November 12, 2011 Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


8 members


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:20 am

    • Green waste storage planned by City south of dog park
      • City of Pasadena Public Works Department, Division of Urban Forestry has applied for a Conditional Use Permit for a 20,000 square foot “Maintenance Service Facility” on a portion of the city’s dedicated park land south of the dog park, between the Edison lines and the wash.  The notice indicated it would be used for “recycling of wood and tree materials to be stored in storage bins prior to and after being grounded into mulch.”  It also said no environmental review is needed.
      • Hearing notices were found posted along Avocado Ave around November 1.  By November 2, the notice was available on the city’s web site, and by November 3 the notice was arriving by snail mail.
      • The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday November 16, 6 pm, in the Permit Center Hearing Room located at 175 North Garfield Avenue.  Enter from the Ramona Street side entrance.  This item is 5th out of 6 items on the agenda.  Although items can be taken out of order, it is unlikely to be heard immediately at 6 pm.
      • In response to a heads up e-mail to our residents, at least several people wrote about their concerns to the City Planning Office’s contact person.  Most received a polite form letter response, but one did get an answer that “The site will be used for storage only.  There are no recycling activities and/or equipment proposed onsite.  The recycling activities will be occurring offsite at a private facility in the City of Industry.”  This left us still concerned about the route of traffic to and from the site.
      • On Tuesday November 8, the Staff Report was posted and e-mailed to those who had written.  A Staff Report is an analysis of the proposed usage and the applicable ordinances, and a recommendation of whether it should be approved, the findings of fact to support approval or disapproval, and any conditions that should be included with the permit.  The Staff Report is written by the City’s Planning Department staff and given to the Hearing Officer who will make the ruling.  The Hearing Officer is a professional who is contracted by the City for the purpose of hearing permit applications.  Usually they are under contract to and perform this job for multiple client cities.  If the city later wants to do something against the condition of approval in the permit, they have to get the permit revised, which should require another hearing including notice to the neighbors. Code enforcement is supposed to enforce the conditions of the permit.  If the city violates them, the permit could be revoked.
      • The Staff Report  for this Conditional Use Permit #5664, 3026 East Orange Grove Blvd recommends approval of the permit.  It provides the following information about the proposed usage:
        • It will be put in the south west corner of the 3.35 acre lot.  The fence will be six feet high with “green earth tone mesh screening”.
        • Access to the site will be provided solely from the Pasadena Community College Parking lot to the south east
        • No trees will be removed.
        • No structures other then the fence.  No paving, and no lighting.
        • Six bins 74″ x 43″ x 50″ will be kept on site for temporary storage of “green waste material”.  They will provide a “holding location for wood and green waste to accumulate until the bins are full to reduce truck trips and lower truck emissions.”
        • “All recycling activities such as mulching of wood, cutting tree limbs into small pieces, will take place off site. There is no mechanical equipment being used on site that would generate any noise.”
        • Under normal conditions forestry crews will access the lot one time per day, five times per week. Up to four times per day during wind storms.
        • The purpose of the facility is “to reduce the volume of green waste going into landfills, offset tree replacement, maintenance, and management costs for the City and to comply with the California Waste Management Act AB939.”  Its use “will allow 98 percent of the green waste collected to be mulched and reused in City parks and properties.” vs the 85 percent currently recycled.
        • The recommended conditions of approval include:
          • “limited to the storage of tree limbs, tree trunks, tree materials, wood, shrubs, leafs, foliage, and green waste only.”
          • Hours of operation “limited from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday to Friday.  The use of the facility during weekends (Saturday and Sunday) shall be limited to high wind days and emergencies from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.”
          • A six foot tall chain link fence with green mesh screening material shall be installed along the perimeter … (100 feet wide by 200 feet length).”
          • “limited to City of Pasadena Public Works Department use only”
          • “The use of residential streets along Alameda Street La Tierra Street, Avocado Avenue, Estado Street, Avocado Lane, and Santa Paula Avenue shall be prohibited by green waste trucks at all times.”
          • “Access to the site shall be limited from Foothill boulevard through the Pasadena City College Library parking lot only.”
          • “The onsite repair and maintenance of automobiles, trucks, vehicles, and/or related equipment shall be prohibited.”
          • “The short term and/or long term storage of vehicles, cars, trucks, mechanical equipment, and/or related vehicles on the subject property shall be prohibited at all times.”
          • “Fire Department access and hydrant shall be provided.”
      • It appears that our letters at the least forced formal inclusion of conditions to prevent impacts to our neighborhood.
