April 20, 2019 Neighborhood Meeting Summary


E-mail reminders


6 members + 1 guest


Susan brought delicious home baked brownies


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:25 am

  • Toxics removal at Space Bank site – update
    • At that meeting, there were many requests from the public for more time to study and comment on the document. An extension to July 8 was requested by a number of people. The DTSC agreed at the meeting to extend the deadline, but said they had to study it and would re-notice with a new deadline by April 8. At that time they announced an extension of 22 days, to April 30.
    • Subsequent to the meeting, activists and community members have been attending City Council meetings demanding the Council do something to either kill the project or make sure the cleanup will be thorough and complete.
      • Council members Gordo and Masuda (both of whom voted against the development project) have been trying to make either or both happen.
      • The Mayor wrote a letter to DTSC requesting more time for public evaluation and comment.
      • The Council has been told by staff that based on the approvals it made last summer, the Council has little authority to do anything now. It is the responsibility of the DTSC to make sure the cleanup is done correctly and fully.
    • A group called Stop Toxic Housing is actively objecting to the current toxic cleanup plan. You can view their arguments on their website:  stoptoxichousing.netlify.com/site/
    • Here are some notes from the DTSC meeting on March 28:
      • Although it has been reported that about 100 community members attended the meeting, the room was not nearly full; do not think there were that many attending.
      • There were some display boards on easels at the back of the room showing some of the information in the RAW, otherwise all information came through the presentation, public comment and questions, and some answers to questions.
      • Some points from presentation:
        • Technically the US Army Corp of Engineers is responsible for environmental cleanup of the site. But the site is not on their priority list; many far more contaminated sites are. So they aren’t going to do anything. There is no funding available to do anything other then what a developer pays for.
        • Riz Sarmiento, Ph.D., toxicologist, said they don’t think rainwater runoff is applicable anywhere except the storm drain system because the site is all paved. (Huh? Paving always has cracks and is not impervious).
        • A soil gas survey drills holes and sucks air out to test it.
        • A soil sample drills a hole and takes soil from it at predetermined depths.
        • Testing over the decades has found above allowed levels of
          • PCE and TCE, which are cleaners and solvents
          • petroleum hydrocarbons, which come from gasoline and diesel
          • metals such as lead, cadmium, nickel, and chromium
        • These above allowed levels of contaminants were found in the storm drains, seepage pits the storm drains emptied into, and twelve hot spots around the site at locations that were tested mostly do to suspicions based on limited knowledge of where various activities took place on the site.
        • Did vapor probe wells to 150 feet below ground. No water at that depth.
        • PCE, TCE, and Carbon Tet vapors were found in soil underground on the southern part of the site in 2007
        • After earlier mentioning that they didn’t test much under what they believed to be administration buildings because toxic materials are not expected to be used in administration, he said the biggest hot spot found was under an administration building.
        • Another soil gas survey will be done after removal of what they think is contaminated soil.
        • The developer has to meet “unrestricted use” level of risk
        • Seepage pits are 6 ft diameter, 30 feet deep.
        • All remediation work will be done by “specialized workers with hazardous waste training and certification”.
        • Altogether, about 55 truck loads of soil are expected to be removed over 80 days.
        • Ground water testing wells are to be drilled in four places, basically the NE, NW, SE corners of the property, and one in the middle of the south edge of the property. If problems are found with the water they will go back to the Army Corp of Engineers and tell them to raise the priority.
        • Out of 15 investigations for contamination that have been done, 7 are validated to Superfund standards. Data is consistent among all the investigations, so that makes them feel they are all valid.
      • During Public Comment/Questions:
        • Pasadena City Council members Victor Gordo and Gene Masuda spoke and, among other points, complained about the very limited time for public review and comment on the data and cleanup plan, and requested an extension to July 8. Gordo also commented about his experience as a young teen working for a company leasing from Space Bank and his expectation that toxic waste was also left behind by some of the Space Bank tenants, not just the Navy.
        • An environmental scientist who lives in Pasadena, and separately, and environmental activist who lives in our area, spoke about specific concerns regarding
          • which chemicals were tested for, and why not others
          • where tests were vs were not conducted
          • trustworthiness of the companies/employees who did the testing
          • trustworthiness of the developer to do a proper and thorough cleanup
          • trustworthiness and transparency of the DTSC to make sure a full and thorough cleanup is done
