December 10, 2011 Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


7 members


Susan brought home made brownies


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:20 am

  • Windstorm – what happened and lessons learned
    • The windstorm overnight from Wednesday November 30 to Thursday December 1 will be remembered a long time by those who experienced it.  Event those who have lived here 80 plus years cannot remember a worse one.
    • (Notices from city that came after our meeting:)
      • Once your street is cleared, don’t put anymore debris out in the street.   Break up branches and put them and leaves in your landscape bin.  Stuff that doesn’t fit should be disposed of in normal fashion (take to dump, recycle, bulky item pickup). The ability to take tree debris to Eaton Blanch Park ended Dec 16.
      • Free mulch from grinding of debris is available now through December 29 at Eaton Blanch Park, 3100 E. Del Mar Blvd, in the parking lot on Millicent Way.  Bring your own shovel and containers to carry the mulch.
      • The City is requesting that private storm related costs be reported so that local governments can better demonstrate their need for state and federal disaster aid.  This reporting can be done by calling 211 or online here:
      • The city’s web site has an online survey form for telling them what they did right or wrong.
    • It is a reminder of the importance of making disaster preparations and getting to know one’s neighbors.  Neighbors helped each other with clearing streets and driveways, sharing power, providing refrigerator/freezer space, telephone and internet access, going to the store.
    • This was mild destruction and inconvenience compared to a major earthquake could bring. There were no serious injuries.  The local grocery and hardware stores were still operational.  After a little bit of clearing most roads were passable.  Gas and water were not disrupted in Pasadena.  Cell phone service continued.  Electricity was restored to most of the neighborhood within a day.  After the wind died down, the weather was fine.  The severe consequences were localized enough that agencies from other southland areas were able to come help restore power.  As troublesome as overhead lines can be, think how much longer it could take to find and fix breakages in lines and pipes underground.
    • power outages
      • exploding transformers, spewing oil and fire on the wind.  We were very lucky to avoided anything catching fire more then momentarily.
      • power surges – at least one home experienced exploding lights, fried plugs, damaged electronics
      • The south side of Las Lunas, at least on the west end, was without power until Sunday afternoon.  Thanks to Anaheim power for spending two days fixing the lines.
      • food storage
        • Remember, the refrigerator is usually made cold by airflow from the freezer.  Even if you leave the freezer shut, every time the fridge is opened it pulls cold air out of the freezer.  The fuller your freezer is, the longer it’ll all stay cold, since air is more quickly displaced/warmed then contained frozen food/water.  Similarly, if your refrigerator is mostly full, the cold will be retained better then if it is mostly air.
        • Leave it all shut up, a full freezer will easily be ok for 3 days, especially if the surrounding house isn’t very warm.  But of course, if you leave it all shut and the power doesn’t come back in time, then you’ve lost the use of everything instead of just some of it.
        • Albertsons brought in and was selling dry ice.
      • generators, batteries, candles
        • candles should be a backup to flashlights and battery powered lanterns.  Candles are especially problematic with kids or pets or anything unpredictable around.  Also for any moving usage.
        • Some people learned there are now some relatively small and quiet gasoline generators available.  No, they won’t power a whole household, but just keeping the fridge cold and a light on is a lot.
        • Worn out cellphone batteries become a bigger issue without the ability to plug them in.
    • phone and cable outages
      • Personally aware that AT&T and Charter were out in some areas for 10 to 14 days.
      • AT&T’s systems are clearly not designed well for gathering information and responding.  In spite of many callers telling them where the problem is, and numerous “appointments” where “technicians” had the opportunity to become informed and enter information into their system, it took AT&T six days to get into their system that the line was down between poles between Del Vina and Las Lunas and the whole block was out.  The phone reporting system is designed to treat customers as idiots with no useful information.  No live agents are available during late night and early morning hours.  And trouble reports can be closed using false information without anything being fixed and without any interaction or notice to the customer.
      • Charter’s ability to take reports seems to be far superior.  Fixing their lines seems to be a bit more simple then the phone system’s.
    • So many trees uprooted or severely broken.  Many more are leaning and will have to come out.   Proper pruning ahead of time could have lessened the damage, but improper watering had doomed many to a poor root system.  And some tree types are really just a poor fit for limited the parkway space, resulting in root cutting.
    • If you are on a street where you think the street tree type designated by the city is inappropriate, now is the time to talk with your neighbors about changing it.  If your neighbors agree, you can petition the city to change the designated street tree.  There is a process to be followed; several streets in the city have have changed their street tree in the last few years.  The city will not remove existing healthy trees, but new trees that are planted will be whatever the designated tree is.
    • sidewalk damage – who pays
      • The city has long required property owners to fix the sidewalks in front of their properties, even though it is almost always the city street tree that has caused damage.  At least one home owner whose sidewalk was just upended by a falling tree has asked the city and been told that replacing that sidewalk is the property owner’s responsibility.
      • Has anyone been given different information?
      • Has anyone asked whether their homeowner’s insurance will cover fixing the sidewalk damage resulting from the storm?
      • At our meeting, the question was raised as to whether a block can vote to abandon their sidewalks.  After all, homeowners on streets without sidewalks don’t have to pay to maintain them.  Historically sidewalks were considered an amenity that added value to a property, but maybe that isn’t true in more recent decades.
    • debris cleanup
      • Cleanup efforts by the city have certainly been spotty.  Understandable that resources are overwhelmed.  However as time goes on it seems like some areas with little to be done are getting priority over areas with much worse problems, even when they are immediately adjacent to one another.  This may just be a factor of what type of crews and equipment are available – there being fewer heavy duty crews available.
