To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Loose bolts found in Sasago Tunnel


 Jiji Press

Loose ceiling bolts have been found in a tunnel parallel to the one whose ceiling collapsed Dec. 2 in Yamanashi Prefecture, killing nine people.

The bolts are anchoring ceiling panels in the outbound Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway. The bolts do not appear to pose an immediate risk of the ceiling's collapse, informed sources said Saturday.

The collapse occurred in the Tokyo-bound tunnel. Both tunnels were closed following the collapse.

In the wake of the accident, the expressway operator, Central Nippon Expressway Co. (NEXCO-Central), carried out emergency checks on the other tunnel from Monday through Thursday, according to the company and the transport ministry.

NEXCO-Central conducted regular inspections on the two tunnels in September, but hammering tests during the checks did not cover entire ceilings.

The operator will begin work on Sunday to remove ceiling panels from the outbound tunnel, aiming to reopen it to traffic in both directions by the end of this month.

The Sasago Tunnel averages 40,000 to 50,000 vehicles in both directions daily. Local communities have requested the tunnel reopen early, as there has been an increase of traffic on nearby roads.

"We decided to reopen as soon as possible while ensuring safety, as the closure's negative effects are spreading," NEXCO-Central Senior Managing Officer Akira Hirose said.
(Dec. 9, 2012)

Assembly Member Chris Holden Announces Swearing-In Ceremony

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012 | 1:15 PM

 Newly elected Assembly Member Chris Holden (AD-41) will be sworn-in at a local ceremony and celebration to be held Sunday, December 9 in Pasadena.

Assembly Member Holden was formally sworn in at the state Capitol on Monday where it was announced that he would serve as the Majority Whip of the Democratic Caucus.
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard will serve as master of ceremonies and Congresswoman Judy Chu will be the guest speaker as Mr. Holden is sworn in as Assembly Member Holden.

Date: Sunday, December 9
Time: 4:00pm swearing-in ceremony, 4:30pm reception
Location: Noor Terrace, 260 E. Colorado, Pasadena (located in Paseo Colorado)

Holden represents the 41st Assembly District, encompassing the cities of Pasadena, portions of South Pasadena, portions of East Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, La Verne, Altadena, San Dimas, Claremont, and Upland. He previously served as a Councilmember and Mayor for the City of Pasadena, where he was first elected in 1989.

Seven vie for four Pasadena school board seats 


 Carved into seven areas in June election, new districts entice first-time candidates.


In the first test of new voter districts for Pasadena Board of Education seats, seven first-time candidates have enlisted to compete for four spots on the school board.

Incumbents Kim Kenne, Elizabeth Pomeroy and Scott Phelps are seeking reelection on March 5, while Ramon Miramontes and Ed Honowitz have decided not to run.

“I'm encouraged that there are a lot of candidates interested in the board. It speaks well of the community's growing interest in the schools,” said Honowitz, who is finishing his third four-year term.

Approved by nearly 55% of Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre voters in the June 5 election, the new system carves the school district into seven areas.

Officials sought the switch amid concerns that citywide contests discouraged potential Latino and African-Americans candidates and disenfranchised Latino voters in parts of the city where public school enrollment is highest.

One result was the formation of District 3, a Northwest Pasadena district where a majority of residents are Latino and where no current board members reside. Four people are seeking that seat.

Guillermo Arce, a deputy district director for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, said he would fight to increase resources for schools in the Northwest and reform special education programs in the district.

Arce, 51, has three children, including two with special needs, in Pasadena public schools. Earlier this year, Arce settled a lawsuit against the district alleging failure to meet special education requirements for one of his children, he said.

 Tyrone Hampton Jr., 29 and a graduate of John Muir High School, is a project manager with his family's Pasadena construction firm. Hampton said his business experience would help the board broker public-private partnerships to boost student achievement within tight budgets.

Ruben Hueso, a parent volunteer at Pasadena High School, did not return calls seeking comment.

