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Posts Tagged ‘City of Alhambra’

Alhambra.City.HallThe City of Alhambra Planning Commission will consider the final draft of the City of Alhambra General Plan at public meetings on Monday, May 6 and Monday, May 20, 2019. Both meetings will take place at Alhambra City Hall, City Council Chambers, 111 South First Street, Alhambra, CA  91801 and will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Alhambra Preservation Group representatives will be in attendance, and we encourage all Alhambrans to attend one or both of these meetings. Members of the public will be invited to make public statements about the General Plan prior to the Planning Commission’s consideration of the final draft document. If you have any final thoughts or opinions about Alhambra’s General Plan, these public meetings are your last opportunity to let your voice be heard.

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 the development of a comprehensive historic preservation program 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 Alhambra Preservation Group addressed these deleted implementation action items. “The deleted implementation action items included (1) conducting a historic resources inventory, (2) establishing a historic resources commission and (3) taking measures to ensure that the City of Alhambra qualified as a certified local government. All of these action items are necessary to have a historic preservation program,” stated APG President Oscar Amaro. “We insist that these three implementation action items be reinstated into the final EIR and final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items.”

APG also submitted a letter to Alhambra City Council Members and Planning Commission Members outlining the deletion of these key implementation action items and demanded that these three key items be restored to the final EIR as well as the final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items. The letter APG submitted to the City of Alhambra may be viewed here.

Soon after the January Planning Commission meeting, the City’s General Plan process was put on hold when Councilwoman Katherine Lee requested that more residents be surveyed to gather additional input. As a result of this request, City Council voted unanimously to conduct an additional survey of 400 Alhambra residents.

The City of Alhambra began the updating of its General Plan – viewed as a long-range vision for the future of a community and sometimes referred to as a “blueprint for the future” – in the spring of 2015. The City of Alhambra’s General Plan was last updated in 1986.

For more information on the City of Alhambra’s General Plan visit the City’s web page.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

 

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626.Golden.Streets.2Spring has sprung and there’s a lot going on in our city and the San Gabriel Valley over the next few weeks. Here are just a few of the events and activities that you may want to check out:

State of the City Address, April 22 – Join City Council for the State of the City address by Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler at the Alhambra City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 22, 2019. This year Alhambra’s mayor will give the State of the City address at a City Council meeting, allowing city residents to hear the speech free of charge. In years past, the state of the city speech has been given at a $30/ticket lunch hosted by the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. Kudos to Grassroots Alhambra for their role in pushing the City of Alhambra to have this address presented in a free public forum and to Mayor Andrade-Stadler for deciding to give the State of the City address at a City Council meeting, which allows all city residents to hear the status of issues facing Alhambra.

Neighborhood Clean-Up, April 27 – This year’s neighborhood clean-up will take place in southern Alhambra between West Ramona Road, West Glendon Way, South 2nd Street and South 9th Street, in the areas known as Ramona and Ramona Park. City of Alhambra staff, community service organizations and volunteers will assist with the massive one-day clean-up effort to improve the appearance of this neighborhood. The clean-up will take place on Saturday, April 27, between 8 a.m. and 12 noon.

The Neighborhood Clean-Up Command Post will be located on West Ramona Road between South 5th Street and South 6th Street. Volunteers are also needed to help with clean-up efforts! Contact the Alhambra Code Enforcement at 626-570-3230 or code@cityofalhambra.org to volunteer or if you have any additional questions. If you’d like more information on the event, please visit the City of Alhambra event web page.

626 Golden Streets, May 19 – 626 Golden Streets is an open streets (or ciclovia) event that will connect South Pasadena, Alhambra and San Gabriel. The route begins in the Mission District of South Pasadena, heads down to Alhambra Road and Main Street in Alhambra and ends at the historic San Gabriel Mission. Participants are encouraged to walk, skate, bike, run the route. Look for Alhambra Preservation Group along the route in Alhambra! More details to come on where APG can be found on the day of the event! For more information on the event, visit 626 Golden Streets.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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1968-article

A 1968 LA Times article on the destruction of the City-owned property.

By Oscar Amaro, APG Founder and 2019 President

A Carnegie library with gardens designed by Frank Lloyd Wright…The 1880’s Victorian home of Captain F. Edward Gray, a prominent Los Angeles horticulturalist…A 1920’s Tudor Revival clubhouse designed by Scott Quintin a well-known Alhambra architect…A 1910-era Arts & Crafts-styled building, which was the headquarters of  “The Wednesday Afternoon Women’s Club”…The two-story Craftsman home owned by Norma Yocum, Alhambra’s first woman mayor…

Many cities would revel in the value afforded these architecturally and historically significant structures. Not in Alhambra. These are but a few of the noteworthy structures lost in the “Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley” as a result of an apathetic and negligent city hall.

