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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New Hotels, New Recreation Centers, New Ideas, Highlight Councilmember Kennedy's Community Meeting

Lower crime rates, bike sharing program also presented


By Eddie Rivera, August 31, 2016

 Scenes during the Councilmember John Kennedy's community meeting on Tuesday, August 31, 2016.

New hotels, a bike sharing program and a plan to re-imagine the Northern “stump” of the 710 Freeway highlighted Councilmember John Kennedy’s District 3 community meeting Tuesday evening, as nearly a hundred residents gathered in the Donald Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library for a wide-ranging update from the Councilmember.

Poet Gerda Govine Ituarte added a soupçon of literary culture to the evening, reading from a poem which told the tale of her arrival in America as a young child in New York City.

Following Ituarte’s evocative poem, Kennedy honored newly retired Director of Library Services Jan Sanders, commending her for her 11 years of service in Pasadena.

Kennedy then began his presentation with a report on the city’s five new hotel projectss, highlighting the new and controversial proposed Kimpton Hotel/YWCA project, in Pasadena’s Civic Center, which would if approved convert the 1922 Julia Morgan-designed building at 79 North Marengo Avenue into a 179-room two-to-six story luxury hotel.

That project is one of five new hotel projects in the city, in various stages of planning or construction.
Kennedy also praised the new Heritage Square senior housing project being built north of the intersection of Orange Grove Boulevard and North Fair Oaks Avenue. Kennedy said the project has already received 1,500 pre-applications for the 70 apartments being planned.

Reporting on the city’s 2014 embezzlement case, Kennedy revealed that $5 million has been recovered through various insurance policies and the City hopes to recover the balance following the disposition of the case. A former management analyst in Pasadena’s Public Works Department, Danny Wooten, along with two other suspects, faces more than 60 counts of fraud, embezzlement and tax-related charges. No trial date has been set yet.

The new renovations and rehabilitations at Jackie Robinson Park are also getting underway, Kennedy reported, and a number of classes and activities will be moved temporarily to the Jackie Robinson Senior Center across the street to accommodate the work. While construction dates are still pending on the four-year old project, construction documents were completed and submitted to the Building Department in February, 2016.

The City’s Recreation Department will also be working directly with the Pasadena Unified School District in an effort to re-locate more activities during the construction process.

According to Kennedy’s update, the Renaissance Plaza on Orange Grove at Fair Oaks may also soon undergo some changes. As the original loan for the project is about to be paid off, Von’s Market, the current tenant, may be relocating.

“We are hoping to find a quality market for that location, who can provide fresh and healthy food for this community,” said Kennedy of the proposed change.

Kennedy also reported that 12,000 feet of city sidewalks have been repaired this year, and reaffirmed the City’s commitment to repairing as many feet of sidewalk as possible this year.

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez delivered updates on two recent shootings, but continued to bemoan the lack of community participation in providing information to police regarding crimes.

“Without your support,” Sanchez told the meeting, “We can’t close that loop, so we are constantly seeking information from anyone who might know anything.” Sanchez also noted that during or after previous District 3 community meetings, he has received information on crimes, either by phone or e-mail.

“That information stays confidential,” Sanchez emphasized, “so if you know anything, or you know anyone that is involved in that kind of behavior, please give us a call.”

The Pasadena Police Department to date, said Sanchez, has seized over 1,300 guns, with “150 guns seized this year alone.” According to Sanchez, the various guns were seized in search warrants, or from armed individuals, or surrendered by community members.

Finally, hammering home a familiar theme at community meetings, Sanchez told the group, “ I don’t want to get into a discussion about the Second Amendment, but I will say this. If you own a gun, please be a responsible gun owner. That means watching the gun, and keeping that gun in an approved safe.”

In addition to the project updates and safety reminders, Conrad Viana, principal engineer from the Transportation Department, reported that the City is moving closer to the full implementation of its proposed bikeshare plan, first proposed in 2014, making bicycles available for short-term rentals and commutes.

The idea, explained Viana, is to ideally provide bikes for short commutes to Gold Line or bus stations, and then bikes for the commute to work from public transportation.

The Metro bikeshare program is part of the City’s Bicycle Transportation Action Plan, with bikeways eventually located in 12 miles of collector and arterial roadways in the city. When fully implemented, the program will be located at 34 kiosks around the city, providing a total of 411 bicycles. The city is currently evaluating 120 potential kiosk sites.

Meanwhile to date, over 200 new bike racks have been added citywide to further promote bicycling
The evening also featured a dramatic presentation led by architect Stefanos Polyzoides on the “Connecting Pasadena” project, a plan to fill the trench at the Northern end of the proposed 710 extension and create a brand-new new community flanked by Pasadena Avenue and the freeway.

“Freeways are the bane of our existence,” said Polyzoides. “No sane person thinks that freeways are a good transit idea,” he said as he outlined two plans from his group’s presentation.

The first plan would leave the ditch of the 710 freeway in place and work around the existing topographic conditions, he explained. A main parkway would be placed in the center and at the bottom of the existing 710 right-of-way. All thoroughfares would be reconnected and turned into two-way circulation. With this plan, said Polyzoides, the volume and manner of access to the 134 and 210 Freeways is maintained and neighborhood traffic is slowed down and dispersed.

There would be development blocks located on either side of the parkway, according to the plan.

The second alternative would fill the entire ditch and re-establish the topographic level of the site as it existed before the construction of the freeway. A major boulevard, similar to Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue, would replace Pasadena Avenue, and serve to both direct traffic going into and out of the freeway, and disperse traffic to the neighborhoods to the south, east and west through reestablished two-way streets.

The proposed community would also locate housing close to public transit, and establish new green spaces as well.