Deirdra Duncan, 50, is a longtime foster parent recently evicted from her Pasadena home due to foreclosure. She said officials can do more to support children in struggling families and can boost achievement by crafting individualized learning plans for all students.

Arce qualified for the ballot on Wednesday, while nomination papers for Hampton, Hueso and Duncan are pending approval on Monday, said Pasadena Clerk Mark Jomsky.

All six candidates in the three other races have qualified.

Kenne's challenger in West Altadena's District 1 is Hermond Dean Cooper, a former school district employee who unsuccessfully sued the district in 1999 and 2003. Cooper, who alleged employment discrimination, did not return calls.

Miramontes, who also did not return calls, would have faced Kenne and Cooper had he sought reelection.

Honowitz's exit avoided a three-way contest with Pomeroy and Pasadena Youth Center Executive Director Stella Murga in District 5, east and south of downtown Pasadena.

Pomeroy, a retired college English teacher, seeks a second term.

Murga, spokeswoman for the Pasadena Latino Coalition, said she would work to improve student readiness for college and careers. Participants in youth center programs “are not seeing themselves as becoming successful or planning ahead for their lives, which is scary,” said Murga, 61.

Phelps, 49, is a former John Muir High School science teacher and has two children in Pasadena public schools. He is seeking a third term on the board.

Phelps' challenger in West Pasadena's District 7 is Luis Carlos Ayala, an immigration attorney who also has taught adult English classes in Los Angeles.

Both support reopening the former Linda Vista Elementary campus as a replacement for San Rafael Elementary, expected to close in 2015 due to seismic safety issues. San Rafael is the only public school campus in District 7.

Ayala, 49, said he had hoped to enroll his two daughters at Linda Vista but chose a private school after learning high-achieving public campuses were at capacity and not accepting students.

“Every time I drive by Linda Vista I see a campus that can be utilized,” Ayala said.


Papers filed for Pasadena council seats


 Three seats are available in the March election, including one left vacant by new Assembly member.

  Five aspiring city leaders and two incumbents have filed papers to run for three Pasadena City Council seats up for grabs on March 5.

The Northwest Pasadena seat left vacant by Chris Holden's November election to the state Assembly has attracted four hopefuls: community activist Ishmael Trone, Los Angeles Urban League executive John J. Kennedy, Summit Evangelical Church Pastor Nicholas Benson and former volunteer city commissioner Aida Morales.

Holden held the District 3 seat for 24 years.

Councilman Victor Gordo, seeking a third term in District 5, will face nonprofit director and Pasadena Marathon organizer Israel Estrada.

Councilman Terry Tornek is unopposed in his bid for a second term in District 7.

Tornek, Gordo, Benson, Kennedy and Trone have qualified for the ballot, a process that requires signatures from at least 25 registered voters. Papers for Estrada and Morales, filed Friday afternoon, are pending review on Monday, said City Clerk Mark Jomsky.

If no District 3 candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in March, the top two finishers will advance to an April 16 runoff.

Winning candidates take office on May 6, but Holden's former seat will not remain open that long. The city charter requires the council to appoint an interim replacement no later than 75 days after Holden's Nov. 30 resignation, said Jomsky.

The council voted Monday to seek applications through Dec. 27, conduct interviews in January and choose a temporary council member during a public meeting by Feb. 13. Council members said they would not appoint anyone appearing on the March ballot.

Candidates seeking support from District 3 voters have long-established roots in the area.

Morales, 66, previously led a Bilingual Advisory Council for Pasadena public schools and served on the city's Northwest Commission and Commission on the Status of Women. A mother of five and 40-year Pasadena resident, Morales said she hopes to find more resources to fund infrastructure repairs, affordable housing and youth programs.

Benson, 58, is vice chair of the Northwest Commission, president of the Ministerial Assn. of Pasadena and previously served on the Community Health Alliance of Pasadena board. The 30-year resident said he is focused on quality-of-life issues.

