July 9, 2011 Meeting Summary


E-mail reminder


8 members


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:25 am

  • General Plan Update survey (deadline extended to July 13)
    • The deadline to answer the General Plan Update survey has been extended to Wednesday July 13.  So if you haven’t done it yet, now is the time.
    • The printed “newsletter” including the survey in the middle, arrived in the mail on about June 16.
    • The “newsletter” and access to the survey is also available online at http://www.cityofpasadena.net/GeneralPlan.
    • In addition to using the online survey instead of the paper version, the online survey can be used to allow all members of a household to express their opinions.
    • There are four basic alternatives proposed.  But don’t rely on the general descriptions.  There are much more specific descriptions for each alternative for each of six planning areas.  The survey asks separately for your preferred alternative and two factors you consider most important for each planning area.
    • Most of the planning areas correspond to areas already covered by specific plans.  Single family neighborhoods are generally not included in the planning areas – they are supposed to continue to be “protected” by all the alternatives.
    • Note that the reason why alternatives that increase housing claim to result in more water and electrical savings per person is simply that people packed in apartments and condos use less water per person because there is very little landscaping to water, and new development is more water and energy efficient then older ones, so the more new development the more the average usage goes down.
    • Note that in the East Pasadena area, for those concerned about the massive development that was proposed under the existing plan for the area across from us on Sierra Madre Villa between Electronic and Rosemead, alternative D is the only one which would reduce the potential development allowed there.
    • There is also a section of questions (4) about transportation.  The so called Mobility Element.  Want to draw your attention to item 4 D, which asks for your feedback on the city’s current practice of preventing developers from providing enough parking in areas near Gold Line stations in order to try to force use of public transit and ride sharing. Because we are near a Gold Line station this directly affects us as any further development is done on Foothill or Sierra Madre Villa.   That is reportedly one factor in Kaiser’s lack of on-site parking at Foothill and Sierra Madre Villa which is already causing some spillover into our neighborhood.
    • Only recognized one resident from our neighborhood at the workshop held on Tuesday June 28 at PCC-CEC.  But the meeting was fairly well attended by people from throughout the city.  But some had attended multiple workshops.
  • Tour neighborhood with city’s new planning director?
    • Vince Bertoni, the city’s new Planning Director, has invited Neighborhood Associations to set up walking tours with him in their neighborhood areas to get to know the neighborhoods and the concerns of their residents.
    • As of a week ago, he was booked until fall.
    • Is this something some of you would like to take part in?  We decided at the meeting we are interested in doing it, so will call the number given to see what can be arranged. (Do not know yet if evenings or weekend days are an option.)
    • Whether or not you want to personally participate, what would you want him to see and discuss?  Here’s a list so far:
      • Sierra Madre Villa – Rosemead, brick building’s parcels potential development
      • Sierra Madre Villa pedestrian crossing problem
      • Sierra Madre Villa traffic problems just north of Foothill caused by driveway from Bed Bath Beyond.
      • PCC-CEC parking
      • Kaiser and, potentially future, business parking on residential streets
      • city possessed properties such as 3175 Alameda
      • Avocado frontage to Edison land
      • Pedestrian access to park
  • Edison addition of circuit, conflicting info
    • after our last meeting where we discussed Edison will be adding their circuit to the big towers this fall, a mailing came from them to houses within a certain distance and those on their mailing list from attended workshops a few years ago
    • unlike the information given at the City Council meeting by their area representative, the mailing indicates that work this fall will only be on the section from the Goodrich station south to the Mesa substation in Monterey Park.  The Goodrich station is the station just north of Foothill (next to PCC-CEC), so that would mean across the freeway, but not across the park, Orange Grove, etc.
  • recent local crime
    • On Monday June 13, during the day, a house was broken into on Alameda St, just east of Sierra Madre Villa. The thief kicked in the front door (unusual,  but it was partially hidden from the street, and there was a dog in the backyard).  They only took very small items such as a watch and fancy pens. Valuables such as a laptop, camera, TV, DVD were not taken.  Police forensics thought the pattern of ransacking indicated a single person doing it.
    • About one month before, on May 16, there was a daytime burglary at a house on Estado almost directly behind the house on Alameda.
    • May 23, 10 am, there was a fraud reported on the 400 block of Avocado Ave.  No further info.
    • In past couple months there have been at least two times that police have been observed dealing with some kind of problems on Santa Paula near Estado.  And residents who go by a particular house there have noticed activities thatseem suspicious.
    • Let this be a reminder of the police’s standard refrain that foliage should be trimmed so that doors and windows that can be seen from the street can be seen.  Doors and windows should be secured when you are away.  Consider upgrading cheap old doors and putting good locks with solid strike plates installed with extra long strike plate screws, and/or a security screen door.  Even if you can’t afford a monitored alarm system, you might consider some of the products at home improvement stores that let you put individual battery operated alarms on doors or windows.  There are also motion sensor alarms which can be installed in a key area a burglar would transit.  If you have a dog, they do the most good if they have access to where a burglar would go.
  • 3175 Alameda
    • This is the house that the city took possession of a year and a half ago and has once again been overgrown with weeds.
    • Kathy recontacted Code Compliance about June 24 and was redirected to a City Attorney.  (Why Code Compliance could not contact the City Attorney themselves instead of waiting for someone to call them again about the case is unknown.  Bureaucratic run around.)
    • Kathy learned that the City Attorney in charge of the case, Kim Resendiz, was out of town until July 5.  Apparently nothing could be done in the meantime.  On July 5 she left a message on her voice mail.  Has not received a response yet.
