Monday, March 29, 2010

No more sports fields in Hahamongna

Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about the proposed new sports fields in Hahamongna for the same reason given by one of the Hahamongna Advisory Committee members - it's the nose of the camel under the tent. The fields are incompatible with the natural park now (look how far out into the basin they will built!) but they could become even more so in the future.

How tempting will it be in the future to add lights for night play if the shortage of fields continues or grows worse? Then comes all the attendant noise, auto lights, and traffic - not to mention opening up the park to all kinds of uses (and misuses) after dark. And, if the park no longer closes at dusk, all the parking lots will require security lights and then what is to stop these parking lots from being used for supplemental parking for all kinds of non-park events, further degrading the natural area. Don't forget that exactly this was proposed in earlier versions of the Hahamongna Master Plan. What is now a dark and silent wildlife corridor out in the basin would be severely impacted.

Lest you think my domino theory is far-fetched, here's what the Hahamongna Master Plan Findings of Fact document stated: "The Hahamongna Watershed Park element would also include the expansion or rehabilitation of play fields in the Upper Arroyo Seco. The use of these fields would be expected to create a new source of light ..."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Annex Plan Staff Guidelines Approved!

At its March 8, 2010 meeting the Pasadena City Council approved the final version of the Guidelines for staff to use in implementing the Master Plan for the Hahamongna Annex. The Guidelines were drawn from the recommendations of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee and other City Commissions and were strongly supported by the community in attendance at the Council's February 1 meeting at which the Annex Plan was adopted.

At the February 1 meeting, the minutes reflect that the Council approved the Annex Plan and included "the advisory bodies' recommendations, as amended." At the March 8 meeting, however, the Guidelines were adopted separately, although the Council did clarify that the Guidelines were Plan "conditions of approval."

One of the most controversial aspect of the Plan was the proposed removal of 70 non-native trees. The Guidelines now state that every effort will be made to minimize tree removal in the Annex. The direction given to staff is reinforced within the language of the Plan itself which has been changed to state that "every effort shall be made to minimize native and non-native tree removal in the Annex. Any replacement trees required as a part of an Annex project should be of a native species. Any tree removals shall be done only on a per-project basis and only as Annex projects are funded and implemented."

The other very controversial aspect of the plan was the northern "corridor" which began life in the Annex conceptual plan as a 50 foot wide road/greenway to the JPL west parking lot. The Guidelines now specify that only a 10 foot wide (maximum) bikeway is to be built along the northern perimeter of the Annex and that it shall be designed in such a way that it "does not lend itself to becoming a road."

Two of the recommendations relate to developing a vision and mission as well as a management and operation plan for the future environmental education center. Staff recommendations will be presented to the Hahamongna Advisory Committee for review and comment.

Other recommendations may appear dry and technical but they are critically important to the future of Hahamongna and the Annex. These include studying the removal of the Planned Development zoning from a portion of the Annex, a study of including Hahamongna within the Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance, the review of Conditional Use Permits by the Hahamonga Advisory Committee, and a requirement for further project-level environmental review as projects are implemented on the Annex.

If you would like to read the Guidelines in their entirety, go to and click on March 8. The Guidelines are Item 10 on the Agenda. For more background information, click on the link for the Agenda Report. If you are a well-organized and dedicated Hahamongna fan, you might want to print a copy of the Guidelines and keep them in a safe place for future reference.