Kennedy, 51, was president of the Pasadena NAACP from 1987 to 1990, worked for various city departments and served as a deputy police chief in Richmond, Va., under former Pasadena Police Chief Jerry Oliver. A graduate of Blair High School, Kennedy said he planned to run for council 24 years ago but stepped aside to support Holden. Kennedy said he hopes to increase job opportunities and training for at-risk youth and work to alleviate tension between police and residents.

Kennedy faced a charge of assault with a firearm in 1993 after taking a gun from a man and shooting him during an argument. The charge was dismissed seven months later, said L.A. County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

“It was an accident. I've moved forward with my life,” said Kennedy. “With my diverse background in the government, nonprofit and for-profit sectors, I believe I can provide sound public policy for the district and the city at large.”

Trone, 52, also grew up in Pasadena and heads a family tax and real estate business on Orange Grove Boulevard. He served on the city's Community Development and Fair Oaks Project Area committees, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce board and currently chairs the Rose Bowl Local Hiring Advisory Committee.

 Trone said he would focus on economic development, parks and public safety in the district. He is also pushing officials preparing to negotiate with the NFL for temporary use of the Rose Bowl to secure executive-level internships for local youth.

District 5 hopeful Estrada, 36 and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said he is running to make City Hall a more user-friendly place for residents and business owners. A Pasadena native and Blair High School graduate, Estrada also ran for City Council in 2003.

Gordo, who grew up in the area, said he has worked to improve parks and revitalize neighborhoods.

“Every corner of the district has seen some improvement, but much remains to be done,” said Gordo.

Op-Ed: Coming to terms with an NFL contract



I'm going to assume the vote taken two weeks ago to approve the draft environmental impact report will ultimately lead to the National Football League entering into a contract with the city. Despite the objections of the four neighborhood associations whose members will be most adversely impacted, the City Council voted for a quick financial fix. The city now has a moral obligation and the fiduciary responsibility to extract the best deal possible.

It is imperative that the following items be added to the inevitable contract.

 1.The Pasadena Living Wage Ordinance
This ordinance excludes the Rose Bowl and the Pasadena Center Operating Companies, but adding it to the NFL contract will assure the residents that well-paying jobs with benefits will be available for all NFL games. The NFL can afford a living-wage agreement.

2. A community benefits agreement with the NFL
This is a contract signed by community groups and a developer or entity to provide specific amenities and mitigations to the local community or neighborhoods. The groups agree to publicly support the project, or at least not oppose it. The most important element is a committee that should include stakeholders such as resident associations and nonprofits.

Such an agreement is a legally binding contract. The city and Rose Bowl Operating Co. should enter an agreement that will benefit the Linda Vista-Annandale, San Rafael Neighborhoods, West Pasadena Residents and East Arroyo Residents associations.

Other groups would include the Linda Vista Park, Linda Vista School, a job training program at the Flintridge Foundation and Pasadena Unified.

An alternative would be to designate Districts 1 and 6 as Community Benefit Districts. It takes about 25% of motivated homeowners within the districts to initiate the process with the city manager's office. This is the more complicated of the options.

3. NFL investment in traffic control/parking

The NFL should invest whatever funds are necessary to offset the costs of additional patrols and traffic control to ensure public safety for residents and game attendees. For each game, the sale of alcohol and the larger number of tailgating parties will no doubt require increased patrols on the level of a Jan. 1 Rose Bowl game.

A uniformed police officer should be stationed at every street closure to assist the Pasadena Explorers in keeping out of our neighborhoods the nonresidents looking for free parking.

Before you shake your heads and say no to these items, let me remind you that the Rose Bowl is in the middle of a residential neighborhood and there will be 25 major events per year, up from 12.

If the NFL says the city of Pasadena is going to make $5 million to $10 million dollars per year, the NFL will make a lot more than that. The NFL wants to play here and to play, they should have to pay.

You can't assess the cost of the adverse impacts on our quality of life, on access issues to our own neighborhood as well as on the recreational activities at and around the Rose Bowl that are priceless to us. All these will be disturbed, if not lost, for another 13 days of the year.

The mayor and the City Council hold all the cards. They can't blink on this one.

