May 14, 2016 Neighborhood Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


17 members


Susan brought Russian tea cookies


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:24 am

  • 550 apartments plan for Space Bank site
    • The plan to build a 550 unit apartment complex across Foothill from us has now been publicly published and will be presented to the City Council as an information item at their meeting on Monday May 16.
    • Here is the City’s Staff Report to the City Council and the attachment with developer’s diagrams and drawings.
    • This development on the land currently belonging to Space Bank was preliminarily presented to presidents of local Neighborhood Associations in early December. Here is the report from that meeting.
    • Looking at the plans published now, there have been some significant changes since early December, including:
      • We were told three stories right along Foothill, four in between, and five at back of property. But plans show four stories adjacent to Foothill.
      • Apartment buildings toward the rear of the site are attached to the 5 level parking garage, not separate from it.
      • Appears to have less open ground space then appeared in preliminary plans we saw.
      • Primary vehicle entry is stated to be a private “extension of Santa Paula Ave”.
      • No vehicle access between Kinneloa and the main garage. Only see two driveways from Foothill. Those who wish to leave to the west or arrive from the east during heavy traffic times will want to use the main entrance to take advantage of the signal there. That will mean that signal will be red for traffic on Foothill a lot more of the time and cause even more backing up and issues at the intersections on either side. Those wanting to leave to the East or arrive from the West during the afternoon/evening backup will have to slog through the Foothill traffic. Access to currently under-utilized Kinneloa would allow coming/going directly from/to the south. Relieving the traffic pressure was the whole point of extending Kinneloa under the freeway prior to allowing more development. (There is one driveway on Kinneloa. It goes directly to/from the subterranean garage under building A.)
      • City Staff Report says developer has not decided whether to put required affordable housing on-site or pay an in-lieu fee. This directly contradicts what they told us, which was they were committed to building it on-site and indistinguishable from market rate units.
      • They told us they planned to meet all the zoning regulations and not need variances for anything. However, this is now being applied for as a Planned Development because of contradictions between the new General Plan and the old Specific Plan for the site. (It will probably take at least another three years to update the Specific Plan). Recently the City Council voted for an exemption to allow big developments to apply for a Planned Development so as to not have to wait for the Specific Plans to be updated. Under the Planned Development process, the City Council can choose to waive zoning and development standards if they declare doing so will result in a better project.
    • Notice that the City’s Staff Report makes absolutely no mention of the known toxic waste issues on the site.
    • The project was presented to the City’s Design Commission for a preliminary consultation on March 22. Item 7B. (We received no notice of that meeting, missed happening across a notice, and just now became aware of it.) Some comments from that review are included in the City’s Staff Report.
      • An audio recording of this commission meeting can be found here: (Note that the MP4 download works, but the “Play” link fails). Discussion of this project begins at 2:18:30 in the recording and ends about 3:55. It can be difficult to follow the discussion because you can’t see the presentation materials they are looking at or necessarily know who is talking.
      • An Amanda Landry is the City Planner who presented the staff report.
      • The project was described as a “contemporary pluralism design approach”. (Every profession likes its gibberish).
      • It was mentioned that a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be required. Toxic waste issue was barely mentioned in a commissioner’s comment.
      • New/different comments from developer then we heard in December include:
        • High Street Residential is a full subsidiary of Trammel Crow.
        • They are “opening their arms to the community” by connecting to Santa Paula Ave.
        • They want to draw people in from the neighborhood.
        • Their design is intended to keep traffic out of the neighborhood. (No explanation of how that could be).
        • Still at “analysis and seeking opportunity” phase. Setting up a framework.
        • Connecting to Santa Paula because want to connect to neighborhood and take advantage of signalized intersection. Want to create a walkable destination. Central Park privately owned but publicly accessible.
        • Want to enhance existing retail on Foothill; want a place to go and enjoy such as a cafe.
        • 22 foot wide sidewalk on Foothill. Thinking of having outdoor dining along sidewalk.
