July 15 Neighborhood Meeting Summary


E-mail and phone reminders


10 members


Susan brought grapes and treats. Laura brought grapes.


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:23

  • Sierra Madre Villa re-stripe controversy
    • Sierra Madre Villa between Foothill Blvd and Orange Grove/Rosemead was repaved in early June. That had been planned for several years as the road was dug up and patched for one project after another. The contract for this paving job was approved by the City Council on January 9. No mention was made in the Staff Report for that contract, or at any other time, about a plan to change the traffic flow.
    • So it was a big surprise when big arrow sketch marks appeared on the new pavement on June 9.
    • Someone asked our City Council member Gene Masuda about it. He brought it up at the City Council’s joint meeting with the Finance Committee meeting on June 10, during the operating budget presentation by the Transportation Department. The Transportation Director acknowledged they did not publicize or do any outreach about the changes; instead it was regarded as standard operating procedure to take advantage of a repaving to change the traffic pattern. (The traffic engineers make adjustments all the time without public notice or involvement except when they need the Council to approve extra funding or a contract).
    • The issue was also posted on Next Door on June 10, starting a very long, and sometimes contentious, discussion.
    • As the new and unexpected striping scheme began to be painted during that week, the controversy heated up and Council member Masuda was deluged with e-mail and phone calls.
    • The City Manager included an explanation from Fred Dock, Director of Transportation, dated June 15, in his weekly newsletter. Here are its points:
      • State statute requires cities to adopt “Complete Streets” policies.
      • Those policies are “the foundation for the recently adopted Street Design Guide, the Arterial Speed Management Program and the various programs to enhance safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”
      • The Transportation department is applying this approach to all Capital Improvement Program work. By doing the reconfiguration as part of road work already being done, the additional cost is minimized.
      • As roadways are resurfaced they become candidates for “enhancement protocols”.
      • Thus, Sierra Madre Villa has been subjected to a “road diet” via striping changes.
      • The average daily traffic count the transportation department used to justify these changes showed that the old four lane configuration was “underutilized throughout most of the day and is a contributing factor to speeding by motorists.”
      • “In the City Traffic Engineer’s professional judgment, the road diet will provide sufficient vehicular capacity to meet expected traffic demands.”
      • “The road diet will calm traffic, reduce speeding and is consistent with the City-Council approved Street Design Guidelines and statewide Complete Streets policies that aim to accommodate all users of the roadway. The road diet will facilitate safer and shorter pedestrian crossings, provide safer bicycling access to the Metro Gold Line station through the installation of buffered bike lanes, will provide for safer ingress and egress to residential driveways to the west via the two-way center turn lane, and reduce the likelihood of rear end or sideswipe collisions through the installation of dedicated left turn lanes at the six cross streets that intersect with Sierra Madre Villa along segment of roadway.”
      • The document includes cross section drawings of the roadway as part of it was: parking lane on each side with two traffic lanes in each direction, and the new scheme west to east of parking lane, bike lane, bike lane buffer, traffic lane southbound, center turn lane, traffic lane, bike lane buffer, bike lane.
    • No mention made in anything from the City that actually the old traffic configuration had already been changed to eliminate parking on the northbound side some years ago, at least north of Electronic, and it was already exclusively a bike lane. The southbound parking lane was already a share the road lane.
    • Further communications by community members and Mr Masuda with the traffic engineering manager brought out that they were comparing statistics on Sierra Madre Villa to south Marengo Ave, where a “road diet” was implemented some years ago.
      • The statistics provided use traffic volume statistics for Sierra Madre Villa from 2010, a time when the effects of the recession were still strong.
      • But speed survey statistics are from 2015.
      • One collision history summary provided says from 2011-2015 there were 19 total collisions with 11 causing property damage, 8 causing injury, and two of those 8 involving pedestrians.
      • In a different communication, the traffic engineering manager said: “The use of the word “safer” does not imply the street is currently unsafe for pedestrians but quite the opposite, i.e., it is safe now but we are just making it better, i.e., safer. With that said, there were no crashes found in the last 6 years involving pedestrian crossing Sierra Madre Villa Ave between Orange Grove Blvd and Foothill Blvd. There were two pedestrians (NOT crossing Sierra Madre Villa Av) that were involved in an accident. In early 2011, a pedestrian crossing Mataro St was hit by a car making a RT from Mataro St to Sierra Madre Villa Ave, and late in 2011, there were two vehicles involved in a broadside collision at Electronic Drive and Sierra Madre Villa and subsequent to the crash, one of the parties veered and hit a pedestrian in the sidewalk. The design provides for a “safer” pedestrian crossing is just a general statement that refers to the fact that instead of the pedestrian having to traverse four vehicular travel lanes to cross, it is now reduced to two vehicular lanes.”
