First posted on January 15, 2010:
At long last it looks like the Hahamongna Annex Plan is finally going to the Pasadena City Council. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, February 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm in the City Council Chambers in City Hall, 100 N. Garfield St.
And what a plan it is!
Seventy non-native trees are slated to be removed from the Annex in the name of "habitat restoration." Not surprisingly, thirty-three of the trees to be cut down are located in the formerly proposed road corridor. (Remember that road? It was to be cut across the Annex to provide access to a 1200 space JPL parking garage, which was removed from the 2003 Hahamongna Master Plan after strong community opposition.)
The non-natives include majestic Italian stone pines, liquid ambers, Chinese elms, California peppers and others too numerous to mention. These trees will be cut down despite the fact that the Annex is a landscaped area which was planted by the Forest Service, LA County Fire and Rose Bowl Riders many decades ago. The trees are an integral part of the history and uniqueness of the property just as the same species are in the Central Arroyo where no one is trying to cut them down. The trees serve a variety of wildlife. Cooper's hawks, a species of concern, have raised their young in their branches and western gray squirrels, driven from higher elevations by the Station Fire, have taken refuge in them - not to mention the human generations who have enjoyed their beauty and shade.
This drastic proposal wasn't always in the Annex documents. An earlier version says that "it is the city's intent to align the trails in a manner that preserves as many existing trees as reasonably possible... city estimates that the number of trees that would be impacted... in the range of 7 - 19 trees." Why the complete about face - is the plan now to do a Colorado Blvd-style chainsaw massacre on the trees in the corridor and just be done with it?
The latest proposal from staff, put forth only AFTER the documents had been seen by the advisory groups, is that the northern bikeway will be for "bikes only". Obviously that isn't going to work since JPL employees walk on that trail to get from the lab into the park. So staff's answer is a trail/bikeway which is almost 40 feet at its widest!
Now you may have noticed that elsewhere in Hahamongna down by the Flint Wash Bridge, horses, bikes and pedestrians all share a 12 foot hard surface path with a 4 foot shoulder. This is what is also proposed for the three other new segments of the bikeway in Hahamongna - a hard surface path and an immediately adjacent soft surface trail - no buffers or barriers. Why do you think it is only in the formerly proposed roadway corridor that an ultra-deluxe "meandering" greenway with buffers and vegetation is necessary and everywhere else in the park the bikeway/trail is shared use and not more than 20 feet wide?
DON'T BLAME THE CITIZEN COMMISSIONS
The Planning Commission, the Design Commission, the Transportation Advisory Commission and the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee all supported nothing wider than a 10 foot path for bicyclists and hikers in the northern corridor . The Transportation Advisory Commission went so far as to say that it should be designed in such a manner that it could never become a road. They all tried their best with what were incredibly confusing documents. There were four different versions of the Plan in the space of seven months and the Plan seen by one Commission wasn't necessarily the same plan seen by the next. The Final Draft even had material that was not seen by any of the advisory groups whose purpose is to advise the City Council. The documents they approved will not be the documents before the Council.
In the final Plan, the trail portion of the greenway seems to have been removed until you take a close look. The trail was taken out of the Exhibits and the Land Use section of the Plan where the casual reader would expect to find it but it is still included in the Mobility section. So is it in the Plan or not? If it is not in the Plan, then why is it being studied in the Initial Study? Questions such as these abound.
Lest you think I am anti-trail, nothing could be further from the truth. What I am anti is a corridor which will be as wide as Foothill Boulevard once the trees are cut down. The Annex, and all of Hahamongna, is a rustic, peaceful place that should remain that way for future generations which is what the community has been saying for over 20 years. I've been accused of being against progress. If "progress" is bulldozing and asphalting over this little green corner of the world that has miraculously escaped it thus far, I'll admit to the charge gladly.
Enough on what has been quite an amazing process which will take much more than an email to document properly (a case study for a class on CEQA perhaps).
I would make one suggestion to those of you who love Hahamongna and have been involved at one time or another in the over 20 year fight to save it. Now is the time to get back in the game before the chainsaws and the bulldozers start firing up. When that happens, there will be howls of protest and disbelief but by then it will be way too late.
It's up to you!