February 16 Neighborhood Meeting Summary

Preparation

E-mail reminders

Attendees

6 members

Acknowledgments

Susan brought bagels.

Meeting

Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:25 am

  • Anti-“mansionization” Regulations Hearing Feb 27
    • The Planning Commission will hold a Public Hearing
      February 27, 2019, 6:30 pm
      Pasadena City Hall, Council Chambers, Room S249
    • Pasadena’s Planning  Department has been tasked since late 2014 with putting together tighter building regulations for single family homes to reduce the “mansionization” effect of huge new/remodeled houses overwhelming their surroundings and affecting the privacy of neighbors.
    • Having completed new regulations for Lower Hastings and Hillside overlay districts, they are still working on proposals for the rest of the City’s non-special zoning district single family housing. So not including hillside, Upper or Lower Hastings, or areas designated historic.
    • The community meetings to gather input occurred in 2015.
    • Draft design guidelines were presented to the Planning Commission on May 23, 2018. (The City’s website now has no record of that meeting, but it did happen since it is referred to during subsequent meetings).
    • Staff was back before the Design Commission on July 10, 2018 and then the Planning Commission on July 25, 2018. You can listen to the presentation and discussion to the Planning Commission here, starting at 1:03 in the recording:  pasadena.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=32&clip_id=4364
    • The Design Commission seemed largely on board with the staff recommendations on July 10, but the Planning Commission on July 25 basically nixed the idea of design guidelines, neighbor notification, or any discretionary rules. They were leaning toward just a little tightening of size and second story setback rules.
      • Do not want to push conformity to existing surroundings or what neighbors are comfortable with – some of today’s iconic houses were considered outrageous and/or ugly when they were built.
      • Don’t want City Staff or Commissioners to be in the middle of neighbor disputes about what to allow.
      • Want rules to be clear upfront to avoid extra time and expense in getting building permission.
      • Some of the commissioners also expressed rejection of any new limits on the size of houses, especially on smaller lots, saying that property owners must be allowed to expand, especially on smaller lots.
    • In general, there seems to be a focus by staff and commissioners on thinking about “standard” 7500 square foot and larger lot sizes even though “mansionization” is at least as impactful in neighborhoods like ours that have mostly “substandard” size lots. The square footage of a mini-“mansion” is not as big, but the impact to neighbors is arguably worse because a smaller lot has smaller required setbacks and the allowed height is the virtually the same. The tilt toward only considering impacts from larger properties may come from the fact that the only community representatives at these barely noticed Commission meetings have been from wealthier neighborhoods.
  • Summary of Coyote Management Meeting
    • Meeting was held at Frostig School on Altadena Drive on January 30. Another meeting for same purpose was held in mid-February at Blair High School.
    • Turned out the meeting was primarily about an Urban Wildlife Management Plan the City is working on to “provide guidance for city staff in dealing with wildlife in Pasadena”.
    • The Director of Public Health, Michael Johnson, gave a slide presentation and answered some questions.
    • Chief Assistant City Prosecutor Michael Dowd arrived a bit late and presented information and answered questions in a more off-the-cuff and entertaining way.
    • A Sr. V.P. of the Pasadena Humane Society was in attendance, but not to speak.
    • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has jurisdiction over all wildlife in California, which includes coyotes. (Note that it used to be called “…Fish and Game”). Their agents are spread extremely thinly, so they really won’t respond to anything less then threat to human life. Bears and mountain lions are less common, but more dangerous, so will get higher priority then coyotes.
    • The Federal government also has jurisdiction over wildlife, but is also spread extremely thinly.
    • The L.A. Country Agricultural Commissioner’s Integrated Pest Management Program also has a role in wildlife control.
    • The City and the Pasadena Humane Society have authority over domestic animals, not over wildlife. The police can take action when humans are directly threatened. The Humane Society will pick up dead coyotes, but not intervene with sick ones unless they are immobile or displaying threatening behavior toward humans.
    • The City’s Public Health Department is leading the effort to put together the Urban Wildlife Management Plan. It is supposed to enable the City to to be more organized as well as get more assistance from the State’s Fish and Wildlife service. Presentation was vague what that assistance would be other then training for a “wildlife watch” program.
    • Comments on the Draft of the Urban Wildlife Management Plan are being solicited now through the end of February. This web page provides a comment form and contact info: www.cityofpasadena.net/uwmp-comments/
    • The Plan is also undergoing a CEQA environmental review process.
    • According to the Executive Summary of the Plan, the City’s management strategy will be “based on balancing respect and protection for wildlife and their habitats without compromising public safety. The strategy is comprised of a three-pronged approach consisting of:
      • (1) public education designed around co-existence with wildlife,
      • (2) enforcement of laws and regulations prohibiting the feeding of wildlife and
      • (3) ensuring public safety by implementing appropriate tiered responses to wildlife and human interactions.
    • People are asked to report coyote, bear, and mountain lion encounters to the City via the Citizen Service Center. This will allow the City to gather more data about what type of encounters are occurring where to determine where intervention is most needed and potentially success of interventions
      www.cityofpasadena.net/citizen-service-center
      For Topic, select Animals, then Wildlife Sighting/Nuisance Report.
    • There is also a University of California Cooperative Extension doing research on coyote encounters that would like reports made to their website:  http://ucanr.edu/sites/CoyoteCacher
    • By state law, coyotes are vermin, and cannot be relocated if trapped by a licensed trapper. They have to be euthanized. If you have a problem, you can “abate” them on your private property. If you hire someone they have to have special state permits for wildlife and there are also rules about notifying neighboring property owners, who may well object. Poisoning is illegal and a bad idea. Discharging a firearm within city limits is illegal.
    • The primary thing that human inhabitants and the City can do for controlling coyotes and other wildlife is to eliminate food sources. There really is a lot more wildlife now then before humans were here because the natural environment did not provide nearly as much abundance of food sources. Most of this “wildlife” is not “coming down from the hills”. They are born and live their lives in the spaces between us. Flood channels, freeway and utility right of ways, untended yards. If we stop indirectly or directly feeding and “helping” them, they will naturally decrease in numbers. The more food and shelter available, the more breeding they’ll do. And yes, suffering disease and disability is part of the natural process.
    • There is no question that if a human is actively being attacked by a wild animal without provocation, that human can be defended by all means necessary. (However, if you use a weapon you aren’t legally allowed to have with you, you may face legal problems for that).
    • Most authorities are promoting actively trying to chase off coyotes encountered within human neighborhoods using noise, water, lights, throwing things, running at them, (but not actually hurting them) so they won’t get too comfortable with being around humans. Note that it is important to keep it up until they run off and consistently have many people doing it. If it is done halfheartedly, coyotes will soon learn it is meaningless. It should not be done in an area where coyotes should be expected to live and hunt.
    • But the prosecutor indicated that if a person does hazing in such a way that leads to being attacked by the animal, their right of self-defense may not be so clear cut. So don’t corner them or actually injure them.
    • Another interesting point made is that pets are property and you are technically not allowed to use deadly force to protect them. All the more reason to keep them on a short leash on walks. If a coyote takes on a dog that is wandering off-leash or on a long leash from you, that is natural predator behavior and not considered a problem. (A smaller dog is prey, a large one may be considered a competitor/threat). But if the coyote is coming within a few feet of a human to attack a pet, that is a much bolder/crazy coyote who could reasonably be considered a threat to the human as well. (If you have a small pet on leash, it is recommended you pick them when a coyote is spotted).
    • For more information about coyote proofing your home, hazing, and other safety tips, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Living-With-Wildlife or https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Coyote
  • Summary of Specific Plan Update Workshop
    • The City’s Planning Department is held a “second round” community workshop for updating the East Pasadena Specific Plan on January 24 at PCC-CEC.
    • Upon arrival, attendees were assigned a table color and given a set of stickers to put next to statements they agreed with on a series of presentation easels.
    • After an introductory presentation, attendees were dispatched to the table matching the color they were given when they arrived.
    • At each table, a member of the planning staff and a consultant looked at a large scale drawing of the specific plan area and discussed the proposed allowed usage and number of stories in each of the sub-areas.
    • Generally the feedback they got for most sub-areas was “too high”, “too much”, and disagreement with adding residential in most of the areas where there currently is none.
    • Much angst about how traffic increasing, as most people don’t believe new apartment residents will not have cars. Advocates believe they won’t have cars as long as parking is not provided on-site.
    • At least one table had a discussion about how using “stories” for describing height can be very misleading since commercial buildings often have quite tall stories, especially for the ground floor. Also, most commercial buildings essentially have a bunch of extra on top for their heating/cooling and other equipment. Plus, now state law allows extra height “by right” for including a minimal amount of “affordable housing” in a development with residential. Staff and consultants said they chose to describe via stories because most people don’t readily visualize height given in feet, which is what is actually used in zoning code.