      • Need to inquire about why the conditions of approval refer to the PCC lot as the “Library” parking lot.
      • Wonder whether the city already has an agreement with PCC, and if so, what PCC is getting in return.
      • It is interesting that they are using the same Orange Grove address as the park, even though access is to be from Foothill.  The previously proposed ice rink project used a Foothill Blvd address.
      • Wonder if they have done any analysis of how they’ll get a hydrant there.  Getting water for the ice rinks project was going to be a major effort.  Although the water well is right there, it may not provide the necessary operating conditions for a hydrant.
      • The appropriateness of using this land for this purpose has not been addressed.  It is zoned as open space and was dedicated to the city for use as parkland back in the 1930s.
    • Summary of tour with City’s planning director
      • Five residents met Vince Bertoni, the city’s new Planning Director at the corner of Sierra Madre Villa and Mataro on the morning of October 21.
      • After brief introductions we walked north on Sierra Madre Villa, west on Las Lunas, south on Avocado, east on Alameda, south on Santa Paula, east on Foothill, north on Sierra Madre Villa to Mataro.  No one else met us along the route.  We took about an hour.
      • The Planning Department is responsible for zoning codes, building codes, permits, code enforcement.  It is not directly involved in traffic planning.
      • Mr Bertoni was appointed as Planning Director within the last year.  He has previously lived in the Pasadena area but currently lives in Los Angeles.
      • We discussed the points of interest as delineated in previous meeting summaries.
      • Mr Bertoni noted that the Gold Line area parking restrictions were on the City Council agenda for the 24th and encouraged us to provide comment.
      • As we walked on Santa Paula we noted the large number of parked cars on it and adjacent streets where there are not time limits.  We watched one lady park on the corner of Santa Paula and Estado (more on Santa Paula then Estado, which has time limits), and then walk south and then east toward Kaiser.  As we walked on Foothill we noted the small parking lot used by Kaiser on the north side near the auto repair place had lots of empty parking spots.
      • Requested regular maintenance schedule for boarded up 3175 Alameda.  Haven’t heard back.
    • Parking problems and restrictions on parking spaces near Gold Line station
      • On October 24, City Council agenda item 11 presented the City Council with some background information and three alternatives for studying and/or changing the caps on parking spaces for office and commercial buildings within a quarter mile of Gold Line stations.  These so called “Transit Oriented District” (TOD) regulations are intended to encourage the use of public transit.  The issue had been raised during public comment at the September 19 Council meeting.
      • The staff report for this agenda item provided this background information:
        • “The TOD parking requirements around light rail stations were adopted in 2005 as part of the revisions to the Zoning Code. The regulations impose parking reductions and place a cap on the maximum amount of parking that can be built in TOD areas”
        • “For office uses the TOD regulations impose a 25 percent reduction in the parking requirement. This reduction lowers the parking requirement from 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet to 2.25 spaces and caps the parking such that projects cannot exceed this standard. Outside the TOD, parking can exceed the minimum standard by 50 percent, which for an office use would allow a maximum parking of 4.5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet.”
        • “For other commercial uses, the TOD regulations reduce parking by 10 percent and cap the maximum at this reduction. This includes such uses as retail sales, restaurants, medical offices and personal improvement uses which vary in terms of the number of parking spaces required.”
        • “The TOD parking requirements apply to areas within a quarter-mile of light rail station platforms. The exception to this is within the Central District where the TOD requirements apply to a broader area delineated in the Central District Specific Plan. The quarter-mile radius around the Sierra Madre Villa Light Rail Station platform includes properties in the East Pasadena Specific Plan area (north of 210 Freeway) and the East Colorado Specific Plan area (south of the 210 Freeway).”
        • “A site can exceed the cap by providing parking that is intended to serve the surrounding district and is available for public use.”
        • “The intent of TOD parking controls is to discourage single-occupant vehicle use and encourage the use of transit and ridesharing. The General Plan includes several policy statements supporting this premise.”
        • A 2004 revision to the Mobility Element of the General Plan specifically calls for parking caps near public transit.
        • The 2004 Land Use Element of the General Plan recommends customizing the TOD plans for each of the Gold Line stations, recognizing that they might be inappropriate for East Pasadena.  (Obviously this never happened.)
      • The staff report presented three alternatives for the Council’s consideration:
        1. Complete the General Plan Update policy discussions now underway which are to go to the Council next spring.  Once the Council has adopted an updated conceptual set of principles and policies, the environmental review process begins. All TOD standards citywide would then be considered as part of the broader environmental review process.  All the inter dependencies could be considered and the study would not require additional separate funding from the process already underway.  Staff anticipates this would result in any changes being adopted by the end of 2012.
