July 20, 2019 Neighborhood Meeting Summary


E-mail reminders


5 members, 1 guest


Laura brought red seedless grapes from her neighbor’s over-the-wall vine


Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:20 am

    • District 4 meeting, including Home Depot, summary
      • The City Council District 4 meeting, which included a presentation and questions and answers about the plans for a Home Depot on the former Avon site, was held at Pasadena City College’s Community Education Campus on June 18, 2019.
      • Councilmember Gene Masuda presided, but mainly just to introduce and thank participants and Noreen Sullivan.
      • David Reyes, aided by a PowerPoint, informed the audience about the Home Depot plan
        • Home Depot purchased the property from Avon at the end of 2016.
        • Over the first year or so, they showed several plan concepts to City Planning staff.  All involved tearing down all the existing buildings and putting up massive and dense new structures.  One plan involved both a Home Depot and and another large warehouse store such as Costco.  Another plan included massive multi-family residential.  City planning staff told Home Depot they were unlikely to be approved; the plans were not in accordance with the zoning for the site so the City Council would have to modify the zoning and there would be lots of public hearings and discretionary approvals.
        • In the Spring of 2018, Gene Masuda took the initiative to put together a committee of residents to meet with Home Depot representatives and provide them viewpoints about what they would or would not want to happen on the site.  The first meeting was in May of 2018.  David Reyes participated in those meetings as an observer and to provide input on City processes.
        • At a second meeting in October 2018, Home Depot brought to the Committee a completely new concept plan which in many respects responded to what they had heard in May.
        • An artist’s rendering shown at the meeting, but clearly not accurate because it does not show any driveway on Walnut.
        • Home Depot submitted building plans for Plan Check on April 9, 2019.
        • For the most part, they conform with the concept presented to the Site Committee last fall.
        • The submitted plan is for a remodel and re-use of existing buildings.
        • It is now going through plan check with the various City departments that check all building plans to be sure they meet all the applicable City ordinances and there will be proper integration with City infrastructure.
        • As a remodel, with a planned use that conforms with the zoning under which the Avon site was initially developed, there is no new entitlement process.  Approval of the plans does not require any discretionary reviews or decisions by City Commissions, Committees, or the City Council.  No CEQA environmental process such as an EIR or traffic study is required.
        • The existing three story office structure (115,701 square feet) on the east side of the property facing Foothill Blvd will remain.  It may be eligible for historic recognition.  It is expected it will be used for offices of tenants doing research and development type activities, but tenants have not been identified yet (at least not publicly).
        • The facade of the Avon distribution buildings along Foothill will remain as the back wall of the Home Depot warehouse, garden center, and loading dock area.
        • The Home Depot warehouse (113,790 square feet) and garden center (24,100 square feet) buildings will face Walnut St.
        • Parking will be accessed primarily from Walnut, with the main entrance at the intersection with Sunnyslope Ave.  Home Depot will install a signal at this intersection.
        • The eastern third of the existing two story parking structure will be removed and replaced with surface parking.  Think I heard that another level of parking may be added somewhere.
        • A secondary parking entrance will be from Daisy Ave via Sierra Grande, a street which is within the property and runs just north of the parking structure.  Mentioned a reconstructing of the eastern part of Sierra Grande; no details provided, but drawings look like just re-configuring to fit into the traffic flow with the parking lot and a loading zone in front of the store.
        • The title slide for the presentation shows intent to use Sierra Grande for the address of the store, rather then Walnut.  2875 Sierra Grande Street.
        • The existing driveway on Foothill at the eastern edge of the property will remain for use by office tenants.  Right turn only in and out. Do not believe Home Depot customers will use it because it will not easily lead to the parking for Home Depot.
        • Although Home Depot is not required to do so by ordinances, they will make changes to Foothill to hopefully protect the neighborhood to the north from cut through traffic and improve traffic flow on Foothill.  These changes involve raised medians, lane re-striping, and timing changes to traffic signal(s).  (Lanes will NOT be reduced anywhere).