    • Pros for the changes made:
      • Left turns from Sierra Madre Villa are safer because you can get out of the traffic lane and therefore should have less likelihood of being rear ended or car(s) behind veering into somebody as they try to go around.
      • Left turns onto Sierra Madre Villa may be easier for those brave enough to turn into the left turn lane while traffic is flowing in the far traffic lane.
      • Average traffic speeds will be slowed down, which should be safer for everyone.
      • Dedicated bicycle lanes should be safer for bicyclists to use then the previous configuration.
      • Crossing is claimed to be easier for pedestrians because “there is a shorter distance” and because there is only one lane of traffic in each direction to deal with.
      • It makes Pasadena look “progressive”.
    • Cons against the changes made:
      • Forcing traffic to merge is more prone to accidents then not requiring merging.
      • The transitions for the lane configurations at each end of the segment are confusing and likely to cause more collisions, especially at holiday shopping times when traffic is heavy with visitors not already familiar with the weirdness.
        • Northbound just north of Foothill is particularly bad. The right traffic lane has roadway markings telling its users to merge to the left. Just after that, the left traffic lane rather abruptly jogs to the right as it is essentially replaced by the center turn lane. The resulting one traffic lane is rather closely aligned with the right hand lane that continues into it in spite of the “get to the left” markings. Now there is also a traffic sign to reinforce the confusing left arrow message. Meanwhile traffic from the right lane must stay right to turn into the Bed Bath and Beyond driveway, and vehicles are also trying to exit, often with a desire to get to the freeway though they are instructed to only turn right. Traffic backing up into the intersection was always an issue, this mess makes it worse. And no bicyclist, or even pedestrian, should risk this area during busy times.
        • Southbound approaching Foothill, vehicles still want to turn left into the BB&B driveway, but that is beyond the center turn lane and before the left turn lane for Foothill, with no break in the double yellow line. Vehicles clearly are not supposed to make that turn, but they still do, and now they block the traffic worse then when there were two consistent traffic lanes in each direction.
        • Southbound approaching Foothill, the bicycle lane is eliminated to recreate the second traffic lane. This allows more room to wait at the light, make right turns, and transition to the configuration on the south side of the intersection. There are share-the-road bicycle symbols painted in the right hand lane intended to alert motorists, but they are just as likely to confuse them.
        • Northbound at Orange Grove, aside from a left turn lane there is just one lane for waiting at the light. At busy times this causes a very long back up, missed light cycles, driving long distances in the bicycle lane to make a right turn, …
        • Southbound from Orange Grove, the full transition to one traffic lane and the bicycle lane takes two blocks, but the markings during the transition are inconsistent as to parking and turning compared to further down the street. It almost feels as if you aren’t supposed to be turning onto Hermanos or Las Lunas.
        • Southbound at each intersection, the right turn merge markings through the bicycle lanes are too abrupt for traffic at speed. When it wasn’t so explicitly marked, it was common to use the parking lane to pull out of the traffic lane before slowing all the way down for the turn. If that wasn’t an option, at least you were only impeding the right hand lane flow. But if one goes by the markings you are now supposed to slow down the only traffic lane in order to make the turn.
      • Crossing of, or movement to or from, Sierra Madre Villa takes longer on average because it takes longer to get a break in the single traffic lanes then when there were two.
        • Folks who live on Sierra Madre Villa near the middle of the stretch report having much more difficulty getting out of their driveways because of a lack of breaks in the traffic flow.
        • Pedestrians report having to wait a lot longer for a break in traffic.
        • It takes much longer for vehicles to get a break to turn right.
      • Vehicles going between Alameda St and Electronic Drive have a harder time using the left turn lane because there is such limited distance to merge out of it into the traffic lane to make the right turn.
      • During busy times, traffic is more likely to back up at the intersections so far that it takes more then one light cycle to get through. Traffic signal timing can be adjusted longer, possibly at the expense of everybody waiting longer for the light cycle all the time.
      • Use by bicyclists is very rare. Giving them equal road space to that of the motorized vehicles makes no sense.
      • The bicycle lanes are much less safe then other readily available options such as Halstead. Especially southbound, because of the large number of intersections and driveways and the long and potentially confusing transitions with vehicle traffic lanes at the intersections on each end.
