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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Alhambra.City.HallThe Alhambra City Council will consider the final City of Alhambra General Plan at its August 12 meeting. We encourage all Alhambrans to attend and show their support for strong historic preservation goals and policies.

Named Vision 2040 – A Community Mosaic, Alhambra’s General Plan describes the vision for Alhambra over the next 20 years. It addresses issues related to land use & community design, mobility, quality of life, resources, infrastructure & services, and health & safety.

Included in the Resources segment of the General Plan are goals and policies related to the development of a historic preservation program. “Since the first General Plan community meetings, Alhambra Preservation Group has advocated for strong historic preservation goals,” said Oscar Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group Founder and President. “While the General Plan does include the goal of considering the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance and the development of a Mills Act Program, it specifically omits the goals of conducting a citywide inventory of historic resources and the establishment of an independent cultural resources commission. That needs to change. These are vitally important historic preservation elements that need to be included,” continued Amaro.

We encourage you to attend this meeting and show your support for strong historic preservation policies during the public comment period.  First, here are the specifics regarding the City Council meeting:

Monday, August 12 2019

7:00 p.m.

Alhambra City Hall/Council Chambers, 111 S. 1st St., Alhambra, CA

If you choose to address the City Council, may we suggest the following speaking points as they relate to historic preservation elements in the General Plan:

  • State your support for the historic preservation elements that are currently in the General Plan and which include considering the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance, considering the development of an incentives program (e.g. the Mills Act), and exploring private and public grant funding opportunities.
  • Thank the Planning Commission for their robust discussion and consideration of historic preservation elements and their decision to revise the priority of the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance from “medium” to “high”.
  • Ask City Council members to amend the General Plan to add two vitally important historic preservation elements: 1) consider the formation of an independent cultural resources commission and (2) consider conducting a citywide inventory of historic resources into the General Plan’s list of implementation action items.
  • Remind City Council that the establishment of an independent cultural resources commission and a citywide historic resources inventory are integral to developing a strong historic preservation program in Alhambra.

Remember, if you decide to speak at the meeting, you must fill out a blue speaker card and give it to City staff behind the dais before the item is considered.

Alhambra Preservation Group greatly appreciates your ongoing support and we hope to see you on August 12!

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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DSC_0767Throughout the United States, cities both big and small have conducted historic resources inventories to better understand the properties within their communities that are historically, culturally and architecturally significant.

Here in Alhambra, we have never conducted a citywide inventory of historic resources. A partial survey was conducted in 1984 and an unofficial windshield survey was conducted by Alhambra Preservation Group a few years ago, but an inventory of Alhambra’s many historic homes, businesses, schools and churches has never been completed.

Many ask why a citywide historic resources survey is necessary here in Alhambra? Here are five reasons why our city needs to conduct a survey and why Alhambra Preservation Group will continue to advocate for a citywide inventory of Alhambra historic resources:

Identify and Understand – A citywide inventory allows for the identification and understanding of properties that are historically, culturally and architecturally significant and assists the community to make informed policy decisions about these properties.

We Love Alhambra! – A citywide survey will stimulate public awareness, encourages civic engagement and community pride about historic resources. It could lead to walking tours and increased architectural-tourism dollars here in Alhambra and the San Gabriel Valley.

Is it Worth Saving? – A survey would identify properties worth protecting and preserving as well as those with limited or no historical significance where redevelopment can easily take place.

More Efficient Government – An inventory of historic resources expedites environmental review by governmental agencies and provides a basis for preservation and planning at all levels of government.

Tax Savings for Property Owners – It could lead to further designation of historic properties such as recognition as a National Register of Historic Places property, a state-designated historic place or a local landmark. These designations can sometimes lead to property owners being eligible for state and federal property tax reductions.

It’s time that Alhambra conduct a citywide inventory of its historic resources! You can help by talking to elected officials about the importance of a citywide historic resources inventory. It’s time we put Alhambra on the map!

