December 12, 2015 Neighborhood Meeting Summary

December 12, 2015

Preparation

E-mail and phone reminders

Attendees

7 members

Acknowledgments

Susan brought gingerbread and Purita brought panettone

Meeting

Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:25 am

    • Proposal for 550 apartments across Foothill from us
      • The Presidents of the three nearest Neighborhood Associations were invited to a meeting with representatives of the potential developer on December 1 to get an introduction to preliminary plans and ask questions.
      • Location
        • The "Space Bank" property, which is on south side of Foothill Blvd immediately across from our neighborhood. It covers the entire area north of the freeway from Kinneloa Ave to the western property line of the Kaiser medical facility. It currently includes the Space Bank storage business and the 3100 building that has been leased to various businesses over the years.
        • It is a little over 9 acres.
      • History
        • Prior to being purchased by the owner of Space Bank in 1979, this property had been the Naval Undersea Research and Development Center, a secret facility, since 1946.
        • A bit of history from militarymuseum.org/NavUnderseaRDCen.html, written in 1994:

          "Parcel No. 1 was acquired by the office of Scientific Research and Development, one portion through a condemnation proceeding and another portion by direct purchase from California Institute of Technology in 1945. The, total acreage acquired at that time was 8.09 acres. The Department of the Navy acquired custody of the property in 1946. On this property, the. Navy built the Foothill Plant (Under Sea Center) for testing classified materials and torpedoes. The Plant consisted of approximately 60 buildings which included testing laboratories, machine shops, a foundry, storage buildings, including one for classified materials, transportation building, utility centers, etc.

          In 1970, an additional triangular shaped parcel of land was acquired in exchange for a grant of easement for the California State Highway 210, which cut through a portion of the original parcel on the southwest. Anew large building (Bldgs. 3100) was constructed and replaced the similarly sized building (Bldg. 4007) which was torn down to construct the highway. The original size of Parcel No. 1 was 8.09 acres. After the swap with the' State for the grant of easement for the construction of State Highway 210, the area increased overall size to 9.33 acres.

          In 1978, 9.15 acres was sold to Space Bank and 0.18 acres was returned to the State for Public street right of way. Currently, Space Bank rents most of the original buildings for storage space and for other commercial business (woodwork slop, light assembly, parking area for recreational van rental outfit, etc.). The large building (Bldg. 3100) in the northwest corner is up for rent. It was one time rented to Exxon Corp. and to Xerox Corp. The owner plans to develop the site .into a large parking lot when the planned light rail termination station has been constructed either on site or in the proximity. When the termination station moves on to the east, the plan is to down size the parking area and add some commercial property."