          • plan’s intent to test the water table below only after development begins with no plan to actually clean it up if contamination is found
          • plan’s intent to let development continue with installation of a vapor barrier system if there are still soil vapors after “cleanup” instead of requiring the source of those vapors be found and eliminated first
        • Concerns were expressed about how they could be certain no contaminants would be released into surrounding areas during the cleanup, either in air or falling off vehicles
      • Responses to Public Comment/Questions:  (not contemporaneous, they took a break to discuss, then responded)
        • Goal was just to receive comments, not able to respond to all. Court reporter was recording all the statements.
        • Would extend comment period, could not say for how long.
        • Will revisit the question of how many incinerators there were and where. The investigations to date have only examined one known incinerator site, which the Corp of Engineers found documentation for. Two other incinerators were believed to have existed, but they could not locate them. Have heard stories that there were up to five incinerator locations over time, but they don’t know where they were.
        • They did not test for RDX because they don’t believe RDX was used on the site. They think this site was only bench-scale testing and therefore would not have dealt with RDX.
        • Regarding who paid for the investigations – multiple companies and the government paid for different studies. The Navy never did a study. But there was a memorandum from the Navy punting responsibility to the Corp of Engineers.
        • During cleanup/demolition, if something is found it will be investigated and dealt with then.
        • Regarding groundwater – Alice Campbell, Engineering Geologist:
          • They do have data from the Jordan and Chapman water wells that have been shut down. She said ratios of nitrate to perchlorate are consistent across Pasadena. Since those wells are the same ratio, then this site is likely not affecting their water.
          • Groundwater wells drilled down to 300 feet are not quick and they want to do it when they won’t be disturbed. (Agreement between DTSC and developer says the four wells will be drilled to a maximum of 350 feet. The locations are on the perimeter of the site so they won’t be in the way of site construction. Soil will be sampled during drilling of three of the wells. Initial water testing will be for perchlorate and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). There will  be three additional quarter year tests performed. If no percholrate is found in initial testing of a well, it won’t be tested for again, but VOCs will be tested for in each of the additional three tests. If it is determined that the water is ok, the wells will then be decommissioned and eliminated. If water needs to be cleaned up, the wells be left in place, but the developer is not responsible for doing anything to maintain them or clean the water).
        • “Corp of Engineers is not off the hook” if water testing shows problems.
      • After meeting adjourned
        • Asked about the sewer (or septic) system and whether it had been tested. They said it was a sewer system and they had not tested it, but claimed it and the soil below would be tested as it was dug up. (But this is not specifically mentioned in the RAW).
        • What about stuff possibly absorbed into concrete or asphalt?  They would watch for stains and specifically test that. Generally though, by EPA standards, materials are taken up and aggregated and a sample of that is tested. Only if that aggregate has a too high level is it considered to be a problem. So yes, you could have a real hot spot that is not found because it is averaged into less then a concern.
  • Proposed Water Rate Adjustments meeting + hearing
    • Pasadena Water and Power (PWP) is proposing changes to how it charges for water.
    • There will be a Community Meeting about it on
      • Thursday April 25, 6:30 pm
        Pasadena City College Community Education Center (that’s PCC-CEC on Foothill at Santa Paula)
    • The Public Hearing by the City Council to approve the proposed changes is
      • Monday May 13, 7 pm
        City Council Chambers, Pasadena City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Ave
    • PWP furnishes water mostly within Pasadena’s City Limits, but it also supplies water to some areas outside the limits, such as in Altadena near Eaton Canyon.
    • Those outside areas have been charged a higher rate for their water service then consumers inside City boundaries. There was a lawsuit against the City led by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The settlement of that lawsuit requires the City to give the same rates regardless of location inside or outside the City. Part of this proposed change in rates is lowering the rates outside City limits, while raising them inside City limits to compensate, resulting in one rate providing the same overall revenue. These rate changes would take effect June 1st.
    • Secondly, PWP did a cost of service study which found charges were not high enough to cover costs. To compensate:
      • The Distribution and Customer (D&C) charge, which is the same for a given meter size no matter how much water you use, is being raised again on August 1 of this year and then again on July 1 of next year.