      • The buffered bicycle lanes are so wide they encourage scofflaw drivers to use them to go around backed up traffic. This has been observed a number of times.
      • Traffic speeds may be slowed down when traffic volume is high, but not when it is light.
      • Pedestrian crossing is harder, not easier. The street is just as wide as it was and one still should not assume vehicles (or the occasional bicycle) will notice them and stop. And it takes much longer to get a break in traffic in each direction.
      • The profusion of road markings and signs is too much to process at one time.
      • No thought seems to have been given to the new developments that are likely to increase traffic in the area significantly. And the cumulative impact of putting all the major streets on “road diets”, as seems to be planned.
      • Traffic engineers seem to have selectively picked traffic statistics to support implementing the current fad in traffic management on this street segment.
      • This is the government forcing congestion to slow traffic and to try to force people to use bicycles and public transit.
    • The City’s traffic engineering manager who was in charge of this project, Norman Baculinao, has now moved on to a job with Ventura County. Don’t know how that affects the evaluations and potential revisions he was reported to be working on.
    • If you have comments you would like to express to City leaders regarding the traffic plan on Sierra Madre Villa and/or other streets, send a note to:
    • Mr Masuda said in an e-mail to the district that he intends to have a meeting about this issue this year. (Suspect it will be part of his yearly November meeting).
  • Panda Inn and 258 apartments
    • As previously reported, the owners of the Panda Inn bought the Gateway Tower next to their original restaurant on Foothill Blvd and are now proposing a major development on the large surface parking lots.
    • A Preliminary Plan Review for this development was presented to the City Council on July 10.
    • They are proposing to:
      • Remodel the restaurant and add 535 square feet, resulting in 7935 square feet total.
      • Build two apartment buildings behind it totaling 258 units in 239,168 square feet.
      • Remodel the exterior of the first two floors of the Gateway Tower building, which includes an outdoor podium terrace
    • The proposal meets all the zoning requirements of both the Specific Plan and the new General Plan. As a result (unlike many other large projects under development), they won’t need to negotiate with the City Council.
    • The restaurant’s exterior, especially the front, would be changed. But the panda mural will stay. The surface parking area would partially be converted into a courtyard.
    • The northern apartment building would include
      • 72 apartments, all one bedroom and studio except for 4 two bedroom units
      • two levels of underground parking, one each for the office building and the residential tenants
      • parking for the restaurant on the ground and second levels
      • the main lobby and leasing office on the second level
      • apartments on the 3rd to 6th above ground levels
      • a courtyard on the 3rd level (on top of the parking garage)
    • The southern apartment building would include
      • 186 apartments, the majority one bedroom but 62 two bedroom and 19 studio
      • two levels of underground parking, one each for the office building and the residential tenants
      • additional residential parking on the ground level along with the main lobby
      • apartments on the 2nd to 6th levels above ground
      • a courtyard on the 2nd level (on top of the parking garage)
      • a roof terrace at the 6th level (on top of the 5th)
      • a roof terrace on the roof of the 6th level
    • Because of the slope of the land, the southern building is roughly one story lower then the north building.
    • Parking:
      • Access to the underground parking for the Gateway office tower would mostly be from Halstead Street.
      • Parking for the residential units would entirely be from Foothill using the same driveway as the restaurant.
      • The office tower would have 274 spaces, a required 25% reduction from the current 360 spaces.
      • The restaurant would have 71 spaces. Current number of spaces not listed, but because it is near the Gold Line it has to have 10% fewer spaces then a restaurant of the same size elsewhere.
      • The residential would have 392 spaces, 26 of which would be guest spaces.
    • Gold Line access
      • The developer made a deal with the company developing a residential project at 170 N. Halstead to have a wider shared driveway from Halstead that allows room for a covered and landscaped pedestrian walkway from Halstead street. A crosswalk across Halstead to the Gold Line parking garage is also proposed.
    • Landscaping
      • There is very limited room for real landscaping. The available open space at the ground level mostly has to remain usable as fire lanes. To make it less stark then asphalt or concrete and allow some alternative usage, the developer proposes to use “turf block” in the fire lane areas that do not need to be drivable for any other purpose. They would put removable bollards to block day to day vehicle access while allowing pedestrians and bicycles through. The area between the south building and the freeway fence might be designated for dogs.
    • Affordable housing
      • They are proposing to include 26 of the required affordable housing units on-site. They would pay the in-lieu fee for the remainder of the required 15% affordable housing.