        • Mr. Reyes mentioned a dollar figure Home Depot will be paying for public street improvements (which ordinances do not require them to do).  Did not catch it, might have said $1.2 million or it might have been more.
        • Anyone interested can go to the City’s Permit Center and look at the plans that have been submitted.
      • Sue Mossman, a founding member of Pasadena Heritage 40 years ago and the Director for the last 25 years, was introduced and asked to give a little historical background on the Avon property.
        • The office building on the east side was “designed in 1946 by noted architect Stiles O. Clements with additions by Neptune & Thomas”.  It doesn’t look special, a very simple building, but that was in keeping with the new modernism(?) movement of the time.
        • Avon was growing rapidly at the time, and wanted its buildings to be near residential neighborhoods.
        • Pasadena Heritage is submitting a request for a City Landmark designation for the building.  They are communicating about it with Home Depot.
      • Sue Mossman was presented with a bouquet of flowers in recognition of her long dedicated service to Pasadena through Pasadena Heritage.
      • Question and Answer on Home Depot topic.  Answers from David Reyes with a bit from Steve Mermell.
        • Q. Was there a traffic study?  Why not?
        • A. No traffic study for the project.  Not required because CEQA process not required for re-model.  But the City has been doing a lot of studying of the Foothill corridor because of existing issues and all the new development happening or planned along it.  Home Depot has contributed some funds to the process. (Details not provided).   The City is planning an Adaptive Traffic Control System (ATCS) for the length of Foothill which will change the functioning of signals to hopefully improve traffic flow.
        • Qs.  Lane size, configuration of streets, parking access
        • As.  No lane reductions.  Main vehicle entrance on Walnut as Sunnyslope where new signal will be.
        • Q. Noise?
        • A. Applicant (Home Depot) must follow City’s noise ordinance.  If they don’t, residents should complain and it’ll get fixed.
        • Q.  Day laborers?  Attractive nuisance?  Transients/homeless camping on property?
        • A.  Current plan has no provision for day laborers like a building or shack.  Home Depot is known for being very vigilant about loitering on their property.  They will not allow camping on their property.
          City knows day laborers will want to try to pick up jobs there and will work with Home Depot to figure out how best to manage that.
        • Q. Start date of construction?
        • A. Probably will be 2 to 3 months more of back and forth with City departments before get the building permits, so might be starting construction around November.
        • Q.  Isn’t this usage inconsistent with the zoning in the East Pasadena Specific Plan, although the property is now zoned in the Lamanda Park Specific Plan?
        • A.  No, the East Pasadena Specific Plan (EPSP), which still controls the zoning, allows this usage by right.  There was no big-box exclusion for this part of the EPSP.
        • Q.  What will the operating hours be?
        • A.  It will not be a 24-hour operation.  (Did not say what they will be).
        • Q.  What about truck deliveries?
        • A.  Still developing the route plan, but there will only be about 1/2 the delivery truck traffic compared to Avon.  Yes, there will be a lot more vehicle trips from customers coming and going then the employees had by coming, staying, and going.
        • Q.  Will there be sufficient parking?
        • A.  Home Depot wants and plans more parking then the code requires, so do not think it will be an issue.  (This is not in an area where the City imposes limits on parking spaces).
        • Q. Don’t see solar panels in the drawing of what it is expected to look like.  Will there be solar?
        • A.  Cannot force installation of solar.  Home Depot will be adding vehicle charging stations.  Not sure rooftop solar could be supported structurally do to re-use of old buildings.  (Mentioned Home Depot plans to install fiber internet).
        • Q. What about solar panels over parking?
        • A.  City allows it, but not in current plans.
        • Q.  Will Home Depot have a local hiring program?
        • A.  Do not know.  City has an incentive program, but Home Depot is not required to use it.  There is a construction tax of a little under 2%.  If a company participates in a local hire program, they can get up to 50% of that tax back.
        • Q.  What kind of employer will Home Depot be?  Will it work to provide employment to disadvantaged?
        • A.  Hope so.
        • Q.  Learning Works charter school is right across Walnut from this site.  Need better pedestrian crossings.
