Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Things are happening fast on the historic preservation front here in Alhambra! Let’s get everyone up to date!

As you know, Alhambra Preservation Group has been advocating for more than 18 years for the creation of a comprehensive historic preservation program. We’ve advocated for three key elements to be included: (1) establish an historic preservation commission, (2) adopt a historic preservation ordinance, and (3) conduct a citywide inventory of historically, architecturally and culturally significant homes, businesses, churches and schools. 

On Monday, September 27, 2021, Alhambra’s City Council voted to create an Historic Preservation Commission – one of three new commissions established by City Council. Then, in their October e-newsletter, the City of Alhambra announced, “City of Alhambra to Establish Historic Preservation Program” stating that, “plans are well underway for the establishment of a Historic Preservation Program in Alhambra to recognize and protect important properties in the city’s history.” The City goes on to describe that Alhambra’s Historic Preservation Program will be developed in three phases: 

Phase 1: Develop a Historic Context Statement

Phase 2: Conduct a Historic Resources Survey and Seat a Historic Preservation Commission

Phase 3: Adopt a Historic Preservation Ordinance 

The City is currently in Phase 1 – the development of Alhambra’s first comprehensive, citywide historic context statement. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a historic context statement is a written document that provides the framework for evaluating properties for their historic significance. In other words, this document will help residents understand what makes Alhambra homes, businesses, schools and churches historic, or not. 

In order to write Alhambra’s historic context statement, the City is asking for EVERYONE’S help to tell Alhambra’s story. They want to hear about the people, places and stories in Alhambra’s history that matter the most to us. 

To begin the process of gathering stories and information to write Alhambra’s first comprehensive historic context statement, the City of Alhambra is having a virtual community outreach meeting on October 13. Please plan on attending. Here’s the information:

Historic PreservationCommunity Outreach Virtual Meeting

Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Via Zoom link to be shared on www.historicalhambra.com 

We also encourage you to visit the City of Alhambra’s new historic preservation website to learn more, share your stories for Alhambra’s historic context statement, get involved in building Alhambra’s historic preservation program and join the program’s mailing list. 

“APG is very pleased to share these announcements outlining the next steps in the creation of Alhambra’s historic preservation program,” stated Oscar Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group’s founder and president. “We urge everyone to get involved and help tell Alhambra’s story. APG has already contacted the project team to share the myriad stories we’ve discovered over the years, and we strongly urge you to do the same,” continued Amaro.

If you should have any questions, feel free to contact us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

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It’s hard to believe that we’re almost half way through 2021. Like all of you, here at Alhambra Preservation Group, we’ve been trying to adapt to life post-COVID and figure out what the “next normal” will look like for our organization. We hope to have more information to share later this year.

For now, we’re writing because there are two items of interest on Alhambra City Council’s online meeting this coming Monday, June 14 at 6 p.m. We encourage you to review the agenda and provide comments.

The first item of interest is Item #8: Discussion Regarding the Establishment of New Boards and Commissions

City Council will be discussing the establishment of new boards, committee and commissions and included in this, the establishment of a Historic Preservation Committee.

“Alhambra Preservation Group (APG) strongly supports and encourages the City to establish a historic preservation commission/committee,” stated Alhambra Preservation Group President, Oscar Amaro. “This proposed historic preservation commission/committee’s responsibilities could include the identification of Alhambra’s historic resources as well as assessing properties for any potential historic significance and providing desperately needed oversight,” continued Amaro.

APG recommends that the City establish a five-member Historic Preservation Commission with each City Council member appointing one resident member. Each member’s qualifications should be based on interest or experience in Alhambra’s history, architecture, archeology or related fields. The creation of a historic preservation commission could also assist the City of Alhambra in qualifying for future state preservation-related grant funds and incentives.

How You Can Help: Send an e-mail to Alhambra City Clerk Lauren Myles at lmyles@cityofalhambra.org by 5 p.m. on Monday, June 14, identifying your comments for Item 8. Please voice your support for and urge the City Council to establish a Historic Preservation Commission/Committee.

The second item of interest is Item #23: Council Action to Accept Properties and Assets From The Alhambra Historical Society, Inc.

Unfortunately, the Alhambra Historical Society has decided to dissolve. They will be returning the Alhambra Historical Society building and associated funds to the City of Alhambra on June 30, 2021. While we are saddened to learn of the dissolution of the Alhambra Historical Society, we understand the necessity to return the building and assets to the City of Alhambra. We thank the Alhambra Historical Society board members for their decades of dedication and service.

APG supports the City of Alhambra’s creation of an account to receive any remaining funds and property as a result of the Alhambra Historical Society’s dissolution. We look forward to hearing recommendations on the future use of the building as well as remaining funds.