    • A few days later she called the City Attorney’s office and talked with an assistant to the attorney.  The assistant claimed that the city never took possession of the house and they cannot send MASH to whack the weeds.  (Even though that is what was done at least once last year, and the year before when the city cleaned up, boarded up, and fenced the property. Presumably the city adds the cost of cleanup to the city’s lien against the property.)
    • On Friday, having never received a response to Kathy’s e-mail to Council member Masuda at the beginning of June, and noticing that there is now a field representative listed for our council district, Kathy’s Mom sent an e-mail to the field representative explaining the situation and asking them to break through the bureaucracy.  Will see what happens.
  • Gold Line extension construction
    • Construction of the bridge for the Gold Line tracks from the middle of the 210 freeway to the south over the east bound lanes in Arcadia is beginning.
    • There will be a huge buttress that could perpendicularly across the freeway lanes.  The bridge with the track will sweep from the middle of the freeway across at a angle, appearing to lay across the buttress.
    • Construction will start with building a big temporary retaining wall to make a flat area in the middle of the freeway where the construction will take place.  That’ll take about a month.
    • Then foundation work will begin. They will be drilling holes and installing concrete piles ranging from 3 to 11 feet in diameter and up to 110 feet below ground.  There will be a huge drilling rig involved.  They expect that to go on into the fall.
    • Then they will construct a “falsework”, a temporary support structure, across the eastbound freeway lanes to protect the freeway during the year long construction of the bridge itself.
    • It is expected that eastbound lanes will be closed from time to time to move equipment or work on the falsework.  The closures are expected to take place between midnight and 5 am.  During closures, eastbound on ramps will be closed from Sierra Madre Villa through Baldwin.  Traffic already on the freeway will be detoured off and redirected onto Foothill Blvd.
  • fire dept budget resolution
    • In the end, there was a workaround from the proposed reduction of truck personnel.  Instead savings are to be recognized in the short term from the already closed (due to earthquake vulnerability) west side fire station, from switching one of the paramedic ambulances to a non-sworn EMT ambulance, and increasingly from implementing the changeovers to non-sworn staff for inspections.
  • new businesses opening nearby
    • A BevMo is going to be opening on July 29 where a Ken Cranes TV store used to be, next to a gas station at  Foothill and Rosemead.
    • The rebuilt Vons opened on July 1 at Colorado and Sierra Madre Blvd.  Some of our residents went there multiple times opening weekend partaking of free samples.  They like it.
  • Fri July 15, dusk, movie at Victory Park – How to Train your Dragon
    • The free July “family movie night” at Victory Park is How to Train your Dragon.
    • Outdoors on the “upper field”.
    • Food and musical entertainment start at 6 pm
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Council member’s field representative apparently appointed
      • Although no announcement has been seen or heard, the District 4 web page on the city’s web site now shows a name and email address for a field representative for Council member Masuda
      • Noreen Sullivan, (626) 744-4740, [email protected]
    • street tree trimming
      • On the evening of July 4th a very large branch of an street elm on Estado Street broke off. It dented a resident’s car roof and scratched the side.
      • City crews took a couple hours from midnight until 2 am Tuesday morning to clear the branch.
      • Later they came back and removed the entire tree because of “heartwood” damage which they said meant the tree itself was likely to fall over
      • Neighbors note that many other trees on the block seem to be poised for similar failure even through the whole block was trimmed fairly recently. What is going on with the city pruning?
      • We know that:
        • Until maybe 25 years ago street trees were all “topped” (aka hacked down to nothing but stubs) about every 5 years.
        • At some point the city switched to newer arborist standards in trimming where the tree is to be thinned, not topped. Trees which are topped sprout out a lot of new branches whose connections to the cut area tend to be very weak and prone to breakage
        • The city contracts with a private firm to do all the regular maintenance.
        • The regular maintenance schedule is supposed to result in all the trees being trimmed about every 5 years
        • Some years ago there was an acknowledgment that 5 years was too long for some fast growing species like the elms, and young trees, while maybe some others could go longer. Schedules were to be made more tree species specific. There is no evidence that has taken place.
        • Often it seems to be well over 5 years between trimmings, making the problem even worse
        • The city contracts for about 5 years with a firm to do the trimming. A new contract was started with a new firm last year.  Was told last fall by a Pasadena employee tree trimmer that the new firm did not understand what Pasadena expects and was doing a poor job everywhere and city crews were spending lots of time following them trying to fix the results.
        • The pruning that gets done in recent years seems to have become increasingly minimal. It would be ok if the trees were being trimmed every year or two, but it is certainly not suitable for the 5 to 7 years schedule
        • The trimming that happened on Del Vina elms a couple months ago was very erratic, with some trees trimmed all around, but others still dangling dense bushiness onto the tops of trucks, and others trimmed on one side but not the other.  Residents on other streets that were trimmed in recent months noticed similar problems.
        • City crews have been cut back in the past couple years. Supervision of the private contractors likely also has been reduced even though in the long run it would be more cost effective to have the contractors do a proper job, have city crews do less fixing after failure, and fewer and less expensive claims against the city for street tree damage
        • In addition to branches getting too heavy, trees on average have gotten a lot less water recently, last summer particularly.  Especially if a tree has grown its roots close to the surface due to being accustomed to lawn watering, it will suffer when that type of watering is suddenly cut back severely.
      • Residents also noted recently some city contracted tree trimmers hacking here and there on various trees, including trees in back yards.  These are actually contracted by Pasadena Water and Power to clear power lines.  They won’t do anything else.

Next meeting is August 13, 2011, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library

Adjourned about 12:45 pm?