News from East Eaton Wash Neighborhood Association
Issue No. 12 – February 23, 2017
If you are not already on our e-mail list, please send a note to [email protected] to sign up so you’ll be sure to get the latest information. If you’d like to view or engage in online discussions related to our neighborhood, sign up with the free commercially operated website NextDoor.com. Its East Eaton Wash neighborhood’s boundaries match ours and many of your neighbors have signed up.
If you live within the boundaries of East Eaton Wash Neighborhood Association and you are at least 18 years old, then you are automatically a member! Membership is free.
The boundaries are from Foothill Blvd. north to the south side of Orange Grove Blvd, and from Eaton Wash east to Sierra Madre Villa Ave.
The Neighborhood Association mission is to help improve the quality of life in our neighborhood. It does this by:
Meetings: Second Saturday of each month at 11:15 am at Hastings Branch Library.
Sign up for e-mail and you’ll receive the meeting summary each month, and an occasional message when something comes up between meetings. We won’t share your e-mail address with anybody.
Please come vote in our Association’s annual election of officers on Saturday March 11 at Hastings Branch Library between 11:15 am and 12:45 pm.
There has been a lack of candidates, so the current officers have agreed to do it again year after year. Do you find the Association valuable? Do you have ideas and would like to get more involved? You are welcome to join us.
It seems like we are suddenly about to be overwhelmed with big projects along Foothill. We just got past construction of the 212 unit building that is now called the Ellington on the corner of Sierra Madre Villa. Now we face more years of gridlock and dust as all these projects will potentially be under construction at one time. The construction phase will be far worse than the increased traffic once they are complete.
Except for the Avon site, all these projects were already under consideration in some form in 2007. What is now the Ellington was originally part of the project that became the A Noise Within theater. Trammell Crow was already studying the Space Bank site, but with an eye toward office buildings. The previous owner of the Gateway Tower was proposing to build two office buildings on its parking lot. The 19 unit project on Halstead was also in-process. These projects went dormant or just simmered through the recession. Markets evaporated, financing dried up, companies went out of business.
The long planned City's General Plan update process got going just as the recovery began to take hold, providing the opportunity to change zoning designations throughout the City. There has been a push for a long time by urban planners and environmental and housing advocates to increase density near transit and to try to get rid of the need or desire to use cars. The concept of a "village" around each Gold Line station and downtown was pushed; having a mix of businesses that serve nearby residents. Of course developers were weighing in to get zoning that would allow the projects they foresaw, and housing projects have become more desired than offices. With the adoption of the new General Plan and land use map in August 2015, most of the parcels near Gold Line stations have now been rezoned to allow for mixed use, which can be either commercial, residential, or a mix. The Space Bank site is a prime example.
But all these areas are also part of another type of zoning entity, an overlay called a Specific Plan. Now all the Specific Plans in the city are out of sync with the new General Plan's land use diagram. Specific Plans go deeper than the General Plan's land use map to lay out a "vision" for the area they cover, and to provide more specific rules about setbacks, heights, and types of business allowed. A Specific Plan can reduce what can be built from what the general land use map specifies, but cannot increase it.
It will take at least three years to update the Specific Plans to be in sync with the new General Plan. That leaves parcels that were re-zoned in limbo if a developer wants to do something allowed under the new zoning designation but not by the outdated Specific Plan. The City Council agreed to make the "Planned Development" (PD) process available for larger parcels so the Specific Plan requirements can be ignored. With a PD, the City Council can ignore all the zoning restrictions such as setbacks, height, and density if it determines the resulting project is better. Only the use allowed by the zoning must be met. The downside for the developer is less certainty over whether and when their project will be approved, because the City Council has a lot more latitude to decide what to allow than they would with a project going through the normal process. Through their elected representatives, the potential exists for the public to have a large impact.
The Space Bank project has submitted an application for a Planned Development (PD). It is their only option currently. If the developer of the Avon site applies before the Specific Plan for that area is done, it too will have to apply as a PD. Residential was already allowed for the Panda Inn site, but there may be details that would cause them to apply for a PD.
So the historic cycle of development and pause continues. For those of us who have been here a long time it may seem very congested and not to our liking. Newer residents have a different baseline to make comparisons. Everyone has a different perspective. Even though the state is increasingly overriding local control, citizens still have opportunities to influence what happens. Be informed and get involved! You aren't likely to get exactly what you want, but the result might be better than it would otherwise be.
It might seem to many of us that there are an awful lot of changes going on around us these days. But if there’s one thing consistent about East Pasadena, it is change.
Almost a century ago, there was the Chihuahuita School, at the corner of Santa Paula and Foothill. It was a grade school for Mexican Americans, who dominated the population of East Eaton Wash at the time. Eventually it was replaced by a continuation high school. In the mid-90s it became the PCC extension for adult education.
In the 70’s, there was a noisy little race car track called Malibu Grand Prix, on the corner of Foothill and Madre. That gave way to GMAC and the brick building there today, which now houses Kaiser Permanente.
The 210 Freeway has only been in existence since around 1975. The foundation for the bridge over Sierra Madre Villa began in ‘72. Prior to the 210, there was no through street from Sierra Madre Villa to Madre. One would use Halstead or Kinneloa to access Colorado, and the Santa Fe Railroad ran through that stretch. The Metro Rail only came along in 2003.
