November 16, 2019 Neighborhood Meeting Summary

November 17, 2019

Preparation
E-mail reminders

Attendees
7 members and 1 guest

Acknowledgments
Susan brought home made cupcakes

Meeting

The meeting began about 11:20 am

Info from Council District 4 Community Meeting

  • Councilmember Gene Masuda led the meeting, introducing speakers and City Staff in attendance.
  • Kevin Delany, a Vice President at La Salle, gave some welcoming remarks.
  • Rose Queen Camille Kennedy exchanged greetings in Japanese with Councilmember Masuda and gave a brief talk about this year's Rose Parade theme.
  • City Staff present included City Manager Steve Mermell, Police Chief John Perez, Ruth Martinez of the Economic Development Department, Jeff Kune from Public Works, and Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian.
  • KPAS recorded the meeting, so presumably it will show up there sometime soon.
    www.pasadenamedia.org/channel/kpas/

Police, Crime, Homeless

  • Police Chief John Perez spoke extemporaneously.
  • Need for working together with community to be alerted to potential problems.
  • Advocated for using crimestoppers if you want to report something anonymously.
  • Burglaries are down, four burglaries and four auto burglaries in area the past month.
  • But thefts are up.  30 thefts reported from porches, unlocked cars, garages, etc in past month.
  • There is a city wide homeless project(?) committee.
  • Trying to figure out how to help, not criminalize homelessness, but do need to stop associated crime.
  • In addition to local homeless, there is a set that comes to town daily to make trouble.
  • Have about 70 people that are continually being in contact with police. Meth is a big problem. People don't think logically.
  • Officers are being trained in better techniques to avoid use of force.  Have reduced use of force 30% in last year.
  • Trying to crack down on drug dealers.
  • In response to question, provided very brief info on the BB gun incident at Washington Elementary School.

Local Park Projects

Jeff Kune from Public Works gave a brief presentation about park projects in East Pasadena.

Pickleball at Viña Vieja

  • The pickleball courts are still proposed for Viña Vieja park.  It doesn't sound like anything has happened since the meetings last year.  The people responsible for planning at that time have since retired.  Apparently the new staff is now ready to move forward.
  • As it was left last year:
    • There was a vague concept plan of 12 pickleball courts with a shaded rest area and added parking, all on the vacant City owned land south of the dog run areas of the park. 
    • One major issue is that the courts (and therefore likely the whole park) would be lighted at night, obviously extending the hours of activity.  Currently lighting is forbidden at this park and it is supposed to be closed at dusk - that was part of the deal with our surrounding neighborhoods when the park was created.
    • Another potentially major issue will be negotiating with Edison for additional leasing of their land for access and potentially more parking.
    • We were promised that access will only be from Orange Grove, and that a traffic study will be part of the required environmental study.
    • The City Council appropriated $400,000 in funding for planning, design, environmental review, and entitlements. Construction was not funded or approved.  (Interestingly, at this meeting, Mr Kune said that that partial funding for construction had already been approved.  Apparently his cost estimates must be lower then his predecessor's).
  • Mr. Kune announced there will be a Community Meeting on December 5 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at Victory Park.
  • Then expect a follow up Community Meeting in January.
  • Followed by a presentation to the Parks and Recreation Commission on February 4.
  • They would then expect to ask for funding approval for construction in the fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) 2021 budget.
  • Details from the previous meetings are here:

Victory Park Restrooms Replacement

  • The Victory Park restroom building will be replaced.
  • The new building will have three times as many stalls in the restroom. It will also have a concession stand, a meeting room, and storage areas.
  • The parking lot will also be resurfaced.
  • Construction activity is expected to begin in January and finish in July 2020.
  • Temporary facilities will be provided during construction.

Hamilton Renovation

  • Renovations at Hamilton Park (located in Upper Hastings) are almost complete.
  • New backstops, shaded bleachers, ... (too fast to catch most of it).
  • During question and answer a complaint was made that there is all this nice new stuff, but the ball fields are still full of gopher holes.  Response was that maintenance staff was working hard to deal with that, but "very difficult".  Mentioned trapping and disposing of them.

Lamanda Park Library Pocket Park

  • The City is planning to create a "pocket park" next to the Lamanda Park library.
  • It will have a playground, picnic area, green space.  (too fast to catch it all)
  • City staff hopes to have it designed in June 2020.