If the NFL wants to use our incredible city as their temporary home, it would behoove our elected leaders to remember that this is our home, too. Let the attorneys dot the Is and cross the Ts on a temporary contract with the NFL that will prove to the residents that you weren't blinded by the bright lights of “NFL Star Power.”

At the end of the day, in so doing, the residents' concerns finally become your concerns.

ROBIN SALZER, a 30-year resident of Pasadena, is a local businessman and a member of the Transportation Advisory Commission. He lives in the San Rafael area of the city

PUSD financial troubles spread 


 By Brian Charles and James Figueroa, Staff Writers 

 Posted:   12/08/2012 05:44:23 PM PST
Updated:   12/08/2012 06:38:34 PM PST
 PASADENA - Allegations of improper billing, a school construction project more than $8 million above estimates and questions about the availability of timely financial audits have sent Pasadena Unified School District officials on a search for answers.
The district launched two audits this week. A forensic audit will focus on the allegations of improper billing which led to the termination of four consultants' contracts, the suspension of a fifth contract and landed PUSD Chief Financial Officer David Azcarraga on paid administrative leave.

The district will also ask a consultant to review bids for the Sierra Madre Middle School project. The school project was originally estimated to cost $23 million; bids for the project came in between $31 and $33 million.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Oversight Committee charged with keeping a watchful eye over expenditures on the $350 million Measure TT capital improvement project have a tough task in tracking the money.

Measure TT, passed by Pasadena voters in 2008, provided funding for renovation and construction projects at nearly 30 PUSD schools.

Due to state education audit regulations, the bond audit for Measure TT can take up to nine months to complete, according to PUSD Chief Financial Officer John Pappalardo.

The 2010-11 audit was released until May 2012. The audit for the most recent year 2011-12 has not been released.

The fiscal maelstrom has prompted some to call for major reforms in the way that PUSD manages its capital improvement program.

"Something has to change about the system," PUSD board member Scott Phelps said Friday. "The system relies solely on the bond manager and facilities chief to say, `Yes I signed off on the time card,' ... maybe we need to have more frequent audits of the expenditures."

A whistle-blower within the district came forward with allegations that consultants and contractors were being paid for hours they didn't work, Phelps said.

The investigation began more than a month ago and is still ongoing, officials said.

The board moved quickly to place Azcarraga on leave, suspend bond manager Robin Brown and terminate the contract of Seville Construction Services, LCC3 Construction, Peter Contis and Arturo Arce.

Now the district will turn to Glendora-based Vicenti Lloyd Stutzman, the same firm that Pasadena City College hired after two administrators were caught in a bribery probe by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office this summer.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is not involved in the PUSD investigation, and no criminal complaints have been filed.

Meanwhile, PUSD Oversight Committee Chairman Jon Fuhrman said his examining body didn't catch any improprieties in recent months. Fuhrman said the oversight committee heard oral presentations of the bond finances, but had not reviewed the 2011-12 audit.

By state law, the bond audit relies on the school district's budget audit, Pappalardo said.

He isn't sure an audit would have caught the most recent case of alleged financial malfeasance.

"An audit would not be your first line of defense," Pappalardo said.

Even past financial firestorms at the PUSD - such as the Measure Y capital improvement program scandal which included a lawsuit filed by the district - were not exposed through audits, officials said.

The problem isn't contained to expenditures, at least one member of the PUSD Citizens Oversight Committee openly question school board policies which he said are partially responsible for the increased costs for the Sierra Madre Middle School.

"The school district has adopted a policy that they need to have union workers on the job, not prevailing wage, but union workers," said Ed Barnum, Citizens Oversight Committee member. "You get these policies that sound wonderful to the school board, but it makes the bids higher."

In the fall, the PUSD adopted a project labor agreement, which requires a certain level of union labor on projects and set a local hiring threshold.