APG encourages the Alhambra City Council to earmark funds from the Alhambra Historical Society for historic-preservation related needs as was intended when the historical society was formed in 1966 and to consider utilizing these funds for a long overdue citywide inventory of historic resources. 

How You Can Help: Send an e-mail to Alhambra City Clerk Lauren Myles at lmyles@cityofalhambra.org by 5 p.m. on Monday, June 14, identifying your comments for Item 23. Urge our City Council to earmark funds from the Alhambra Historical Society for historic preservation-related needs and request that they consider utilizing these funds for a citywide inventory of historic resources.

We recommend that you e-mail your comments; however, if you should choose to speak on any of the items, the June 14 City Council agenda provides instructions on how to do that.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support of historic preservation in Alhambra. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

Photo of Alhambra City Hall circa 1960s courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Measure V will promote integrity, honesty, fairness and transparency in Alhambra elections

By Oscar Amaro, President, Alhambra Preservation Group

On your mail-in ballot, you’ll see Measure V – Alhambrans for Election and Campaign Finance Reform. Alhambra Preservation Group endorses Measure V, and I strongly encourage you to vote Yes on Measure V. Here’s what Measure V will do for Alhambra:

  • Measure V will improve representation
  • Measure V will increase government accountability and transparency
  • Measure V will get Big Money out of Alhambra politics

When I formed the Alhambra Preservation Group (APG) in 2003, I never thought it would take 17 years (and counting) for city leaders to support what a clear and very vocal majority of Alhambrans had been calling for, for generations – the protection and preservation of our neighborhoods and our city’s historic homes, businesses, schools and churches.

What I discovered throughout the hundreds of hours APG spent attending city meetings, writing letters and lobbying City officials on behalf of saving Alhambra’s historic buildings and homes, is that for decades our city leaders have been beholden to moneyed, special interests instead of Alhambra’s residents. Developers and larger real estate interests consider “historic preservation” measures an impediment to their plans for uncontrolled, massive development. Meanwhile Alhambrans suffer the effects of increased traffic, stressed city services and infrastructure and the continued loss of trees and green, open space. This system benefits the few at the expense of many. I firmly believe that if there had been provisions in place similar to what Measure V is proposing when APG was founded, we would have saved many historic homes and preserved our neighborhoods.

I STRONGLY encourage APG members and Alhambra residents to VOTE YES ON MEASURE V. It will greatly limit the influence that Big Money (i.e. developers and real estate interests) has on the decision-making within Alhambra City Hall. It will also give a voice to residents who, for too many years, have been drowned out by policies decided on outside of their immediate neighborhoods by politicians with a bigger agenda.

Measure V is endorsed by a coalition of organizations and supported by the entire Alhambra City Council. If you’d like to learn more, visit the Yes on Measure V website.

Vote YES ON MEASURE V and send a clear message that Alhambra is not for sale!

Graphic courtesy of Yes on Measure VAlhambrans for Election and Campaign Finance Reform.

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This.Place.Matters.Pyrenees.CastleThe City of Alhambra is taking its first steps toward the development of a historic preservation program, and we need you to be there…from the comfort of your own home! We’ve counted on you in the past and you’ve been there for us, for our communities and for preserving our city’s collection of historic homes.

Please plan on attending the City of Alhambra City Council meeting at 7:00 p.m. on July 13, 2020 via either your computer (for video & audio) or phone (audio).

“We are pleased that the City of Alhambra is remaining true to its General Plan goals as they relate to historic preservation,” stated Oscar Amaro, President and Founder of Alhambra Preservation Group. “We are also grateful to this City Council for FINALLY making the development of a historic preservation program a priority after 17 years of advocacy on our part. We look forward to working with the City of Alhambra to adopt an ordinance that preserves and protects Alhambra’s many historic resources and sends the message that ‘This Place Matters.'”

At this meeting, City of Alhambra staff will present Item #2 “Historic Preservation Program” to City Council for their consideration. Per the July 13 agenda, major steps to be discussed will focus on (1) the preparation of a Historic Context Assessment, (2) an in-depth survey of potential significant properties, and (3) the development of a regulatory framework with an ordinance. Each step will encourage community outreach and participation. The recommended action is that City Council receive and file the presentation, discuss the 3-step Historic Preservation Program and initiate its implementation by authorizing the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Step 1 of the Historic Preservation Program, which is the preparation of a Historic Context Assessment.

Here is how you can participate in the July 13 City Council meeting:

If you are interested in participating in the meeting via Zoom, please use the Zoom Webinar direct link at the top of the July 13 City Council agenda.

If you are interested in listening by phone, please dial 1-669-900-9128 or 1-346-248-7799 or 1-253-215-8782. When prompted, please enter Webinar ID: 895 8304 3401 and Password: 499020698.