Commercial Property Activity in East Pasadena

  • Kevin Duffy, a commercial property realtor who has worked with Pasadena real estate for 30 years, talked about recent commercial real estate activity in east Pasadena.
  • He said recent statistics showed Pasadena overall at about 13.5% commercial vacancy, with East Pasadena much higher, Glendale somewhat higher, and Burbank considerably lower.
  • Sales over the past 7 years as market recovers from the recession show Pasadena transitioning to more technology, healthcare, and engineering business whereas it used to have a lot of financial.
  • East Pasadena market has heated up considerably, with $75 million in sales since December and could be another $120 million in next six months.
  • As central Pasadena becomes more expensive and filled up, activity is moving east.  (As it always has).
  • East Pasadena has large footprint parcels that are conducive to being made into the indoor/outdoor single level collaborative environments currently desired.

Gemalto (formerly 3M, Cogent, Allstate)

  • The parcel currently containing three buildings at 600 and 580 Sierra Madre Villa, and 465 N. Rosemead, was sold last year to a developer for about $28 million.
  • Gemalto will soon be moving out, going to newly leased space at 3100 New York Drive. (see below)
  • The new owner (Montana Avenue Capital?) plans to spend $8 million or more to remodel the property to make it "productive for tech use". 
  • There was a display board showing some artist drawings of indoor/outdoor work areas.
  • Asked if they would be taking trees out, was told no, but would trim them.
  • Background not from this meeting:
    • The parcel was reported to be 7.88 acres with a total of 151,000 square feet in the three buildings.
    • The brick building that extends along Sierra Madre Villa with the 600 address was Allstate's headquarters until they moved to Orange County about 1991.  It is functionally obsolete and has been little used since then.
    • The stucco building to the south, with the 580 Sierra Madre Villa address, and the fake brick building next to Rosemead Blvd were built on part of the parking lot about 1993. They have generally been occupied.
    • Gemalto is the current name of the company occupying the site.  It was previously part of 3M, which bought Cogent Systems, which bought the parcel in 2005 for $25 million.
    • In June 2007 Cogent proposed to demolish everything and build a huge complex of six 3 to 4 story buildings on their parcel plus the parking lot of the parcel to the south.  They withdrew the proposal at the last minute before its first public hearing.  The recession hit and the proposal never came up again.
    • In July 2008, Cogent started moving to the site from South Pasadena.
    • By October 2008, Cogent had installed iron fencing all around the site.
    • The City's new General Plan, adopted in 2015, raised the allowed maximum building density for the site. City staff claimed that it could still be restricted to a lower level by the East Pasadena Specific Plan (yet to be updated). 

New York Drive buildings

  • The buildings off of New York Drive and Bradley street have had lots of empty space until recently.
  • 3100 New York Drive was sold two years ago.  It has since been renovated.  Gemalto has leased the entire second floor and is moving there.
  • The former Avery building was bought by a credit union which has been fixing it up and is moving its headquarters to it. (from Monrovia?)

Building with 24 Hr Fitness (formerly Burroughs)

  • The brick building immediately north of Electronic Drive, which contains 24 Hr Fitness on the Halstead end, is about to be full of three technology companies.  A company named OE Wave, which does something with microwave technology.  Giant Magellan Telescope has been there a couple of years at least.  And now GM Cruise, a unit of General Motors working on development of self driving vehicles, is moving in.

former OSH site

  • Northeast corner of Colorado Blvd and Madre Street.
  • In response to a question, Councilmember Masuda and City staff provided the information that:
    • The property is still owned by a local family (named Nell?), which has owned it for decades.
    • Lowes (which bought OSH) still has a long term lease on the property.
    • Lowes has been negligent about site maintenance they are responsible for and the City has been citing them.  The owner family is now going to take care of those issues and then bill Lowes.
    • The City and owner family have been urging Lowes to sublease the property.  Nothing so far.
    • A member of the owner family told Gene Masuda that he doesn't think the property will be used for retail again.
    • (The property is now zoned for "mixed use", so it could be retail, office, residential, or a combination).

