October 10, 2009 Meeting Summary


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


Kathy hosted us on a very nice weather day and provided a variety of cookie and juice refreshments.


9 members


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:15 am

  • Ice Rink decision
    • At its September 14 meeting the City Council heard the recommendation from the City Manager to open negotiations with Polar Ice Ventures for a public/private partnership plan to build and run the proposed ice rink project adjacent to us.
    • With one member absent (Gordo) the Council came one vote short of agreeing to go forward, effectively ending work on the project.  Voting against were Council members Tornek, McAustin, and Holden.  Voting to go forward with negotiations were Council members Madison, Haderlein, Robinson and Mayor Bogaard.
    • In the meantime, the city staff is to work with the other stakeholders to see what the possibilities are for renovating the existing rink at the Convention Center and continuing to operate it after termination of the existing lease in September 2011.  A very rough estimate was made that that would cost about a million dollars.  And although there is no current specific plan or funding to return the ballroom to be used as such, it is anticipated that it would be at most 7 years until plans and funding would be worked out to do so.
    • Starting October 2 the “Pasadena Build the Rink Committee” has been soliciting signatures for a petition requesting a revote of the City Council on the basis of one member having been absent the first time and that his vote could change the outcome.
    • An October 6 article in the Pasadena Star News quoted Councilmember Gordo as saying it is “not a dead issue” and supporting continuing to look for a way to make it work.  The article provided no indication that he would request a revote on the September 14 proposal.
    • So although the ice rink project is down for now in the exact form it was last proposed, it could be rejuvenated if someone puts forward a modified proposal that requires fewer financial resources from the city.  Or at a future time when the fiscal situation is less severe.  This will remain a possibility until the land is used for some other purpose and/or a full ice rink facility is built somewhere else.
    • A member raised the question whether if we and the neighborhood on the other side of the wash were to get ourselves declared historic neighborhoods we could put an end to the ice rink proposal as a violation of historic status.  Aside from whether we would actually like all the restrictions of being a historic district or would have any chance of being declared one, the city does not consider the proposed ice rink site to be part of either of our neighborhoods – they consistently have declared no problem due to its distance and separation by the power lines on our side and the wash on the other.
  • Electric and dump trucks on our streets
    • Over the past month this problem has been worked on by multiple residents on multiple fronts and also by our Council member’s field representative.
    • Thanks to Kristy, who lives on Alameda, contact was made with Kerry Lynch, engineering manager for power delivery at Pasadena Water and Power.  He has promised to work on a solution with a goal of finding one by the end of the year.  After Kristy talked to him, Rhonda Stone, the Councilmembers field representative had several discussions with Mr Lynch.  The last report is that he is working on a possible solution – no further information is known.
    • Although Council member Haderlein is already aware of the problem, it would still be helpful to write him with your complaints including how the traffic is negatively affecting you.  Getting it off our streets is likely to cost something and the more hard information he has about its negative effect on the neighborhood the better.
    • Advocating that if the activity cannot be moved to city yards or other place in the city, then PWP should upgrade their own access road from Maple and use that.
    • Mr Lynch has provided his phone number so that we can complain about specific drivers who are speeding.  He said a few have already been fired for speeding.  Write down the date and time, street, direction of travel, and whatever identifying truck detail you can get such as the type of truck, contractor name,  license plate or other identifying number.  Mr Lynch’s office phone is 744-7851.  He has also provided his cell phone number.
    • There has been some success in slowing trucks down by making it obvious they are being watched. Standing out there with a camera is one way.  If you’ve got a camera with video capability, that could provide evidence of speeding.  Capturing the sound and feel for evidence could also be helpful in bringing the impact of the situation to the Council.