This comes as PUSD is somewhat rudderless. The PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry is on medical leave; Chief Academic Officer Brian McDonald heading the district in Gundry's absence. With an ongoing capital project and a facilities chief on paid leave, PUSD Finance Chief John Pappalardo has taken the reins of the facilities department. With people covering gaps and pinch hitting for those absent from the executive team, Pasadena Unified will conduct an audit of its massive bond project.

PUSD board members and facilities chief Tom Selinske remains confident that the skeleton crew can make due.

"We still have our CFO and we still have a lot of facilities staff there," said Tom Selinske, PUSD board and facilities sub-committee member. "It may slow down but we can make progress."

SCAG's Goods Movement Subcommittee Meeting

The SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments) group influences goods movements and is chaired by Barbara Messina of Alhambra.  (She is also the one that's against Ara Najarian)

Below is the letter of invitation to the SCAG's Goods Movement Subcommittee Meeting which will be held on Monday, December 10, 2012.  The meeting is open to the public.

Dear Friends and Stakeholders of the SCAG Goods Movement Subcommittee:

SCAG’s Goods Movement Subcommittee will hold its 3nd meeting Monday, December 10, 2012 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. here at SCAG.  Interested parties can attend the meeting either here at SCAG or at one of the videoconference sites listed below. 

Teleconferencing is not available for this meeting, however, SCAG will videotape and post this meeting on line within 2-4 working days.   The video can be found at http://www.scag.ca.gov/scagtv/

Please let us know if you have any questions regarding the activities of SCAG’s Goods Movement Subcommittee.


Alison Linder, PhD
Associate Regional Planner
Southern California Association of Governments
Direct line: 213-236-1934

For further information contact: 

 San Rafael Neighborhoods Association
(SRNA) Announcement

Pasadena City Council To Consider 710 Issues At Special Meeting 

  Monday December 10, 7:00 p.m.

Pasadena Convention Center
Ballroom Building, Ballroom E-H
300 East Green Street, Pasadena

Live video feed is also available for watching from the internet at www.cityofpasadena.net  or www.pasadenamedia.org

  • Based upon the strong voices of concern from our neighborhood, the Pasadena City Council voted last August to oppose all freeway and highway routes through the San Rafael neighborhood.  Metro appears to have heard our message too.  Metro has stated that it will release its final "Alternatives Analysis" for the 710 this month, and we are expecting that Analysis to more formally eliminate all routes through our neighborhood from further consideration (we will advise when that happens).

  • Our neighborhood, however, still faces a significant threat from the remaining freeway alternative on the table - the "F-7" tunnel that will begin next to Huntington Hospital.  Metro's own projections show that the tunnel will dump tens of thousands of additional cars and trucks each day into the already congested 210/134 interchange and the freeways, ramps, and surface streets leading to it.  This, in turn, will lead to increased pollution, noise, and cut-through traffic in our neighborhood and throughout much of Pasadena.  We also have concerns about the staggering, multi-billion dollar cost and years of construction that the F-7 tunnel will require.

  • The Pasadena City Council will be considering Monday night whether to advocate for other, non-freeway alternatives to the 710 tunnel, including improving local intersections and increasing bus and rail transit alternatives.  An attorney retained by the City has advised that the City cannot oppose the F-7 tunnel outright (based upon a ten-year old referendum ("Measure A") that expressed the City's then-support for completing the 710).  But, the City is free to express its preference for better alternatives, and also for further study and comment upon the negative effects of the F-7 tunnel on traffic, pollution, and taxpayers who must foot the bill.

If you are able to attend Monday night, please do so to show your support for fiscally responsible alternatives to the 710 tunnel that will not funnel even more traffic into our City.  Although the City of Pasadena is not the final decision maker on the 710, its views may be important to Metro and other state and federal agencies who are involved in the project.

The San Rafael Neighborhoods Association (SRNA) remains committed in its opposition to ALL 710 Freeway routes through Pasadena.
San Rafael Neighborhoods Association:

The mission of the San Rafael Neighborhoods Association (SRNA) is to enhance and maintain the character and quality of all San Rafael neighborhoods through advocacy and an activated community.  
Join SRNA--West Pasadena's newest and fast growing neighborhood organization dedicated to the San Rafael Neighborhoods Area. 

