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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

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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By Melissa Michelson, Alhambra Preservation Group Board of Directors

In early August, Alhambra Preservation Group‘s newly formed Advocacy and Action Committee held its first meeting with APG members Janet Ervin, Lily Nitta and Gigi Xu attending. They discussed and developed a mission statement and agreed to hold regular meetings once a month or on an as-needed basis. The group also attended the Design Review Board meeting and went on a site visit. The group decided that the mission of the Advocacy and Action Committee should be ‘By regularly reviewing staff reports, attending City Council and committee meetings (like Design Review Board and Planning Commission), regularly communicating with the APG Board and calling APG members to action, we the Advocacy and Action Committee aim to promote the mission of APG by encouraging community participation in the efforts to preserve and protect the historical, architectural and cultural integrity of the community. The mission reflects the mission of APG: Through education, advocacy and awareness-building programs, Alhambra Preservation Group seeks to ensure that the historical, architectural and cultural resources of our city are identified, protected and celebrated for their contributions to Alhambra’s heritage, economy and environment.

Design Review Board Meeting

After initially meeting at the Diner on Main, members of the Advocacy and Action Committee attended the Design Review Board (DRB) on August 9, where 1237 Main Street, a mid-century medical building on the corner of Vega and Main Street, was on the agenda. Committee members then went to visit the property.

While at the DRB, the Advocacy and Action Committee’s message was clear: Yes, the building is in a state of disrepair; however, this mid-century medical office building is a gem that deserves to be preserved. Its unique interior which includes all-wood cabinetry, cork floors, rounded corners and exposed brick are classic characteristics of mid-century architecture. Committee members expressed to the Design Review Board that it is their hope that the existing medical building is creatively and thoughtfully incorporated and maintained as part of the developer’s plans, along with the advice and expertise of the city’s Design Review Board.

What the architect has in store:

  • Demolish 1940s two-story 1453 sq. ft. wood house and 1951 15,188 sq. ft. brick single-story medical building
  • Build 14,125 sq ft, single- story contemporary style building in north east corner of lot, with parking lot in front with 71 stalls and 4-8 bike parking slots.
  • Two driveways from Main Street (compared to current building which is along the sidewalk)
  • Demolish the double-story wood house on the lot next door
  • Re-use/recycle the brick for landscaping, for planters, etc.
  • Bring in vintage wood to the interior
  • A lobby-feature wall to reflect the site and surrounding area, and include an informational plaque

Image 33The architect mentioned structural and seismic concerns, having to put a new roof on the current building and that a community meeting from neighbors was held and all feedback was positive, but was neither asked nor offered details on those during the meeting. At the time of this writing, APG is waiting to hear from the architects (Market Street Development) for more details about the community meeting.

The DRB was interested in using existing brick, perhaps because surrounding single-story buildings also showcase brick; however, according to the architect’s plans available for public viewing at City Hall, the majority of the proposed building is painted stucco, with one exterior feature wall of wood. One DRB member preferred that the parking be located behind the building as it is currently but was told that Public Works wants to avoid that to minimize traffic on the residential streets. It is unclear to the Advocacy and Action Committee after looking at the plans, where the recycled brick will be used because the majority of the property will be a parking lot.

The DRB gave approval and recommended for the majority of the brick to be used for a new façade. One DRB board member suggested the architects look into finding a way to move the house or salvage it.

Image 31The Site Visit

On the lot is the medical building and a 2-story house. On Vega Street across from the property, there is currently an empty commercial lot so there is potential for a driveway there rather than solely on Main Street. Neither building has visible structural damage. In fact, the older home is in better shape than the brick medical building.

What’s next?

The next Planning Commission Meeting is Monday, August 29, 2016.

The next meeting for the Design Review Board is Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

If you would like to join APG’s Advocacy and Action Committee, please contact us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

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IMG_1677Summer has been a sizzling hot season for Alhambra Preservation Group!

APG kicked off the summer with its event entitled Alhambra’s Amazing Architecture at the Civic Center Library on June 29. More than 100 residents attended the lecture that showcased the diversity of Alhambra’s architecture. “Many residents didn’t realize that Alhambra is one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Southern California,” stated Joyce Amaro, APG President. “From Victorian to Mid-Century Modern and everything in between, Alhambra boasts a rich architectural heritage – one that needs to be celebrated, preserved and protected,” Amaro continued. The event concluded with the introduction of an online Alhambra map created by APG documenting Alhambra’s historic homes. Take a look at the Google map and see if there are any historic homes in your neighborhood that should be added. Send us the address at info@alhambrapreservation.org, and we’ll see that the home is placed on the map.

In July, APG held a summer fundraiser dinner raising $262.50. This first-time event was held at Alhambra’s very own Diner on Main, a restaurant designed in the Googie-architectural style, which was popular in the mid-20th century. At one point, the restaurant was filled to capacity with APG members, enjoying good food and company for a great cause. We hope to do more of these at local Alhambra restaurants such as Twoheys, Blaze Pizza, Yogurtland, Souplantation and Shakey’s Pizza. It’s a great opportunity for some family fun and it benefits us all!

