January 14, 2012 Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


6 members


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:30 a.m.

  • Windstorm recovery
    • The city is holding three Community Meetings to discuss the windstorm.  The two remaining meetings are:
      • Tuesday, January 17, 7 p.m.
        Jackie Robinson Center, 1020 N. Fair Oaks Ave.
      • Thursday January 19, 7 p.m.
        Pasadena City College’s Creveling Lounge (Building CC), 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.
    • The city’s web site still has an online survey form for telling them what they did right or wrong.  http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/Windstorm_2011_Survey/
    • The first of the Community Meetings was held at 10 am on January 14.  Kathy attended and reported:
      • Attendance was light, maybe 40 people, probably 15 of whom were city employees.
      • The city leadership realizes it provided inconsistent information about debris pickup.
      • They realize communication was a problem and will be looking into better ways to do so for future emergencies
      • They encouraged everyone to sign up for PLEAS(Pasadena Local Emergency Alert System), which can be used by the city to automatically call and/or text and/or e-mail everyone in a given area in the event of an emergency.
      • The city is going to be sending letters to property owners with the big displaced sidewalks with stumps.  The city doesn’t currently plan to do anything about those because of the cost.  They are hoping to get help from Caltrans. (This doesn’t make any sense, but …)
    • City issues
      • Tree debris piles on some of our streets were finally removed on December 30 and 31.  Seems like they left the biggest / worst for last.
      • Leaning trees on Del Vina were cut down on January 9.
      • Which street trees still have badly broken limbs waiting to be cleaned up?
      • What other city issues still remain to be resolved?
        • Big sidewalk sections with uprooted stumps.
      • Does anybody want to make an effort to change their street’s tree designation?
      • Has anyone learned new information about handling sidewalk damage caused by the city street trees?
      • The city now has a big financial hole because it appears there will be no state or federal reimbursements for the city’s cleanup costs.  The damage countywide is insufficient to trigger FEMA help and the state’s emergency fund was already running a huge deficit.  To help fill the gap, the city is grabbing millions more this year then it already was going to from Pasadena Water and Power.  PWP will then have to raise our rates to pay for the maintenance work that those funds would have paid for.
    • Insurance
      • What have those who have filed insurance claims learned?
        • One attendee’s insurer seemed to be quick to respond initially, but the claims process is still dragging on and meanwhile nothing is getting done.
        • Some other insurers were not able to come out for a week or so, but the agents instructed people to take lots of pictures and do whatever is necessary to protect property from any further damage.
        • Even with the same insurance company, results may vary depending on the agent.
      • Many homeowners go decades without needing to file a claim.  Those who have / are going through the process might be able to share lessons learned that will be helpful to their neighbors now or in the future.
    • Property rights vs. utility and public rights of way
      • An interesting question that was asked during public comment at an early December city council meeting.  What are the rules regarding access clean up debris or make repairs?  Can a homeowner / tenant prevent an entire block from having their access / utilities restored because doing so would require activity which in their opinion might further damage their property?
      • An answer was not provided, except that in the particular case cited there was a dispute about the facts of what happened between the city’s public works and the homeowner.
    • Phone / cable experiences
      • Phone or cable technicians are not allowed to do anything on poles which also carry electric lines until the electric lines have been repaired.
      • AT&T’s trouble reporting and handling system is severely lacking.
        • Even though you have reported the outage, you better try to call again every day or two to make sure your report was not erroneously closed without anyone ever contacting you.
        • When you discover your report was erroneously closed, you start over at the end of the line for appointments .
        • They seem incapable of taking information from customers about the cause of an outage and doing anything useful with it.  It apparently is even difficult for their own technicians to get useful information into their system.  They separately sent technicians to each address for “appointments” for 6 days, with each one learning they couldn’t do anything because the entire block was out because the line was broken between poles.  That information was readily available on the first day.  Customers who got live people on the phone explained it to them.  And every one of those technicians should have been able to get it into the system.
        • Once the main line between poles was “fixed”, that crew left without checking whether the individual customers were functional.  They were assumed to be working.  Those who were not had to discover that they needed to call in again.  Except that the block outage was left “open” in the system for making appointments, so they weren’t making any new appointments.
  • Disaster preparedness
    • What have we learned?
      • The standard 72 hour self-sufficiency advice is clearly way too short.   In this case local stores were still functioning, city workers were able and willing to come and work very long hours and because other southland cities were not damaged they were able to send help.  In the case of a major quake, we’re likely to have only the workers who are already in the city when it happens, and they’re likely going to go home to help their families as soon as they can.
      • In discussing the windstorm at a City Council meeting, the City Manager commented that after a really big quake, we can expect it may be months before services are restored.  While if we realistically think about it we all know this is true, it is virtually unheard of for a public official to say it.
    • What are you actually doing to improve preparedness?
