March 16 Neighborhood Meeting Summary


E-mail reminders


6 members and 1 guest


Susan brought home baked cookies and JoAnn brought home baked cupcakes


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:30 am

  • Toxics removal at Space Bank – Hearing March 28
    • This is about the already approved by the City 550 apartment unit development on the site currently occupied by Space Bank Mini Storage on the south side of Foothill Blvd opposite our neighborhood.
    • For a history of the process and plans up to now, visit our previous meeting summaries through a search of “Space Bank”:
    • The first step in construction is cleaning up the toxic wastes on the property which were left there primarily by the Naval Undersea Research that occupied the site from the mid-40s through early 70s. There could also be unknown contaminates from activities of Space Bank tenants, though that possibility is almost never mentioned.
    • The next step in planning is that the California State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) must approved the work plan for how the site will be cleaned up.
    • A “draft final” Remedial Action Workplan (RAW) has been posted for public review and comment, with a deadline of April 8. You can access that document, as well as others from the DTSC regarding the site, here:
    • The DTSC is hosting a public meeting about the Remedial Action Workplan very conveniently in our neighborhood. If you have concerns you are urged to attend:
      Thursday March 28, 2019
      Presentation: 6:00 – 6:30 pm
      Open House: 6:30 pm
      PCC Community Education Center Multipurpose Room
      (Corner of Foothill and Santa Paula. Multipurpose Room is on west side of courtyard behind the big building on Foothill)
    • The draft final RAW is dated December 2017, so it was part of the basis of environmental approval by the City for the apartment development project and there is nothing new in the plan.
    • It lays out a basic history of the site and some general details about what activities the Research Center is believed to have done in various places. It describes the known environmental studies and tests done from decades ago up until when the plan was written. It lays out where it is believed the toxic wastes are located, how they should be removed, and follow up testing of those locations.
    • The primary focus is on the system of pipes and seepage pits for collection of surface water from the site. There is mention of a couple of locations where they think there might be something buried but not yet found.
    • The document focuses on cleaning up the known issues, but does not seem to really address checking for unknown issues. What might be there, unseen under current buildings or asphalt, that was never documented or for which documentation is unavailable?  What is the plan for checking the entire site?  Anyone who’s been around a while knows that people used to be a lot more sloppy and unconcerned about potential environmental damage. It was very common for people to just dump and/or burn stuff wherever it was convenient, even in cases where there might be a rule to dispose of things differently. Further, we’ve been told the Navy has declined to share documented details about usage of the site due to it having been classified.
    • The RAW document barely mentions the freeway being built through what was historically the southern and western part of the site. That caused some dislocation/relocation of facilities before the Navy decided to leave. Although the western part of the site was the last to be taken over by the research center (replacing a church and homes along then Titley Ave), what was the exact sequence of that usage and if the land was vacant but under the center’s control for awhile before it was built upon, what activities might have occurred on it?  (What about the land covered by the freeway embankment in the early 70s? Is there a flag in Caltrans databases to be cautious about future disturbance of the adjacent freeway embankment lest toxic contamination was just covered over)?
    • The document clearly has some cut and paste elements to it, including a reference to “Placer County” instead of Los Angeles County. It is a complex and data dense document with lots of repetition interspersed with unique information. If there are errors obvious to a layman, how carefully have the detailed data and calculations been checked?
    • Only have one best opportunity to do a proper cleanup, so it should not be short-changed due to cost or inconvenience. It’ll be a lot more costly and inconvenient later if important stuff is missed.
  • Meeting about former Albertson’s location March 21
    • Councilmember Gene Masuda has announced a special community meeting regarding code enforcement actions and criminal charges being brought against the owners of the shopping center at Sierra Madre Blvd and Michillinda.
    • This is where Albertson’s used to be located, but that space and many of the smaller ones have been vacant for years. Remaining tenants have struggled to survive the derelict conditions. It has long been a struggle to get the owner to do anything to maintain the property.
    • Chief Assistant City Prosecutor Michael Dowd is to give a presentation and answer questions.
    • Thursday March 21
      6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
      Don Benito School Auditorium
      3700 Denair Street
    • The announcement says “Topics will include:
      • Recent code enforcement history.
      • Efforts that have been made to bring property into compliance.
      • Charges being brought against the owners.
      • The purpose of the criminal charges.
      • What to expect from the criminal process.
      • What can and cannot be accomplished through the criminal process.”
  • Study Results on Impact of Reconfiguration of Sierra Madre Villa
    • The March 7 City Manager’s weekly newsletter to City Councilmembers included a report from the Pasadena Department of Transportation titled: “Sierra Madre Villa Avenue between Foothill Boulevard and Orange Grove Boulevard Lane Reconfiguration Before and After Study”.
