September 12, 2015 Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


5 members


Susan brought green seedless grapes


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:30 am

  • PWP Laundry-to-Landscape “Greywater” program
    • Pasadena Water and Power has just started up a “Laundry-to-Landscape (L2L) Greywater Program”.  (Their choice for spelling “gray”).  Here is their web page explaining it:
    • “Greywater” is from the drains of washing machines, bathroom sinks, showers, bath tubs. In California, kitchen sink water is not considered greywater; toilet water never is.
    • In August 2009, California changed greywater regulations to allow greywater systems to legally be installed, including some without a permit.
    • In Pasadena, you need a permit for anything that alters the household plumbing, including drains.  But intercepting washing machine output can be done without a permit as long as what you do with it follows a number of rules.  Summarizing:
      • You must be able to select whether the output goes to the sewer system or the landscape.  That way if you need to use bleach or other nasty stuff on a load, or are washing diapers or similarly soiled or potentially infectious garments, you put that down the sewer.  You only switch to landscape output for mild detergent and/or rinse loads.
      • It must not be connected in any way that would allow it to get into water supplies and it cannot have a pump other then the one in the washing machine.  (The pump limit means you really can’t output up hill.  Be careful about putting a strain on your washing machine’s pump.)
      • You are not allowed to put it into storage for later use.
      • You can use it for trees, bushes, flowers, but it is not suitable for watering turf (no spraying), or root crops (because it would be in contact with the edible portion of the plant).
      • The output water has to stay on your property.
      • The output has to stay at least 2 feet from buildings, 1.5 feet from property lines, 10 feet from public water mains, and some other distances from things that don’t exist in our neighborhood.
      • No ponding or runoff is allowed.
      • At least 2 inches of mulch, rock, or dirt, or a solid shield, must cover the release point.  Basically the idea is to avoid contact with humans and domestic pets.
      • You must create operation and maintenance instructions that stay available for the life of the system, and any new owner or tenant must be notified about the system.
    • Under Pasadena Water and Power’s new L2L program, if you attend one of their monthly workshops to get training on how to install a L2L greywater system, they will give you an $80 voucher toward the cost of greywater system components.  They will also provide on-site technical assistance.  They say you have to install the L2L system within 90 days (not clear how this deadline is enforced vs. buying the components).
    • The monthly workshops are open to single family Pasadena Water and Power customers.  Each one is limited to 20 participants.  They appear to be scheduling them two to three months ahead.  There are currently workshops scheduled for October and November.
    • To register for a workshop, you go to the Pasadena Citizen Service Center.
      • Using internet submission, for “Request Type” select “Reservation”, then for “Select a Topic” scroll down to “Water and Power – Events” and pick the event and date you want to request.  The event listings have a note for those that are FULL and/or when there are just a few spots left.  (Note that drought tolerant landscaping workshops are also listed)
      • Because the process includes use of e-mail for the confirmation and application delivery, it probably is not feasible to sign up via the CSC phone number.
  • Transit-Oriented District community meeting summary
    • Process
      • There were two meetings.  This summary is from the meeting held on Thursday August 20, 6 pm, at the First Church of the Nazarene on Sierra Madre Blvd.
      • Upon entering, three handouts were presented.  One summarizes proposed changes to the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance, the others are printouts of portions of the existing ordinance and another zoning code section they’d like to change.
      • The meeting mostly consisted of a number of poster boards and writing easels set up on the perimeter of the rear of the room and many city planning staff circulating to answer questions and record comments on the easels.  There were also comment cards that could be filled out and put in collection box.
      • There was a brief introductory presentation, and then a little bit of question and answer for the full group, but mainly they wanted to talk individually or in small groups.
      • Attendance was light.  Multiple people brought up that the meeting was poorly publicized and the publicity it was given did not provide most people an idea of what the meeting was about.  Most people don’t know what “Transit Oriented Development” means.
