August 8, 2009 Meeting Summary


E-mail reminder was sent and some phone calls were made


Susan brought mini-muffins.


14 members


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:20 am

  • Ice Rink non-decision
    • On July 13 the Finance Committee of the City Council heard a recommendation
      • to fund the Ice Rink project by issuing $21 million in tax-exempt municipal bonds and using the city’s general fund to pay the estimated $3.06 million shortfall between revenues and costs during the first 10 years.
      • After 10 years the projected revenue would exceed the projected costs so that the city would recoup its general fund investment by the 17th year and have a net gain of 24 million by the 30th year.
      • The city would contract with Polar Ice Ventures to operate the facility for a term of 10 years.
      • Polar Ice Ventures would be required to provide an hour of free skating time each week to the Parks and Rec dept and give a $1 free skate discount to residents.  They would also be required to maintain a promotional relationship with the Los Angeles Kings.
      • The committee ran out of time for further discussion and asked the staff to complete a number of details and bring back more information to their meeting on July 27 and then to the City Council that evening.
      • The low bid contractor had extended its bid 45 days until August 16 to give the Council extra time to make its decision.
      • Among the details needing completion were the cost of the Edison lease and following up with PCC to insure the tentative agreement for access was still acceptable.
      • Some committee members were clearly troubled by the need to support the project with the general fund and the substantial risk that the amount could end up much larger then the projected amount.
      • The July 27 meeting was canceled without explanation.
    • On August 3 the City Council heard a new recommendation, with the July 13 recommendation presented as an alternative.
      • Instead of going forward with building the rink right away, the city would reject the current construction contract bids and enter negotiations with Polar Ice Ventures (PIV) on a different financial structure with targeted completion of agreement by end of the year.
      • Instead of just contracting with PIV to manage the facility, the city would lease the land to PIV and PIV would be responsible for both building and running the project.
      • The city would take advantage of some new bonding authority authorized by the federal stimulus bill to issue bonds but pass through responsibility for paying them to PIV.  This would relieve the city of the risk that costs would be higher or revenues lower then the projections.  PIV would take that risk in return for the potential profits.
      • Because the amount of the new bonds the city is authorized to issue is only $18.5 million, the city might have to put in additional cash upfront.  City staff was looking into whether the County might allow the city to use some of its bonding authority.
      • The city would still be responsible for the PCC and Edison contracts and for building the access road and utility connection infrastructure.  That would be as much as almost $1 million for the utilities, $200,000 for the traffic signal, $100,000 for the access road, $15,000 per year for the Edison lease.
    • A major turning point of the Council’s deliberation August 3 was the realization that the recommended ground lease option would likely cost considerably more upfront then the original recommendation.  The advantage would be the reduction of risk to the city. Disadvantage is upfront cost in bad financial times and, if you believe it would ultimately be profitable, the city would not get that profit.
    • Council member McAustin was not present at the meeting.
    • Council members Madison and Haderlein strongly favored the original recommendation for the city to build the facility now, issue bonds, and operate the facility via management agreement.
    • Council member Madison suggested yet another redesign to save construction cost.  He said he thinks it is over designed, that what it looks like on the outside does not matter, only the inside.  (Note however, the Council has never been presented the current design.)  Staff tried to explain why there is very little likelihood of saving more because the soil conditions preclude the normal least expensive construction methods (pre-fab tilt up), reduction of energy efficiency raises long term costs, and every change costs time and money to run the numbers to figure out the results.
    • Council members Holden, Gordo, and Robinson were not willing to commit funds now given the difficult financial environment for the city.
    • Council member Tornek was the only Council member to state he was in favor of turning the project down flat.  Bad site, bad soil, industrial building in middle of residential area, awful access, great ongoing financial risk, does not share optimism of ultimate benefit.  He said he has made a living evaluating long term pro formas.  Thinks there is extraordinary risk even under the best circumstances.  Moving this to the head of the list of unfunded capital improvements does not make sense.  He said he would like to maintain recreational skating in the city and would support rehabbing the existing location.
    • Council member Holden suggested looking into a joint project with other nearby cities, maybe another city had a good location.  Other council members said they either didn’t want to share what they believe will be profit with another city (Madison & Haderlein) or they didn’t believe another city would want to commit funds to a project in Pasadena (missing the notion of a different location).
    • Twenty-two people spoke at public comment.
      • The majority, sixteen, were ice or hockey skaters or coaches in favor of going forward immediately.  Eleven of those were from outside the city.
      • Six speakers urged not building the facility for a variety of reasons, primarily financial and loss of open space.
