May 18, 2019 Neighborhood Meeting Summary

Preparation

E-mail reminders

Attendees

5 members, 1 guest

Acknowledgments

Susan brought fresh baked scones.

Meeting

Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:22 am

  • Toxics removal at Space Bank site – update
    • For a history of the process and plans up to now, visit our previous meeting summaries through a search of “Space Bank”:
      eewna.org/?s=Space+Bank
    • A “draft final” Removal Action Workplan (RAW) was posted for public review and comment. You can access that document, as well as others regarding the site, here:
      www.envirostor.dtsc.ca.gov/public/profile_report?global_id=19970020
    • Many concerned citizens showed up to public comment at City Council meetings in April and early May.
    • The DTSC responded to requests for more time for comment, including by the Mayor, by extending it only two more weeks, to May 14.
    • Representatives of the developer also attended at least two of the City Council meetings. The Council was told at the April 29 meeting that, in response to concerns, testing for explosives RDX and TNT would happen, although the DTSC does not believe they were ever used on the site.
    • The City Manager decided to independently hire an environmental consultant to evaluate the clean up plan in order to determine what comments to submit about the plan from the City to DTSC. The City Manager’s written report to the City Council about it on April 29 provides background on the City’s process to date and the environmental consultant hire.
    • The group called Stop Toxic Housing is actively objecting to the current toxic cleanup plan and also the current City approved design for ameliorating freeway generated toxins after the proposed housing is built. They are now gearing up to file a lawsuit if the final DTSC plan released does not adequately respond to their stated concerns. Their website is:  stoptoxichousing.netlify.com/site/
    • For a rebuttal to some of the claims made by opponents, read letters to the City Council from DTSC and the developer and the City Manager’s written report to the City Council on May 13.
    • The City Council discussed at length the City Manager’s proposed comment letter to the DTSC at their May 13 meeting. Councilmembers Masuda and Gordo insisted on additional requests, which are items 7 through 13 in the letter.
    • As is often the case on contentious issues, there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding, misinformation, conflicting “facts”, talking past one another, distrust, obstinance, and politics involved.
    • If it ends up in court, this could drag on without resolution for years to come. Or, the developer could eventually cut its losses and give up, likely leaving the contamination without any cleanup for decades more. What other developer would want to jump into the snake pit?   The site continues to be owned by Space Bank until building permits are issued. The developer has spent many millions to get to this point, but that’s still a small amount compared to the total cost to purchase the property, clean it up, and build their project. Private financing has to believe there will be a profit in the end.
    • Doing nothing with the site is fine with many area residents since the current use is not pretty, but useful and unobtrusive. Others truly want to see the mess cleaned up, but are split on whether multi-family housing is an appropriate post-cleanup freeway-adjacent use. The U.S. Corp of Engineers is technically responsible for cleanup, but the site is a very low priority compared to so many other places with much worse problems, so the only way cleanup will happen is by a developer with a project expected to make enough money to finance navigating the bureaucratic gauntlet, cleaning it up, and building.
  • Proposed electric service rate changes
    • Pasadena Water and Power (PWP) is proposing changes to how it charges for electricity starting July 1. These changes will be the subject of a hearing by the City Council on June 10. The City Council must approve these changes.
      1. Add a new “Grid Access Charge”, a fixed amount on all bills regardless of usage. For residential customers this would be $4.50 / month, therefore $9 more for a two month bill.
      2. Increase the credit given to customers who qualify and sign up for the Electric Utility Assistance Program (EUAP) from the  current $7.50 to a new $10.00 per month. This would partially offset the increase in costs for “low income” and some disabled customers.
      3. Suspend collection of the “Underground Surtax” which funds under grounding of electric utilities through June 2022. This would partially offset the increased costs in the short-term for everyone.
    • Additionally, PWP has announced a Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) rate increase of three quarters of one cent per kilowatt-hour used. This increase does not require City Council approval.
