June 8, 2013 Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


11 members and 1 guest


Dan Rix, Pasadena City Engineer, was our guest.  In addition to bringing information about the dog park / soccer field situation, he also had information about the Edison circuit project, a water main project, sidewalk repairs, and various other tidbits.  He took reports on wrong street signs, poor street sweeping, bulldozer work south of the dog park, and miscellaneous observations.

Susan brought delicious home made brownies.


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:20 am

  • Dog park and Soccer field plans
    • The back story:
      • Last month’s information about the possibility of moving the dog park to the south to put a soccer field in its current location was upsetting to some people, either due to the prospect of the changes or because of the perceived lack of community engagement.
      • Last week, we learned that POOCH, the dog park advocates, had not been informed or consulted about the possibility of moving the dog park.  The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission had also not been informed.
      • Our Council member, Gene Masuda, was asked if he could get someone who knows about the possible project to come to our meeting.  He asked the City Manager.  The City Manager sent Dan Rix, the City Engineer.
    • No need to panic!   Dan Rix, City Engineer, explained that we didn’t need to be concerned that this was something about to happen.  He said it will be 3 to 5 years minimum.
      • This project concept currently has no funding.
        • A $1 million grant had originally been obtained for use on a soccer field in Hahamonga Park (near Devil’s Gate dam).  But the community rejected disturbing the natural area for a soccer field.  So the city went looking for another location and came up with the area south of the dog park.  But after Edison rejected the concept(s) they were presented, and with the clock ticking on spending or losing the grant by June 2015, the grant was redirected for use on a new soccer and softball field at Muir High School.  The grant is enough to cover the expected cost to upgrade the current softball field.  The project envisioned for Viña Vieja Park would need a lot more funding and it would likely take too long to put everything together.
      • Edison has not approved the new project concept yet.
      • When, if, Edison gives approval they may require some revisions.
      • After that, the concept project will be taken to the Parks and Recreation Commission. They may make revisions.
      • Then there would be Community Meetings to discuss the project.
      • Then it has to go through the environmental process and engineering work.
      • Then funding needs to be found.  A very rough estimate of the cost is around $5 million.
    • The current concept plan.  Here’s the concept drawing.
      • The current children’s play area, picnic shelter, and walking paths on the east side, and parking would remain as is.
      • A new off leash dog park would be built south of the current dog park.
        • This is an area slated for ice rinks in 2004-2009, but from the early 1990s it was part of the neighborhood park plan that was changed to the current footprint in 2004.  It was also specified to be a park in a 1967 master park plan for Eaton Wash.   This land is owned by the city.  It was deeded to the city by the Blatz Family in the 1930s for use as parkland.   (Exactly why is unknown, but the Edison transmission corridor came into being around the same time and it may be that it subdivided their land in a way that made this part not very useful.)
        • The new off leash dog area would be about 2000 sq ft larger then the current one, for 80,000 sq ft.  The new area would be narrower, but longer.
        • One idea is to split the off leash dog area into three sections and then use only two at a time.  The closed section would rotate on a regular basis to allow the lawn to recover.  (Currently the dog area is closed on Tuesdays to provide for recovery and maintenance, but it isn’t enough.)
      • The area currently occupied by the off leash dog park would be converted into a youth sized soccer field and half field soccer practice area.
        • The new dog park would be built first and be usable before the current dog park would be closed for construction of the soccer facilities.
        • Even with the wider area, there is still not enough room for a full sized soccer field.  So it would be a size that is acceptable for youth leagues.  Typically 15 years old and younger.
        • The soccer field would be lighted for evening use in fall and winter.  Because it is a smaller field, the light poles would probably be about 60 feet tall (Victory Park has 100′ poles.)
        • The soccer field(s) would probably be artificial turf.  Although very expensive, this allows them to be used all the time, without the rest required by grass.
        • If the field(s) are artificial turf, there would have to be a locked fence around them to prevent unsupervised usage.