        • A.  Please provide your contact information so we can work with you on that.
        • Q.  Is the green area shown on the south west of the surface parking area truly landscaping?  What about the (old railroad) right-of-way?
        • A.  Believe and expect that green area is landscaping.  The tan strip north of the Walnut sidewalk is the right-of-way.  It will not be part of the parking.
        • Post analysis:  The City owns the old railroad right of way on the south western edge of the property.  That is likely the reason for the green space shown on slide 11 of the presentation.  However, the artist’s conception of that slide does not seem to include the entrance on Walnut at Sunnyslope, as is shown in the engineering drawing on slide 13.  So slide 11 is at least somewhat misleading.
        • Q.  Daisy Villa resident said she believes this will lower property values in her neighborhood.  Wanted to know why not have neighborhood serving commercial here?
        • A.  City does not control or decide who purchases property from private owners and cannot dictate what is done with it as long as the usage is legal and meets the zoning and building ordinances.  (Zoning is generally determined via a very lengthy public process).
        • Q. Signage?
        • A.  Don’t have details. Expect it to be relatively low key, as shown in artist’s rendition of Walnut side.  (Nothing shown for Foothill side)
      • Questions and Answers on topics other then Home Depot
        • Q.  Homeless situation really bad.  What is City doing about it?
        • A.  City Manager Mermell answered.  Number one and most difficult issue in City.  Trying to find additional sites for supportive housing.  …
          Can get no trespass letter from private property owners so City can move trespassers out without first contacting the property owners each time.
        • Q. Status of former Albertson’s shopping center (northwest corner Sierra Madre Blvd at Michillinda Ave)
        • A. Active code enforcement process to get cleaned up.  Owner has done a few things recently, but generally still intransigent.
        • Q.  Edison right-of-way (under high tension electric wires).  Can we get a tree farm or something in there again?  Overgrowth and vermin continuing problem.
        • A.  Noreen Sullivan has good relationship with Edison representative, but still takes a long time to get Edison to do things.  They do mow the weeds a couple times a year.  Trying to get someone out to look at the current issues.
        • Q.  Space Bank toxins?
        • A.  Under the control of California State’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).  City hired its own consulting firm, Alta Environmental, to examine the cleanup plan and provide comments, and will also be watching the DTSC going forward to be sure they are doing their job.
        • Q.  Coyotes no longer afraid of people and proliferating.  What is City going to do?
        • A.  Arcadia tried to deal with the coyotes a few years ago and was sued over it.  Lost in court because had no Wildlife Management Plan.  Pasadena is working on a Wildlife Management Plan so it will be able to take more proactive steps to control the coyote problems.
        • Q.  What is going on now with former St Luke’s hospital property?  It’s a mess.  Not being maintained.
        • A.  Will send Code Enforcement out to take a look at immediate issues tomorrow.  Owner has submitted proposed various development plans since it was purchased but not moved forward with any.  Recently heard from a new representative who says they have a new plan.  Have no information about it.  Will meet with them in next few months to discuss.
        • Q. What is happening with former site of OSH?
        • A.  Lowe’s (which owned OSH) has a long-term lease and is still paying it. The property owners are a long time local family.  The City’s development department provides them information about potential opportunities.
        • Q.  Is there somewhere Costco could locate in the City?
        • A.  (Think question was misunderstood.  Wasn’t answered).
      • Meeting adjourned before 8 pm.  Councilmember Masuda and City staffers stuck around to talk directly with those interested.
    • Lamanda Park Specific Plan workshop summary
      • The Lamanda Park Specific Plan area is bounded on the east by Eaton Wash, includes the properties on the south side of Colorado Blvd, on the west by Roosevelt and Vista Aves (excluding the massive housing development next to Vons), and on the north by properties on the north side of Foothill plus to the freeway along Altadena Dr, La Tierra St on the west side of San Gabriel Blvd, and to White St along Vista Ave.  See map here:  ourpasadena.org/lamanda-park
      • This is a new plan area created from portions of the previous East Pasadena and East Colorado Specific Plans.