Cars were king in the 50’s, 60s and 70s. Where you now see one or two gas stations on major intersections, there was usually one on every corner. But that changed, too. Big 5, a car wash, and a couple of strip malls reside where a typical petrol stand-off existed at the corner of Rosemead/Colorado.
Long before Carl's Jr, Shogun and Trader Joe’s, there was a 76 Station on Rosemead and Halstead, too. That station gained immortality in the movie “The Jerk” with Steve Martin. A sniper across the street hiding in the hillsides (where there is now an office building) was taking shots at the poor Jerk, and our misguided hero manages to have a lovely New England-type steeple church in what is now the Shogun parking lot, hauled through the now-closed gas station and dragged down Rosemead Boulevard.
But yes, before even THAT, this intersection housed the big screen of the Hastings Drive-In Theater. The drive-in occupied the land from that corner, all the way to the grocery that is now Ralphs. It was later replaced by the Pacific Hastings Theater, along with a handful of retail and eateries. There was eventually a multiplex next to Ethan Allen, which how houses our Trader Joe’s market.
Ralphs wasn’t always Ralphs. It was once Hughes Market, and before that, Market Basket. Next to that grocery store we had a Blockbuster Video for some time, and before that, Nelson’s Five and Dime. The golf shop down the way was a record shop (yes, vinyl!) as was the Chuck-E-Cheese across the street. And the area where the Subway shop and adjacents once had a Good Earth restaurant, and before that, Tiny Naylors. Baskin Robbins was once a liquor store. But good ol’ See’s Candy around the corner, and Sears and Rite Aid (formerly known as Thrifty) across the way have been pretty much the same for over a half century now.
Back in the 60’s the Ontra Cafeteria occupied the space where Habit and Supercuts now reside. Later we remember in the 70’s it was a disco dance club, with a DJ and essential mirror ball! We actually had a Woolworths where Whole Foods and Vromans are now, complete with a luncheonette!
All in all, it looks like the development along the north side of the 210 in our area is replacing a long stretch of storage yards, parking lots, and vacant buildings with some vibrant new living and shopping areas. The installation of the freeway did take away the esthetic of this portion of East Pasadena. The new developments will be an attractive addition. Changes happen constantly around here. Some aren’t as comfortable as we would like, but our future depends upon it! What does the next fifty years have in store?
Bev Ashley, Laura Ellersieck and Sharon Stockdale contributed to this story.
The developer, Trammell Crow, submitted the formal application for this project in July. This project requires approval by the City Council.
We had a meeting with the developer on July 30 and got an overview of their plan and expectations for this site, currently occupied by Space Bank. It is about 9 acres located directly south of us on Foothill. The plan includes 550 units in eight buildings. There is a small amount of retail space along Foothill, with thinking of some type of casual food service as a tenant. There are private courtyards as well as a publicly accessible central park area of more than one acre. Buildings along Foothill have varying setbacks and height, with a maximum height of four stories. (Lower than the Kaiser building). The tallest building is a five-story parking structure at the back of the property along the freeway. The buildings nearest Foothill have a large underground garage. The main entrance is on Foothill at the Santa Paula intersection. An additional entrance is at the eastern edge of the property on Foothill. Kinneloa Ave has entrances directly to the underground and above ground garages.
The formal environmental review process is just beginning. The consultant contracted to do the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be holding a community meeting soon. The developer's anticipated schedule was another two years to get the permits. Then another two and a half years of construction, possibly phased to allow some occupancy before it's all finished.
The Panda Inn on Foothill Boulevard purchased the Gateway Tower property next to it in 2015. Now they are proposing to demolish and replace the restaurant with a somewhat larger one in its current location, and build two new six-story residential buildings with a total of 258 units on what is currently surface parking for the tower. There would be parking underneath buildings as well as some surface parking. Primary access would be from Foothill, with a driveway to Halstead shared with a new separately owned 19 unit project.
Avon has sold its almost 14 acre property on Foothill Blvd just west of the freeway overpass. It was a distribution center. The property extends south to Walnut and as far west as Daisy Ave. Most of the property was re-zoned from Industrial to “R&D Flex Space” in 2015. That is defined as low density use “characterized by a wide range of industrial uses such as light manufacturing, research and development, creative office and incubator industries, and limited ancillary commercial and office uses.” Any project proposed for this site in the next few years will require City Council approval.
The buyer is a development group of companies that include Home Depot. The other companies have not been publicly identified yet. A proposal for development of the site has not been submitted to the City. We learned a little about what the buyers were considering at a Community Meeting held on November 30. They said they were talking to colleges, incubators, investors and others to identify possible tenants. They claimed it would be difficult to fill so much space with the designated uses and therefore the site had to also have substantial retail usage. Among the "limited ancillary commercial" uses would be a Home Depot store, which they said would need only a small portion of the property. Likely accessed primarily from Walnut. Rather than a large parking lot, it would likely have a parking structure. Something "like a Starbucks" was also mentioned.
Already anticipating budget problems (primarily due to pension costs), City officials are worrying about replacing the large sales tax revenue that Avon was reportedly generating for the City. This will create extra pressure to change, or absurdly stretch, the meaning of the zoning and approve any proposed project without a lot of revision.
The next step is for the developer to put a project proposal together that they believe can be approved.