        • People in their 50s and older who grew up in this area will probably remember the air raid siren tests. Something like 10 am the last Friday of each month.
        • Old timers remember that the property was originally part of Chihuahuita. There were two churches, Catholic and Methodist, which were Mexican American congregations. Titley's general store with a boarding house behind was located on the corner of Foothill and Titley Ave (now renamed Kinneloa; Kinneloa at that time was the now unnamed cut-off street further west). Mr. Titley reportedly sold many of the lots in the lower portion of our neighborhood.
      • Development Proposer
        • Trammell Crow Company has an option to buy the property from Space Bank. They will not exercise the option until a project has been approved and the necessary development permits have been issued.
        • Trammell Crow has a long history in Southern California. They are a public company, now a sub-division of CBRE. They only do development.
        • The company has worked on many projects where hazardous waste needs to be dealt with.
        • The company has been evaluating this site and considering how it could be developed since about 2007.
        • Initially they were thinking to develop the property for office use. But as the years passed, the recession came, the market changed, the city's land use update moved through, and their evaluation continued, they decided multi-family residential was a better use.
        • Trammell Crow has been working on a four party agreement including the current property owner, the regional water control board and the Department of Toxic and Substance Control (DTSC).
      • Hazardous Waste Problems:
        • The site is known to have hazardous waste problems as a result of its use by the Navy.
        • Trammell Crow has done some limited testing near the surface and is confident it can remedy the surface contamination to levels that would allow building residential buildings.
        • The water board suspects, but does not know, that there is a toxic plume underneath the site which may be contaminating the ground water. It is eager for water monitoring wells to be drilled to learn what the situation is. But monitoring wells cannot be drilled until after the site has been sold, which will not happen until there is an approved project.
        • The Navy has not been willing to release records that would provide information about what substances were used at the site because of the secrecy of the work that was done there.
        • When Space Bank acquired the site, not much environmental due diligence was required, especially for use for storage. It was also prior to the Superfund and other environmental legislation that would require the Navy to take responsibility and clean their mess up. But there is precedent in other locations for getting the Defense Department to clean up sites where they are unwilling to release documentation that would reveal the necessary information for cleaning up the site.
      • Proposal
        • Trammell Crow's preliminary plan is to build a 550 unit apartment complex on the site.
        • There would be several separate buildings with lots of open space between. About 25% of the surface area would be open to the sky for landscaping and recreation.
        • A five story parking garage would be at the rear of the property, along the freeway. This would still be less then the height of the freeway there. Placing the garage in this location would help buffer the living areas of the site from the freeway.
        • There would also be an underground garage under a section of the site closer to Foothill for use of the apartments closest to Foothill.
        • Trammell Crow representatives said that they would "park for now, not the future". In other words, they would (within the limits imposed by the city) provide as many parking spaces as they really think tenants would want currently and not reduce it based on projections that future tenants would not need so many. (Note that city Transit Oriented Development (TOD) area standards apply to this site and therefore there is a cap on how many parking spaces can be built. That cap is currently less then the minimum number of spaces anywhere in the city outside of a TOD area. See next topic below).
        • The buildings along Foothill would be three stories tall and include a retail on the ground floor in one building and a few live-work units where the work space is downstairs and the living space is above. These units would have their front doors facing Foothill. Under the TOD standards they must follow for the site, the buildings cannot be very far back from the sidewalk, but the developers promised there is enough space for trees and landscaping.
        • Buildings further back from Foothill would be four stories and the buildings furthest back would be five stories. Because the land naturally slopes down from Foothill to the south, the height difference would not be very apparent from Foothill.
        • Units will be a mixture of studio, 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms.
        • The new general plan land use diagram assigns a maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 3.0 to the site. The proposed development would be about 2.1. A total of about 770,000 square feet. A density of 65 developed units per acre.
        • There would be no wall or fence around the project. Members of the public would be able to walk in the complex.
        • The main entrance would be roughly at the mid-point of the project on Foothill. The preliminary design showed a very wide driveway with broad islands between inbound and outbound traffic lanes extending all the way to the parking structure at the back. There would also be a driveway onto Kinneloa Ave on the west with a driving lane extending along the back of the parking structure and along the east side of the property to a driveway to Foothill.
