotiations with LA Kings/PIV, construction access negotiations, and putting construction out to bid again.  Then presumably come back to the Council with a proposal to award the construction contract, approve management and access contracts, and some financing scheme.
    • On Tuesday December 23 the LA Times had an article about the whole ice rink situation.  It focused most on the inadequacies of the current ice rink in the old convention center ballroom.  It also discussed the desire to restore the ballroom to that purpose and about the proposed new rink and the financing problems.
  • City’s tree protection ordinance modification discussions
    • http://cityofpasadena.net/planning/trees/protection.asp
    • Public meeting for discussion and comments
      • Monday January 12, 2009, 6 pm, Senior Center, 85 E. Holly Street
    • Current ordinance has protections for trees even on private property if they meet certain species and/or size requirements.  Removing those trees requires permit.  There are also limits on pruning.  Generally only enforced as part of other development activities (adding to or replacing building(s)).
    • Noted problems are costs for homeowners, canopy coverage standard encourages replacements that are fast growing and perhaps not very desirable trees, other zoning standards in conflict.
  • St Lukes property development plan made public
    • Monday’s City Council agenda includes the Pre-Plan Review for the proposed redevelopment of most of the 12.9 acre former St Luke’s property.
    • The information presented is very preliminary and sketchy.  It is an information only item so the City Council does not make any decisions and has to be somewhat careful to not appear to be pre-judging it.  All they can do is ask questions and request additional commission reviews.  It is the first opportunity for the public to see the proposal and comment on it.   As such, the neighborhood association for the area immediately south is requesting people attend and express their opposition to it.
    • 180 assisted living units are proposed.  They would be located in four of the six existing main building sections, using a little more then 112,000 sq ft.   90 parking spaces allocated for them.
    • The most south west 24,000 sq ft section of the existing main buildings would be “amenities / services”.  30 parking spaces.
    • The furthest east 20,000 sq ft section of the main buildings (was chapel and convent) would be administrative offices.  60 parking spaces.
    • An existing education trailer and storage building would be demolished.
    • Three new buildings housing 172 senior housing units would be built.  They would total almost 272,000 sq ft on almost 87,500 sq ft of lot.  The site drawing says they would be 2 and 3 story buildings.
      • A 52 unit building would run along Del Rey Avenue south from Washington Blvd.  East of the existing hospital buildings.  40 parking spots allocated.  Apparently the building would have underground parking.
      • An almost square 75 unit building would be located on Del Rey Avenue separated from the building to the north by a wide driveway to parking and loading spaces. The building has some private open space in the middle of it. To its south would be some existing and retained surface parking, although it is unclear how it would be accessed.  60 parking spaces would be allocated.  Apparently the building would have underground parking.
      • A 45 unit building would be located to the east of it, separated by some kind of passageway. Its 28 parking spaces would be under the building to its west.
    • The existing medical office building would remain.
    • To the northwest of the existing medical office building, a new 42,000 sq ft building covering 10,500 sq ft of land would be built.  It would have 51 parking spaces underneath it.  It appears these would be accessible from both Washington Blvd via the existing office buildings parking lot, and from Del Rey Ave via an underground tunnel from the new parking structure.  The rest of its 168 spaces would be in the new parking structure.
    • A 296 stall parking structure would be built southeast of the existing hospital buildings, west of the new office building, and north of the easternmost new senior housing.  It appears it would primarily be accessed from Del Rey Avenue but it appears there is also access to Washington Blvd via an underground tunnel to the new office building’s underground parking and then through the existing office building’s parking lot.
    • The existing central generation and cooling plant building would remain.  It is off Washington Blvd just north of the existing medical office building.
    • The developer touts on its site drawing that it will save all the protected trees on the site.  According to the staff report there are 264 total trees, 32 of which are identified as protected.  Counting the trees the drawing indicates will remain, it appears every non-protected tree will be removed.
    • The developer touts on its site drawing the creation of a new park south and east of the new senior living buildings and north of the existing single family houses on Woodlyn.  But on the drawing the “park” appears to have parking spaces, no retained trees, and there is no other information about this “park”.  Presumably the developer is touting this as a buffer from the neighborhood to the south while meeting some open space requirement and giving the seniors some nearby access to the outdoors.
    • The developer touts on its site drawing “generous” landscaped setbacks, gradual building height and volume transitions between the hospital buildings and the neighborhoods to the west and south.  It claims it will “open view corridors” from adjacent streets and properties (other then removing trees, how is unclear). It claims the new buildings are low enough to not affect the view from south of the property to the north above the hospital buildings (ie. mountains).  (View of top of hospital buildings and mountain views adjacent to them aren’t mentioned, so would presumably be blocked.)
