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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The City Council Meeting Was...

...mixed.

The Council was divided on some things, although thankfully they all saw the wisdom of not building a soccer field in a lake.

The other Hahamongna soccer field, however, may still go forward even though not one single person advocated for it at the meeting.

I could write miles and miles of compelling arguments against building that other field (it's called Field #2 in the Hahamongna Watershed Park Master Plan). The City Council heard them all.

Because the meeting went on until after midnight, because I'm posting late, because I have to get up early, because I have a long day today, I won't write all those arguments here now. Bellis, Roberta (Pasadena Latina), Gina (Mendolonium) and Pasadena Adjacent were there last night and I hope they'll add to today's discussion. I hope you will, too.

31 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

Well, hooray for the first soccer field not going through! I'm sure your arguments against the other field were compelling, Petrea. Sleep well!

lewi14 said...

I wish your arguments will be taken seriously. I honour that you've attended this meeting and that you've argued for the lake's preservation.

Susan Campisi said...

I attended as well and left just before midnight. I was so inspired by all the eloquent and compelling arguments against building fields in Hahamongna.

Petrea and Gina, your statements were wise and beautiful. (Not sure if any other bloggers commented. Please let me know so I can pay tribute to them as well. Everyone who spoke deserves enormous credit.) It was also wonderful to hear the younger contingent from PCC comment against the fields, with the focus on sustainability and the educational and cultural value of Haha. And then it was astounding to hear responses from some council members go right back to procedural discussion, as if all of the public comments had fallen on deaf ears. I was heartened by some more enlightened responses from other council members. I plan to write to thank each of them. I felt like I was watching political theater play out right before my eyes, where the forces of good and evil battled each other.

I heard an exasperated woman behind me say we were going to have to wage a lawsuit against the city to stop them from building. It may be a last resort; many environmental groups are doing that now around the country - to stop oil drilling, to stop coal mining, etc. Odd to see this potentially playing out in our own backyards. I thought Pasadena was wiser than that.

Sorry to ramble on... I'm sleep-deprived and have Hahamongna on the brain.

One last thing, Petrea, I sat right behind you and was hoping to say hello after the meeting but left before the bitter end. Next time...

Petrea said...

Thanks for the cheerleading, Shell!

You too, Steffen, your support is most welcome.

Susan, I wish I'd known you were there! Can't believe our paths came so close and didn't cross. I felt the same way you did--that half the council just didn't hear two whole hours of public comment. The other half obviously listened closely.

I don't know about a lawsuit, but I heard rumblings, too. Better have all ducks in a row before heading down that road.

Kat said...

Thanks for the update: I couldn't go last night because of work and I've been dying to know what's going on. I'll be checking the other sites too to see what the upshot is. Thank you so much for being such an advocate!

Petrea said...

I took pages of notes until my pen ran out of ink.

J+P said...

Squeeze my demos 'til the truth runs down my leg …

I'd say, given your loose organization & lack of familiarity with your opponents, you came out pretty well. Has anybody contacted the local Sierra Club chapter, or other such beast, for guidance? They may have an ecological opinion on this dumkopfness.

Jessica said...

Thanks for giving us a quick update after sitting through a long meeting! I'll be checking back for more info later.

Bellis said...

Hi Susan, I was sitting next to Petrea, you were probably behind me! Thanks for your comments, because I'm still too tired to think clearly. Wish I'd spoken as well as there were some things nobody really mentioned, such as the destruction of so much habitat in this year's floods, when the river spread across the whole basin.

I was disappointed in some of the Councilmembers and their disinterested body language during the comments. And the comment from one member who said he had been there through so many changes to the Hahamongna plans in his 11 years on the Council that he just wanted to get on with what was decided in 2003 and 2007, worried me. This is how we lost the Ficus trees in the Playhouse district - they didn't want to change old decisions even though there was now more enlightened thinking about the environment.

I wondered if some of Councilmembers had read all the carefully drafted letters full of information that we sent, as they didn't say much about them. The petition wasn't mentioned either.

As for the remarks by several of the Council, that "we didn't know we'd put Field No 3 on top of a lake when we made the decision in 2003"- surely they should have known? Shouldn't they at least know the geography of places they have such power over? I've read the 2003 minutes (September 29) online and the Council were told then that a lake would have to be filled in.