    • The expansion of traffic on Avocado, Del Vina, and Las Lunas that began in August was apparently an attempt to reduce the impact of the traffic on Alameda residents after PWP realized there were complaints.  They may also have become aware that a traffic count was about to occur on Alameda.  Of course having the trucks use multiple streets somewhat backfired for PWP because it raised the visibility of the problem to a lot more people.
    • The trucks are servicing capital power projects throughout the city.  Reportedly they are not using the city yards because the city wants to keep the contractors separate from the City trucks.  Previously it was stated it was because there wasn’t room there.  So don’t know the real reason.
    • The dump trucks are indeed bringing dirt and debris removed from construction sites, sifting and sorting it into categories such as concrete vs dirt, accumulating each type until there is enough to take a full load to the dump, and then carting that off.  It appears they are also keeping piles of clean rock aggregate and dirt which are used for backfilling excavations.
    • In mid September there was a traffic count taken on Alameda between Mercury Lane and Santa Paula.  Do not have the results of that count yet. (However, subsequent to our meeting we have learned from Alameda resident Kim that the City will be sending out a letter to Alameda owners/residents on whether speed humps are wanted.  Letter recipients are encouraged to respond promptly.  It is not clear whether the renters or their landlord will receive the letter.  If a renter does not receive it and wants humps, they should advocate to their landlord to respond that way.  Unreturned ballots are treated the same as no votes.)
  • Park
    • New pedestrian path
      • The new pedestrian path to Viña Vieja Park has been constructed.   The path is expected to open as soon as it has passed Edison’s inspection, which is anticipated to occur this week.
      • The path runs from a gate on Avocado Ave at Las Lunas Street north just inside the fence and then behind neighborhood houses until it reaches the easternmost southern corner of the park.
      • The path area is not as wide as previously planned.  Edison felt it was too close to the “too low” lines so now it is only a total of 11 feet wide – 8 ft path and 3 foot landscape buffer.
      • The split rail fence previously planned next to the path inside the park was eliminated to reduce cost.  It’s absence will also make the path’s existence less obvious to park visitors from outside our area.
      • The plantings in the landscape buffer along the eastern side of most of the path are called Hopseed Bush.  Along the south end of the path adjacent to Avocado Ave are Blue Oat Grass.  There is a 20′ gap in plantings in the middle of the area because Edison insisted that was necessary to maintain access to the small telephone pole on the neighbor’s property on the other side of a 6′ wall.
      • Gates on Avocado and at the park boundary are to be closed and locked each night.  Public Works maintenance crews are expected to open them in the morning.  Intercom security is to close them in the evening.
      • A temporary sign is supposed to be put on the current path’s Avocado gate redirecting people to the new entrance.
      • Some people may find the lack of outside visibility to/from the path to be a security concern.  This is recognized, but no non-opaque fencing material was considered suitable due to electrical conductivity issues and the “too low” power lines.  Hopefully the power lines will be raised when a new circuit is added to the adjacent towers in a few years.
    • Grapevines trellis, commemoration plaque
      • At some point soon the chain link fence to the north of the dog park that the grapevines are growing on is supposed to be replaced by some kind of trellis.
      • There is also supposed to be a plaque put on a nearby boulder commemorating the planting of the grapevines as a symbol of the history of the park location and our neighborhood.  The intent is to have something or permanence reminding future park patrons and caretakers that the grapevines are more then just a landscape choice.   We are to assist with figuring out the wording for the plaque.
    • Avocado frontage planting
      • Now that the ice rink project is presumed dead and therefore not maybe/supposedly going to landscape the west frontage of Avocado Avenue, our Councilmember’s field representative is asking what we’d like to do to improve it without much expense.  Possibilities include just continuing individual neighbor efforts as have been occurring, or making a plan to be undertaken by volunteers with support from the city.  Our Councilmember’s field rep has asked public works whether they would extend a drip line down on the city side of the fence.  If this could be done it would make getting any new planting established much much easier.   The possibility of asking Pasadena Beautiful to assist us has also been raised.  What would we like to do?