      • On July 18, the City’s Planning & Community Development Dept staff, and consultants, held a Round 2 workshop to show and discuss concepts for the Lamanda Park plan area.
      • Very generally, the concepts are in agreement with the pre-dominant uses already in place.
      • Conceptually, they had broken the area up into four sub-zones.  “R&D Flex District”, “Route 66 Corridor”, Sierra Madre Mixed-Use Center”, and “Foothill/Sierra Madre Corridors”.
      • The R&D Flex District’s western edge would be from one half to a full block east of Sierra Madre Blvd. The northern boundary would be the south side of Foothill Blvd.  The southern boundary would be north of the parcels on Colorado Blvd.  The eastern boundary would be Eaton Wash.
        • The “preliminary concept” or “vision” put forth for this subarea is to maintain it’s “role as an employment center, with an emphasis on light industrial, auto-oriented uses, custom and small-scale manufacturing such as woodworking/cabinetry, creative/tech offices, and supporting uses such as restaurants, food halls, and breweries”.
        • North of Walnut consists currently of mostly large land parcels, while south of Walnut the parcels are smaller.  So they spoke of allowing larger buildings in the northern portion, but only smaller in the southern portion in order to encourage keeping opportunities for smaller businesses and discourage combining of parcels for a large usage.
        • Feedback at the meeting was generally in agreement.  There were requests for more trees and green spaces.  Some concern about encouraging uses like breweries that could result in more drunk drivers.
        • Asked about heights, were told the current max is 60 feet.  Participants generally felt that heights should be kept low. Retain mountain views and suburban feel.  Also concerns about increased density bringing more traffic. (Of course, from an R&D or light industrial standpoint, more floor area does not necessarily mean more people).
        • This area includes the proposed Home Depot, but it is coming in under the previous “industrial” zoning.  The new rules will only apply if Home Depot were to demolish and build new, or do something in the current buildings in-consistent with “industrial” zoning.
      • The “Route 66 Corridor” would be the parcels on both sides of Colorado Blvd from Altadena Drive on the West to Eaton Wash on the East.
        • The “preliminary concept” presented was “continuing to allow a mix of residential and commercial uses. Adaptive reuse of existing residential buildings for compatible uses will continue along with requiring new development to be consistent with the existing character and building design. An emphasis will also be placed on creating a more pedestrian friendly environment and potentially incorporating a mid-century/Route 66 inspired theme for building signage”.
        • Feedback at the meeting did not embrace the “Route 66” idea.  If a developer wants to use that theme, that’s fine, but don’t push it on everyone.
        • An attendee proposed theme was to play up the name “Lamanda Park” and advocate for more greenery, play space, family oriented businesses.
        • Attendees reinforced previous feedback that building heights should be kept low.  One group wanted it limited to three, another said two or maybe three if it is setback.   A big concern is that since the zoning here is mixed-use, a developer could force via state law allowing an additional residential story on top just because of including affordable units the City already requires providing.  If the zoning says three stories, it is effectively four.
        • Feedback from more then one group included retaining shade trees and not allowing more palm trees. (The City’s tree plan for Colorado currently requires new trees to be alternating palms and a small useless shade tree).
        • Any new buildings should be set back from the sidewalk to allow room for shady street trees and more pedestrian friendly feel.  A softer, cooler, permeable edge; not sides of buildings.
        • Generally felt there should be more places to eat along here.
      • The “Sierra Madre Mixed-Use Center” would be the area surrounding the intersection of Colorado Blvd and Sierra Madre Blvd. One parcel deep on both sides of Colorado Blvd from Roosevelt Ave on the West to Altadena Drive on the east.
        • The “preliminary concept” presented was “a pedestrian-oriented intersection that maintains the area’s role as a hub of commercial activity.  Housing may be located above ground-floor commercial businesses, with sensitive height transitions to respect adjacent residential buildings. Adaptive reuse of existing buildings would be encouraged to preserve neighborhood character”.
        • The zoning for this area allows for four to five stories.  There was considerable push back that that is too much. Added density equals added traffic.