former St Lukes site

  • South side of Washington Blvd east of Altadena Drive. 
  • In response to a question, Ruth Martinez of Pasadena's Economic Development Department said she spoke to the owner (Denny Investments?) in mid-summer and was told they still plan to use it for some kind of medical re-use.  Nothing has been heard since.
  • A member of the audience spoke up to say she wants to see it used for a "mental health facility".  She thinks the City should buy it for that purpose.  The City Manager responded that the City doesn't operate mental health facilities, she should talk to the County.
  • Background not from this meeting:
    • St Lukes hospital closed in 2002.  Losing too much money and new earthquake requirements for hospitals extremely expensive.
    • At the end of 2013, the owner presented plans to renovate the site for use as an urgent care center, radiology center, outpatient surgery center, birthing center, doctor offices, rehab services, and potentially senior fitness or daycare services.  At the time they were taking some measures to prevent further deterioration of the property.  But nothing happened to move that plan forward and little has been done with the site since except for renting it out to film makers.
    • For more detail on the site history and that proposal, see
      eewna.org/2013/12/december-14-2013-meeting-summary/#StLuke

former Avon site

  • Between Foothill Blvd and Walnut Street, just west of the 210 Freeway overpass.
  • In response to a question, yes the former Avon site was purchased by Home Depot and "tenant improvements" are currently underway to convert the western portions to a Home Depot store.
  • The original office building has been nominated for designation as a Landmark.  That has been approved by the Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council will decide soon.
  • Home Depot has said it plans to lease space in the office building to technology tenants, in keeping with the new "R&D Flex Space" zoning for the site.
  • For more detail on Home Depot's plan see:
    eewna.org/2019/07/july-20-2019-neighborhood-meeting-summary#homedepot

Space Bank site

  • South side of Foothill between Kaiser Medical offices on the East and Kinneloa Ave on the west.
  • In response to a question, Councilmember Masuda reiterated that
    • The City has hired an environmental firm to watch over the developer and State's environmental agency to make sure the cleanup is done properly.
    • He, Councilmember Masuda, voted against approval of the development because of the aggregate effect of all the proposed developments along east Foothill and that just being next to the freeway is unhealthful.  But five Councilmembers voted for it, so it was approved.  On the plus side, it will include 83 units of "affordable" housing. That was based on the former requirement of 15% of units being affordable; the City has since raised the requirement to 20%.

former Albertsons shopping center

  • Northwest corner of Sierra Madre Blvd. and Michillinda Ave.
  • In response to a question about what is happening with it
    • Councilmember Masuda stated he'd met the owner twice and he'd "never met a more difficult person to deal with".  He keeps saying the City should bring national chains to him.  He's been told if he wants to attract good lessees he has to fix the center up first.  Just doesn't get it.
    • Code enforcement is called upon over and over again.
    • It's in the court system.  Owner's attorney keeps asking for continuances, ostensibly to remedy the issues, but nothing is done.  City's bulldog Assistant City Attorney is going to keep on top of it.

Sierra Madre Blvd medians

  • In response to request to fix the lousy condition of the medians on Sierra Madre Blvd resulting from the City no longer watering and the gophers gone wild, the City Manager said the City is studying what can be done.
    • During the last drought the governor forbid watering grass in medians.
    • The City shutoff the sprinklers and eventually retrofitted soaker hoses to try to keep the trees alive. 
    • He said the City also passed an ordinance banning watering them.
    • Although the drought has ended, both the State and City bans are still in place.
    • It is not technically parkland, so doubt could get the State to change to allow watering it.
    • Have looked at alternative landscaping to grass, but get negative feedback from users who use it for running. (Also have issue of parade and post parade viewing).

Sierra Madre Villa striping and crossing

  • In response to questions, Councilmember Masuda
    • Indicated agreement with returning Sierra Madre Villa to two lanes in each direction, especially since the Orange Grove diet is dead.  But he also stated the center lane is good because of left turns.  The questioner stated she was told by Transportation that the Council has to request the action, and asked him to bring it up to the Council.  Masuda either did not understand her request, or avoided addressing it.  He alluded to staff having changed it without telling anyone first, then saying it was just paint and could be put back.  He stated it was up to the Council, but did not indicate he would ask for the Council to consider it.
    • Reiterated that a signal on Sierra Madre Villa at Electronic Dr is approved as a Capital Improvement Project but there are no funds allocated to it.  Said he was supporting getting a crosswalk there. 
      (Since at least 2010 we have been told by City staff that it was awaiting funding to be generated by fees on re-development of nearby parcels.  Which raises the question now whether that $8+ million renovation will require any such fees/mitigations).