    • Trivia: The same lawyer, Richard McDonald, who represents the Avon site developers also represents the Panda Inn developers. He made a point to the Council that he does not represent the Space Bank site developers.
  • Accessory (2nd) unit regulation put off
    • Proposed changes in regulations for Accessory Units (also known as 2nd units or granny flats) were presented to the City Council on June 19.
    • The council was not able to agree with the staff’s proposal. Staff was directed to do more work.
    • The proposal to lower the minimum lot size to add a new detached unit to 5000 square feet was one area of disagreement.
    • There was also issue with how big of an added detached unit should be allowed. Staff proposed a maximum of 800 square feet or the size of the main house, whichever was less. Some felt that was too small, some thought it might be too big on smaller lots. Some suggestion of a sliding maximum based on the lot size.
    • There was also disagreement with potential consequences of rules in historic districts.
    • For background, see our previous reports on this regulation process:
  • LA County Consumer Affairs resource fair July 20
    • The County of Los Angeles Consumer Affairs Advisory Commission is holding a “Community Town Hall and Resource Fair”
      • Thursday July 20
      • 6:30 – 8:00 pm
      • Pasadena City College, Creveling Lounge, 1570 E Colorado Blvd.
    • The Commission will hold their regular meeting there from 6 pm – 6:30 pm.
    • “The event will include presentations, exhibits and resources from local community and government agencies on topics including:
      • Top Consumer Scams
      • Landlord-Tenant Issues
      • Loan Modification Assistance
      • Solar Panel Installation
      • Consumer Protection for Seniors
      • and Much More!”
  • Neighborhood Night at Pasadena Museum of History August 2
    • “Councilmember Masuda and the Pasadena Museum of History cordially invite all residents of District 4 to enjoy a special Neighborhood Night at the Museum” on
      • Wednesday August 2
      • 5:00 – 7:30 pm
      • Pasadena Museum of History
      • in the History Center, immediately west of the parking lot.
      • 470 West Walnut Street
      • Free parking in the museum lot and on West Walnut Street
      • Reservations requested. Call 1-800-838-3006 or visit http://district4.bpt.me
    • “Free event featuring:
      • Free admission to the exhibitions The Art of Getting There: Railroad Inspired Artistry and Art in the Street: 25 Years of the Pasadena Chalk Festival
      • Reception with light refreshments
      • Remarks by Councilmember Gene Masuda, Curators Michael Patris and Steve Crise, and Museum Staff at 6:00 pm
      • A chance to win a Museum Membership and Rose Parade tickets.”
  • Hazardous waste collection on August 5
    • Did you miss the collection today south of the Rose Bowl? Here’s another local opportunity:
    • Los Angeles County will be holding Household Hazardous Waste and E-Waste collection events in both Arcadia and Sierra Madre
      • August 5, 2017
        9 am to 3 pm
      • In Arcadia: Santa Anita Race Track, Gate 6, Colorado Place, Arcadia 91007
      • In Sierra Madre: Mariposa Parking Lot, Mariposa Ave. just west of Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre 91024
    • When you can’t wait up to a year for the next collection, you may be able to go to the closest “permanent” site:
      • Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Plant
        4600 Colorado Boulevard,
        Los Angeles 90039
        Saturdays and Sundays
        Closed on holidays and during “rainy weather”
        They don’t accept medical/biological waste (except sharps in approved containers), ammunition, explosives, firecrackers, flares, tires
    • Here is the County web site: dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/hhw/
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month, from crimemapping.com: (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
      • Sat June 17, 5:56 pm, 200 block Sierra Madre Villa, Assault with Deadly Weapon
      • Tue June 20, 10:38 am, 400 block Mercury Lane, Grand Theft Auto
      • Sun July 9, 8:56 pm, Estado at Santa Paula Ave, Assault/Battery
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • There was a news release that the Vons at Allen and Washington will remain open at least until the end of the year as lease negotiations continue.
    • The City planners now say that affordable housing units are not included in the Specific Plan new residential unit caps. It was news to City Councilman Masuda as well as to us. Don’t remember this ever having been noted during the long general plan process and its discussion of these limits. This policy was revealed during discussion of whether the combination of the proposed Panda Inn, Space Bank, and 170 N. Halstead projects would exceed the current limit of 750 new units. As currently proposed, they all would.
    • The proposed Space Bank site development was referenced repeatedly during the July 10 City Council discussion about the Panda Inn development. The City planner mentioned that the Space Bank developer was considering creating a park on their land “across the street”. Nobody questioned the statement, as if everybody already had heard about it. The Space Bank land includes a parcel across Kinneloa Ave, behind Dewey Pest. When we met with the developer a year ago they said they didn’t have any plans for that parcel yet. If a park is put there it will surely be taken over by the homeless.

Next meeting is August 19, 2017 at 11:15 am, in Hastings Branch Library meeting room

Adjourned about 12:50 pm