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St.Simon.&.Jude.Chapel.2.17.19As 2019 begins, Alhambra Preservation Group has several key items on its advocacy and action agenda:

City of Alhambra General Plan – The City of Alhambra released the final General Plan on January 10, 2019. APG reviewed the final General Plan along with the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and immediately noticed that three key implementation action items related to historic preservation measures that had been originally included in the General Plan’s draft EIR had been deleted from the final EIR. APG representatives attended the first public hearing at the Planning Commission and President and Founder Oscar Amaro addressed these deleted implementation action items to the Planning Commission. APG also submitted a letter to Alhambra City Council Members and Planning Commission Members outlining the deletion of these key implementation action items and demanding that these three key items be restored to the final EIR as well as the final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items. For more information, the letter APG submitted to the City of Alhambra may be viewed here.

At a January city council meeting, Council member Katherine Lee stated that the number of Alhambrans surveyed for the General Plan was insufficient and proposed that more Alhambra residents be surveyed. City Council supported this proposal. Additional surveying efforts are taking place now with the Planning Commission set to consider the final General Plan on May 6 and May 20, 2019.

Reginald Davis Johnson’s St. Simon and Jude Chapel – Demolition of the former Kensington Senior Home structures surrounding the historic St. Simon and Jude Chapel designed began in early January. APG is monitoring the proposed Camellia Court construction site and wrote a letter to the City of Alhambra Development Services inquiring as to what protective measures were being taken to ensure that this historic chapel is saved. APG received correspondence back from Marc Castagnola as well as the construction supervisor assuring us that protective measures are in place. Above is a photo of the fencing surrounding the chapel. APG will continue to monitor the situation as demolition and construction progresses.

Meeting New City Council Members – Last November, Alhambra elected three new city council members – Adele Andrade-Stadler, Katherine Lee and Ross Maza. The APG Board of Directors is meeting with each of the newly elected city council members to educate them on APG, our organization’s mission and Alhambra’s need for a comprehensive historic preservation program. In light of the release of the final General Plan last month, we are also communicating to them that key implementation action items related to historic preservation measures were deleted from the final EIR and asking that they be restored to the final EIR and final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items.

403 South Garfield Avenue – We continue to monitor the Queen Anne Victorian home at 403 South Garfield Avenue. In January, APG representatives met with the owner of the property to discuss future possibilities for the property. We were encouraged to learn that the property owner recognizes the historic nature of the home and is open to a solution that preserves it. We will continue to keep in contact with the owner and continue working towards a solution that saves this local landmark.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Lindaraxa Park Pillars Ribbon CuttingThe call came in early one morning in 2016 – one of the Lindaraxa Park pillars had been hit and destroyed by a drunk driver. Lindaraxa Park residents were concerned and worried. What was going to happen to the other pillar? Would the City restore them? Would both pillars be torn down?

Lindaraxa.Park.Ad.1912Lindaraxa Park residents and Alhambra Preservation Group representatives got to work – meeting with City of Alhambra representatives about restoring the pillars and combing through back issues of the Alhambra Advocate to try and find photos of the pillars. “We spent many hours at the library going through turn-of-the-20th-century issues of the old Alhambra Advocate newspaper,” said Joyce Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group President. “While we never did find a photo of the current-day pillars, we found many advertisements – some of them full-page ads – for ‘Court Lindaraja.’ It was breathtaking to see what developers originally had in mind for this neighborhood.”

While APG representatives researched the original pillars, the City of Alhambra secured an architect and contractor to restore the destroyed pillar and retrofit and rebuild the one remaining. The bricks from the destroyed pillar were saved and used to build a new one that included wood beams. The result is the restoration of both pillars that create a walking entrance for Lindaraxa Park on the north side of Lindaraxa Park Drive, at the intersection of Granada Avenue. Residents believe that there was at least one other pair of identical pillars on the west side of Lindaraxa Park. Unfortunately, they no longer exist. Lindaraxa Park residents are hoping to raise the needed funds and work with the City of Alhambra to restore all of Lindaraxa Park’s original entrance pillars.