        • Think they want to have parallel parking on Foothill for the retail but City may be thinking of putting bike lane there.
        • All units along Foothill and Kinneloa would open to the sidewalk via a stoop or patio in order to “activate it”.
        • Have not yet identified architectural style. Looking for ideas about “great place making”.
        • Landscape design looking to drought tolerant and water conserving with capture and re-use. Recognition that on alluvial plane of Eaton Wash; geology of seismic activity. Want to have high quality public realm for pedestrians.
      • Commissioners asked for more work on connecting to the metro station. Developer pointed out have to go around Kaiser. Is a pathway could maybe use south of Kaiser, but then still have to go up to Foothill or down to Colorado to cross Sierra Madre Villa. Crosswalk there would be dangerous. Existing pedestrian crossings of on/off ramps and Sierra Madre Villa are very scary already.
      • Discussion about relationship to freeway. Garage is buffer, about 90 feet wide. Thinking about putting solar panels on (? could not hear). All units will have MERF 11 filters. One commissioner pointed out freeway is getting louder and louder and they should pay extra attention to sound proofing. Also mentioned sound and height impact of air conditioning units.
      • Some commissioners were pushing for smaller building footprints with more routes through them. More “fine-grained”. Would create more of a “village” feel.
      • More then one commissioner commented they would not want to eat next to Foothill. Dusty, dirty, fast. Should be in courtyard away from it.
      • There was a comment from someone on developer team that they hope Pasadena Sandwich Co will move there.
      • Commissioner comment to avoid “monolithic” building aspects, “super block” effect, brought a comment from developer that they are thinking about varying the building height along Foothill so that it is an average of 40′ rather then all 40′. (They could go to 60′. Kaiser building is about 60′).
      • A commissioner said that Abbott Kinney used to own “all this land” once upon a time and that is where the name Kinneloa comes from. Said he owned around 500,000 acres at one time. Later moved and built Venice.
      • A commissioner said to balance vision and desires with reality. Live/work units are unlikely to be used for anything but living unless the area is already heavy with pedestrians. She suggested just making the ground floor retail and separate residential above.
      • Same commissioner encouraged to design to have plenty of shade. Instead of asphalt central access road use paving stones or something that looks better and signals slowing down.
    • If you think the new number of additional allowed residential units for the East Pasadena Specific Plan area is already too high, on page 6 the City Staff report proposes the City Council consider a conversion program wherein the additional enormous commercial square footage allowed in the zone could be converted into residential units.
    • Staff report section on parking says what is proposed would be in excess of Zoning Code requirements (middle of page 8). No mention is made of the ongoing process to potentially alter the TOD parking regulations for around the Sierra Madre Villa station and how the proposed amount of parking lines up with that. They may have thought the proposed TOD changes for this TOD would have gone through months ago instead of being hung up by those trying to eliminate parking downtown.
    • If you have questions or comments for City Council members to ask/consider (they do not make any decisions at this meeting), you can attend the Council meeting and speak for up to 3 minutes, and/or you can write e-mail. The sooner you write the e-mail, the better, so there is time for them to read and digest it. To make your e-mail part of the public record of the meeting and copied to all the Council members, copy the City Clerk’s office [email protected]. You should also directly copy our City Council member, Gene Masuda, [email protected] . Note that you are writing regarding Item 40, Predevelopment plan review, on the May 16 City Council agenda.
    • To watch the City Council meeting presentation and discussion go to: . To watch the meeting live, click on “KPAS Live” on the right side of the page near the top. The recording of the meeting should be posted by about a day later. Look for a listing of City Council Meeting May 16, 2016. When you play the recording you can skip directly to item 40 by clicking on it in the list of topics below the video player.
    • The developer’s representatives have asked to meet with our neighborhood. When and where shall we do this? Should we try for our June meeting, or? How many would come? Would we need a larger venue then the library meeting room (capacity 34, including presenters)?
  • Speed humps for lower Santa Paula?