      • Only comment at meeting was willingness to volunteer if there is water, too difficult to manage if not.
  • Code compliance
    • Code compliance had agreed to send an officer to our meeting, but then they apparently changed their minds.  So, no officer.
    • At the City Council meeting on October 5 there was a presentation about how the budget will need to be cut further because revenues are less then expected and the state is likely to take even more funds.  Among the suggested cuts were eliminating “proactive code enforcement”. It was also mentioned that a management audit is underway of the planning and permitting office.  That Pasadena used to be renowned for the efficiency of its permit office and they were going to try to regain that perception.
    • A code compliance officer recently told a neighbor in response to questions that the office had new management and there was a shakeup underway.
  • St Lukes hospital property
    • The developer who bought the St Lukes hospital property at the peak of the real estate market has reportedly now filed for bankruptcy.  This could potentially result in it being acquired by somebody at much reduced cost and therefore less need to overbuild to recoup their investment.
  • Hastings Branch Library planting beds project
    • On November 21 there will be a community service project to redo the flower beds in front of Hastings Branch library.
    • 8 – 11 am or any portion thereof.
    • Bring gloves, and tools (if you have them).
    • If you expect to go, it is requested that you let Rhonda Stone know 626 744-4740 or [email protected] .  But you are invited even if you only decide to go at the last minute.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • PERT Training October 17 still open
      • There are still some slots available for the free Pasadena Emergency Response Training presented by the Pasadena Fire Department.
      • The goal of the training is to increase neighborhood self sufficiency in the event of a disaster because the fire department will be spread too thin to help everyone.
      • Saturday October 17
        8 am to 12:30 pm
        La Salle High School
        3880 East Sierra Madre Blvd (SW corner with Michillinda)
      • Continental breakfast and snacks provided.  Raffle for free emergency kit.
      • Registration required.  Go to http://www.cityofpasadena.net/district4 or call 626 744-4740.
    • 3175 Alameda St
      • On Thursday October 8, the city took possession of this nuisance property.  Putrid and vermin infested, the owner has ignored code compliance for years.  The city has now boarded it up and will be cleaning up the health threats.  Presumably the City Prosecutor’s office is taking some legal actions; have no details.  Have asked what the process will be going forward.
    • Stonefire Grill is to open in November
      • We have been told that the fast-casual style restaurant that has been under construction on Rosemead where Baker’s Square used to be is expected to open in November.
      • One of our members saw an article recently that there will be some kind of charity benefit held there in October which must be signed up for in advance.  Have been unable to find a reference to that.
    • Street trees on Sierra Madre Villa, Rosemead, Halstead
      • If you were walking on Sierra Madre Villa, Rosemead, or Halstead in just the right place and time and looking just the right way, you might have noticed a sign about a meeting about the designated street trees.
      • After the big blowup over the removal of the big ficus trees on Colorado Blvd last winter to be replaced with alternating palm trees and little not very shady trees because that was the “plan” for the street, the City Council asked the Urban Forestry Commission to relook at the master street tree plans for all the business districts in the city.  City staff was also directed to adhere in the future to the already existing policy of not removing healthy trees.  The idea being to avoid a similar controversy in the future.
      • The Southern Magnolia (designated tree on lower Sierra Madre Villa and Halstead) and Liquid Amber tree (Rosemead and upper Sierra Madre Villa) varieties have both been downgraded as less desirable trees.   So the commission was to consider at this meeting whether those tree designations should be changed.
      • If the tree were to be changed, existing healthy trees would not be removed.  The new tree type would just be put in place as old trees died or due to development caused openings.
      • Unfortunately the meeting was to be held on the far side of town at an awful traffic hour.  We complained.
      • Since our meeting we have been notified that the Urban Forestry Commission is holding a special meeting on just this topic.  It will be held
        Monday October 19, 2009
        5:30 pm
        Victory Park Center
        2575 Paloma Street

Next meeting is November 14, 2009, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library

Adjourned about 1 pm