At least we've saved the lake area, hurray! And my hope is that when an Environmental Impact Study is carried out for the other new sports field, it'll be decided that the 14 foot high pile of mud that will have to be constructed to raise the pitch above flood levels may well be washed away if the river changes its course again in an El Nino year.

I wish we had a chance to correct the Councilmenbers during the meeting, but the public gets to say it all at the start and then we have to sit silent while the members debate among themselves. It's frustrating, and it mires the City in expensive lawsuits when they make uninformed decisions.

Sorry I rabbited on - I feel so disappointed, even though the lake was saved.

Bellis said...

J+P, Don Bremner, who spoke against the plans, is one of the top people in the local Sierra Club and is also on the Hahamongna W. P. Advisory Committee.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Bellis, I didn't know that about Mr. Bremner.

Yes, we should emphasize the victory of getting the one field removed from the plan.

I've been working on a list of alternatives and will send that to the Council, staff and HWPAC this week as soon as I finalize it. If you have suggestions for possible fields, let me know. I've identified several and am seeking more south of the 210 freeway. I'm looking for unused, open spaces large enough for a soccer field. Some Council members think we don't have any but I beg to differ.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Susan, were you the one behind P, B, V and me doing the hooting?

taking notes with a caligraphy felt tip pen on my council agenda pass-out was a loosing battle so I was glad to see you and Bellis scribbling away.

I have a tenuous grasp on the issues so I have some questions that people in this forum might have answers to. I noticed (and it raised my alarm) that after the public spoke, Jacci Robinson slipped into conversation something about a educational facility. Yet that was not discussed alongside the parking lot, fields, bleachers etc. Is that a done deal? Also I caught a snippet having to do with the majority of HaHa advisory committee also being part of the Parks and Recreation Department. Did anybody catch that or is that a mistake on my part?

Lastly, why oh why does the council not have a pointer to use on the graphics shown via the overhead projector ?

Susan Campisi said...

Petrea, I know - we were so close! I almost tapped you on the shoulder but didn't want to distract from the speakers.

Hi Bellis, I was directly behind Petrea so I could've tapped your shoulder too! I reacted just as you did. Very disheartening to see the arrogant responses from some members of the council. I too wanted to ask questions and comment after the public comment period. Very frustrating that we couldn't.

PA, no, I was sitting behind you all but I wasn't hooting. That must've been the woman to my right, who left early, or several more behind me.

J+P said...

Could be a chat with Bremner, & similarly connected voters, would be useful. The council is a civic organization; others can form around this purpose, ad hoc as required.

Institutional intransigence is a common entrenching tool. In our greater number, we have even more at our disposal.

Susan Campisi said...

Petrea, I just noticed an empty lot at the corner of Fair Oaks and Walnut just south of the 210, across from the Parsons buildings. It's fenced and could already be slotted for development. It may be too small for fields but worth looking into.

Also, I frequently walk Tommy past Elliot Middle School in the evenings and the sports field is almost always empty. Plenty of weekend soccer games but I can't recall ever seeing one during weekday evenings.

Susan Campisi said...

PA, I too heard that the majority on the advisory committee was also on Parks&Recreation... blatant conflict of interest? Reminds me of the MMS getting paid by the oil industry for permits.

Sorry to be so verbose this morning... this issue has really fired me up.

Latino Heritage said...

So wonderful to hear so many speak out last night; from heartfelt to technical the comments were all addressing the questions that should be asked before a monumental effort is made to alter the site.
Some points that would benefit from a bit more review that were mentioned last night or on this blog. Had to do with the relationship of grants and demographics, the relationship of existing master plans and policies adopted (Master Plan and Green Initiative), and so on.
As far as conflict of interest, that's a good point to bring up. The line is fine but real between having folks that are involved that have knowledge of an area and folks that have knowledge and will directly, or indirectly, benefit from decisions that are made.
Don Bremner is my neighbor - known him for years - I'm sure he'd be more than willing to meet with folks.

Petrea said...

I'm glad that hooting woman left early. She was jeering and loud and made it hard to listen. People like her make the rest of us look bad.

I understand the conflict of interest issue, though I do think the HWPAC committee have Hahamongna's best interests at heart, at least this time around.

Keep talking, I'm working this morning and can't keep up right now.

Margaret said...

Hmmm. Must investigate further.

Gina said...

I am working on a post about the meeting...I came away from it feeling rather enlightened about our city council members and their respect (or lack thereof) for the public.