    • Historically the costs of building and maintaining the electrical grid were largely funded by sales of electricity. But with increased usage efficiency and increasing numbers of customers installing solar, sales of electricity have been declining and therefore funding available. But customers using solar still rely on the grid to sell their excess generation when the sun is shining and buy electricity when it isn’t. The grid management technologies must also be updated to facilitate these increasing numbers of local generation points. (There may be a very few now using batteries and generators to go totally off-grid, but that is still a very expensive option). The new Grid Access Charge is intended to make sure that all customers connected to the grid are helping to pay for it. The initial rate set for the Grid Access Charge will not fully cover the costs, it is a starting point in adjusting how the fixed costs are funded.
    • In addition to the $2.50/month credit increase, a change is proposed to the income thresholds for the EUAP program which would result in households with 5 or more people being able to qualify with higher incomes. This will make the PWP qualifying income levels the same as they are for the SoCal Gas for these larger households. You may be surprised to learn that a single person household can have income of up to $36,550 and still qualify for this credit. The limit for two people is $41,800. There are likely many households in our community that could qualify for the credit and have no idea.
    • The Underground Surtax is not being spent in recent years as fast as it has been collected. (Except for the big fraud on the fund by a City employee discovered a few years ago, which has now been restored through insurance and settlement payments). There have been proposals in recent years to do away with the under grounding program as very expensive and not accomplishing the intended purposes, but some constituencies insist it is very important and the City Council has been unable to agree on ending it. So the tax revenues have continued to accrue but the spending has not kept up. Rather then putting additional resources into increasing the spending rate on under grounding, PWP is recommending the City Council suspend the Surtax until it projects the excess funds will have been spent down to a more reasonable balance. For those few years it would reduce the bill impact of the other increases.
    • You can learn more details about the PWP proposals on their web page ww5.cityofpasadena.net/water-and-power/electricratesadjustments/
  • Police re: Real Estate Fraud on Elderly, May 21
    • The Pasadena Police Department’s Detective Bureau is addressing “Elderly Real Estate Fraud” on Tuesday
      May 21, 1:00 – 2:00 pm
      Victory Park, 2575 Paloma St
    • Undoubtedly it will be held in a meeting room in the recreation center.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month in our neighborhood, from crimemapping.com: (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
      • Mon April 22, 9:22 am, Avocado & Hermanos St, Theft from Insecure Vehicle
      • Mon April 22, 12:17 pm, 3200 block Hermanos St, Theft from Insecure Vehicle
      • Mon April 22, 2:36 pm, 3200 block Hermanos St, Petty Theft
      • Tues April 23, 7:12 am, 3300 block Hermanos St, Theft from Insecure Vehicle
      • Wed April 24, 7:36 am, 3300 block Las Lunas St, Petty Theft
      • Mon April 29, 6:48 am, 3200 block Las Lunas St, Theft from Insecure Vehicle
      • Tues May 7, 11:02 am, 400 block Santa Paula Ave, Vehicle Burglary
    • As you can see, there were many vehicle thefts reported. Most likely, additional incidents were not reported. These petty thieves just go down a street checking every accessible car. A reminder not to leave anything of value in your car, or anything that looks like it could be worth breaking in to check it out. Lock your car and if you have an alarm, use it. If you can park your car in a garage, do it. Leaving the door unlocked makes it easy to ransack your car. These guys will go after loose change, sunglasses, registration/insurance info for identity theft, electronics… Yes, if you lock your car, some criminals will break in and do more damage in the process, but many of them won’t take the extra risk of breaking in, especially if it doesn’t look like there is significant payoff.
    • Neighbors on Las Lunas were notified of the ransacking of a vehicle parked on a driveway, with some small items stolen, on April 22 at about 1 am. Security cameras captured images of the suspect. (It is odd a theft on Las Lunas is not listed on crimemapping until a couple days later because it was reported much sooner). A few days later, on 4/26 about 2:30 am, a person who might be the same man seen in the Las Lunas security video, attempted to break into a vehicle on the 3100 block of Shirley Ct and was caught by a resident who managed to hold the suspect until police arrived in spite of being kicked and elbowed. The suspect was arrested on multiple charges.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss

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

Adjourned about 12:45 pm

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