Friday, August 17, 2012

Beating a Live Horse

August 23rd marks the end of the period for public comment on the scope of the Environmental Impact Report on the Initial Study for the Multi-Benefit/Multi-Use Project at Hahamongna Watershed Park.

That's doublespeak for:

Pasadena proposes to build an athletic field at Hahamongna, which is currently mostly open space. The name of the proposed field is the Sycamore Grove athletic field. I'm not sure why, maybe because sycamore trees will be razed to build it, along with cottonwoods and willows.

The city also proposes "creek restoration" and "trail restoration." Some bad stuff and some potentially good stuff. They've bundled these things into one project with a confusing name.

It's easy to register your comments, and you don't have to be from Pasadena to do so. Here's the City's link to get you started. Also, the Arroyo Seco Foundation has provided you with a toolkit. At the most recent Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee meeting, Loren Pluth of the city staff said comments will be accepted until the close of business on thae 23rd.

Please send your comments regarding the scope of the EIR to:
Rosa Laveaga, City of Pasadena, Department of Public Works,
Phone: (626) 744-4321
Mailing Address: City of Pasadena, Department of Public Works, Attn: Engineering Division, 100 N. Garfield Avenue, Pasadena, CA, 91101

Check out YouTube sensation Tim Martinez and his tour of the proposed site for the athletic field (shot by Jonathan of the Arroyo Seco Foundation).

To help get you started, here are the comments I submitted yesterday:

Dear Ms. Laveaga,
Herein are my comments on the Initial Study of the Multi-Benefit Multi-Use project for Hahamongna Watershed Park.

The description of the project is vague. Under the circumstances, it's difficult to make direct comments.

As a frequent Hahamongna user, I notice the athletic field that is already there is rarely used.
Why are we building a second field there when the first one gets so little use?
Are there records on the use of the first field?
If so, where can I see the records?
If not, how do we justify a second field at that location?

Because the athletic field is to be built in a flood plain, sooner or later all or part of the field will be affected by heavy rains. One possible result is that the field will be flooded and/or washed into the dam.
Does Pasadena have the funds to repair the field during flood years?
Does Pasadena have the funds to clean the remains of the field from the dam during flood years?

Another possibility is that the field will withstand heavy rains, and flood waters will back up north of the raised field. In a low rainfall year, this wouldn't be a problem. In a high rainfall year, this could affect Tom Sawyer Camp, Rose Bowl Riders, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.
Is Pasadena prepared to repair those potential damages and/or respond to potential lawsuits?
Has the regularity and severity of flooding in Hahamongna been studied? Over how many years?
Where can I see the results of that study?

It seems we are destroying habitat only to "restore" it.
How are you defining "habitat?"
How are you defining "restore?"

Water shortages continue around the United States. The Colorado River is no longer a source for the Metropolitan Water District. Pasadena's watershed feeds the Raymond Basin. Building anything at all in our watershed, at this time in history, is, at best, idiocy, especially something that pollutes with pesticides, oils, gasoline runoff, asphalt, etc.
Can you guarantee 0% pollution of the Raymond Basin, a San Gabriel Valley water resource?

California's governor is proposing a $23.7 billion pipeline to transport water in California, while Pasadena proposes to destroy its own potentially lucrative water resource. Once we've done that, we will have to spend taxpayer money on water we would have already had if we hadn't ruined the watershed with construction, pesticides, gasoline runoff, trash, etc.
Is Pasadena prepared to pay more for water?
What water resources will Pasadena have when the Raymond Basin becomes polluted?
Now that the Colorado River is no longer a source, where will Pasadena get its water?
Can the Metropolitan Water District guarantee enough water to Pasadena in future decades, when we won't have use of our own watershed and/or the Raymond Basin?
Have the above questions been studied?
Where can I see the results of the study?

The Initial Study says there will be no impact on wildlife. I have seen a mountain lion within yards of where the proposed athletic field is to be built, not to mention rabbits, deer, squirrels, snakes, and toads.
How have the project's effects on each of these particular creatures been studied?
How are you defining "wildlife?"
How are you defining "impact?"
Have these potential effects been documented, per creature? Where can I see the documents?

Additional auto and foot traffic can't help but impact wildlife. Not to mention lights, which the city says it will not include but which the grant requires.
How does the city reconcile the fact that it does not allow lights in Hahamongna but the grant requires the field be lit until 7pm?

Rare black willow and cottonwood are rebounding in the Hahamongna basin.
How many of these rare trees will be impacted?
Will they be part of the restoration?

The federally listed endangered bird, the Bell's Vireo, has now been documented in the exact area where the athletic field is planned.
What are Pasadena's plans to protect this federally listed endangered bird?
Has this been studied?
Where can I see the study results?

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Petrea Burchard Sandel


Virginia said...

Atta girl!!! Great letter. I hope on my next visit you will take me there and it will still be wild and wonderful as is your photo today.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you, Virginia! I would love that.

Bellis said...

Thanks for reminding me to write my letter. I've heard unofficially that the sports field won't be used during the week if there's no lighting, as it'll be dark during after-school hours in the soccer season. Seems to me that an awful lot of money will be spent (wasted?) on re-engineering the site for a field that's only going to be used at the weekend. There's got to be a better place to site this new soccer field.

Latino Heritage said...

Thanks for this. I hope that everyone that writes a letter makes a point of sending a copy to all of the members of the Pasadena City Council. Seeing how the council responded to those who are involved with the 710 extension discussion is a great lesson for all of us.

dive said...