        • Tentative plans include a narrow grassy area behind the parking garage where tenants can let their dogs run and relieve themselves.
        • Landscaping would be drought tolerant and varied, not large expanses of grass. The developer is/will be working with a well regarded local landscape design firm. (They gave the name, didn't get it down).
        • The air filtration system for the buildings would be the highest MERV rating.
        • Apartments will have a minimum of one year lease term. (Since Trammell Crow just develops and doesn't manage it afterward, not sure how such a requirement is maintained).
        • The city's required affordable housing (15%? of units) will be included in the project. The developer does not intend to just pay a fee, as many do. Units for affordable housing will be built and furnished the same as the other units of similar size and will be mixed in among all the units. It will not be obvious which are market rate and which are reserved for affordable housing.
      • Schedule
        • They expect to file the first application to the City by the end of January.
        • After a round of staff evaluation, it will be presented to the City Council for an informational only Preliminary Plan Review.
        • Then the CEQA (environmental study) process starts. Required traffic studies are part of this process.
        • The developer thinks it will take about 2 years to get through the approval process.
        • Then about 2 1/2 years to build the project. It would probably be built in phases, with some tenants moving in before everything is complete.
      • Evaluation:
        • Trammell Crow does not expect to need any variances from the City's zoning or development standards.
        • As neighbors, we have been invited to submit questions and comments through the public relations firm hired by Trammell Crow.
        • We will also be able to express ourselves to City representatives at various stages, including the Preliminary Plan Review and the Design Commission.
        • It was expressed to the Trammell Crow representatives that the biggest concern from surrounding neighborhoods will probably be the effect on traffic because the local congestion is already frequently very bad. Our neighborhood could also experience spill over effects as more outsiders go through our little streets to avoid the back up at Foothill and Sierra Madre Villa.
        • Another potential issue is our neighborhood's street parking situation if insufficient parking is included on their site. Because of the overnight parking ban in the city, this should mostly be limited to times when the complex attracts lots of visitors. But what would prevent tenants and/or their overnight visitors from purchasing overnight parking permits and parking in our neighborhood? This topic also needs analysis.
        • With the 212 units currently being built on the south east corner of Foothill and Sierra Madre Villa, the maximum number of residential units for the East Pasadena Specific Plan area in the 1994 General Plan was maxed out. But the updated Land Use Element of the General Plan that was just approved by the City Council allocated around 800? more units to the specific plan. Many properties were also rezoned to mixed use from strictly commercial and office, so that residential units can be built in areas we have always thought of as only for commercial or office use. The developer contends that this site really is ideal for residential compared to the other locations and it makes sense to soak up a majority of the allocated residential capacity for the specific plan on this site. They further contend that there is such high demand for residential units that they will be built elsewhere if not at this location.
        • It may be useful to concentrate less on the number of units and more on the types of units, how many people are realistically likely to occupy them, and how many cars they are likely to have. Affordability of the market-rate units may also be a consideration given how expensive everything has gotten. If forced to have fewer units, the result will be both fewer affordable reserved units but the overall mix of units may tend to be larger and fancier units. And could the occupants of such units tend to have more cars then more smaller units? Something to consider.
        • Some people are likely to be concerned about the height of the buildings. But if there is anywhere locally where height should be less of an issue, it is up against the freeway, which is much higher then the surroundings in this location. A valid concern may be what effect the development will have on sound coming from the freeway and Foothill. Will sound be absorbed or bounce off the buildings in strange ways? Will the development reduce or exacerbate sound conditions for existing neighborhoods? The Trammell Crow representatives said they intend to study this carefully and make sure they are buffering and not making things worse.
        • The ability to build multi-family residential on this site is enabled by the just adopted update to the General Plan's Land Use Element and zoning map which adding residential unit capacity to the East Pasadena Specific Plan area and also rezoned this parcel. But the East Pasadena Specific Plan has not been updated yet, except that the Council is about to amend the Specific Plan to remove the old develoment caps. To the extent there are inconsistencies in what is allowed, which wins?
        • The project site is within the Sierra Madre Villa Transit Oriented Development (TOD) area. A proposed modification to allow slightly more parking spaces in multi-family residential projects by right, and establish standards for obtaining special approval for even more, is in progress but held up (see below). What timing determines which version of the standard applies to this development?