    • Some residents are concerned about speeding cars on Santa Paula, especially because the neighborhood has many young children now.
    • Possible remedies:
      • Speed humps?
      • Requesting traffic enforcement to stake it out and ticket speeders. May help with repeat offenders.
        The Pasadena Police Traffic Enforcement division says that “if you would like any kind of special enforcement done in your neighborhood, please call (626) 744-4590”
      • Getting license plate info and requesting traffic enforcement to send warnings. May help with repeat offenders.
      • More stop signs?
    • Who is driving these cars?
      Is it cut-through traffic avoiding congestion on Foothill and/or Sierra Madre Villa?
      Is it neighborhood residents?
    • What time of day is this happening? Does it make a difference whether PCC is in session?
    • Do these cars slow down for the gutter dips at Estado and La Tierra? If not, it seems unlikely they will slow down for humps.
    • What is the experience of residents on Avocado and Alameda with their humps? What are the upsides and downsides?
      • Upsides:
        • Stopped the “drag racing”.
        • Slows most speeders.
      • Downsides:
        • Damage to vehicle suspension.
        • Extra energy consumption.
        • Extra noise from vehicles, especially trucks, bouncing over the humps.
        • Street sweepers leaving piles of sweepings because the humps raise the sweeper from the ground.
        • Some people try to drive around the humps, especially motorcycles.
        • Fun seekers/vehicle damagers taking advantage of the humps as launch ramps.
    • City process for getting humps
      • The city used to have a comprehensive document about the process on their web site. Now there is just part of one FAQ you can read on this page:
      • A request must be made to the City’s Transportation Department.
      • A street must meet an initial review set of criteria, which in 2011 were:
        • not a collector street
        • cannot be a primary access route for emergency vehicles
        • 1200 feet in length without any stop signs, traffic signals, or discontinuities such as a jog
        • at least 1,000 but no more then 4,000 vehicles per day
        • a speed limit of 25 mph, but an 85% actual speed of 33 mph
        • not more then one lane in each direction
        • cannot have: a grade of more then 5%, a vertical curve with less then the minimum safe sighting distance, or a horizontal curve with less then a 300 foot center line radius
        • not supposed to be installed on a street where a significant portion of traffic will be diverted to nearby residential or local streets
      • As of a May 23, 2011 City Council meeting, these criteria were supposed to be re-examined as part of the Mobility Element / General Plan update. That update was completed this last August. Have not dug through it to see if this was addressed.
      • If all the criteria are met, the city will mail ballots to all “abutting” residences on the block. “Abutting” residences are both those with addresses on the street and those on corners with their address on the intersecting street.
      • Ballots are sent to the house addresses, not necessarily the homeowner. Whoever is living in the house can vote, even if they are renters.
      • Note that at the time of voting the city will have not determined where the humps would actually be. Information that some people would really like to have before making a decision. The city will only figure that out when they do the engineering work after humps are approved.
      • At least 67% of the ballots must be returned with a Yes vote. Non-returned ballots are the same as No votes.
      • If the voting is close and there are still unreturned ballots, the city may extend the deadline once to give time to the petitioner to visit their neighbors and encourage them to vote. But once an attempt fails, the city will resist putting the effort into trying again anytime soon.
      • Success really requires making the effort to talk to everyone who has a vote BEFORE the ballots are sent out.
      • If the vote is successful, the city will add the task of installing the humps to a list that is put out to bid once a year or when there is enough work to make it cost efficient.
    • How did the request experience proceed on Las Lunas, Avocado, and Alameda?
      • Las Lunas: In early 2007 a resident requested humps, the city determined the physical requirements were met, and ballots were sent out. Unfortunately, this was a surprise to most residents. Someone came up with the idea that it was part of a conspiracy by the city related to the new park and potential pedestrian entrance and that rumor was passed around. Many residents had never noticed speeding on Las Lunas and did not believe it to be a problem. Some were worried that a hump might be placed right where they would be backing their car from their driveway and felt that would be too disruptive. Many people just hate humps. The ballot failed to get enough positive votes and so the request failed.
