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Posts Tagged ‘Alhambra Preservation Group’

Coffee.Council.Member.June.29.2017

The announcement that the City of Alhambra will pursue the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance tops Alhambra Preservation Group’s summer advocacy and action report:

Alhambra To Pursue Historic Preservation Ordinance

In the same neighborhood where Alhambra Preservation Group held its first home tour in 2004, Alhambra City Council Member Jeff Maloney made the announcement that Alhambra Preservation Group members have been waiting to hear for more than a decade. The City of Alhambra will pursue the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance, which will create a citywide survey of cultural resources, a cultural resources commission and a register of Alhambra landmarks and historic districts.

“We are thrilled that the Alhambra City Council is finally showing leadership in the area of historic preservation,” stated Joyce Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group President. “More than 50% of residents surveyed during the city’s 2015 General Plan Update input process stated that the preservation of historic homes and neighborhoods needed to be a priority. We’re pleased that they are listening to their constituents.”

So, congratulations! Alhambra is on the road to adopting legislation that will preserve and protect our neighborhoods! Thank you for your continued commitment to Alhambra, your dedication to Alhambra Preservation Group and its mission, and your unwavering belief that Alhambra’s cultural resources are worth saving.

Now the exciting work begins!

June 29 Coffee With A Council Member Summer Event

The announcement regarding the pursuing of a historic preservation ordinance came at the Alhambra Preservation Group’s June 29 Coffee with a Council Member summer event. Alhambra Mayor David Mejia and Council Member Jeff Maloney were in attendance and fielded questions from Alhambra residents on a variety of topics ranging from the need for street repair throughout Alhambra to concerns regarding mature trees due to be cut down at the Camellia Court development and the need for a tree ordinance, from future plans for creating a more environmentally sustainable city to the idea of creating a citizens oversight committee for procurement, budget and contracting issues.

General Plan Update Workshop

APG members were in attendance at the General Plan Update community workshop on June 14. While APG was disappointed that the workshop did not include the release of the updated General Plan, we were encouraged to hear that there are preservation goals included in Alhambra’s updated General Plan. We look forward to reviewing the updated General Plan when it is released. If you’re interested in being notified when the updated General Plan is distributed to the public, please e-mail the City of Alhambra at generalplan@cityofalhambra.org.

Alhambra Source’s Community Voices Workshop

Members of the APG board of directors attended the Alhambra Source’s Community Voices workshop on June 24 at Ramona Convent. Attending seminars on opinion writing, news writing and photography, they hope to put their newly learned skills into practice as future contributors of the Alhambra Source.

Meetings with City of Alhambra, Development Services Department

Alhambra Preservation Group President Joyce Amaro has met twice with Alhambra’s new Director of Development Services Marc Castognola in June and July to discuss the future of a historic preservation ordinance, the creation of a cultural resources commission and the implementation of a citywide inventory of cultural resources. The City is moving forward with the drafting of a preservation ordinance so stay tuned for more details regarding this initiative. We are hoping to have more news on this in the fall.

Endangered Cultural Resource

A 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival Chapel on South Marengo known as the Saints Simon and Jude Episcopal Chapel currently tops APG’s most endangered list. APG wrote a letter to Alhambra City Council members expressing concern about the Saints Simon and Jude Chapel located at 1428 South Marengo Avenue, and APG is planning on requesting that City Council use its influence to facilitate a meeting between Alhambra officials, Alhambra Preservation Group and the developer to explore the adaptive reuse of the chapel on the property. The 92-year old Saints Simon and Jude Chapel is culturally significant. Reginald Davis Johnson was a true architectural visionary, whose work shaped Santa Barbara’s visual identity and whose buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In Santa Barbara, Mr. Johnson designed the Santa Barbara Post Office and the Santa Barbara Biltmore hotel. Locally, he was responsible for the design of All Saints Church and Hale Observatory in Pasadena, the Saint Saviours Chapel in Studio City, and the Flintridge Riding Club. Because of its link to this celebrated architect, Alhambra’s Chapel of Saints Simon and Jude should be preserved and cherished instead of destroyed and forgotten.