        • How will this project affect the issues with homeless/transients in the area? The developer says the increased number of eyes in the area, especially in off hours, should improve the situation. What do you believe?
        • Do you have questions or comments for the developer at this time? What are your concerns?
  • Transit Oriented Development (TOD) proposed changes
  • Soccer fields at dog park no longer a city priority
    • The City Manager, Michael Beck, said after the District 4 community meeting on November 19, that the proposal to put lighted artificial turf youth soccer fields in Vińa Vieja Park where the dog park is, moving the dog park south, has been demoted to a much lower priority for the city. Funds that might have been spent on it will be directed to other projects.
    • We should no longer need to be concerned about this project surfacing any time soon.
    • Here is background on the proposal: eewna.org/vina-vieja-park/proposed-expansion-and-lighting-at-vina-vieja-park/
  • HOPE Hotline for homeless
    • Reminder about the City's HOPE teams and the hotline for reaching them.
    • The city has two (about to be three) project HOPE teams, each of which is comprised of a combination of a police officer and social worker.
    • Team members are knowledgeable about the resources available and trained in working with homeless and/or mentally ill people to get them help.
    • When you see an encampment is being formed, or a troubled person is causing issues, call the hotline at 626 744-7054 and leave a message. They will follow up, although it may take a few days.
    • If there is illegal activity causing an immediate danger, then call the police directly.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month, from crimemapping.com:
      • Monday December 7, 12:05 pm, 400 block Avocado Ave, Residential burglary
    • Not listed on crimemapping.com, something happened on Vineyard Pl which caused a huge turnout of police on the evening of Sunday December 6. Apparently police do not want to reveal what it was about and are suspicious of inquirers.
    • Package Thefts
      • There have been increasing thefts of packages delivered to homes, including in our neighborhood. In many cases it appears the delivery vehicles are being followed, but others are apparently happenstance of the thief happening to see the package. It only takes seconds for a package to be snatched.
      • Have noted that many delivery drivers are not even ringing a doorbell or knocking to alert the occupant to a delivery, and online shipping information prior to delivery is often lagging behind now so it can be hard to know when delivery will occur.
      • Even requesting a signature doesn't always work to make sure somebody takes the package vs it being dumped at the door.
      • If you won't be there to take delivery you should seriously consider other options, including:
        • Send to a friend, neighbor, or family member who will be home, agrees to accept delivery, and is attentive.
        • Arrange with your employer to allow packages for you to be delivered to your workplace if there is always someone there to receive them.
        • Have a shipment delivered to a nearby store where you can pick it up.
        • Arrange with a mailboxes store such as UPS Store to receive packages there.
        • Some package delivery services let you specify a time window for delivery so you can be present.
        • Have packages held at the nearest package delivery service's facility for pickup.
        • Instruct that package should be left at a less visible location in your yard. (This won't work if the driver doesn't notice or want to bother or is being followed).
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Rose Parade tickets raffle at Hastings
      • A raffle for a pair of tickets to Rose Parade seats in the official stand at Orange Grove and Colorado is still ongoing at Hastings Branch library until the drawing on Tuesday December 15 at 6 pm.
      • Raffle tickets are one for $2, or three for $5. Proceeds support programs and purchases at the Hastings Branch Library.
      • Various book collections are also being raffled separately.
    • donating unused fruit from yard
      • If you have fruit trees with fruit you don't pick and/or cannot use, there are many options for donating it. Don't waste it by tossing it (unless its bad) or leaving it on the tree and/or ground making a mess and helping to attract and propagate pests.
      • A non-profit called Food Forward has volunteers that will pick up fruit that you have picked if you are unable to take it to one of many agencies to donate directly. If you are unable to pick it yourself and/or with the help of friends and neighbors, they have volunteers that will pick fruit if they are not overwhelmed with requests. All fruit is donated to local food pantries. Here is their website, which includes a list of food pantries you can donate to directly: foodforward.org/get-involved/property-owners/
      • A non-profit called Friends in Deed located on the southeast corner of Washington Blvd and Los Robles Ave takes many kinds of food donations for distribution to local people in need. Donations can be dropped off Monday – Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm. For donations on Friday and Saturday, give them a call at 626-797-6072 to make sure someone will be there. For more information, visit their website: www.friendsindeedpas.org/donate/
      • Many other organizations have regular food distributions and will accept donations. Senior centers, homeless shelters, community centers. Just ask them!

Next meeting is January 9, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library meeting room

Adjourned about 12:30 pm

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