    • The developer, DS Ventures, is requesting to change the zoning from PS (Public and Semi Public) to PD (Planned Development) for the entire area except the existing single family houses in the south west corner along Woodlyn Road.
      • The current PS zoning is “is used to designate public land uses, including schools, colleges, libraries, fire stations, and hospitals, among other uses.”  The proposed development is inconsistent with that.
      • The Planned Development entitlement is intended for sites where an applicant and the City desires to achieve a particular mix of uses, appearance, land use compatibility, or special sensitivity to the neighborhood character.”  Essentially with a Planned Development the city and and developer negotiate to accomplish whatever they want.
    • The proposal splits the property into 5 areas of discussion/evaluation, but the developer is requesting to split the property into 8 land parcels and two air parcels.  The air parcels may be in order to “separate the senior housing use from the office use within the convent and chapel”.  It says the “creation of separate land parcels, … is intended to allow the project components to be operated by separate entities, and allow the individual sale of the residences in the future.”  The drawing provided with the staff report may have some dim lines showing the boundaries; if so they are not recognizable on the online version.  It is totally unclear what the eight divisions would be.
    • Staff identifies process points after a complete application is received as:
      • Initial environmental study.  If it is determined a full environmental impact report is needed, add a year to the process.
      • Historical Preservation and Design Commissions review it. If a required parking and traffic study identifies problems, it will have to go to Transportation Commission.
      • Planning Commission review.
      • City Council makes decision to approve or not.
    • Absent a full EIR, staff estimates 6 months to get through all the reviews and Planned Development approval.  That seems very optimistic even if there wasn’t lots of opposition to the project.
    • One note in the staff report is that the project would generate new property tax revenues.
  • Walnut & Kinneloa extension & improvements funding
    • Item 5B1 on Monday’s City Council agenda is for allocation of almost $1.2 million of state bond dollars for what is now described as the “second phase” of this project “includes the improvement of Walnut Street from Cook Avenue to Sunnyslope Avenue, and Altadena Drive from Walnut Street to Foothill Boulevard.”
    • The staff report notes that the state has now frozen the disbursement of the bond funds, but wants the Council to approve the allocation so that it’ll be in line whenever the funds are released.
    • The total project cost is now estimated at almost $9.5 million.
  • SE Foothill / Sierra Madre Villa corner development update
    • A 50% concept design review for the 212 unit residential portion of the development is on Monday’s Design Commission agenda.
    • The developer has chosen to separate the theater portion of the design for separate review.
    • The staff report to the commission shows one major struggle being the pathway from the Gold Line to the entrance to the theater.  The theater entrance is on the north side, so the path runs between the residential buildings and the theater buildings.
      • The southern entrance gate is one problem area.  It is to be open to the public during operating hours, closed for security afterwards, but needs to be able to be easily opened for emergency exit.  (Presumably there is some separate entrance for residents walking to from the station.)
      • The path goes past the loading dock and some backstage area and an issue is either screening or making it part of the “experience”.
      • The path has an increase in elevation as it goes north.  Apparently the current concept design has a series of levels with tree plantings.  But staff points out that the selected tree may have trouble growing since the path will have little direct sunlight much of the year.
    • Another struggle seems to be over the Foothill facing design.  There is a lot of talk about facades and an entry gate;  the materials used, depths, etc.
    • In sum, it looks like the design is progressing through the process, but very slowly.
    • A December donation solicitation from the theater company “A Noise Within” said they hope to break ground on the theater this spring.  Its said they had reached just under $9 million of their $16.3 million capital campaign goal.
  • Hastings Branch Library 50th Birthday Celebration
    • Hastings Branch Library will be celebrating it’s 50th birthday and you are encouraged to join in.  Mark your calendars.
    • Saturday February 21, 2009 starting at 1 pm and extending past 3 pm.
      • Door prize raffle.
      • City and library VIPs.  Past and present Hastings librarians.
      • Musical performance by students of the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.
      • Performance by Emmy Award winning children’s singer-storyteller extraordinaire Dan Crow.
      • Cake cutting and eating.
      • Balloon artists creating balloon sculptures for the children in attendance.
  • Plan for annual election of officers
    • March, and time for our annual election of officers, is fast approaching again.
    • Should we do a February newsletter to distribute to all residences again?
    • What should we do differently this year and who’s volunteering?
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Pasadena Marathon rescheduled for March 22.

Next meeting is February 14, 2009.

Adjourned about 12:15 pm