July 24, 2014
Dozens of readers wrote in to Alhambra Source to answer the question posed by a July 17 article: Are Alhambra leaders abusing their power and overdeveloping the city?
Alhambra Source community contributor and Alhambra City Council candidate Eric Sunada, along with his campaign manager and fellow contributor Michael Lawrence, argue in their opinion piece that city leaders are using a planning tool called the Specific Plan to circumvent city guidelines for density, open space, parking, and zoning, allowing excessive commercial and residential development. Many readers agreed, saying that city staff does not consider residents' needs or quality of life when making development decisions. Other readers defended the city and new mixed-use developmlents throughout Alhambra, arguing that the city is adapting to less land availability and creating more jobs and walkable neighborhoods.
Read some of the responses below, check out the full discussion, and let us know what you think!
- "A well written and thoroughly researched article written by knowledgeable authors that examines a complex issue directly impacting our quality of life. This type of writing provides a public service by bringing topics such as this to the attention of the city’s residents, initiating a deeper discussion that might not otherwise occur." -Joe S.
- "This article is very MISLEADING in terms of ignoring other issues, painting high-density developments as (de-facto) ominous, and using one-sided appeals to chastise a city council (and staff) that have worked hard to give us the great city we have today...Smart growth doesn’t necessarily preclude high-density mixed-use projects. The key is design and the spatial arrangements of mixed-uses that promote walkability and sustainability – facets that help define smart growth. Second, while a city General Plan (GP) is indeed a policy document, a city ISN’T A DOCUMENT. A city is a settlement of living, breathing, and dynamic human beings. While a GP must preserve character and protect what communities value, it must also accommodate growth (it doesn't take a Cal-Tech Engineer to figure-out our population will most likely continue increasing). These plans span decades so Specific Plans (SP) help maintain the flexibility our city needs. You both chastise the city for 'abusing policies by not using the Specific Plans in the way the state intended. Specific Plans must be consistent with the General Plan.'...Taking into account the state’s INTENT and ongoing views of the environment, growth accommodation, and public health/safety, I don’t see Alhambra’s Specific Plans (that incorporate many of these facets) as so far-fetched as you would want us to believe." -John G.
- "Out with the old and in with the new. I love watching those old ugly buildings being torn down. This is going to be a place where people will want to live and spend money and of course will also pay taxes. Hey, I have not seen any job openings at the old Mervyns building lately, have you? That's because it needs to be torn down so something better goes in its place. This city needs jobs so that we can have a walkable community. I get so excited as a walk down Main St and see what's happening. SO many old eyesores are being torn down and will be replaced with the greatest invention I have seen in real estate. The mixed use building. There will be many people who will actually be living and working in the same building. All you traffic haters should celebrate that fact."-Joesph S.
- "'Out with the old and in with the new' is a philosophy Americans have endorsed for so long that we're drowning in our own garbage. And it's unwise to assume that new is always better than old, especially when you're talking about the faux Tuscan and other slap-dash monstrosities going up in Alhambra. And safe to assume these condo dwellers WILL have cars and use them to go beyond Main Street. Ironic that city council bemoans traffic congestion in Alhambra but approves one development after another to make traffic worse. Mr. Sunada, I like the way you think."-Linda
- The new development is positive but the City of Alhambra has such a "Jekyll and Hyde" mentality. On one hand its "build, build, build," and on the other its complain about traffic and congestion constantly with banners up and down Fremont. Where do they think all the traffic comes from? You can't blame all your woes on the big bad 710!
- "The over-development has increased the amount of vehicles traveling in & out Alahmbra. More residences, more parking spaces more cars. The Santa Fe development plan prosed multi-level office buildings with approx.6 multi-level parking structures to accommodate 6,500 parking spaces...With all this self inflicted out of control growth the City Council can no longer complain about all the traffic plaguing the city. The city Council uses this rationale to promote the 710 tunnel. The credibility of the Alhambra City Council is in question & highly suspect."-Joe C.
- There is already enough traffic going through the city on Fremont, Garfield, and Atlantic we don't need added traffic from over populating the city. Yes a couple building will add more life to the city but they have over done it. Alhambra used to be a nice quaint neighborhood now it's getting but and way overpopulated! Truly considering a move.
- "Are there parks, grocery and other stores that people can walk to? What is the average price of those condos? What is the average wage paid at the mixed-use establishments? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While I believe that a mixed-use building can be attractive, I don't find the ones on Main Street attractive or interesting. The County building on the SE corner of Atlantic and Main is the only one, in my opinion, that adds a bit of style to the area. There is nothing that makes our Main Street look different from equivalent developments in other parts of SoCal."-Greg
- "This kind of cheap development is going to age terribly, and I hate how it all pushes up to the sidewalk. So many of these mixed-use developments on Main are going to be the eyesores we talk about in 10, 30 years. We want Alhambra to be a nice place to live now and in the future, but the only way to guarantee that is to plan our development carefully now."-April
- Great article. I find myself becoming more and more angry every time I drive down Main Street and see another new mixed-use development breaking ground. I think for me, the "tipping point" came when they knocked down the old library to build a condo. We are now taking away from public property so the city can make more money. This smells of greed and power, and I don't like it at all. Our "city leaders" want to make more money today by selling to these developers, but residents will suffer in the long run. I made a small list of cons below. Just my opinion. What do you think?The condos are ridiculously overpricedOver crowding Crazy bad trafficWith more people live so close to the high school, it can lead to security issues.Devalues the surrounding residential properties when noise and crime levels rise.
- "I am sorry to see a quaint and safe community like Alhambra bend to special interest groups and other lobby efforts to push through demolition of neighborhoods and high developments with less than needed parking. Tunnel or no tunnel--not providing enough parking will congest this area even more. I hope Alhambra will remain beautiful and fun and non congested as it always has...I love this community but if they destroy it with a huge tunnel, construction, more pollution and dense commercial building on Main Street without enough parking for visitors and residents it will be a disaster and very difficult to fix once the developments have been pushed through and approved without space/parking consideration."-Marlena M.
- "This simple answer is YES, the City of Alhambra is being overdeveloped. At Garfield & Bay State that whole block is supposed to be another monsterous housing project. There is always a lot of traffic between Mission and Garfield and with the increase of population in that area it will only get worse. Our schools are busting at the seams and the added population will continue to crowd our schools. And lastly, WATER is another issue. I sent council a letter about my concern about the increase in water usage. They seem to forget there is a drought. Our water supply is supplemented by two other sources, but that does not mean keep increasing the population in Alhambra. Water rates will go up, as the population keeps increasing."- Dawn
- "Very good article, thank you for posting. While mixed-use development sounds good in theory because it 'might' get people out of their cars, we can look at a concrete example that show it is currently counter-productive. Anyone driving through the heart of Glendale and the surrounding areas will soon figure out that there is too much development in the area. I am a resident of Alhambra and commute frequently to Glendale and I feel that this beautiful city I live in is headed in that direction when I see many new multi-story buildings going up fast. I do not know the solution and I am fully aware that development is inevitable, but our quality of life must be taken into account before approving and constructing these massive buildings."-William C.
- "Very interesting piece. I wasn't familiar with the the recent development before, but it doesn't sound good... SGV has been gentrifying rapidly these past few years. Less open space and increased traffic congestion are clear warning signs."-Lucy T.