        2. Review the TOD standards as part of East Pasadena and East Colorado Specific Plan Updates.  This could delay any action for many years since updating those plans can’t start until the General Plan is finished, and might not be first in the update schedule.
        3. Amend the Zoning Code just for the Sierra Madre Villa Station Transit Oriented District parking area to change the parking caps.  Because a traffic study, environmental study, and Planning Commission review would be needed, staff said this would take at least until June 2012. It would also require taking Planning Staff from other priorities and new appropriation of funds.
      • After a substantial and lengthy discussion, and public comment by some business owners and developers, the City Council chose the staff recommended option 1.  Several comment letters had also been received prior to the meeting.
      • Some of the commentary and discussion focused on the Kaiser parking problems.  (No one from Kaiser was there.)  It was stated that Kaiser is an unusual medical office situation that uses space more intensely then most.  That even at the uncapped minimum for parking outside a TOD, Kaiser would need more.
      • The owner of Space Bank Mini Storage testified that he’d lost development opportunities because of the parking caps.  He requested the Council adopt option 3 in order to allow increased parking as soon as possible.
      • It was pointed out by a number of commenters that parking caps do not work to discourage vehicle trips when there is adjacent free parking in neighborhoods and commercial areas. It just causes those areas to get the traffic.  Also that increased parking space searching could increase pollution more then allowing adequate onsite parking.
      • Councilman Masuda advocated for option 3, but accepted option 1 when it became clear there were no other votes for option 3.  Some of the council members seemed open to the possibility of changing the TOD caps, but there was indication of considerable resistance to doing so by others.
    • Local crime summary
      • Reports from
        • Sex Crime, Child Molestation, Tuesday November 8, 3:39 pm, 3100 block of Estado
        • Burglary, Monday October 17, 1:19 pm, 3200 block of Foothill
        • Assault, Wednesday October 26, 9:29 pm, 3200 block of Foothill
        • Assault, Monday November 7, 5:47 pm, 3000 block East Orange Grove (Sunnyslope or Gwinn Park)
        • Residential Burglary, Thursday November 3, 4:06 pm, 600 block Lomora Ave (just north of Orange Grove, just east of Edison power lines)
        • Residential Burglary, Thursday November 8, 1:48 am, 600 block Lomora Ave
        • large number of vehicle breakins, burglaries, assault, fraud, drugs, … either in the Hastings Village shopping area, the Gold Line station, or those apartments in front of the station.
        • There is also a big cluster of crimes showing up along Colorado Blvd, just west of Madre.
    • Local street tree removal notices
      • It was noted that some street trees in our neighborhood have been posted with signs indicating they are slated for removal.  The one on Mataro lost a large limb in the last year and is dead / dying.  Elm trees are known for rotting inside and then suddenly breaking.
    • PCC-CEC added permanent classrooms
      • The construction previously noted in the PCC handicapped parking lot has resulted in several additional classrooms which appear to essentially be permanent.  They are to be used for expanded health training programs.  It appears more may be constructed.
      • It is unknown what permitting process occurred for the construction.  We are unaware of any notices to residents of the neighborhood, design review, traffic/parking study, …  We can guess that as a separate state constitutional government entity, PCC may be exempt from some City requirements.  Is this something that residents would be interested in looking into?
    • City Council redistricting public forum Wed Nov 16
      • Every 10 years following the Census count, all the elected representative district boundaries have to be adjusted to equalize the populations among them.  This includes the City Council and School districts. Each entity has formed committees that are working on the new boundaries.  The City is actively encouraging residents to learn about and participate in the process.
      • The City Council Redistricting Taskforce is holding a series of public meetings and forums.  They are supposedly going to show tentative redistricting maps and explain how it all works.
      • The only one on this side of Pasadena is as follows:

Wednesday November 16, 2011, 6:30 pm
Norma Coombs Elementary School Auditorium
2600 Paloma Street, Pasadena 91107 (directly south of Victory Park)

  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Yet another burger joint
      • At the November 16 hearing, there is a Conditional Use Permit request to allow a new restaurant, including serving beer and wine, in the building on the NE corner of Foothill and Halstead (next to Pei Wei, where a cell phone store was). The name for the new “restaurant” is “Hook Burger”.  The staff report recommends approval.
      • Looking up Hook Burger on the internet, it says it is a “premium burger concept”, quick-casual style restaurant, from the founders of Habit Burger Grill (which the founders sold off in 2007). It’s menu has four variations of burger, four sandwiches, four salads, four desserts (all shakes), four kid’s meals.
    • Alameda Street paving
      • One day a few weeks ago one lane of Alameda street was sort of repaved. When are they going to come back and finish the job?

Next meeting is December 10, 2011, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library

Adjourned about ??