March 14, 2009 Meeting Summary


E-mail reminder was sent.  Phone calls were made.


Susan C. brought scones.


16 members


Agenda Items:

  • Annual election of officers
  • Park – new pedestrian walkway planning
  • Ice Rink project status
  • Refuse fee increase and street sweeping surcharge
  • Street sweeping to daytime
  • Proposed “handbill” ordinance
  • Newsletter
  • Urgent Care Facility Project meeting summary
  • District 4 Community Meeting – March 18
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • incident at Dog Park on December 19
    • Estado “mansion”
    • large scale map
    • neighborhood watch
    • post office has moved
    • directory of tradespersons references
    • ice rink management and project history

The meeting began at 11:20 am

  • Annual election of officers
    • Susan Chu, our Vice President for the past four years decided not to run for office this year.  She intends to continue participating, just not as an officer.  We thank her for her longstanding commitment.
    • Kathy Vacio, our Treasurer for the past four years, stepped up to run for Vice President.
    • Rosalie Gonzales agreed to run for Treasurer.
    • There were no volunteers for Secretary.
    • Voting result was 15 votes for Laura Ellersieck as President, 14 votes for Kathy Vacio as Vice-President, 1 write-in vote for Kathy Vacio as Secretary, 1 write-in vote for Susan as Secretary, 14 votes for Rosalie Gonzales as Treasurer.   (Your president has to admit she forgot to vote, which is why only 15 ballots were cast.)
    • Question was raised as to whether we shouldn’t do something to raise funds so we would have a treasury so that we would be able to do more things.  Discussed potentially having a neighborhood garage sale to raise funds.  Also some discussion of having a neighborhood picnic/party/fair.  We haven’t done anything “fun” since the June 2005 fair at the church parking lot (for which we got a huge amount of outside organizing help.)   No commitments were made.
  • Park – new pedestrian walkway planning
    • Has been determined that Edison requirement to ground chain link fence for buffer zone made that too expensive, so that fence would be vinyl also.  Creates the issue of an invisible space between the buffer fence and the backyards/walls.
    • Entrance gate would be located across from southern sidewalk on Las Lunas.
    • On February 23rd, as one of several adjustments to the Capital Improvement budget in item 5B2, the City Council approved $50,000 for this project to complete the park plan.
      “Vina Vieja Park – lmplement Master Plan (78289) – Staff recommends recognizing and appropriating $82,382 in Residential lmpact Fee lnterest to this project. Of this amount, $50,000 will pay for the installation of a pedestrian walkway fence. The remaining $32,382 is so this project can be closed. The project received $19,731 less in Private Capital (Norman’s Nursery) than anticipated and went over budget by $13,011 due to higher construction costs.”
  • Ice Rink project status
    • Request for construction bids is out, bids are due March 25.
    • City planner says they are on track to bring proposal to City Council in April.
    • (see additional topics below for more ice rink discussion)
  • Refuse fee increase and street sweeping surcharge
    • Every residence should have received from the city a Notice of Public Hearing for the City Council meeting on April 27 at 7:30 pm.
    • It describes how the landfill cost has risen and therefore our refuse collection fees should be increased by almost 3% per month.  For most of us, that will be an increase of 41 cents to $1.03, depending on the size of your trash can.
    • It also proposes a “surcharge” to pay for street sweeping.  Up to now, street sweeping has been paid for out of the City’s general fund – that is general tax receipts.  So this would add a new fee of .79 per month to our bills.
    • The fee increase is covered by Proposition 218, which requires that property owners be notified of proposed increases and given the opportunity to protest.  The fee increase can be imposed unless a majority of parcel owners send in a written protest prior to the hearing.
    • The information presented by city staff so far does not indicate one way or another whether the street sweeping surcharge is subject to the same ordinance.
    • The chances of a majority written protest are nil, so in reality it is totally up to whether the City Council wishes to increase the fee impose the surcharge.  There was no indication of any reluctance on their part at the February 23 meeting where staff requested them to agendize the hearing.
    • Here is a link to the Staff Report requesting the City Council to set the hearing date (which they did).
  • Street sweeping to daytime
    • Presented within the proposal to increase the refuse fee and add a street sweeping surcharge, City staff is also proposing to change street sweeping to day time “city wide”.
    • Reason given is that there are too many overnight parking permits in some congested areas, resulting in sweepers never being able to get to curb there.