      • The Commodity charge, which is for the cost of the water, is applied per unit of water used, but in tiers so it gets progressively more expensive. All tiers are currently more expensive in summer then in winter. That will be changed to be the same rate all year, which results in a slight drop per unit used on August 1 this year and a jump in price on July 1 next year.
      • The Capital Improvement Charge (CIC) is applied to each unit of water used. The seasonal difference in rates will be eliminated, so the summer rate as of August 1 will drop slightly and it will stay the same all year instead of going down for “winter”.
    • For those of us inside City limits with typical residential service, the net effect of the proposed changes are:
      • Fixed (D&C) charge goes up $7.15 / month by July 1, 2020. That’s $14.30 more for a two-month bill.
      • The Commodity charge goes up five cents per block 1 unit and almost 9 cents per block 2 unit by July 1, 2020. So if you used 20 units on a summer bill, that would be 16 block 1 units + 4 block 2 units for an increase of $1.16.
      • The CIC for summer will be about 2 cents more per unit by July 1, 2020, so 40 cents more for 20 units.
    • The net result is the fixed charge regardless of water use goes up a lot, and the water usage charges go up a little. (Except MWD will probably raise their water rates again and that will be passed through).
    • If you want to protest the proposed rate increases, you either have to go to the May 13 hearing by the City Council or you have to submit a protest in writing before then to the City Clerk which includes your parcel number or billing address and “Implementation of Water Rate Adjustments”. The Council is not required by law to take a protest seriously unless at least half the customers do so, however they have been known to make adjustments in proposals upon significant protest and/or errors being pointed out.
  • Raffle Supporting Hastings Branch Library
    • Hastings Branch Library is holding a “Mother’s Day” raffle.
    • Hastings Library Associates, the local chapter of the Friends of the Pasadena Public Library, is raising funds to support children’s programs at Hastings Branch.
    • Winners will be drawn from accumulated entries on Thursday May 9 at 6 pm.
    • Tickets are one for $3, two for $5. Get them at the circulation desk, write a contact number on the primary ticket(s) and drop in the box(es) corresponding to your desired raffle items.
    • Raffle items are:
      • Rose Parade 2020
        • Two tickets
      • Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Garden
        • Two Guest Passes
      • Golf at Eaton Canyon or Altadena Golf
        • 1 round of Golf for 4 at either location
      • Crown Valley Nursery,  3115 E Sierra Madre Blvd
        • $50 Gift Card plus a Gift Basket containing a pair of gloves, hand cultivator, packets of seeds, and a gardening book
      • Trader Joe’s
        • $50 of food picked and packed by Trader Joe’s in a TJ’s bag
      • Pasadena Dog Walker
        • Gift Certificate for $50
      • Kidspace Children’s Museum
        • Family Pass for 4
      • Creative Nails Salon, for Ladies and Gentlemen, 1864 E. Washington Blvd
        • $35 Gift Certificate
      • Stater Bros.
        • $25 Gift Card
  • Rose Bowl Final Fridays events
    • On the last Friday of each month through August, there will be “family-friendly events” from 4 to 8 pm “held on the shaded and immaculate grounds surrounding the Rose Bowl Stadium”.
    • “Bring a blanket, ball, friends and family to Pasadena’s premiere 5-star park – The Greens at the Rose Bowl. Activities to include foot golf, outdoor games, moon bounces, photo opportunities, and tours of the Rose Bowl Stadium.”
    • “Admission and parking is free for all attendees, but you need to register in advance. Entry to the event is through north Lot K.”
    • “For more information and to register go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/final-fridays-tickets-58343605294
  • Our meeting room reservation for 7/19-6/20
    • Reservations for the library meeting room for the next fiscal year have to be requested in May.
    • Should we request the same schedule again?  Yes
    • If we get bumped from it, what are our alternative choices?  Same time and day, different weeks
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month in our neighborhood, from crimemapping.com: (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
      • Wed March 27, 11;12 am, 400 block Santa Paula Ave, Grand Theft
      • Tues April 2, 3:51 am, 400 block Avocado Ave, Drugs / Alcohol Violations
      • Wed April 17, 8:21 am, 3300 block Del Vina, Vehicle burglary, break-in / theft
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Why the Dirt moving in Edison Right-of-Way?
      • From early February until a couple of weeks ago there was dirt digging and spreading activities in the Edison Right-of-Way.
      • Initially it seemed a trench was being dug and then filled in, a bit at a time. Did not see any pipes or cables.
      • But then for a long time truck loads of dirt were brought in and dumped and then spread around.
      • Noreen Sullivan was asked about it and she reached out to her Edison contact.
      • The Edison contact was kind of clueless about the area at issue. Said there was no record that anything was supposed to be happening. Sent an “agent” out to check, but the “agent” did not look at the correct area.
      • More detailed information was provided two weeks ago. Have not heard anything back, but also have not noticed any activity since a few days before that.

Next EEWNA meeting is May 18, 2019 at 11:15 am, in Hastings Branch Library meeting room

Adjourned about 1 pm