Member $20
Household $35
Sustaining $100
Patron $250
Benefactor $500

Contact us and send check by mail to:
San Rafael Neighborhoods Association (SRNA)
PO Box 92617
Pasadena, CA 91109
or join us at our website at
www.srnapasadena.org and click the tab "Join Us"

Credit cards accepted 

How to Get Nowhere in LA: 710 Freeway Quagmire


 December 07, 2012 by Justin Ewers


 Map showing some of the 710 freeway extensions that have been proposed over the years.

If you’ve ever tried driving north out of Los Angeles from Long Beach, then you know what lies ahead.

Try driving out of town from the coast—or, say, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which together make up the nation’s busiest cargo complex, sending trucks by the tens of thousands up the 710 freeway. For more than twenty miles, you seem to be sailing through the heart of the LA Basin. The cities roll by, Compton, South Gate, East LA.

And then, with Pasadena on the horizon, and an easy connection out of town only a few miles away, the freeway ends.  After what can be miles of standstill traffic, one of LA’s major thoroughfares comes to a dead stop at a three-way stoplight on a surface street called Valley Boulevard. More often than not, gridlock and traffic jams await.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority has tried for decades to tackle this seemingly straightforward infrastructure challenge—since 1965, to be exact—proposing a variety of solutions, starting with extending the freeway through South Pasadena to connect with the 210 on the other side.

Transportation experts have spent years exploring light-rail options and freight alternatives. They have looked at bus lines and improving local streets. They have highlighted the thousands of jobs different projects would create and touted the economic boost easing traffic congestion would provide.

For more than four decades, none of it has worked.

A hard infrastructure lesson

Even after Los Angeles County voters overwhelmingly approved a measure in 2008 to raise $40 billion for traffic relief and transportation upgrades—supporting a range of successful infrastructure projects across the county—the 710 freeway has remained at a standstill.

Call it the first rule of infrastructure development: If voters don’t like the project—and if a compelling case can’t be made for how it will be financed—it’s not going to happen. (Or as an inside joke going around transit circles puts it: Some projects are so controversial, the city files them as “not in our lifetime.” The 710 extension, though, should be listed as “not in God’s lifetime.”)

This lesson has been brought into stark relief this fall as MTA officials have tried to narrow a long list of options down to twelve congestion-relief alternatives for the 710 freeway. These include a new $3.5 billion tunnel connecting the 710 with the 210 less than five miles away. Among the proposals being considered is an innovative public/private partnership similar to those being developed by the Summit’s Infrastructure financing action team, where private entities could assume some of the cost by charging a toll to use the tunnel.

These new ideas, like traffic on the 710, seem to be getting nowhere fast. Even before a county sales tax measure failed in November—bringing into question how the county would finance the “public” portion of the project—the controversy was mounting in cities in and around the freeway’s path.

The cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena, La CaƱada, and Glendale have united against both a surface and underground option, citing the increased truck traffic and pollution that would come with any extension. The Los Angeles City Council recently joined them by unanimously adopting a resolution against the project.
Political gridlock

"You would disrupt some neighborhoods that have existed for generations," Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar said this fall. "We, as a city, and any other public agency should not take for granted the communities that would be impacted the most as Metro and Caltrans have.”

State Assemblymember Anthony Portantino summed up the growing conventional wisdom around the project in two words: “It stinks.”

The 710’s gridlock may make drivers crazy and transportation experts cross-eyed, but the ever-elusive solution to this particular infrastructure challenge can serve a stark reminder for the Economic Summit.

The Summit’s Action Teams are developing a range of cutting-edge tools Californians can use to make their regional economies more prosperous—including a range of new financing mechanisms that would help move transportation projects forward and proposals that would simplify the thorny legal process around infrastructure development.

But in the end, these tools work only when voters are willing to rally around them.

Infrastructure projects may create jobs, save money, increase productivity, and drive more profits (and many of them do). But without public support, they’re dead on arrival.