      • Between the new soccer area and the new dog park area, the concept plan includes a snack bar and another restroom.  The snack bar would only be open when staffed by volunteers during soccer events.
      • Additional parking would be built under the Edison lines adjacent to the new dog park.  It would need to be substantial because soccer can require a lot of parking for teams playing/practicing plus those coming and going.  Meeting attendees emphasized the fear of park users parking on our streets if the parking provided is not adequate or too hard to access.  Mr. Rix said the amount of new parking is negotiable.
      • To the east of the new parking (but outside of the off-limits Edison wires “sag zone” where the high tension wires sag too low) an additional area of walking trail is proposed.  Similar to the eastern side of the current park.  Potentially it could include exercise stations at various points.  The area available for this involves a trade-off with the amount of new parking.
      • The new dog park and the parking areas would also include lighting if the soccer fields are lit.  The parking would have to be lit for safety and security and then the dog area might as well be also.  However, all lighting would be shut off by automatic timer at the specified park closure time.  In other city parks that is 10 pm, but we discussed that we might be able to specify an earlier time such as 9 pm since the soccer fields are supposed to be for youths and they should be going to bed.
      • No vehicle (or pedestrian) access from the south is currently in the plan.  It is not impossible that something could be negotiated with PCC to go through their lot, as was expected for the ice rinks project, but that isn’t currently anticipated.
      • Access from Orange Grove would be enhanced by putting a traffic signal at the park entrance.  The neighbors to the north of Orange Grove have already been requesting a signal due to their difficulty getting across the street. And because of the street curve and traffic speed there has always been a safety issue for vehicles exiting and entering the park.
      • There should be some landscaping along the western side of Avocado rather then the weeds.  Mr Rix mentioned perhaps a tall  hedge.  We asked that the landscaping include adjacent to the sag zone also.
      • As part of the deal with Edison to use the area under the wires, the city would take over maintenance.  The sag zone is a significant issue to us  – it shouldn’t be left as an isolated weed zone under Edison maintenance.  Mr Rix understands and mentioned perhaps Edison would allow covering it with mulch or something that at least would keep the weeds from growing and not look so bad.
      • Linda brought up the grapevines that were planted by six long time area families during the park opening ceremonies.  The grapevines, located just to the north of the current dog area, were planted to represent the history of the area, our neighborhood, and the families who founded it.    (Viña Vieja = old vineyard.  The area of the park and at least the northern portion of our neighborhood was a vineyard in the early part of the 20th century.)  Mr Rix seemed unaware of the grapevines and their significance, but took note that they should be preserved.
  • Edison high tension wire activity
    • Edison has sent a letter to residents near it’s high tension lines saying that its contractors will be working on constructing the new line between the Goodrich Substation immediately to our west and the Gould Substation in La Canada Flintridge between June 15 and December 31.
    • Construction hours are Monday through Saturday from 7 am to nightfall.
    • In some circumstances they will obtain permission for work on Sunday or for extended work hours.  (Sometimes this is best when a highly used road or other facility must be closed.)
    • Construction activities listed include using helicopters and “Installation of tower/pole structure near Goodrich Substation”.
    • Have requested detail on the new tower/pole location, but haven’t heard back yet.
    • Dan Rix said that Edison has told the City that it plans to do the work in Pasadena during August, including shutting down Viña Vieja Park for a week while the new wires are actually strung.  He has a meeting with Edison on June 20 to establish more details.
  • Sierra Madre Villa to be dug up again
    • Dan Rix noted that Sierra Madre Villa will soon be dug up again to put in a “big” new water main.
    • This is part of a project to interconnect Jones Reservoir (located on the north side of Sierra Madre Blvd, underneath Hamilton Park) to the MWD (Metropolitan Water District) main line.
    • Sierra Madre Blvd will also be dug up from Jones Reservoir to Sierra Madre Villa, and Foothill Blvd will also be dug up for some distance.
    • They will try not to start the digging on Sierra Madre Villa or Sierra Madre Blvd until after the County finishes with their project that has the intersection torn up currently. (see next item)
    • In the year after all the known projects that will dig up the street are finished, it will be resurfaced.
