March 12, 2016 Neighborhood Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


7 members


Susan brought brownies


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:25 am

  • Annual Election of Association Officers
    • Election of officers was conducted.
    • No one new stepped forward to run for office
    • Previous years officers agreed to run again.
    • There were 7 voters, resulting in the following tally:
      • President – Laura Ellersieck, 7 votes
      • Vice President – Kathy Vacio, 7 votes
      • Secretary – no candidate
      • Treasurer – Rosalie Gonzales, 6 votes,  (1 voter left it blank)
  • Newsletter Distributed
    • The newsletter was completed on February 23.  Thanks to Sharon S. and Pro Printing, Inc of Irwindale, CA of  for proofreading, layout, and typesetting.  Thanks to Neighborhood Connections for duplication.
    • Distribution started on February 26.   Thanks to Susan C., Desi G., and Laura E. for their effort.
    • If you missed it, the newsletter is also posted on our web site:
  • Voter Participation Assessment for Municipal Elections
    • The Pasadena Neighborhood Leadership Institute is conducting focus groups to try to understand why voter participation in municipal (city, school board) elections is so low.  And whether changing the City Charter to hold the elections at the same time as the general elections for state and federal offices is a good idea.  Remaining focus groups are scheduled for:
        • Saturday March 19, 1:30 – 2:30 pm, at Flintridge Center in western Pasadena,
        • Tuesday March 29, 7:30 – 8:30 pm, at Hastings Branch Library
      • For more information about participating, send an e-mail to [email protected]
    • Our municipal elections are held in March of odd numbered years. When a runoff is needed, it is held 6 weeks later in April.  Reasons for this include retaining local control, allowing the electorate to focus on the local issues and candidates, and keeping costs down.
      • Because there is often just one or at most a few contests on the ballot, sometimes with no opposition, voters often don’t bother to vote.
      • Because municipal contests tend to get very little coverage in the media people normally consume, voters often have very little information about the contests and therefore don’t bother to vote.
      • It used to be that getting to the polls to vote was an issue, but now that anybody can register to always get a mail-in ballot that should not be an issue anymore.
    • General elections are held in June and November of even numbered years.  These elections are run by the county government and include federal offices, state offices and initiatives, county offices, and sometimes municipal initiatives.
    • If municipal contests were moved to general elections:
      • They are required to be at the end of the ballot after everything else.  Voters studying the ballot or voting it may run out of time or patience before they get that far.
      • Because it is five months between the primary and final election, it could cost a lot more to keep an election campaign going for all that time.
      • Because there are so many other issues being contested, it would be much harder for local candidates and issues to get attention.
      • Because the general elections are run by the county, the city and/or school board would have to pay the County for space on the ballot and counting and would have no control over the costs or process.
      • More people would always vote in these elections, but it is likely they would all be totally ignorant or less informed about what they are voting on.  Campaign consultants and campaigns who pay to be on slate mailers would likely be the beneficiary.
    • In a case of PNLI’s study possibly being overtaken by events, the state legislature passed, and Governor Brown signed, a new law last fall that requires cities to put their elections on the general election ballot unless they always have local voter participation no more then 25% less then they have for general elections.  Pasadena’s municipal election turnout has not been high enough.  So it seems that law will force Pasadena to change it’s charter to move the election onto the general election ballots.  But Pasadena is a Charter City and, under the California Constitution, Charter cities are supposed to set their rules by a vote of their people.  The City Charter can only be changed by a vote of city residents.  So what happens if the residents don’t vote to change it?  And does the law actually legally apply to Pasadena?  The law gives cities until 2018 to change their rules.
  • Bike Plan for Orange Grove and Colorado Blvds
    • As previously reported, the City Council approved a Bicycle Transportation Action Plan last August which would put Orange Grove Blvd on a “road diet” in order to make room for a “buffered bikeway”.  This would reduce it to two lanes of vehicle traffic between Sierra Madre Villa and Columbia Street.
    • It turns out a similar plan exists for Colorado Blvd from Holliston Ave to the eastern city limit.
    • Furthermore, the County plans to do the same thing to Colorado Blvd from our eastern city limit to Michillinda.  The County is reportedly further along in its plan and has funding for it, so we could see it happen there as soon as a couple years from now.
    • There is also a plan for a road diet and bike lanes on Washington Blvd between Altadena Drive and Sierra Madre Blvd, and also between El Molino Ave and Lincoln Ave.
    • The city changes for Orange Grove, Colorado, and Washington Blvds are not yet funded and are probably many years in the future.
    • Planning is actively underway to do a similar thing to Cordova Street between Hill and Marengo Ave.