 

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DSC_0114Programming and events that combine education and fun are at the heart of the Alhambra Preservation Group. Its summer ice cream socials often felt like homecomings for members and its Heritage Awards program took members on mini virtual tours of award-winning homes throughout Alhambra.

In 2013 APG embarked on a new idea – a Magical History Bus Tour that transported participants back to 1920s Alhambra to tour architecturally significant homes and meet the men and women who shaped the city we know today.

A few years later in 2015, the City of Alhambra began the process of updating its General Plan and APG actively participated in this initiative. APG hosted three ice cream socials in members’ homes and provided a summary of the General Plan Update at these events, encouraging members to participate in a survey that the City of Alhambra was conducting to receive feedback on future priorities for our city. APG members also participated in the community workshops hosted by the City of Alhambra. This effort by APG resulted in more than 50% of survey participants stating that the preservation of homes and neighborhoods should be a future priority for Alhambra.

In 2016, APG created a Google map which introduced residents to Alhambra’s amazing architectural diversity. From Victorian to Mid-Century Modern, this map provides a visual representation of the more than 25 architectural styles and sub-styles that can be found in Alhambra and begins the conversation that Alhambra is arguably one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Los Angeles County.

Now Alhambra is on the cusp of developing and adopting a historic preservation ordinance and creating an inventory of cultural resources, two of APG’s main goals when it was founded by Oscar Amaro and Katherine Hildreth. We are excited for the next 10 years in Alhambra as we continue working to preserve Alhambra’s neighborhoods, one historic home at a time.

Note: As Alhambra Preservation Group celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, we are taking our readers on a two-part virtual trip back in time to meet the tight-knit group of members who make up the APG community and continue to move our city towards the day when Alhambra’s historically and architecturally homes, schools, businesses and churches are recognized, celebrated, preserved and protected.

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coffee.cup.2Join Alhambra Preservation Group for an evening of coffee, cookies and questions with Alhambra’s two newly elected City Council Members, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

901 North Bushnell Avenue, Alhambra, CA  91801

This is an opportunity for Alhambrans to get to know their two newest City Council Members and ask questions about Alhambra’s future and any community concerns. Additionally, the City of Alhambra will have just released its updated General Plan, and we will provide an update on the next steps related to this important development in our city.

This event is free and the general public is welcome to attend. Light dessert refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to info@alhambrapreservation.org by June 25, 2017. We look forward to seeing you there!

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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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F.Q.Story.houseEarlier this year, Jane Fernandez, a resident of Alhambra and student from Cal Poly Pomona, contacted Alhambra Preservation Group for assistance with a class project. She and a group of classmates needed to find a historic home for a Cultural Resource Management class. APG helped them find the Francis Q. Story home, located on North Story Place. After completing their project, we chatted with Jane and her classmate, Jennifer Hernandez, about their experience and what this project taught them about Alhambra and preservation.

APG: What was the project and purpose of the project?

Jane and Jennifer: The class was Cultural Resource Management, an introductory course to laws and the practice of CRM. The purpose of this project was to give us a hands-on approach of what it is like to do work within cultural resource management. The project was meant to encourage us as students to take an active role and apply our learning to the real world versus keeping the work within a classroom setting.

APG: Did you encounter any challenges completing this project?

Jane and Jennifer: We had planned doing our project on the Victorian house on Garfield after having read about it in the Alhambra Source. After spending several weeks gathering information, we had no luck with contacting the owner and getting permission to enter the house. We then decided to visit the Historical Society and talked to APG in hopes of finding another home in the area.

Having found the Story home, the owners were very helpful in giving us information so much that we had three criteria to work with. A challenge we encountered from not having full records of the home was the fact that we did not know when the architectural change from a Victorian home to a more Federalist-styled home took place. Another challenge we encountered was the word of mouth story about a Japanese family being housed in the attic after World War 2. We weren’t able to confirm that story.