@ Susan and others, I used to do volunteer work for an elected official and they really do remember words of thanks. 99% of the correspondence they receive is negative or asking them for something so an email or message of thanks is definitely noticed. I encourage everyone to send thank-yous to the persons they felt were acting in good stead.

Pascal Jim said...

Watched this on my computer...was happily surprised to hear & see many new voices. Congratulations to all!

Susan writes about political theater, good vs. evil. In the 70's when we questioned the demolition of several blocks on Colorado for the first Pasadena Plaza, we met the same disinterest as shown by Council on Monday.
It was built despite disapproval of many many citizens. Mention to any old timer about the Pasadena Athletic Club....
I bailed out at 11:30, the elimination of the "field on the lake", was this agreed upon by the Council? Careful on this one...

One facet of this intrusion not mentioned was restrooms/locker rooms and allied services..

.Al Cohen chastised the council, he didn't say it, but my mind heard
..GET THE HELL OUT OF HAHAMONGA and I concur..

PascalJim...

Anonymous said...

"Me thinks thou dost protest too much." Now if this had been about gay marriage, abortion on demand, partial birth abortion, repealing DOMA, outlawing capital punishment, and every other left leaning issue you would have been first in line to give it your blessing. A place for youth to kick a soccer ball? NEVER.

Bellis said...

Anonymous, we're not against soccer fields - my son loved playing soccer, and it's a healthy sport in these days of childhood obesity. It's just that the City would be wasting money building a sports field in a place that will in all probability be washed away in an El Nino year. The field will extend into an area that flooded this very spring. There are safer places for sports fields, closer to where the kids actually live.

J+P said...

Okay, I got this one …

What are we to think of an anonymous commenter? Possibly that you're not interested in exchanging opinions, but merely criticizing? Could that be because you have your mind made up already?

If so, show some courage—nobody here bites. But first (so you don't embarrass yourself further), read what opponents of soccer fields in Hahamongna have said on the web—here, at other blogs, at the Pas Star-News, at SaveHahamongna.org, etc etc: our objection is not to soccer, but to fields. It's not a recreational but an ecological argument. 

If that confuses you, feel free to ask for clarification. Or spend your evening online, floating from blog to blog like a gnat, nipping and biting. But that seems so … lonely.

Havisham Patrizzi said...

I don't understand what happened.

The US Secretary of Interior visited LA on July 8. The feds want to help especially in saving natural watersheds. They talked to some of our local city council, I'm told. I feel betrayed.

Gina said...

Petrea,

Did you see that councilmember Haderlein called open-space advocates [us] "pigs" in today's Pasadena Star-News?

http://www.mendolo.com/2010/07/13/fighting-words-2/

Petrea said...

I don't mind anonymous comments as long as they're not malicious. I understand Anonymous may feel outnumbered. It's okay, I know the feeling.

The thing is, Anonymous, we have so many other places for soccer fields (I'm working up a list to send to the Council this week). And we only have one Watershed. And we're in a water shortage.

Thinking about those kids: HWP is difficult to access because public transportation doesn't go there. The other potential fields we have are in town, in neighborhoods, near public transportation, on fields that don't flood.

And also thinking about those kids: they're going to need water in the future, and they'll thank us to protect their supply.

Petrea said...

Please, everyone, read Gina's link. Fascinating, amazing, outrageous. http://www.mendolo.com/2010/07/13/fighting-words-2/

Havisham, that will be your assignment. Contact the office of the US Secretary of the Interior and follow up. I'll email you.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Did I miss a lot by having to leave after Holden spoke? Is there another forum to listen to the council discussion?

Petrea said...

The meeting will be rebroadcast on local access TV. Schedule is here.

Anonymous said...

Okay, one more thing -- What happens to the wildlife when the lake is filled in and paved over? Where will they go? Yes, the fish will be killed and the ducks will fly elsewhere, but what about the deer (do you have deer in that area?), mountain lions, coyotes and, yes, the snakes?

For years we've heard tales of bears invading homes searching for the elusive jelly sandwich and deer running through banks, but that was somewhere else, not in MY yard, so to speak.

So if the area is "developed," what happens in the HWS area when a hawk or coyote makes off with darling Fifi? From what I gather, most people are fine with wildlife until it moves into "their" neighborhood, never mind that we moved in and destroyed their homes and "livlihoods" just to have a paved parking lot that'll get washed away during a good rain.