      • (As of December 13, the City announced it had completed clearing major streets and was moving east to west clearing the city’s residential streets.  There is a map on the city’s web site as of the night of December 19 which shows that our neighborhood and neighborhoods south of the freeway have been bypassed if that is the strategy actually being used.  There are still large areas in the far west and north of the city left to be done.)
    • homeowner’s insurance
      • What kind of experiences are homeowner’s having with their insurance coverage?
      • What has been learned?
    • information disbursement and problem reporting
      • Radio and/or TV is of little to no use for getting information if the problem is relatively localized.  Even with much of the north/west San Gabriel valley severely affected, news reports initially gave at most a couple minutes to it.
      • Although internet has promise, for most people that access is still easily disrupted (if they have it in the first place).    Those with multiple types of devices and services have the best chance of getting information and being able to report problems.  Those without reason or ability to pay for that are more vulnerable.
      • Seems to take a long time for extraordinary reporting/coordinating systems to get up and running, and no way for many of those who need them to know about them.
    • potential clogging of storm drains from rain.  In the future, think about keeping the little stuff like leaves and twigs out of the gutter.  Either on the parkway or pulled away from the curb so water can pass behind.  We were lucky not to have a major rain storm.
    • Various people have been told that the city is waiving permit fees for repairs to damage caused by the windstorm.  They are also streamlining the process so that if, for example, you have a fence down, as long as you replace it with exactly the same kind of fence, you won’t have to go through reviews that might otherwise be needed.  You also can fix it first and then tell them what you did.  Take lots of pictures of before and after.
    • A message from Mayor on December 8 says the city will be holding some meetings for residents to provide feedback on what did and did not work and suggestions for how to improve.
  • Permit hearing results for green waste storage south of dog park
    • See last month’s meeting summary for background information.
    • The hearing took place on Wednesday November 16.  Although it was something like the 5th of 6 hearings, the previous hearings were fairly quickly dealt with.
    • Five residents from our neighborhood came to the hearing, three spoke.  We were well represented.  Tim Price, President of Daisy Villa Neighborhood Association (other side of Eaton Wash), also spoke.
    • The city was represented by Darya Barrar and another member of the Urban Forestry Division.  The new director of Public Works may also have been present, but was not introduced and did not speak.
    • The hearing officer was Paul Beard.  He was clearly quite experienced, had read the staff report and the letters that had been sent in, and thought about the situation. He said he’d also gone to the site and looked around.
    • Information stated during the hearing that was not in the staff report:
      • Most of the material to be stored would be from removed trees
      • Tree material that is too big for the city’s chippers (more then 6 inches diameter) is taken to a contractor in Chino that grinds it up.
      • This facility was described by city staff as “temporary”
      • No agreement had yet been made with PCC.  The new director of Public Works was to meet with PCC the following day to secure an agreement for access.
      • The storage bins would not be emptied on site.  They would either be brought filled with material waiting to be ground up, or they would be brought filled with wood chips waiting to be used as mulch somewhere in the city.  They would be transported one at a time on a truck the pulls them up or lets them down via a hydraulic cable.
    • Among the points made by public speakers were:
      • fencing off an area takes away from the “open space”
      • Neither our City Councilman nor the Parks and Recreation Commission had been made aware of the proposal by the city.  Thom Mrozek, our district’s Parks and Recreation Commissioner wrote a letter in opposition.
      • Why is the address referenced on Orange Grove (same as the park) if access is to be from Foothill? The address used for the ice rink project was on Foothill.
      • “Taking a park and turning it into a dump.”
      • The City and it’s water and power department have a history of using the Alameda street entrance and easement in ways that abuse the neighborhood.  They also have a history of using that area for activities without seeking permits and for which they wouldn’t be able to get a permit.
      • What would the effect be on PCC parking?
      • Fond memories of the nursery being there.
      • Concerns about noise.
      • Worried city employees will ignore the designated (to/from Foothill) route.
      • No one approached the neighborhood on either side about concerns ahead of time.  Just posted the hearing notice.
      • References to a “Library” parking lot in the conditions.
    • The Hearing Officer approved the permit, with some additional and modified conditions:
      • “The use of mechanical equipment shall be prohibited onsite at all times.”
      • “Mulching activities shall be prohibited onsite at all times.”
      • The storage is to only be “in storage bins. which will be brought to and from the site.”
      • The parking lot reference was fixed to say “Community Education Center” instead of “Library”.
      • “The applicant, City of Pasadena Public Works Department shall secure an access agreement with Pasadena City College (PCC) to utilize the driveway and surface parking to access the project site.  The Maintenance and Service Facilities use shall not be permitted if access from Foothill Boulevard through PCC driveway and parking lot is not secured.”
    • If the city wants to do something against the conditions 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.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • garage sale signs spiked onto street trees
      • The night before our meeting there were numerous signs posted in the neighborhood for a garage sale.  Many signs were posted on street trees using big nail spikes.  Aside from being illegal to post signs on street trees, putting nails into trees adds injury to the insult.  This is vandalism of city property.  If you see someone doing it, tell them to stop.  If someone is putting up such a sign with their address on it, they must be clueless.  Such signs should be reported to code enforcement (and these were reported later that day).   Meeting participants believe that the house having the sale is in foreclosure.

Next meeting is January 14, 2011, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library

Adjourned about 12:15 pm ?