  • Sierra Madre Blvd intersection projects
    • The project that currently has the Sierra Madre Villa, New York Drive, Sierra Madre Blvd intersection torn up is being done by LA Country.
    • They are re-aligning that intersection to allow easier left turns southbound to east bound and adding a left turn lane northbound to westbound.
    • Other intersections on Sierra Madre Blvd from Huntington Drive on the south to Michillinda on the east are getting new signals (including controllers and cameras), striping, signage, and crosswalk curbs are being made wheelchair accessible.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month, from crimemapping.com:
      • Saturday May 18, 3:13 pm, Petty theft, 3100 block Alameda St.  (May be second time recently at same location.)
      • A rash of vehicle break-ins around the Fitness place on Halstead. Also at Eaton Canyon Park.
  • General Plan Community Information Meetings
    • City staff is giving the same “in-depth” presentation at each of two meetings in June.
    • They are inviting you to “learn about the draft General Plan Land Use and Mobility Elements, the direction given by the City Council, and the environmental review process.”
    • “City staff will give attendees an in-depth presentation on the direction given by the City Council to study changes to the General Plan.  Planners will give background on what an environmental impact report (EIR) typically studies, describe how a General Plan EIR is different from other kinds of EIRs, and inform attendees about future opportunities to provide input during the environmental review process.  Although these meetings are not part of the environmental review process, if community members are ready, staff will record any initial thinking on subjects the environmental impact report should study.  “
    • The meetings are:
      • Saturday June 15, 9 am
        • Pasadena City College Circadian Room, Building CC
        • Please park at Lot 3 off South Hill Ave.  Parking is $2.
      • Thursday June 27, staring at 6:30 pm
        • Pasadena Presbyterian Church’s Gamble Lounge
        • 585 E. Colorado Blvd.
        • Free parking is available on the north side of East Union St. between Madison and Oakland Aves.
  • Hazardous waste and E-Waste Collection Event June 22
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • New street signs wrong
      • The new street signs for Avocado Lane say Avocado Ave.
    • Signal for Sierra Madre Villa at Electronic Dr
      • Dan Rix believes the intersection of Sierra Madre Villa Ave at Electronic Drive could get a signal as soon as three years from now.
      • A traffic study was recently completed that shows it is justified.
      • Believes it could get funded next year.  If it does, then it could take a year to get all the design and paperwork done and another year to finish.
    • Repairing or patching sidewalks
      • Sidewalk maintenance is the adjacent property owner’s responsibility, even if it is the city street tree that has damaged it.  This is by city ordinance, and has been true for a long long time.
      • If somebody trips and falls, they are likely to sue both the city and the property owner.  It’s really in the interest of both to get the sidewalks fixed.
      • When a home is sold, or a permit is pulled for a remodeling/addition valued at more then $20,000, then the homeowner will also be required to make a permanent fix to any sidewalk damage.
      • But, that required fixing could leave the sidewalk damaged and city and homeowner liable for decades.
      • The city will come and do asphalt patching for free between sidewalk segments that have gotten out of alignment vertically.  Contact the city’s Public Works and tell them specifically where there is a disjointed sidewalk needing a patch and they will put it on their list to take care of in a few weeks.
      • For permanent repairs, most homeowners find it most cost effective and efficient to contract with the city to do it.  The city bundles all the repairs into a contract once or twice a year and puts it out to bid.  This reduces the cost and it is more efficient for scheduling required inspections and the trimming of any street tree roots (legally roots can be trimmed only by city crews).
      • Mr. Rix says the City Council has just approved a program for next fiscal year for cost sharing between the city and homeowners to do permanent sidewalk repairs (but not when it is required by the sale of the house or a remodel/addition project).  The city will contribute half the cost, up to $1000.  The amount is based on experience that most sidewalk repairs run between $1500 and $2500.  This program will be announced in an upcoming Pasadena In Focus.
    • Newspaper racks for Star News gone
      • Linda noted that the newspaper racks for the Pasadena Star News have disappeared from in front of the Pasadena Sandwich Shop.  Other racks are still there.  Wondering if this is an indicator of the coming demise of the ever shrinking Star News.

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

Adjourned about 12:45 pm