    • Except it turns out they would not change sweeping to daytime for business areas
    • They would spend $625,000 for no parking signs.  Money would come from Refuse fund, emptying funds currently in it.  Staff told the Council those funds were intended to be used for purchasing new equipment.  Instead those purchases would be delayed.
    • They expect only one side of a street would have no parking at a time.  (Problem where one side of the street is always no parking not mentioned.)
    • Staff did not know yet how long a time frame they would need to have the no parking for.  Could be 2 or 4 hours.  Did not know yet if they would immediately switch sides or if there would be a buffer between during which cars could be moved.
    • No cost savings are expected from the change.
    • They think maybe they can keep daytime schedule better then night because more people available to fix breakdowns in the daytime.
    • Overnight parking restrictions would remain unchanged because of perceived safety benefit.
    • Some Council members indicated that city staff should do public outreach and consider a test area first, not switching areas that are not suffering from parking problems.
    • Councilman Holden brought up that he’d be in favor of switching to days because then the sweeper wouldn’t wake him up at night.  Councilman Gordo indicated he was all in favor for many areas in his district where there is a chronic inability to sweep, but he thought it should be determined on street by street basis.
    • Staff indicated reason they wanted to switch the whole city was to make their route planning easier.  (But that doesn’t exactly jive with still doing business streets at night.)
    • Although there does not seem to be any reason for this change to be enmeshed in the same item as the refuse fee increase and street sweeping surcharge, it is.
    • Originally proposed public hearing notice did not mention this change, but the notice that has been sent to everybody does.  So this will be on the agenda at the Council meeting on April 27 at 7:30 pm.  Meetings are held in City Council Chambers, room S249, City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Ave.
    • Send/deliver official protest/comments, including name, parcel address, and title “City of Pasadena Refuse Collection Fee Increase” to arrive by 4/27/09 at 5 pm to
      Office of the City Clerk, 100 N. Garfield Ave., Room S208, Pasadena, CA 91109
  • Proposed “handbill” ordinance
    • On March 2, the City Council heard a proposal to rewrite the existing handbill ordinance.  The City Attorney is to return within 60 days with the specific new ordinance language for approval.
    • Existing handbill ordinance from 1998 was found illegal by court and therefore has not been enforced.
    • Now a new ordinance is being proposed which city attorney thinks will pass muster.
      • Prohibit the distribution of handbills on residential property (which includes apartments, condominiums, etc.) unless the handbills are properly secured, affixed, or weighted so that it will not be blown about or off the property, or by delivering the handbill personally to the occupant thereon.
      • Prohibit the distribution of handbills on residential property, if there is placed in a conspicuous location near the entrance, a legible sign of at least 16 square inches bearing the words “No Handbills”, or a similar notice that the resident wishes not to have their right of privacy disturbed or to receive any handbills, such as a “No Solicitors” sign, unless the distributor has the resident’s prior authorization to distribute (subject to exceptions which include pubic officials delivering public notices required by law and handbills which have been requested by the resident [e.g., newspaper subscriptions]).
      • Prohibit any person from distributing handbills in or upon any automobile or other vehicle citywide.  (This provision may not be included due to concerns about constitutionality.)
      • Permit the handing of any handbill to a person who is willing to accept the handbill.
      • Establish a rebuttable presumption that the person whose message is on the unlawfully-distributed handbill has violated the ordinance.
    • The stated purpose of the ordinance is to reduce windblown litter and reduce opportunities for accumulations at homes that might be unoccupied.
    • Will outlaw our distribution of newsletters or any other notice unless we can find a way to ensure they are weighted/tied down in every case and our distributing volunteers are careful to watch for signs.Certainly complicates it.  Not everybody has a door mat to tuck it under.  Door knob hangers require die cut, which is expensive.   Bags of pebbles are a nuisance for everyone as well as an expense.    Alternatively could only directly hand them to residents – a much higher time and effort commitment by volunteers but with a higher contact success rate.
    • E-mail is easiest distribution by far, but many of our residents do not use e-mail and we still need to periodically try to contact those with whom we do not already have contact.