All members of the public calling or logging into the meeting will be muted so that the meeting can proceed without interruption.

For those wishing to speak on an agenda item, please e-mail David Tran at dtran@cityofalhambra.org by 5:00 p.m. on July 13 with the item number you wish to speak on and the phone number you will use when calling or the name you will use when logging into the meeting. You should then call or log into the meeting at least 10 minutes prior to its start time of 7:00 p.m. on July 13, 2020. You will have five minutes to speak, subject to Mayor’s discretion.

Alternatively, you may e-mail your comments to the City Clerk at lmyles@cityofalhambra.org by no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 13, 2020. Comments will be read into the records, with a maximum allowance of five minutes per individual comment, subject to Mayor’s discretion.

Thank you for your ongoing support in joining with Alhambra Preservation Group to fight for the preservation and protection of Alhambra’s historic, architectural and cultural resources. Your willingness to stand alongside APG for the last 17 years has led us to this historic day.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to e-mail us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Marguerita.Curtis.HomesWe need your help to save one of Alhambra’s few remaining Bungalow Courts and a Craftsman home.

On July 16, Alhambra’s Planning Commission will hear a proposed development to raze a 1923 bungalow court at 234 South Marguerita Avenue and an adjacent 1908 Arts and Crafts home at 237 South Curtis Avenue, which sits directly east of the bungalow court. The owner/developer proposes combining these two parcels. The development will destroy affordable housing units to build at-market valued condominiums.

Alhambra Preservation Group strongly opposes this proposed development. We urge residents to join us in stopping the destruction of historic buildings and affordable housing units in Alhambra,” stated Oscar Amaro, Founder and President of Alhambra Preservation Group. “In other cities, a bungalow court and Craftsman home like this would be preserved and protected. Instead, in Alhambra, it is developers and a ‘pay-to-play’ system that is preserved and protected. This system sends a signal to outside developers and business interests that Alhambra is easy to pillage, plunder and profit from destroying our city’s character and neighborhoods,” continued Amaro.

Please join Alhambra Preservation Group in opposing this project. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Sign this petition opposing the development on South Marguerita and South Curtis.
  2. Share the petition on social media and encourage your neighbors to sign it.
  3. Write a letter opposing this development and e-mail it to Paul Lam at plam@cityofalhambra.org by 4:30 p.m. on July 16. Letters received by 4:30 p.m. will be read into the record at the Planning Commission meeting.
  4. Participate in the virtual Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. on July 16, 2020 and speak out against this project. Here is the Planning Commission Agenda. For those interested in speaking out, please e-mail Paul Lam at plam@cityofalhambra.org by 5:00 p.m. on July 16, specifying that you’d like to speak on Item #5. Include the phone number you will use when calling or the name you will use when logging into the meeting virtually.

Until the City of Alhambra adopts a historic preservation ordinance, which will put into place the appropriate review process to determine the historical, architectural and cultural significance of Alhambra’s homes and buildings, our city’s historic homes will continue to be destroyed.

At the July 13 City Council meeting, the City of Alhambra took historic first steps towards developing a historic preservation program, which will include an ordinance. Because Alhambra has begun the process of developing a comprehensive historic preservation program, Alhambra Preservation Group is advocating for a moratorium on all development that proposes the razing of homes and buildings.

Help us stop this development! It’s time the City of Alhambra prioritized people and preservation over profits!

Photos courtesy of Meehar Tom.

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Alhambra.City.HallAlhambra Preservation Group strongly urges you to attend the Alhambra City Council meeting on Monday, September 9, 2019 when City Council will have a second reading of an ordinance that was initially intended to institute Rosenberg’s Rules of Order rather than Robert’s Rules of Order at City Council meetings. However, at the August 12 Council meeting when this ordinance had its first reading, Councilman David Mejia proposed two amendments, which included the following:
  1. Reduce the public comment time for agenda items from the current five minutes to three minutes per person.
  2. Prevent members of the public from turning in speaker cards for an agenda item or oral communications if public speaking for that item has already begun.
Alhambra Preservation Group is very concerned about these two amendments, and we are adamantly opposed to them.
One reason for our opposition is that often times the concepts and/or ideas that our representatives and members present at public meetings are detailed or complicated in nature, with historical data and figures. It is difficult, and at times almost impossible, to express any ideas or rebuttals in just five minutes. To reduce the public comment period by two minutes would unnecessarily restrict our right to provide important input regarding city decisions.
These amendments not only impact APG’s mission and historic preservation efforts, but they also affect every single Alhambran and their right to speak at City Council meetings on any item of concern in our city. Your attendance and voice at this meeting will send a clear message that the residents of Alhambra will not be silenced.
Here is the information on the meeting:
Date:  Monday, September 9, 2019
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Alhambra City Hall, 111 South First Street, Alhambra, CA

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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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