Wednesday, May 25, 2011

HWPAC May 24 Meeting report

The Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee had a full house and a full agenda at its May 24 meeting which began with an item concerning the temporary use of an Annex building by the Pasadena Fire Department. Fire Station 39 located on Avenue 64 was found to be structurally unsafe and the City closed it immediately. The Fire Department has requested the use of the Annex main administration building garage to store equipment and fixtures. The equipment will be out of service and not in use by fire personnel so there will be minimal impact upon the park. It is expected that the Fire Department will need the use of the space for about two years. Staff emphasized, however, that should work on the Environmental Education Center move forward, the Fire Department is aware they might need to find a new storage area.

As you may recall, the Forest Service, which was displaced because of the Station Fire, was also temporarily using a portion of the Annex. They have now moved out and will be returning to their own facilities.

Brad Boman, Pasadena Water & Power, gave an informative presentation concerning the department's extensive work in the Upper Arroyo necessitated by the massive sediment flows out of the mountains. He stated that the major maintenance activities have now been completed. The next steps are to hire a consultant to upgrade/replace the water intake structure, to renew the Fish and Game permit, and to integrate the JPL east parking lot into the water spreading operations. (There were several inquiries as to when JPL will be leaving the east lot. The city does not have this information yet but expects to shortly.)

The presentation on grants, both pending and recently denied, elicited the most comments from both the Committee and the public. Rosa Laveaga reported that the city just narrowly missed approval for a Nature Education Facilities grant awarded by the California Natural Resources Agency, a real disappointment considering the long delay in the implementation of the Environmental Education Center. The grant for the Pasadena Equestrian Center was also rejected as were two grant applications for the restoration of Berkshire Creek. in 2010 and 2011 only two grants were awarded which have Hahamongna components, a trail restoration grant for the Eastside Neighborhood & JPL (Altadena) Connector Trail and a $100,000 habitat restoration grant. Things are not looking so good on the grant front. Money is scarce, competition fierce, and the city staff much reduced.

Staff gave a report on the agreements with the Annex tenants, Rose Bowl Riders, Tom Sawyer Camps, and Mach 1. The process is very time consuming since it involved multiple city departments including Public Works, Planning, Human Services and Recreation, the City Attorney's Office, and the Real Property Division in the City Manager's Office. The first step is the application for a multi-tenant Conditional Use Permit. Public Works will be the lead department in moving the process forward. No funding has been identified for the projects.

Another item on the agenda concerned the LA County Post Station Fire Sediment Removal Project but there was no one from the County there to give a presentation. Committee members and the public were urged to attend the County's meeting on Thursday, May 26, 6:00 pm at La Canada High School at which the various sediment haul routes will be presented.

Last but not least, staff provided the Committee with an update on the Hahamongna Basin Multi-Use Project, one of the Greater Los Angeles County Integrated Regional Water Management Plan projects to be funded by Prop 84 funds and administered by the Arroyo Seco Foundation. There were a number of errors in the grant application which staff is correcting. The completion date of the CEQA process was listed as June 2011 which has now been corrected to an estimated completion date of February 2012. The number of acres of open space created by the sediment moving has been corrected to 15 acres not the 23 acres originally stated. The update also makes clear that, although IRWMP funds will not be used to build the controversial sports field and expanded parking lot, the funds to do so will provide the matching funds which will allow the IRWMP projects to proceed. In non-bureaucratese, you can't have one without the other.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Advisory Committee will be Tuesday, July 26, 2011.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More on Devil's Gate Interim Sediment Removal Plan

At its April 26 meeting the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee received an update from Los Angeles County Flood Control concerning the interim measures to be taken to clean out sediment in Hahamongna behind Devil's Gate Dam. The most important update was a clarification of the haul routes to be used to remove the sediment.

According to the presentation, 25,000 cubic yards of sediment will be removed from the area immediately behind the dam. The work will proceed on an emergency basis under a CEQA exemption which will require that no further environmental work will have to be done.

Preparatory work began March 31, 2011. Actual sediment removal is anticipated to take 16 to 20 days with the removal of 1600 cubic yards of dirt per day. Clean out is scheduled to begin June 17 and to continue until August 15, 2011. Other measures to improve dam safety are scheduled to be completed between August 15 and October 15, 2011. These include heightening the sluice gate, replacing the damaged ladder system, installing a new catwalk and log booms, and modifying the Altadena West Storm Drain.

The County anticipates having to do a similar clean out effort each year until the environmental impact report for the final sediment removal project is completed.

The haul route as illustrated in the presentation will go north along an access road on the east side of the park to just below the east JPL parking lot where the trucks will turn south and go down Windsor Avenue to the 210 Freeway. The bulk of the sediment, over 90%, will then be trucked east to pits in Irwindale. The organic material comprising the rest of the sediment will be taken via the 210 Freeway to Scholl Canyon landfill in Glendale.

There were a number of questions concerning why the County had chosen the haul route which would cause the most neighborhood disruption as well as the most environmental impact within the park. The Committee and the public both asked about other alternatives. One mentioned was the road at the southwest corner of the park which has been used for prior debris clean outs. Another was the possibility of exiting the park from the southeast in a way which would not impact the neighborhood. The County assured the Committee that this alternatives had been considered.

The Advisory Committee passed a motion to request the Pasadena City Council to examine the County's transportation plan to identify areas to be impacted, to ask the County to consider alternative routes which would reduce environmental impacts, and to notify areas to be impacted.