Great stuff, Petrea! Love Tim's video and I sincerely hope the members of Pasadena's Public Works Department take his challenge and tour the beautiful unspoilt habitat, then go back and rip up their dumb proposal.
Bellis makes a great point.
And as an Englishman I can add that the best place to put a soccer field is somewhere in Brazil; it's a stupid game and they're the only people who can play it properly.
Good luck with the fight!

Petrea Burchard said...

Yes, Bellis, I have nothing against soccer fields, but we can find a better place for this one.

LH, great idea! I'll send my letter to each member of the city council. Their email addresses can be found by going here
and clicking on "mayor, council and commissions.
The council and citizens seem to be in agreement on the 710 extension. We haven't found such unanimity on this issue, although some council members are with us.

Thanks, Dive. Feel free to write to our City Council and let you know you're watching their actions from the UK.

Trish said...

I applaud your letter and concerns! Go Petrea, go Petrea, go Petrea!

I have played soccer on fields all over SG Valley. Ditto for softball. I've hiked the Gabrielino Trail a number of times and hiked plenty of other trails across the valley.

This project makes about as much sense as PCC tearing out fields to put in parking structures, to then put back a field and later a parking area. Or, that was the plan.

Someone, somewhere, has a bug up their tush that another soccer field is a good idea. While I agree that organized athletics is great for kids, so is a good hike in a relatively flat and safe area. Yes, people other than soccer players could walk around a field when it is not in use. However, the issues you bring up Petrea, such as flooding (I've lost count at how many times that area has flooded as long as I've been alive) and litigation, are something I DON'T think anyone has addressed.


Susan Campisi said...

Excellent letter. I'm going to work on mine in the coming days and send it to City Council members, too. Dive made me laugh, which is a breath of fresh air. Seems to be such somber news these days.

Petrea Burchard said...

All good points, Trish. Thank you!!

Yeah, Susan, we're all so serious lately!

By the way, it looks like the City Council and the people of Pasadena are united against the 710 freeway extension, and I find that heartening.

I emailed every member of the City Council today about the Hahamongna issue, just a copy of what I printed here. They are busy people, yet I've already heard back from two of them and they were not form responses.

Bellis said...

Hmmmm..... my council member never acknowledged my email written a month ago. Though it had taken me ages to research and write, I feel it just dropped into a black hole. Let's name and congratulate the ones that email back.

Ms M said...

Excellent letter with good questions. I hope someone in power listens to what all of you are saying, then takes action to stop this.

Petrea Burchard said...

Bellis, I suggest you send it to the other council members as well. Don't let all your work go to waste.

I like your idea of mentioning those who've responded. With a caveat: just because someone hasn't responded yet doesn't mean they're a bad council person. This is August, people are on vacation, the 710 issue faces us (we'll talk about that next week and/or you can check out the roiling discussion at Pasadena Adjacent,, etc.

The first person to get back to me was Jacque Robinson from District 1. Soon afterward, Vice Mayor Margaret McAustin of District 2 responded to my email. I asked them both to consider my comments and both said they would.

Don't forget to write to the Mayor, too! He has a vote.

Petrea Burchard said...

Ms. M, I hope so, too. The Arroyo is constantly threatened (now with a freeway extension, too!) and, as it's one of the things that makes Pasadena so special, I think we have to protect it or we're just living in another plain ol' crappy suburb.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

"I've walked that site and they're doesn't seem to be a material change in topography..." - Steve Madison you are nuts.

Maybe nuts until now. I hope so.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

not they're, just "there." UGH!

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

Brilliant post! I love it.

Petrea Burchard said...

What did he mean? That the 2010 flood didn't change it? Or that the athletic field wouldn't change it? Any idea?

TheChieftess said...

CHARGE!!!! You go girl!!! I have a vision of you on your white stallion with a lance ready to charge any political intruders on your wilderness!!!

PS...I think your point about the original field hardly being used is an important point to expand on...

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Chieftess. I think we need to see some statistics on that field. I see folks hanging out there from time to time, but I've never, ever seen organized team play on that field (and I'm over there quite a bit) so it's hard for me to imagine why we need another one right next to it.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

re 710 - go to my blog and check out the update on the post. My instincts were onto something with the smoking gun - then go into The comments (my last comment tells you where to look) that lied or are really lacking in all areas since they seem to fail everywhere they go.

In "the editor" responds to Susan Campisi - it's the letter I sent - check out that link . Much shorter with help from Petrizzi and Kelly "nefarious" I'm dropping that word everywhere. Plus the Harrison's - just saw a piece of theirs at MOCA as well as Nevada Museum of Art- they did the lower Arroyo.

Bellis said...

Watching Dianne's U-tube link from that fateful day at City Hall when we got the lake saved from being filled in for a soccer pitch, I think I would have agreed with Madison, because I, too, thought the new field would occupy just the area that was already a degraded flat piece of land used for overflow parking. It was a shock to find that the flat area is going to be extended way into the river bed, to accommodate the westside perimeter trail, the rerouted disc golf tees, the car park and picnic area, and a border of sycamore trees and native plants. I wonder if the Council is now aware of this?

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks for all this, PA. The post on your blog about the 710 is a super resource. Again, that's

I hope the Council is aware, Bellis. I assume they are. Although I was surprised they didn't know about the lake. It's possible that Staff hasn't educated them about this, as they hadn't done about the lake.

Petrea Burchard said...

I've just heard from Noreen Sullivan, field representative for Council member Gene Masuda. She has received my comments and shared them with Mr. Masuda. She also thanked me and asked me to let her know if she could be of further assistance.

So that's three responses.

That's not to say that those who haven't responded will not read what I sent. Just sayin'.