City Council and Mayor Election in March

  • The primary City election for Mayor and four City Council seats  will be March 3rd, at the same time as the General Election for state and country offices.
  • The number of announced challengers for all the contests seems much higher then any election in memory.
  • The nomination period for candidates to obtain required signatures and file to run is now open.
  • For more information about the process, visit the City Clerk's elections web page:
    www.cityofpasadena.net/city-clerk/elections-2020/
  • As of Friday afternoon, no one had yet filed their nomination papers, but quite few had obtained them from the City Clerk's office.
  • For Mayor, five people have indicated they intend to run:  current Mayor Terry Tornek, long time City Councilmember Victor Gordo, and three relative unknowns: Jason Hardin, Major Williams, and Michael Geragos.
  • For our District 4 Council seat, incumbent Gene Masuda and challengers Charlotte Bland and Kevin Wheeler have declared and pulled nomination papers.  Joe Baghdadlian has announced his intention to run, but not yet pulled nomination paperwork.
  • District 1 incumbent Tyron Hampton so far has two challengers working on nomination.
  • District 2 Council member Margaret McAustin is retiring.  Five potential candidates have pulled nomination paperwork.
  • District 6 incumbent Steve Madison so far has three challengers working on nomination.
  • You can get the latest list of who has been issued nomination papers, who has filed them, and which have been deemed qualified, by clicking on the "Nomination Papers Issued" link on the City Clerk's election web page noted above.

Water Systems Resource Plan community meeting Nov 20

  • Pasadena Water and Power has been working on a "Water Systems Resource Plan" since early this year.
  • The plan is to be the basis for "long-term capital and water resource planning", focusing on "aging infrastructure, future water demands, existing water resources and opportunities for new water supplies."
  • They say this meeting is to provide them feedback.
  • There was a meeting in west Pasadena on the 14th, this one is in east Pasadena.
  • November 20, 2019
    6 pm
    Victory Park Community Center
    2575 Paloma St

Pickleball courts at Viña Vieja Park community meeting Dec 5

  • Community meeting to discuss desired design for pickleball courts facility to be added to Viña Vieja park in the area south of the dog park.
  • December 5, 2019
    6 pm - 7:30 pm
    Victory Park Community Center
    2575 Paloma St

Local Crime Summary

  • For the last month in our neighborhood, from crimemapping.com: (the time is typically when reported, not when it happened)
    • Mon Oct 21, 5:37 am, 3100 block La Tierra St, Domestic Violence
    • Fri Oct 25, 8:08 am, 3100 block Las Lunas St, Assault/Battery
    • Thurs Nov 7, 3100 block Foothill Blvd, Commercial Burglary

anything else attendees wish to discuss

Next EEWNA meeting is December 21, 2019 at 11:15 am, in Hastings Branch Library meeting room

One comment on “November 16, 2019 Neighborhood Meeting Summary”

  1. On October 10, 2019 after my morning jog I stopped by the Donut Shop by the old Albertson’s for my weekly treat and learned at the shop that although the doors at the Albertson’s space are boarded up there’s ongoing construction inside and apparently space is being remodeled for some type of CrossFit GYM. I don’t think the property is zoned for that kind of business/end use unless it has changed and we don't know anything about it!? And why is the construction work inside being done in such a clandestine manner? Why are they not confirming to the Assistant City Attorney & Councilmember Masuda that they have a LESSEE already & stop misleading the authorities? What are the owners hiding? The owners of the property are well known slumlords at their properties in Chinatown and have been cited numerous times for code violations at this site; even undergoing criminal prosecution by the City of Pasadena. I’m wondering if our Councilmember Gene Masuda & Chief Assistant City Prosecutor are aware of the ongoing construction at this site? Is the construction being done on the level, with proper city authorization and permits? I thought the site was zoned strictly for a Shopping Center; has the zoning changed to allow a GYM at that location? What about the “Hours of Operation”… are those changing too and what will they be now? Didn’t owners already get turned down by the city for a zoning change/change of use a few years back when SkyZone Trampoline Park wanted to lease the space? There are so MANY questions. Sure hope we can get some answers at the next meeting. Can’t wait to find out the outcome of the owners’ jury trial on October 21st… sadly it’s taking place just days after our next meeting. Don’t get me wrong I want the site developed and improved so it’s not such an eyesore but we also don’t want just any business moving in that might not be a fit within our community. If anyone has more info to share please do so. Many of us concerned residents want to know what the hell is going on with that space. Thank You!
    ~Mandy Knox

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