      • The staff said that the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) ordinance has been in place about 10 years – it was adopted in 2005.  In 2011 questions were raised in East Pasadena about the whether the parking maximums made sense.  These questions were at least in part spurred by the problems with Kaiser employees parking in our neighborhood (although that situation was not simply an issue with the ordinance).  In 2013 the City Council directed the staff to research options for changing the ordinance.  They claimed there was a community meeting at that time to take comments/suggestions – none of the community members present remember such a meeting.
    • They wanted feedback on their proposed zoning code changes, some of which were unexpected and potentially very impactful, and other changes which are unexpectedly minimal.
    • Transit Oriented Development standards are supposed to encourage use of public transit and walking by intensifying development and discourage use of vehicles.   They currently apply to all new development within 1/4 mile of Gold Line stations plus additional areas in the “central district” downtown.  The current standards:
      • Prohibit land uses related to vehicles:  No drive-throughs, no vehicle services such as service stations, car washes, storage, sales, distribution.
      • Require a Minor Conditional Use Permit for any commercial or industrial project over 15,000 square feet of gross floor area. Special findings have to be made that the project is designed to enhance and encourage public transit and non-motor vehicle modes of transportation (walking, biking).
      • For commercial, industrial, and multi-family residential over 48 units per acre, parking space minimums which are reduced from the minimums required everywhere else.  And parking space maximums which are set to be the same as the reduced minimums.  (Non-TOD areas do not have maximums.)
        • Even these reduced requirements can be reduced further through a minor conditional use permit.
        • There are also special confusing multi-family residential regulations within a 1/2 mile of the Allen station.
        • There are exceptions allowed for shared and joint parking arrangements, as long as the total of the uses meets the requirements.
      • None of the TOD rules apply to single family residential, even if it is within the zone.
    • Summary of Proposed Changes:
      • Expand the area subject to the TOD ordinance from the current 1/4 mile radius to a 1/2 mile radius from each Gold Line station.
        • This is described as changing it from a 5 minute walk to a 10 minute walk.  (Obviously ignoring flat vs hills).
        • The expanded area (more then 1/4 mile to 1/2 miles) would be treated differently in that development projects could choose to use the TOD standards but would not be forced to.   If they chose to use the standards, they would have to use all of them, not pick and choose.  Presumably the primary reason they would choose to use the standards would be so they could reduce their parking requirements.
        • This would expand the current TOD around the Sierra Madre Villa station as far north as Del Vina Street, include all the commercial area from Rosemead at Halstead to Foothill and Rosemead, and extend west to somewhere around Daisy Ave.
      • Add “design standards” for non-residential projects (existing code section 17.24.050)
        • This would require buildings in new developments to be located right up against the sidewalk and to use 100% of the primary street frontage.  (This is completely at odds with the suburban feel of East Pasadena!)
        • At least 50% of the ground floor at the front of the building would have to have at least eight foot high clear untinted glass windows “to allow maximum visual interaction between sidewalk areas and the interior of buildings”.  Railings and decorative grills have to be at least 75% open and no higher then six feet and no security gates or grilles are allowed.
        • Primary entrances to ground floor uses must be on the primary building frontage with adequate recesses for any necessary queuing.
        • Comment:  Nothing about trees or shade or anything else that actually can make the sidewalk pleasant for pedestrians.  Requires imposing, in-your-face, buildings with on-display tenants.
      • Add a prohibition against Vehicle Equipment Repair services within TOD zones.   This would include banning auto repair, body and fender shops, wheel and brake shops, oil change shops, auto glass sales and installation, tire sales and installation.
        Comment:  With the expansion of the TOD zone to 1/2 mile, this would ban almost all the current locations of auto services in East Pasadena.  The existing uses would be grandfathered in, but the intent is clearly to send all those businesses and the clients that use them to other cities.  It also assumes that all vehicle services now and in the future are “dirty” and non-supportive of transit.
      • Remove the Minor Conditional Use permit requirement for projects greater then 15,000 square feet.
      • Include a provision to allow existing parking in excess of allowed parking to remain.  The idea here is, for example, a commercial development with tenants that change over time.  As long as the property isn’t redeveloped, they would not have to reduce parking to the new reduced standard just because one type of tenant leaves and another comes in.  (This is basically a concession to try to avoid opposition from existing companies).