If you would like to read County Flood Control's presentation, it can be found at Interim Measures 200110426.pdf

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hahamongna sediment removal report to City Council

At their April 11 meeting the Pasadena City Council heard a presentation by Steve Sheridan of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works concerning the County's plans for sediment removal behind Devil's Gate Dam in Hahamongna Watershed Park.

County Public Works is working with a consultant to prepare an Environmental Impact Report as directed by the Board of Supervisors to study the effects of removing the massive amounts of sediment which have washed into the basin as the result of the Station Fire. As yet no schedule has been set up for outreach meetings. When the schedule is set up, the City and the public will be notified.

The bulk of Mr. Sheridan's presentation, however, focused upon the measures which the County will take while the EIR is being prepared to protect the integrity and continued operation of the dam and to insure flood protection to downstream communities. Chief among these measures is the removal of 25,000 cubic yards of sediment from along the face of the dam. This excavation will be within 100 feet of the dam and no vegetation will be removed. The work is expected to begin in June or July of this year, depending upon how quickly the basin dries out, and to last about one month. Mr. Sheridan in his presentation stated that there would be 250 truck trips per day. The report to the Board of Supervisors (link given below) estimates 150 to 200 truck trips per day, however.

To remove the sediment from the basin, the access road along the east side of the dam will be re-established. The haul route will be along this road to just below the JPL east parking lot, then on to Windsor Avenue to the freeway and ultimately to Scholl landfill. According to Mr. Sheridan, at present no alternate site has been identified so that the sediment would not have to be deposited in the Scholl landfill. Other interim operational measures include extending the height of the existing sluice gate trash rack, replacing part of the damaged ladder system on the face of the dam, replacing the existing wooden boom logs, installing a new catwalk around the spillway ports, and modifying the Altadena West Storm Drain to allow discharge in the event the outlet becomes blocked by sediment.

The County is also working on two emergency plans to be in place until the reservoir cleanout is complete. The first will notify agencies and residents in response to potential flooding due to high debris flows. The second will be used to notify agencies in response to a dam safety emergency.

To read a copy of the Board report, go to

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Report on recent Hahamongna Advisory meeting

The following is a report on two items of interest which were discussed at the March 22 meeting of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee.

The first was the Hahamongna Basin Multi-use Project, a cooperative effort between the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, the City of Pasadena, and the Arroyo Seco Foundation. The project is one of 13 Greater Los Angeles Integrated Regional Water Management Plan projects submitted to the CA Department of Water Resources for possible Proposition 84 funding. Should funds be awarded, the grantee would be Los Angeles County Flood Control which would complete a Memo of Understanding (MOU) with the Arroyo Seco Foundation. The initial amount requested is $4,341,281 and the total project cost is estimated to be over $7 million.

According to the grant application, this project "will increase water supply, improve water quality, and improve ecosystem health..." Some of the project components include the removal of 250,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment from the Hahamongna Basin and the use of this sediment to create 23 acres of open space outside the flood zone at the northern end of which the existing parking lot will be expanded south to accommodate 200 vehicles. Adjacent to the parking lot, the compacted fill will create a 4-acre level field to accommodate a future 2.4 acre multi-purpose field. (This sediment removal project is not the Los Angeles County Flood Control Post Station Fire Sediment Removal Project but rather an additional project to be completed after the County's project.)

Other project components in the Basin include raising the base elevation of the SCE power poles, restoring habitat, raising 3000 linear feet of the Perimeter Trail out of the area of frequent inundation, restoring Berkshire Creek, and widening an existing park road to allow for two way traffic.

Up in the Arroyo Seco Canyon, project components include replacing the intake dam with an inflatable dam, fish screens, habitat restoration, trail enhancements and the installation of a public restroom.

The staff presentation at the meeting emphasized that certain of the above components of the Hahamongna Basin Multi-use Project, such as the sediment removal to create the sports field and enlarged parking lot, would not be paid for by Prop 84 IRWMP funds. These projects such as the Sycamore Grove field and the Berkshire Creek restoration were identified as "Multi-benefit Projects." When questioned, staff stated that other funding sources for these projects had not yet been identified.

There followed a long and confusing discussion concerning future environmental documentation, the first of which was to be completed in June 2011 according to the grant application. Pasadena staff assured both Committee members and the public that this date was incorrect. There will be environmental impact reports done for the IRWMP-funded portion of the project, for the portion staff referred to as the "Multi-benefit Projects," and for the County Flood Control Post Station Fire Sediment Removal Project. How these environmental impact reports will be coordinated is unclear. Stay tuned for how to get involved when more information on this is made available.

If you are interested in learning more, take a look at the Prop 84 Implementation Grant Application which is available online. The work plan for the Hahamongna Basin Multi-use Plan is in Attachment 3. Work Plan 1 of 5. The link is

Staff also gave an update on the JPL east parking lot, all but 200 spaces of which is to become spreading basins. JPL is planning to move ahead with a $22 million parking structure on their own property. When this is built, the lab will no longer need the east lot parking in Hahamongna. Funding has not yet been approved by Congress, however.

The Advisory Committee passed a motion to recommend to the City Council that the Council urge JPL to plan its onsite parking garage so that the lab can also vacate the 214 space parking lot on the west side of Hahamongna (the lot immediately adjacent to the JPL campus). You may recall that the west side parking lot is the so-called "temporary" parking lot which was carved out of park open space in 1986 and which has always been slated to return to open space. The motion passed unanimously/

The next Hahamongna meeting will be held May 24, 2011. The March agenda item concerning the HWP Annex and Environmental Education Center Planning was held over until this meeting.