    • Unable to obtain five votes for any of the options presented in the Staff Report, the Council eventually voted 6 to 1 for a compromise.  Essentially holding open and further investigating the ground lease investigation option but not yet foreclosing the possibility of the original management agreement proposal.  The thought seemed to be if they could just wring out the projected general fund spending in the first 10 years, or at least reduce and delay it, they might be able to get sufficient support for going ahead with the management agreement proposal.
    • Next steps
      • City staff to determine if contractor will continue bid to middle of September.
      • If not, come back to City Council August 17 with whatever new information have been able to get by then and ask for further instruction.
      • If will, continue working the problem until first Council session of September.
        • Work with contractor to flesh out possible ways to further reduce construction costs.
        • Talk to County about possibility of using some of its stimulus pass through allocation.
        • Talk more with PIV about the public/private partnership option.
        • See if ice rink supporters can make more firm contribution commitments.
        • Approach other cities for their openness to some kind of joint project.
    • For more details on these meetings, the history of the project, and design drawings, visit our updated web pages at:
    • One of our attendees indicated a belief that leasing the open space land which is dedicated parkland to a commercial entity for commercial use would be illegal.
      Obviously the city staff doesn’t think so. There is precedent in that the land was leased in the past to the plant nursery. Unsure of the arrangements for all the facilities in the Arroyo.
  • Electric trucks on Alameda
    • It is now almost two and a half years since Pasadena Water and Power started using its land north of the power substation and south of the water well as a staging area for electrical work throughout the city.  Big electric trucks and a variety of other big work vehicles are stored there overnight.  Now vehicles for a paving contractor are also using the site.
    • Originally we were told the site was going to be used for temporary storage of transformers.  Neighbors report that some transformers finally arrived recently on humongous trucks that came down through the park and Edison right of way.
    • A neighbor has counted at least 50 trucks coming and going through the gate on Avocado just north of Alameda as early as 5:30 am and as late as 6 to 7 pm.   Most of the trucks are diesel.  Sometimes they sit idling for long periods of time while the gate key is found or the lock is cut off.
    • The workers on the trucks drive their personal vehicles to and from.  Many of them drive much too fast.  At least 17 cars, SUVs, motorcycles have been counted.
    • Many near accidents have been observed between those vehicles and locals (some of whom are also driving too fast).
    • Residents are writing a letter of complaint.  We discussed whom to address it to.  Mayor, City Council members, our Council members field representative, PWP representative, Star News, Pasadena Weekly.  A link to a city web site containing addresses has been added to our web site.  Contact Information for City, School, County, State, and Federal Elected Officials
    • We also discussed whether to do a petition or individual letters.  Multiple individual letters have more impact.  On the other hand, many people will not make the effort to write an individual letter, so it might make sense to do a petition as well as encourage individual letters.  Also discussed raising awareness with decision makers by speaking to the City Council during Public Comment which occurs near the beginning of each meeting, and/or speaking during the Public Comment period of the Safety or Municipal committees.
    • A resident spoke with the traffic department about the speeding and other traffic problems on Alameda.  The person she spoke to indicated it takes 1000 vehicles a day to get speed humps and indicated waiting until school is back in session before undertaking a traffic count and documenting the speeding.
    • Subsequent to our meeting, have found this document on the city’s web site: Speed Hump Policies and Procedures
    • Also this document: Neighborhood Traffic Management Program Community Handbook
  • Park new pedestrian path
    • As of the middle of July an agreement with Edison was reported to be almost complete.  Some more work on drawings needed.   Reportedly Edison is requiring detail down to height and width of each plant in the landscape buffer.
  • HHW & E-Waste collection Sat August 15, 9 – 3, Santa Anita Race Track
    • A Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Waste collection event will be held at the Santa Anita Race Track, Gate 6 on Colorado Place, next Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.
    • Same day, but from 9 am to 2 pm is a collection in Sierra Madre at Mariposa Parking Lot (just west of Baldwin).
    • Paint, pesticides, cleaning agents, microwaves, phones, televisions, computer parts, etc.
  • New street lighting on Halstead
    • On July 20, the City Council approved awarding a contract to install post top pedestrian lighting on Halstead St. from Rosemead to the Gold Line station.
    • They will be mercury vapor lamps.
    • It is going to cost between $170,000 and $194,000 paid from a combination of federal and MTA funds.
    • It has do be completed in November or the federal funds being used will be lost.
  • Code compliance officer meeting
    • Only got one reply to question of interest last month in a meeting to ask questions and discuss city residential codes, processes and procedures.
    • In the absence of further input, Kathy will arrange a meeting at her home and let us know the date and time.
  • Nordstrom Rack replacing Wickes to open October 8
    • A sign on the side of the former Wickes says the Nordstrom Rack that is replacing it will open on October 8.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Congressman Adam Schiff’s Town Hall on Health Care
      • Tuesday August 11, 2009, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
        Alhambra Civic Center Public Library – Community Room
        101 S. First Street, Alhambra, CA 91801

Next meeting is September 12, 2009.

Adjourned about 12:45 pm