      • Add standards for projects seeking to exceed allowable parking, such as requiring the “excess” to be public parking.
      • Change the reduced parking requirements for East Pasadena TOD zones (those around Sierra Madre Villa and Allen stations) as follows:
        • Residential projects over 48 units/acre:
          • units < 650 sq ft: reduce from 1 to 1.25 spaces / unit to 1 space / unit
          • units > 650 sq ft: increase from 1.5 to 1.75 spaces / unit to 1.75 to 2 spaces / unit
        • Non-residential:
          • Offices (except medical): instead of mandatory 25% reduction, it would be a 0 to 25% reduction from code minimums elsewhere
          • All other: instead of mandatory 10% reduction, it would be a 0 to 10% reduction from code minimums elsewhere
        • Note that these proposed changes would still leave a maximum equal to the minimum in place!
        • In the other TOD zones, only the residential under 650 sq ft would change (a reduction).
    • The next step is that planning staff will possibly revise their proposed changes and then take them to the Planning Commission.  They would then go to the City Council.
    • You can still ask questions or make comments which might affect their proposed changes.  Contact information provided was:
    • The existing TOD standards can be found here:
    • The zoning code section for commercial frontage and facade standards, which they would like to impose in TOD zones, has not been included in the online zoning code.  It is section 17.24.050, which can be found at the end of this planning department handout:
  • Sierra Madre Blvd median update
    • The City / Public Works has now decided to just leave the grass on the medians browned out instead of covering it all with mulch.
    • After the sprinkler systems were turned off, soaker hoses were installed under the trees in time to probably save most of them.
    • Some of the soaker hose installations are without much regard to the size of the tree canopy.
    • Without the mulch on top the soaker hoses are particularly vulnerable to accidental or deliberate damage.
    • Unfortunately, in some places the grass was “shaved down” in preparation for putting mulch on and the surface tree roots were ripped up in the process.
  • Community priorities survey for City spending
    • The City is requesting that you fill out an online survey about your priorities for spending federal entitlement funds (CDBG – Community Development Block Grant) in the community.
    • Anyone interested in how tax money is spent on things like city infrastructure, homeless services, affordable housing, economic development, health, and more should take the survey.
    • The survey is available until September 27 at 5 pm.
  • Boarded up house on Alameda for sale
    • The problem property at 3175 Alameda St is now up for sale, listed at $318,000. (Seems to be too much for the tear down condition it is in.)
    • Over its many years of derelict status, it had quietly been put up sale a few times at ridiculously high prices it never would have been worth even if it had been in good condition.  Presumably this was done just to satisfy some promise to try to sell it.
    • In March it was posted for foreclosure auction on April 2, 2015.  (Meeting note)  Subsequently we learned that none of the bids satisfied the bank, so the the property was not sold.
    • Hoping somebody responsible will get it this time.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month, from
      • Monday August 10, 9:26 pm, 400 block Santa Paula, Petty Theft
      • relatively quiet, even in surrounding areas after August
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • PWP LED bulbs program
      • Everybody get their free bulb from PWP in the mail?
    • PWP rebates
      • There are rebates for lots of stuff that is rarely publicized. There are also bonuses for buying from a business physically located in Pasadena.
      • Highly recommend visiting the PWP web site:
        • Under Programs by Customer Class, click on Residential Rebates and Programs to show the information.
        • Note that there is one section for energy saving rebates and a separate section below that for water saving rebates.
      • Download the rebate application, research carefully, and check that the program is still active, before buying something.
      • While paid for in every customers bill, many if not most rebates are only useful to customers with higher-end homes with things like air conditioning and pools and the ability to pay for more expensive stuff.  Also most rebates require a licensed contractors to install them, even small stuff like a ceiling fan.
      • There are a few energy rebates that do not require a contractor:  refrigerator, room air conditioner, shade trees, exterior window solar screen.
      • Turf rebates have run out for now.  Toilet rebates are still available, but only if you’ve never gotten a toilet rebate before.
    • Water savings falling short
      • From June 1 to September 2, the percentage water saving for Pasadena is at 24%. We need to be at 28% to avoid penalties from the state.  Don’t let up on conservation just because El Nińo might bring a wet winter – it might not.

Next meeting is October 10, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library meeting room

Adjourned about 12:45 pm?