And so it was on a rainy afternoon in late March that the City of Alhambra hosted a ribbon cutting for the newly restored pillars. Lindaraxa Park residents, council members and city staff were on hand to celebrate between rain showers. “We applaud the City’s decision to restore Lindaraxa’s pillars as they are an important historical characteristic of the Lindaraxa Park neighborhood,” continued Joyce Amaro. “The fact that the City of Alhambra was willing to allocate funds for the pillars’ restoration is an indication that the City’s views towards the importance of preserving Alhambra are changing.”

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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CA.Pres.Found.Conf.Joyce&BarbaraBy Joyce Amaro

Spring has sprung! We’ve all been enjoying the “superbloom”, gentle showers and warmer weather that spring always brings. Here at APG, we’ve also been springing into action to move Alhambra closer to the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance. Here’s a summary of just a few of the activities we’ve been busy with since the beginning of the new year.

At the end of February, I attended a Mills Act Workshop hosted by Pasadena Heritage. This was a good opportunity to learn more about the Mills Act and how owners of historic homes may one day be able to benefit from it here in Alhambra. You can learn more about the Mills Act here.

As many of you are aware, the City of Alhambra heard an appeal of the Lowe’s Development on Fremont on February 27. APG Board Members were in attendance and several spoke at the City Council meeting. The latest information on the Lowe’s Development project can be found here.

In March, I met with City of Alhambra City Manager Mark Yokoyama and Development Services Director Tonya Pace to discuss the status of the adoption of a preservation ordinance in Alhambra and next steps.  Both stated that the adoption of a preservation ordinance as well as the adoption of a Mills Act Program in Alhambra would be addressed in the upcoming release of the City’s General Plan. As you may remember, APG members participated in the 2015 General Plan Survey as well as the community meetings, providing vital input to the City of Alhambra on the need for a historic preservation ordinance. After this meeting with the City of Alhambra, I am more hopeful than ever that APG’s hard work is about to pay off and that we will see goals related to both of a preservation ordinance and the Mills Act included in Alhambra’s draft General Plan. We are still awaiting the release of the draft General Plan. We will let all of you know as soon as we hear more from the City of Alhambra.

Recently, I was asked to serve on Alhambra’s Source’s Community Advisory Board.  I am honored to serve on this advisory board as this vital community resource takes steps towards becoming a non-profit organization.  In mid-April, I met with the Alhambra Source’s editor Phoenix Tso to discuss an article the Alhambra Source plans on writing about Alhambra’s need for a preservation ordinance. I’ll be sure to send it your way once it’s written.

On May 12, Barbara Beckley and I were honored to present “Putting Alhambra on the Map” at the California Preservation Foundation’s annual conference “Preservation at the Forefront” in Pasadena. You may remember the Google map APG created last spring, which maps out Alhambra’s historic homes, businesses, churches and schools. Barbara and I presented information on how the map was created as well as APG’s current and future plans for the map. Have you checked out APG’s Alhambra Historic Resources map lately? We’re in the process of adding photos of historic homes to the map. If you know of a home you would like to include, please send it my way at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

Lastly, be sure and put June 29 on your calendar! APG will be hosting an early summer evening event “Coffee with a Council Member” on Thursday, June 29, 2017. More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, but you don’t want to miss this opportunity to meet Alhambra’s two new council members, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia. This is your chance to spend some time with them and ask them about issues facing your neighborhood and our city.

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Here is a listing of the tasks that APG’s Advocacy and Action Committee has been working on over the last few months:

 

Lowes Development on Fremont Avenue

On January 17, together with other local community groups, several APG board members attended the Planning Commission’s hearing on Alhambra Court Commercial development project on Fremont Avenue, which includes the building of a Lowes, two six-story office buildings for 2,600 employees, and a one six-story parking garage that includes 1,400 parking spots. Alhambra’s council chambers were full and the public provided public testimony for more than two hours, sharing their concerns about the lack of thorough analysis and the presence of inadequate reporting in the City’s Mitigated Negative Impact Report. The City of Alhambra estimates that customers will generate 4,000 – 8,000+ car trips to Lowes daily; however, that estimate is based on a rural Lowes in Poway, CA.