    • For e-mails, we should put an opt-out line at the bottom to make it easy for anyone who has changed their mind about being on our contact list.
  • Newsletter
    • Fourth annual newsletter was generated and distributed throughout the neighborhood by seven volunteers.  Would like to thank Susan C., Susan S., Rosalie and her children, Linda, Gail, Amelia, and Laura.  Albert would have also distributed flyers if not for a mix up.
    • For any future newsletters or flyers, we will have to provide the paper.  This is a change by Neighborhood Connections to reduce city costs.  As noted above, we will also need to comply with any new handbill ordinance.  Sharon offered assistance with future publication issues.
  • Urgent Care Facility Project meeting summary
    • On March 5 there was a community meeting regarding the Urgent Care Facility Project proposed for 3060 Del Mar Blvd.
    • The meeting was directed by the City’s project planner.  Also presenting were the project architect with a sketch plan, head of the City’s Health Dept., a representative from Huntington Medical Foundation, a representative from CHAP (Community Health Alliance of Pasadena).  A city planner in charge of reviewing the project for consistency with zoning and other requirements was also present for part of the meeting.
    • The presentation plan was interrupted by a few very upset meeting attendees who could not wait to make their statements.
    • The project is still at a preliminary physical planning stage.  It will require a Conditional Use Permit.   It is starting the initial environmental review process.  A traffic study is in progress. City’s hoped for schedule would have the public hearing for the CUP in May, completion of design in June, and construction finished toward the end of the year.
    • The physical plan involves remodeling the existing building on the site.  (The old Girls Club location.)   A small portion which is unstable will be demolished.  The outside facade will be redone using a “sustainable wood” product and stucco.  The architect says they are aiming for a residential feel.  All trees will be preserved, but otherwise landscaping will be designed to use as little irrigation as possible.  They intend to qualify for a silver LEED certification (a standard for environmentally friendly buildings).
    • The portion of the parcel to the south, which was dedicated as a Nature Center in the 90s, will not be altered by this project.  (However, it remains endangered by its designation in the City’s Capital Improvement Program for future use for a police and fire training facility.)  Some attendees brought up a concern that access to the southern portion of the parcel would be further degraded by this project.  This was noted as a concern to be accounted for in the environmental study.
    • A portion of the project space will be for Urgent Care, the other portion will be for CHAP.
    • The urgent care would be managed and staffed by Huntington Medical Foundation. It is a non-profit medical group that currently has 7 offices in the area (3 adult, 3 pediatric, 1 specialty).  They do primary and ambulatory care.  The representative said they are looking to expand their primary care base.
    • At this time they are looking at having the Urgent Care open from 8 am to 8 or 9 pm
    • There would be basic x-ray and lab services, and very basic medication dispensary (maybe top 20 items).
    • The CHAP portion plans to have only primary care, no dental.  Hours from about 8 am to 6 pm.  The representative noted that they were just notified of an award of federal stimulus money, so they are sure they will have enough funds.
    • Attendees voiced concerns about
      • the fate of the Nature Center and its open space
      • distracted and senior drivers mixed with kids from nearby schools, boys & girls club, park
      • increase in traffic on Del Mar and already existing traffic issues with drop offs and pickups  at Ability First, the schools, the boys & girls club, the park
      • lack of Council representation for the area on the issue (our Councilman must recuse himself for conflict of interest reasons)
      • additional people from outside the area frequenting the area
  • District 4 Community Meeting – March 18
    • Wednesday March 18, 6:30 – 8 pm
      The Frostig Center, 971 N. Altadena Drive
      (north of Mountain, across from Victory Park)
    • Hosted by Vice-Mayor Steve Haderlein
    • Commissioners representing District 4 to discuss what they do
    • City Director of Finance will discuss City’s financial situation
    • Information on red flag warning notification from fire & emergency management reps.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • incident at Dog Park on December 19
      • Letter to Star News on 2/24/09 by a Jana Monji asked for witnesses to an incident where she was knocked down twice by a doberman and her collie dog was fatally injured while the cell phone occupied doberman’s owner paid no attention and even when made aware was not helpful and left.  She requested any witnesses contact her at [email protected]
    • Estado “mansion”