APG: What did you learn doing this project? Did anything surprise you about this house/project?

Jane: I learned that preservation can be very rewarding in so many ways. It saves history, a place’s purpose and just the overall ambience of a city/community. I was surprised at how much work needs to go into nominating a place to be recognized as historically or culturally significant. I was also surprised at how many places we drive by on a daily basis that have grand stories behind them. I learned that in Alhambra, there are many.

APG: Do you have future plans involving historic preservation?

Jane: I, myself do. At this point the next preservation project I do might be for work since I am graduating, unless other projects come along. For the rest of the group I know that they have previously done some of this work before and might continue to do so. Doing this project on ‘The Story House’ was such a great experience as a resident of Alhambra because I didn’t just appreciate the home for having historical significance. It also brought to life the people and culture from our past.

APG: Any last thoughts?

Jane and Jennifer: Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed working on this project within the Alhambra community. It gave us a new perspective on historical preservation and the beauty and history that an old building can hold in the community.

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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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DecadeHappy 10th Birthday, Alhambra Preservation Group!

This year Alhambra Preservation Group celebrates 10 years as a non-profit organization. Founded in 2003 by Katherine Hildreth and Oscar Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group began as a small group of concerned Alhambra residents who loved local history and wanted to stop the razing of historic homes and structures in Alhambra. Today, APG boasts a membership of more than 100 households.

“For 10 years, APG has been a pioneering force, educating Alhambrans and advocating for the preservation of Alhambra’s historic resources,” stated Joyce Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group President. “APG’s inaugural home tour in 2004 introduced Southern California to Alhambra’s beautiful Arts and Crafts homes. Likewise, APG’s Meet the Candidates Forum in 2006, hosted in partnership with the Pasadena League of Women’s Voters, was the first time in Alhambra’s history that residents had the opportunity to ask questions of candidates running for Alhambra City Council,” continued Amaro.

Alhambra Preservation Group continues that pioneering spirit today with its advocacy and activism. In 2015, it rallied its members to lobby for the inclusion of a Preservation Element in Alhambra’s update to its General Plan. Because of APG’s efforts, 52% of Alhambrans surveyed stated that historic preservation should be a priority in the City of Alhambra’s future planning efforts.

In 2016, APG developed a Google Map that identified more than 500 historic homes, businesses, churches and schools that still stand in Alhambra. A presentation given by APG board members last summer highlighted Alhambra’s architectural resources and asserted that Alhambra is one of Southern California’s most architecturally diverse cities, featuring close to 25 different architectural genres and sub-genres. Because of these mapping efforts, APG has been invited by the California Preservation Foundation to make a presentation on the Google map at CPF’s annual conference, which will take place in Pasadena in May, 2017.

Last year also saw the creation of the Advocacy and Action Committee. This committee has been integral in re-establishing APG’s presence at City Hall and monitoring community development activities.

The coming year will be no different. We’re gearing up for a year of education and advocacy. Here are just a few of the activities we’re planning:

  • Join us on a free tour of the Pasadena Tournament House on February 23. APG board member, Barbara Beckley, a former Rose Princess, will co-lead a tour of this mansion, which was the winter home of William and Ada Wrigley and now serves as the headquarters of the Tournament of Roses.
  • A “Meet Your New Councilmembers” event in the spring will give APG members the opportunity to meet Alhambra’s two new council members, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia.
  • In the summer we will organize a special 10-year fundraising campaign and Thank You APG Members event.
  • Our annual Heritage Awards in the fall will honor Alhambra homeowners and residents. This year we’ll be introducing the Founder’s Award, which will honor an Alhambran whose work in the area of historic preservation has been especially noteworthy.
  • We’ll also look to the future, asking members and residents to provide input on what APG’s goals should be for the next 10 years.

Are you ready to celebrate with us? It’s going to be an exciting year!

Photo courtesy of craft hubs.com.

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