In August Alhambra Preservation Group began moving into its new office at The Alhambra thanks to a generous donation by The Ratkovich Company. APG has always been, and will continue to be, a grassroots organization, but the addition of a physical office enhances the work APG can do in Alhambra. August was also the month that APG kicked off its newly formed Advocacy and Action Committee. Their role will be to monitor and attend City meetings such as the Design Review Board, Planning Commission and City Council for issues needing APG’s attention.

Fall promises to be a busy season for APG as well. Alhambra Preservation Group is partnering with the League of Women Voters – Pasadena Area to host a Meet the Candidates Forum at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5 at Almansor Court’s Lakeview Room, 700 South Almansor Street. This free event is open to the public and all Alhambrans are encouraged to attend. It’s an opportunity for residents to learn more about the candidates running for two open Alhambra City Council seats in November.

We are following up the candidates’ forum with a lecture in November by APG’s very own member, Denise Lawrence, who is a professor at the School of Environmental Design, Cal Poly Pomona. Denise will present a talk on her recently published book Protecting Suburban America: Gentrification, Advocacy and the Historic Imaginary. We’ll close out the year with our annual membership campaign and an open house at our new offices at The Alhambra. Stay tuned for more details on all of these upcoming events!

 

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IMG_7364On January 13, the City of Alhambra hosted the second General Plan Community Meeting at the Civic Center Library. Approximately 100 Alhambrans attended the workshop. The presentation given by the city’s consultant included information about the surveys that were collected this past summer and recommendations for Alhambra’s future. Here are a few of the evening’s highlights:

– Consultants conducted 400 random phone surveys from June 25 – July 9, 2015 with respondents prioritizing the enhancement of existing city services, the protection of the city’s character/quality of life and ensuring the health of the city’s economy and job market.

– Consultants collected 360 written surveys with 13% of respondents wanting to preserve historic homes and buildings, 13% of respondents expressing an interest in protecting open space/parks and trees and 9% of respondents interested in preserving the small-town community atmosphere.

– High priorities identified from the written surveys included the improvement of traffic flow (58%), the preservation of historic areas and buildings (52%) and the improvement of the maintenance of city streets (50%).

– Concerns expressed by respondents included the opinion that there is too much development in Alhambra. Sixty-six percent of respondents felt that there were too many condominiums, 60% expressed that there were too many apartments, and 58% said that there was too much mixed-use housing.

– Other ideas presented included the identification and enhancement of gateways entering Alhambra, linking neighboring community bike connectors into Alhambra, and the maintenance of Alhambra’s core industrial area while transitioning select industrial areas to commercial mixed use.Linear.Park.Railroad.Trench

– One idea that generated a lot of interest was the creation of a linear park over the current railroad trench, which runs parallel to Mission Road.

The January 13 community workshop presentation can be viewed here. The results of the community survey can be found here.

After the presentation, participants rotated through three stations – (1) Land Use & Economic Development, (2) Community Design & Character and (3) Mobility, providing additional input on elements/issues that need to be prioritized or were missing. The consultant team encouraged residents to e-mail comments or concerns to generalplan@cityofalhambra.org.

Fifty-two percent (52%) of people who submitted a written survey last summer stated that the preservation of historic areas and buildings should be a priority for the City of Alhambra. The commitment and dedication of APG’s members last summer to filling out and submitting the written surveys and taking the online survey paid off! The next step in this process is the writing and release of the draft General Plan, which should take place in late Spring. After the release of the draft General Plan, there will be a required 45-day public review period.

Yes, it may seem like we are inching our way toward a historic preservation ordinance, but that’s how change happens – one step at a time. APG is committed to advocating for the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance. The more Alhambrans who join us, the faster we’ll get to our goal of Alhambra adopting legislation that will protect and preserve our city’s architecturally significant homes and buildings.

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IMG_3869Stand Up for Historic Preservation

On the night of May 11 of this year, 100 APG members and supporters “stood up” for historic preservation at the Alhambra City Council meeting. APG President Chris Olson gave a presentation advocating for Alhambra’s adoption of a preservation ordinance and delivered a packet of educational documents that included a sample historic preservation ordinance and APG’s Preservation Myths and Facts to each of the Alhambra City Councilmembers. She also challenged Alhambra’s council to hold a study session so they could learn more about the preservation of historic buildings. While the City Council has yet to schedule a study session on this issue, the update of Alhambra’s General Plan began in mid-May and the survey that was distributed to residents in June included questions about historic preservation.

Alhambra’s General Plan

IMG_5069You may be aware that our city is now engaged in the process of creating a new General Plan – one that will guide Alhambra’s growth and development for the next 20 years. During the open comment period that ended in July, APG organized three ice cream socials hosted by the owners of Heritage Award-winning historic homes. These casual events were models of citizen engagement, and they generated lively discussions about our visions for Alhambra’s future. The next step in Alhambra’s General Plan process is the release of the draft General Plan.  It looks like the City of Alhambra will host its next community meeting in January 2016. We will be sure to notify you once the draft plan has been released to the public for review.

How Can You Become an Advocate for Historic Preservation?

You can get involved by taking three actions:

  1. Learn about the benefits of historic preservation and think about what home or building is irreplaceable in your own neighborhood.
  2. Contact your Alhambra Councilmember and share your thoughts with them on preservation-related issues.
  3. Talk to your neighbors and friends about what you’ve learned and encourage them to also do Steps 1 and 2.

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