      • The giant new house speculatively built at 3205 Estado and listed for sale at least a couple years ago at a ridiculous $1.25 million finally sold for $650,000 in February.
    • large scale map
      • Idea was raised of getting a large scale map for meetings to help attendees better visualize locations being discussed.
      • Laura will see if already have one; otherwise look into printing one.
    • neighborhood watch
      • question raised about relationship of our association to Neighborhood Watch.
      • Neighborhood Watch is managed by Police Dept’s community services.
      • Neighborhood Watches are organized in much smaller units then our association.  A block or other contiguous area where the neighbors can visually observe each other’s houses.
      • (We could invite PPD’s community services officer to give a presentation at one of our meetings if that is desired.)
    • post office has moved
      • The East Pasadena post office has moved from the long-time location on Colorado & Vinedo to its new location on the south west corner of Colorado and Kinneloa.  In the new development kitty-corner to Target.
    • directory of tradespersons references
      • Sharon Stockdale presented her idea for a publication she proposes for our web site and periodic distribution
      • A flyer including a form would be distributed to all the houses in our neighborhood requesting referrals of tradespersons with which the resident has had good experiences.  Form would request contact info for the tradesperson, what service they provide, a comment, and who is making the referal.
      • Completed forms would be mailed or delivered to Sharon.  Could also do online form.
      • Sharon would compile a directory of the referrals.  Only referrals would be accepted, not requests by the trades person for inclusion.
      • Maybe sometime later could include paid advertising, clearly marked as such.
    • ice rink management and project history
      • Fred Culick, who lives elsewhere in Pasadena, introduced himself.  He had received a copy of our newsletter and wanted to fill us in with his perspective on the ice rink situation.
      • He is a founder and still partial owner of Pasadena Ice Skating Center (PISC), the company which operates the ice rink located at the Civic Center.  It was founded in order to make a rink available in Pasadena.  It was opened in 1976 with a 25 year lease on the site, with two 5 year extensions.
      • He said he started the process of getting a new rink in 1997 when he had a coffee with Councilman Sid Tyler.
      • As the end of the 25 year lease approached (2001), he said the Civic Center management tried to make a case that PISC was not in compliance with the lease and therefore in default and should not be granted an extension.  They had already decided they wanted the space back and wanted to expand the convention/civic center.  A large sum, basically all the savings of Pasadena Ice, were spent on lawyers in successfully fighting that; the lease was extended.
      • Initially city staff worked with PISC in looking for a new ice rink location and understanding the requirements.
      • After a while in the design process for the new ice rink project it became clear the city staff didn’t care what PISC thought anymore.  City staff and the architect indicated that they felt they knew the business better.  They stopped consulting with PISC or even returning calls.
      • The organization recently identified in staff reports to the City Council as “Los Angeles Kings / Polar Ice Ventures” was originally involved in the project by city staff to do a review of the expected costs and revenues.   Then all of a sudden they were being described as the organization with whom the city will contract to manage the new ice rink.  There was no discussion with PISC about the change, just as there has been no public indication of the reason.
      • Reading between the lines, there seems to be a belief that Polar Ice Ventures offers an opportunity to bring in more business.
      • Mr Culick said he has had difficulty getting information about Polar Ice Ventures and what relationship allows them to use the Los Angeles Kings name.  There is a known friendship between the Polar Ice Ventures owner and a famous player, but it is not clear whether there is a financial relationship with the L.A. Kings.
      • He said he now has a very low opinion of the way the city operates.
      • He said that an Ice Rink is not a “vast money machine”.  It is best run as a small business by people who are directly involved, not by the central office of some large organization.  In the early 80s, PISC contracted for a time with Ice Capades to operate the rink and all they managed to do was upset everybody and run up a big debt.
      • He said he met with the new City Manager a few weeks ago and told him that he believes  that legally the City now has to open up the management agreement to public competition.  They can’t just make a back room deal with Polar Ice Ventures.  He said the City Manager told him he would look into the situation.  He has not heard back.

Next meeting is April 11, 2009.

Adjourned about 12:45 pm