    • You can access this here on pages 7 to 15:
    • This is another attempt to justify and/or counter criticisms of the re-striping after the street segment was resurfaced in June 2017. That re-striping halved the traffic lanes in each direction, added the center turn lane, eliminated parking on the east side of the street, and replaced the bicycle-share lanes on each side of the street with “protected” bicycle lanes.
    • This study compares statistics of average vehicular speed, travel time, and collision rates from before the change in September 2016, to shortly after in September 2017, and then to a year after that in September 2018 (when presumably  regular users of the street have figured out how to best deal with the introduced problems).
    • While the street is designated for 35 mph, even before the reconfiguration their statistics showed a top average speed of less then 28 mph in either direction.
    • The end result of their study of speed across all time periods shows an 8% decrease in speed from 2016 to 2017 but speed rebounding to only a 3% average speed decrease from 2016 to 2018. This is attributed to people getting used to the new configuration.
    • But of course, any small sample, like measuring on one day, is subject to error from all kinds of potential differences, known and unknown. And averages can be very misleading. No other statistical data is provided that might indicate how representative it is.
    • Travel times on the segment are said to include getting through the signal at Orange Grove Blvd for northbound traffic and Foothill for southbound traffic. Travel time is said to have increased 9% on average from 2016 to 2017  but rebounded to just 2% by 2018. (This is likely largely due to improvements in signal timing that came after the September 2017 measurements).
    • Collision data is so minimal that it should be considered meaningless. First off, most relatively minor collisions are not reported. They are based on a database in which only those to which police responded and either made a formal police report or submitted a report for the database are recorded.
    • The pre-project 5 year average vs the 18 month post-project average shows a reduction from 3 collisions per year to 2. Interestingly, the dividing line they used on this table between pre and post is the end of July 2017, which is already more then a month after the repaving and re-striping. Have to wonder if any of the relatively high number of collisions reported in that year occurred during that transition period. The period of active changes really should not be included.
    • Mid-segment traffic counts have not been taken since 2013. But they compared something called “peak hour turning movement counts” at the signal at Orange Grove Blvd in May 2017 to those in September 2018 to conclude that northbound traffic volume during the PM peak is mostly unchanged.
    • At the end, it says that the striping northbound at Orange Grove Blvd is going to be changed to have two lanes on the south side of the intersection going to the existing two lanes on the north side. This should reduce the queuing backup there.
      (It has been frequently noticed that cars sit in the middle of the space rather then keeping to the left if going through northbound or to the right of the space if turning right. This is undoubtedly partly the result of the weird striping here that results in many right turners think they can’t get to the right side and those going straight don’t think about staying left. This can result in all the cars waiting while a right turning car blocks everyone from going through the intersection, especially if a pedestrian happens to be crossing, making everybody wait another light cycle. All for the potential bicycle that comes along once in many hundreds to thousands of light cycles and will lose its special lane in a few feet anyway).
  • Anti-“mansionization” Regulations Hearing Postponed
    • The Public Hearing announced for February 27, 2019 was postponed to March 13, and then that was postponed to some unknown future date.
    • For some reason this just keeps getting put off, month after month, year after year.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month in our neighborhood, from (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
      • Tues Feb 19, 3:00 pm, 3200 block Foothill Blvd, Vehicle burglary
      • Wed March 13, 7:22 am, 3100 block Foothill Blvd, Commercial burglary
    • The noticeable increase in residential and vehicle burglaries in nearby neighborhoods has continued through early March.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Lots of coyotes in neighborhood
      • Many coyotes cruising the neighborhood lately, including during daylight hours.
      • They are not afraid of people or cars.
      • Dog in its yard on Vineyard Pl got nipped by a coyote recently. It’s people saw it happening and came running in time to save it from a worse fate.
      • Reminder to keep pets and young children indoors or under close watch. Generally a fully high-fenced backyard is still safe.
      • The City and Pasadena Humane Society are requesting that encounters with coyotes be reported via the Citizen Service Center app. Just to gather more data about what is happening and determine where intervention is most needed. (If there is an actual emergency situation with a coyote attacking a person, call 911).
        For Topic, select Animals, then Wildlife Sighting/Nuisance Report.
    • Why the Dirt moving in Edison Right-of-Way?
      • For over a month now there has been dirt digging and spreading activities in the Edison Right-of-Way.
      • Anyone know what is being done?
      • Initially it seemed a trench was being dug and then filled in, a bit at a time. Did not see any pipes or cables.
      • More recently truck loads of dirt have been brought in and dumped and then spread around.
      • Edison and its contractors have a habit of doing whatever they want, whenever they want, but someone in the City must know about it.

Next EEWNA meeting is April 20, 2019 at 11:15 am, in Hastings Branch Library meeting room

Agenda completed about 12:20, kept chit chatting til 12:45 pm