    • Also noted that height is measured from lowest point of a building. So for example on the Sears lot, a two story building built fronting Foothill will be no taller then the current two tall story Sears. But the same building built next to Sears Way could loom over the residential properties to the north.
    • City staff say more then 65 people attended.
    • You can look at any or all the presentation materials and provide feedback too. (Specific feedback in writing may well be more impactful then spoken feedback at the meeting). Visit:
      www.ourpasadena.org/east-pasadena
    • Almost all of this planning angst could be thrown out the window by proposed statewide legislation in Sacramento that would basically override all local control within some distance of fixed transit stops and bus stops with frequent service. The proposals generally would allow massive multi-family residential development anywhere within such areas as long as some percentage of the units are designated for low-income tenants. Such legislation also threatens our neighborhood, most of which is within 1/2 mile of the Gold Line station and 1/2 mile has most often been proposed as the distance. There are multiple proposed bills which are constantly being changed, and bills having nothing to do with it can be changed at the last minute, so it is best to contact your State legislators and express your opposition (or support) of such state mandates that ignore local conditions and processes.
  • Status updates on local commercial projects
    • Status as reported in an update from Councilmember Masuda’s office on January 29, 2019.
    • Home Depot, on former Avon property
      • Home Depot team is working on construction drawings to remodel the existing buildings. The result would include a Home Depot store. This has been previously described eewna.org/2018/10/october-20-neighborhood-meeting-summary/#Avon
      • As of the end of 2018, the City’s planning staff anticipated the construction plans could be submitted to the City as a “tenant improvement” by late February 2019.
    • Space Bank property
      • The plan for 550 apartments was approved by the City Council in July 2018. The plans have continued to be refined as they go through Design Review by the Design Commission. A Concept Design was approved in November 2018.
      • Building permit requests had not yet been submitted.
    • Panda Inn/Gateway Tower/Metro Center
      • Two new six-story buildings holding 232 apartments, and remodeling of the Panda Inn restaurant and the first two floors of the Gateway Tower.
      • Concept Design was approved at the end of August 2018.
      • An application for Final Design Review was submitted in December and tentatively scheduled for a hearing by the Design Commission on February 26.
    • 170 N. Halstead
      • A 19 unit residential building of six stories was given Final Design approval in March 2017.
      • A change of ownership occurred in early 2018.
      • As of two days before plan check would expire in December, building permits had not been applied for. So it is unclear if this project will go forward.
  • Result of “fraudulent” e-mailed survey investigation
    • Last month included a report of a “fraudulent” e-mailed survey.
    • It turns out the survey was initiated as research by an “non-profit community organization” named POP! that was advocating for the City to continue with its minimum wage ordinance that is more aggressive with increases then the state’s newer ordinance.
    • POP! hired a well-known research firm to do the survey, which in turn hired a subcontractor who made the mistake of putting “From: City of Pasadena” in the heading.
    • For more details, see this Pasadena Now article: pasadenanow.com/main/pro-minimum-wage-advocacy-group-apologizes-to-pasadenans-for-email-survey-blunder
    • The e-mail addresses were purchased from the Secretary of State’s voter registration data. Apparently now when you register or re-register to vote, you have the option of providing an e-mail address and/or phone number. It has always been possible for organizations to buy registration data including USPS addresses so they can blitz you with campaign mail. Now if you include an e-mail address or phone number they can use those too.
    • According to state law, campaigns can use the data to communicate with voters, but only for election purposes and they are not allowed to share it with anyone else.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month in our neighborhood, from crimemapping.com: (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
      • Thursday Jan 31, 5:54 am, 400 block Avocado Ave, Vehicle burglary
      • Thursday Jan 31, 8:08 am, 400 block Santa Paula Ave, Vehicle burglary
      • Saturday Feb 2, 10:13 pm, 3100 block Foothill Blvd, Rape
    • There has been a noticeable increase in residential and vehicle burglaries in nearby neighborhoods in late January and early February.
    • Many vehicle burglaries in East Pasadena and Altadena continue to indicate the vehicle was unlocked and surprisingly expensive stuff taken. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take valuables with you, or at least store them out of sight, and lock your vehicles. Most thieves won’t bother breaking in without reason to expect a useful take.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss

Next EEWNA meeting is March 16, 2019 at 11:15 am, in Hastings Branch Library meeting room

Agenda completed about 12:30 pm

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