Alhambra’s Planning Commission voted 6-2 to approve the project on the condition that the project divert cars away from the Emery Park neighborhood on to Fremont Avenue and Mission Road, by blocking off the planned entrances on Meridian Avenue. Neither the effects of that decision nor the impact of the total estimated number of cars on Fremont Avenue were discussed before the Planning Commission voted. An appeal of the decision was filed by Alhambra residents, and the project will now go to Alhambra’s City Council for a decision. You can learn more about the project here.

CEQA Training

On January 23, APG board members and community group leaders attended a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) workshop hosted by Dr. Tom Williams, Senior Technical Advisor for Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community and advisor to El Sereno Historical Society. At this evening workshop, Dr. Williams explained the state law, the required CEQA process that the City of Alhambra must follow as the “Lead Agency” in developments and the actions residents and non-governmental organizations can take to require a full Environmental Impact Report for development projects.

Meeting with Alhambra Officials

In December Alhambra Preservation Group President Joyce Amaro met with the newly elected Alhambra City Councilmember, Jeff Maloney. They discussed both short term and long-term preservation goals including the need to update the 1984 Historic Resources Survey and the inclusion of a Preservation Element in the upcoming updated Alhambra General Plan as two significant first steps towards that goal.

City of Alhambra General Plan

We are still awaiting the release of the City of Alhambra General Plan. You can keep up with the City’s progress here.

403 South Garfield Avenue

The “For Sale” sign is no longer in front of the Victorian home located at 403 South Garfield Avenue, and it seems that the current owners are working inside. We’ll continue monitoring this home.

1237 East Main Street

Sadly, the Mid-Century Modern medical building located at 1237 East Main Street was demolished in late January. The razing of this building is the perfect argument for why a comprehensive citywide survey needs to be completed. This building was identified in the 1984 Alhambra Historic Resources Survey as a site that should be evaluated for historic significance in a future survey; however, the City of Alhambra never conducted a second historic resources survey. If a subsequent survey had been completed, this building may have been identified as historically significant and could have been saved.

Alhambra Preservation Group is a 100% volunteer-driven organization, and we rely on each other to advance APG’s mission in Alhambra. We need everyone to advocate for the preservation of Alhambra’s historic homes, schools, churches and businesses.

The next meeting of the APG Advocacy and Action Committee will take place on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. If you are interested in learning more about APG and its Advocacy and Action Committee, please contact info@alhambrapreservation.org or call (626) 755-3467.

The Advocacy and Action Committee has a new webpage on the APG website. Check it out!

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by M. Michelson, APG Board of Directors

Thanks to one of our vigilant members who apprised us of the gigantic “For Sale” sign posted at 403 South Garfield Avenue, Alhambra Preservation Group’s Advocacy & Action Committee has been involved in researching the impressive and unique, multi-story triplex on the corner of South Garfield Avenue and West Beacon Street, two blocks south of Alhambra’s main post office. Together with its three adjacent parcels, this property is being sold for likely commercial development.

image-7The 1920 U.S. Census shows that 403 S. Garfield was originally used as multi-family housing. According to an early 20th Century Alhambra directory, two families lived in what is the oldest and largest structure on the lot. Clifford H. Everdon, a shoe salesman, and his wife Edith and their daughter and son, rented the property along with the Coleman family. Calvin Coleman, who was a laborer in an oil field, also lived there with his wife and son.

The LA County Assessor’s Office shows three structures on the property, with the oldest possibly dating from 1918, though we estimate it is older than that based on its Victorian architectural features. Flanked on either side by what looks like the original grove of trees, it is listed at 3,370 square feet with six bedrooms and two baths; a one-room sleeping porch was added in 1927. Also on the lot are two other units, both built in 1941, each with one bedroom and one bathroom.

In July 2015, J&KD LLC bought this property for $3.1 million from ANJ LLC, just 2 months after ANJ LLC bought it for $600,000 from Eretz G4 Properties LLC. It is now on the market again.

We are very concerned about developers razing Alhambra’s heritage along with this historic house, one of few remaining Victorian homes in Alhambra. This is a unique exemplar of how early Alhambrans lived and needs to be saved! If you have further information or photos of this property, or if you want to join the Advocacy & Action Committee to help save 403 South Garfield Avenue, please contact APG at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

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