    • The city already has grant funding to install a two-way “Cycle Track” on Union Street between Hill and Arroyo Parkway.  Union will continue to be a one way street, but bicycles will go both ways on the 12 foot wide “cycle track”.  Signals just for the bicycle lanes will be installed at intersections, plus added signalization for cars to control their turning through the bicycle lanes.  Design is expected to start later this year and construction in late 2018 to early 2019.
    • Six streets are to be “Greenways” which are modified to slow traffic and allow bicycles to go straight through intersections.  El Molino is an existing example.  Other streets planned to be changed include Craig Ave south of Mountain Street, and parts of Holliston, Wilson, Sierra Bonita, Villa.
    • Here is a staff report to the City Council about the bike plan and its current status: Agendas/Mar_07_16/AR 16.pdf
      and accompanying maps Agendas/Mar_07_16/AR 16 ATTACHMENTS 1 THRU 4.pdf
    • It is the predominately people who want change who volunteer for committees that recommend what the city should do, who organize with others who want the same things, and who go to all the meetings where such things are discussed and decided.  If you want to have input and the possibility of preventing changes, you have to pay attention and get involved too.
  • Proposed Termination of Utility Undergrounding Program
    • On this coming Monday’s City Council agenda is a recommendation to terminate the Utility Undergrounding Program.
    • The program was supposed to underground the electric and other utility lines throughout the city to improve views, increase reliability, and lower operating costs.
    • It turns out that undergrounding increases reliability in the short term but when something goes wrong it is much harder to diagnose and fix, resulting in longer outages.  And in addition to being much more expensive to install, there is no saving in operating costs either.
    • Over the years of the program, relatively little undergrounding has actually occurred and it has gotten increasingly difficult to accomplish.  Existing poorly documented utilities in the street, tree roots, the lack of an incentive for private utilities such as telephone and cable to do their part, and the logistics and cost for undergrounding the connection for each property were among the problems.
    • We have been paying a surtax on our power bills for decades to support the program.
    • In 2014 the program came under increased scrutiny because of the fraud scandal in which an employee stole around 6 million dollars from that dedicated fund over the course of about a decade.
    • The proposal is to finish Hill Ave, which is almost finished, and Alpine Street, where construction has begun.  The UUP fund already has enough funds to complete those projects, so the recommendation is to suspend collection of the tax as soon as possible.  Then staff and the City Council will have to figure out whether to permanently terminate the surtax or legally redirect it to a related use, and if permanently terminated what to do with any residual balance.  This decision may require voter approval.
    • You can read more details about the program, its issues, and the proposed termination in this staff report to the City Council: Agendas/Mar_14_16/AR 16.pdf
  • Kinneloa Ave Open Space vs Public Housing controversy
    • At a recent City Council meeting it was mentioned that a city owned parcel located on Kinneloa Ave just north of Ability First was under consideration for building “Permanent Supportive Housing”.  The parcel is currently zoned as “Open Space”.
    • Permanent Supportive Housing is the concept of giving housing to the homeless, regardless of whether they reform their ways, while offering services to them.  Some studies show that this approach is less costly to the taxpayers because of fewer visits to emergency rooms and less need for police resources.
    • Some nearby homeowners have since spoken in opposition to using the parcel for this purpose.  Council member Masuda has indicated he does not support it.  Among the reasons given in opposition are that the city has little open space left and the just adopted General Plan proclaims that the remaining open space should be protected and not built upon.  The site being next to the disabled children’s facility has also been prominently raised.  Not mentioned, yet, is a historic issue with possible toxic waste on the site.
    • Council member Masuda has sent out a letter claiming “good news”, that city staff are looking for alternative potential sites.  However, the letter he attached from the interim City Manager does not sound very encouraging about that search.
  • 2016 Conference on Healthy Aging – April 2
    • This year’s “Conference on Healthy Aging”, subtitled “Lifestyle Fair for the 50+”, presented by the Pasadena Senior Center, is scheduled for
      • Saturday April 2
        8 am – 1:30 pm
        First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena
        3700 E. Sierra madre Blvd
    • Fritz Coleman the weather forecaster and comedian is the keynote speaker.
    • There is a long list of workshops.
    • Free admission and includes a free lunch.
    • For more information and/or to register:
    • You can also register by calling 877-236-9459
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month, from  (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
      • Sat February 12, 4:38 pm, 3200 block of E Foothill Blvd, Assault – Domestic Violence
      • Friday February 26, 8:56 pm, 3000 block E Orange Grove (Vińa Vieja Park), Theft from Insecure Vehicle
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss

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

Adjourned about 12:15 pm