        • Much sentiment here too about retaining shade trees and adding more.  Buildings set back to leave room.
        • Concern that this intersection is so large and heavily trafficked, it isn’t at all pedestrian friendly, and it would be difficult to make it become friendly.  Sierra Madre Blvd is wide here, but the median is just a concrete bump, there isn’t room for landscaping or a pedestrian mid-street break, as there is further north.
      • The “Foothill/Sierra Madre Corridors” would be the parcels on the north side of Foothill Blvd and both sides of Sierra Madre Blvd except for those adjacent to Colorado Blvd.
        • The “preliminary concept” for these areas is to maintain “the area’s scale and commercial character, focusing on enhancements to the pedestrian environment such as building treatments and amenities (shade trees, outdoor seating, and awnings).
        • There was general agreement with this.  Again emphasis on more trees, shade, greenery, and keeping building heights low to preserve mountain views and not overwhelm adjacent residential.
      • The Our Pasadena web page for the Lamanda Park plan should be updated soon with materials from this meeting.  https://www.ourpasadena.org/lamanda-park
      • If you have comments you’d like to make to the Planning team, you can e-mail [email protected]
      • A walking tour of the Lamanda Park area with the Planning team is scheduled on
        Saturday August 24
        8 am to 10 am
        starting and ending at Learning Works, 90 N. Daisy Ave.
    • Household Hazardous and E-Waste Collection Aug 17
      • Household Hazardous Waste and E-Waste collection by LA County will be in Sierra Madre and Arcadia on August 17, 9 am to 3 pm.
      • (No sign of the previously usual Rose Bowl collection).
      • Sierra Madre at 621 E. Sierra Madre Blvd.
      • Arcadia at Colorado Place (Gate 6 of Santa Anita parking lot)
      • ladpw.org/epd/hhw/
    • Edison land trenching possible explanation
      • As reported previously, from early February to mid-April, there was first what appeared to be trenching, and then a lot of dirt from elsewhere dumped and spread in the Edison right-of-way adjacent to Avocado Ave.
      • In mid-May there was activity with the wood poles in the same area that looked like maybe a new line was being put up.
      • On the City Council agenda for July 22, item 5, is request to approve an almost 900K contract from the City to pay Edison to make changes in the Goodrich power substation necessary to support Edison changing where the electricity flows to/from south of there.  Currently the connection is to a “Laguna Bell” substation and they are changing it to connect with a Mesa substation, which is being upgraded to operate at higher voltage.  (All the electricity the City imports or exports comes through the Goodrich substation via the Edison lines.  Because the City owns the Goodrich substation, it has to pay for work done on it).
      • As part of Edison’s upgrade project (but not the responsibility of the City), the contract mentions telecommunication upgrades including installation of “approximately 1,000 feet of underground conduit and fiber optic cable from the adjacent Eagle Rock-Mesa 220 kV transmission line structures”.
      • Don’t know where those “line structures” are, but the description kind of fits the trenching work that happened in early to mid-February.  Does not explain the subsequent dirt dumping and spreading, unless someone decided the line wasn’t buried deep enough and chose to fix that by putting more dirt on top. Or maybe a contractor just saw an opportune location to get rid of some dirt.
    • Local Crime Summary
      • For the last month in our neighborhood, from crimemapping.com: (note that time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
        • Thurs Jun 20, 9:32 am, 3200 block E. Foothill Blvd, Grand Theft Auto
        • Thurs Jun 27, 1:04 pm, 3200 block Mataro St, Burglary
        • Sat July 13, 11:41 pm, 200 block Santa Paula Av, Domestic Violence
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • No news on Space Bank project.  Still waiting for final cleanup workplan to be released by California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
    • New City Council candidate, lack of information
    • You can report streetlight outages, street tree problems, unkempt properties via the Citizen Service Center: cityofpasadena.net/citizen-service-center/

Next EEWNA meeting is August 17, 2019 at 11:15 am, in Hastings Branch Library meeting room

Adjourned about 12:45 pm