      • Avocado Ave: In March 2007 a resident requested humps on Avocado Ave from Las Lunas to Alameda. Before doing so, she put in a lot of effort to try to meet with each neighbor on the block. (Because there are no houses on the west side, this was a little less daunting then for a normal block). The ballot vote was successful. The humps were installed by early December 2007. Since then most cars slow for the humps but they still fly around the corners with the intersecting streets.
      • Alameda Street: In the summer of 2009 the construction truck traffic on Alameda Street by Pasadena Water and Power contractors was just overwhelming. A resident asked the Transportation Department about getting humps. She was told she should wait until after school was back in session so a traffic study of numbers and speed would include that traffic. The city took a traffic count on Alameda between Mercury Lane and Santa Paula in mid September 2009. Ballots for humps were sent out in October. Lacking sufficient response, a second letter was sent in November to the 16 of 33 addresses that had not yet responded. There was a concerted effort by proponents to visit neighbors and request they return the ballot. The humps were approved and installation was projected for March/April 2010. In March 2010 the requester was told the city had run out of money for the contract so installation would be delayed until a new contract was awarded after the start of the new fiscal year July 1. They were finally installed in early November 2010.
    • Some interesting numbers from 2011:
      • Each hump cost the city about $2000 to install
      • The cost to stripe one hump was about $200 and they are generally re-striped every two years.
      • Each year the city had installed about 10 humps.
  • Lane closures on Foothill in Arcadia
    • Foothill Blvd between Michillinda and Santa Anita Aves will have daytime lane closures through mid-August for repairs/improvements to the roadway, medians, curbs, and sidewalks. (More of what they were doing a couple of years ago).
    • Lane reductions may be on either or both sides this time, and may include commuter traffic times because concrete has to be be given time to cure.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month, from (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
      • Tues May 3, 9:43 am, 3200 block E Foothill, Grand Theft
      • Sun May 8, 10:45 am, 3200 block E Foothill, Residential Burglary
        • Info from our meeting: This is an apartment above a business. Police caught the bad guy as he was leaving.
      • Mon May 9, 6:26 pm, 3100 block of La Tierra St, Assault – domestic violence
      • Tue May 10, 4:02 am, 3200 block E Foothill, Vandalism
      • Thurs May 12, 6:42 pm, 400 block Mercury Ln, Residential Burglary
    • Another source for information about police activity is the Pasadena Police Department’s Recent Calls for Service log. This is updated a couple times a day to add the calls since the last update and drop the oldest chunk of calls. It only goes back a few days, so you have to wait to look at it until after its been updated, but not wait too long. It is for the entire city. Activity initiated as the result of an investigation or anything other then an immediate call for service will not show up on this log.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • mansionization control status
      • The city study for how to control mansionization is still underway. On April 25, the City Council tackled the topic again, specifically for Lower Hastings Ranch. The city’s planning staff had a number of recommended changes to the special zoning Lower Hastings Ranch already has. The Planning Commission had recommended more stringent regulation, specifically a ban on second stories. Most City Council members could not bring themselves to restrict property rights to the extent of banning second stories, but they did support the staff recommendation to allow homeowners to define their own zones where a very large percentage vote could prohibit second stories. So the Council ended up adopting the Staff Recommendation, which includes taking the topic back to the Planning Commission to work out more details. You can read all about it in the agenda materials for item 16 on the City Council agenda . And of course you can watch the presentation and discussion on the video of the April 25 meeting.
      • Potential new regulations for the rest of the City outside of historical districts await resolution for Lower Hastings. All but the hillside districts come next (that includes us), then revisiting the already existing special hillside regulations.
      • One thing that has become clear to the City Council is that “view” needs to be more clearly defined. Several meetings in a row were consumed by hearing disputes over new development in a hillside zone where regulations include “view” protection.

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

Adjourned about 12:45 pm