      • How long are you prepared to hold out at home or work?  If a region wide event required you to evacuate beyond it, where would you go?  How would you transport your family?  How would you learn what routes are feasible?
      • Keep your gas tank at least half full.  Don’t put off refilling because maybe prices will go down or too many other things to do.
      • Keep a store of canned or prepared packaged food.  Stuff you could eat cold if you had to.  Stuff with calories.  Stuff with energy.   Stuff that will quiet a stomach in turmoil.  Keep a stash of it and always use the next to expire.   Energy or cereal bars, pudding cups, canned or bottled fruit, bottled juice, soup, canned pasta, crackers.  If it doesn’t require refrigeration or being heated to a certain level for safety it’s a candidate.  Consider the package sizing, since you won’t be able to preserve leftovers.  If you have a whole family to eat something right away, or are sure you’ll be sharing with neighbors, big packages will work.  Otherwise you better stick to sizes that can be consumed by one person in one sitting.     If you wouldn’t normally touch such stuff, make a policy to buy new and send the older stuff to charity before it expires.
      • Plenty of batteries of the sizes needed for the devices you have.  Consider investing in LED flashlights or lanterns because the batteries will go much further.  But look at the Lumens listed on the packaging – a lot of the LED devices currently being sold are really dim.  A large number of LEDs does not make a device better.  Compare with the Lumens now listed on the packaging of regular and fluorescent light bulbs to get an idea of how much light is actually produced.
    • No one can be precisely prepared for every circumstance because there are way too many variables.  Perhaps that is partly what keeps so many of us from actually doing anything.  Fatalism.  But doing at least the smaller things and you’ll be way better off in any size disaster then doing nothing.
  • Annual newsletter preparation
    • It’s time to prepare our annual newsletter for distribution in February.
    • Spoke to the head of Neighborhood Connections about their new 150 copy limit.  She said because we print just once per year, she can make an exception for us to get the 380 required for our neighborhood.  We will just need to provide the paper again.
    • Aside from re-introducing our Neighborhood Association, and announcing the annual election, what topics should the newsletter cover?
      • More then one person has suggested focusing on lessons learned and disaster preparedness.
      • Perhaps there will be an upcoming disaster preparedness class to announce.
  • Local crime summary
    • Last two months from crimemapping.com:
      • Wed Nov 16, 8:48 am, Grand Theft Auto, Mercury Ln
      • Wed Nov 16, 1:22 pm, Petty Theft, 3100 block Alameda St
      • Wed Nov 16, 3:21 pm, Vehicle Break-in, Burglary, 3200 block Alameda St
      • Mon Nov 28, 7:16 am, Commercial Burglary, 200 block Sierra Madre Villa Av (marker implies west side)
      • Mon Dec 19, 8:10 am, Commercial Burglary, 600 block Sierra Madre Villa Av
      • On other side of the wash, there were two residential burglaries on Friday Jan 6, on 2900 block of Del Vina and 500 block of Eaton Dr.
  • Edison wires activity
    • In September / October, Edison strung the wire for the new circuit on its towers from the south across the freeway to a tower adjacent to the Goodrich substation.  They did not string the circuit yet to the north of that, past our neighborhood, through the park, etc.
    • A December newsletter from Edison lists the following as planned for the next three months:
      • “Installation of foundations and transmission structures: At SCE’s Gould Substation in La Canada Flintridge and near the Goodrich Substation in Pasadena.”
      • “Installation of electrical transmission wires on existing structures: From Gould Substation to Goodrich Substation… Note: This activity will include the use of a small helicopter.”
    • So apparently they will be installing the new circuit on the towers adjacent to us in the next three months.  Don’t know what “foundations and transmission structures … near the Goodrich Substation” means.  As described originally to us some years ago there was no mention of any such work in our vicinity.  There was later discussion of the possibility of Edison adding a tower to raise the “too low” lines that required cutting out the south east corner of the park.  Probably wishful thinking to believe that is what it is.
  • Cat trapping on Avocado
    • On Jan 10, a sign (on a different residential fence on Avocado Ave) said:
      • “Attention cat owners:
        Animal traps are being set on the address of 470 Avocado Avenue to collect a large number of abandoned/stray cats.
        The traps are being set the evening of 1/9/12, and will remain until 1/30/12, or until all cats have been caught.
        If you own an outdoor cat and it is caught without an I.D. tag, your animal will be turned over to Pasadena Animal control.
        If your animal is caught in a trap and is wearing an I.D. tag, it will be released on site.”
    • Traps were observed in the yard at 470 Avocado.
    • This is a house which was sold in probate a few months ago and the long time (maybe life time) occupants evicted.  The unkempt house long had the reputation of producing numerous cats, most of whom probably ended up as coyote food.
    • Just another reason to up your level of responsibility for any strays you care about.  Get them fixed, put i.d. on them, and get them inside if you can (especially at night when the coyote danger is highest).  Make a concerted effort to not put food outside, but if you must, do so only during a limited feeding time that you supervise.  The possums, raccoons, and skunks don’t need to be fattened up for the coyotes.
  • Mayor’s state of city address
    • The Mayor will be giving his annual State of the City address in East Pasadena this year in the new “A Noise Within Theatre” (just east of the south east corner of Foothill and Sierra Madre Villa).  Aside from hearing what the Mayor has to say, this is an opportunity to see the new theater for free.
      • Thursday January 26, 7 pm
        A Noise Within
        3352 East Foothill Blvd.
    • If you want to go and can’t walk, you can park in the Gold Line station (although the walk around from the station to the theater might be almost as far).
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss

Next meeting is February 11, 2012, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library

Adjourned about 1 p.m.