Having grown up in the Alhambra/San Gabriel/Monterey Park area in the 1960s and 70s, even as a youth I was fascinated by this area’s treasure trove of historic buildings, homes, churches, schools—in addition to its rich history. Alhambrans may be unaware that US presidents found our city significant enough to make stops through here in the early part of the 20th century. Many of So Cal’s early leaders lived in Alhambra including a Captain F. Edward Gray, Los Angeles’ first commercial grower and main supplier of cut flowers to the region and president of the Southern California Horticultural Society as well as one of its first County Assessors. Captain Gray was also instrumental in securing funds to build one of Alhambra’s first schools and resided in an 1880s Victorian mansion. Captain Gray’s magnificent home was razed due to inaction and indifference on the city’s part despite strong calls from Alhambra’s residents to save it. In fact, the Alhambra Historical Society was formed in 1966 as a result of this debacle.

I moved away from this area in the early 1980s, living in both Riverside and Whittier, two cities that highly value their historic culture, architecture, and neighborhoods and take pride in these resources – as every city should. However, to be closer to work I moved back to Alhambra in the 1990s and was shocked to see so many of the historic structures that I remembered replaced by massive apartment and condo complexes. I was angered to see neighborhoods that were once quiet, picturesque and family-oriented gone. In 2000, my wife and I purchased a 1912 Craftsman home in Alhambra’s Ramona Park area. Shortly after moving in and restoring it to its period splendor, we witnessed the destruction of five 1920s bungalows just within a block of our house. That was the impetus for me to seek answers as to why this ongoing onslaught of our city’s historic character was continuing despite the Historical Society’s efforts.

When I formed Alhambra Preservation Group in 2003 with the late Katherine Hildreth, our mission was to begin lobbying our city leaders for historical and architectural protections. I naively thought that once our political leadership understood and were made aware of Alhambra’s robust architectural, historical and cultural resources, they would begin to adopt meaningful historic preservation measures.  APG set out to educate our civic leaders and Alhambrans about the need to adopt legislation. We sponsored home tours, workshops and events, and a historic homes award program. We conducted a windshield survey of Alhambra’s historic resources and mapped out Alhambra’s more than 25 architectural genres and sub-genres. We met with city leaders again and again. More than 100 of our members staged a “Stand Up for Preservation” show of support in city council chambers in 2015. But in the 16 years since APG’s formation, we have seen little to no movement on the city’s part to enact historic preservation measures. Instead, our experience with city council members has ranged from empty promises and lip service to outright obstruction.

It became apparent that there is a very real and tangible resistance within Alhambra’s government to adopt any historic preservation measures and that no amount of negotiations with [past] city council members would have had any effect.  This refusal of Alhambra’s leaders to listen to the concerns and demands of Alhambra’s residents is inexcusable.

But we are finally seeing changes.

With last year’s election, we now have several city council members who have voiced support in moving these efforts forward. Our board of directors has met with each of the newly elected council members to inform them about APG’s goals for 2019, to gauge their support and provide any guidance they may need.

What are these goals?

  • Participate in the Alhambra General Plan process, ensuring that historic preservation goals, policies and implementation action items are included in the final documents.
  • Update the partial 1984 historic resources survey and investigate what is required to conduct a citywide inventory of Alhambra’s historic resources.
  • Host an annual members event.
  • Attend city meetings including council, planning commission and the design review board as needed.
  • Monitor the status of and advocate for threatened architectural resources throughout the city.
  • Continue lobbying City Council to move forward with the development of a comprehensive historic preservation program.

APG remains committed to seeing substantive historic preservation measures enacted here in Alhambra. Nothing will deter us from our goal of preserving and protecting Alhambra’s historic homes, schools, businesses and churches. It is WAY past time.

Photo courtesy of LA Times archives.

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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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Alhambra.Rd.Iona.Workspacesby Barbara Beckley

Alhambra Preservation Group congratulates Mike McCollum on the beautiful restoration of one of Alhambra’s many historic structures.

Mike McCollum knows a great building – and its potential — when he sees it. “People value and appreciate restored buildings that have character – they have a human quality,” he explains.

As the successful attorney-owner of McCollum Counsel, which works with international and Chinese multi-national companies, Mike was looking for an office in Alhambra to be closer to his clients.

Alhambra.Road.Iona.Workspaces.McCollum“This building caught my eye,” he said, of the sprawling, single-story brick structure that has graced West Alhambra Road between Curtis and Electric Avenues since 1918. He knew right away its picturesque brickwork and multiple spaces with large windows looking out on a tree-lined residential street had “office potential.” Its location, near Huntington Drive and easy access to Los Angeles and other San Gabriel Valley communities was an added plus.

Lucky for the building – and Alhambra – Mike loves to restore vintage structures. As a high school student in Los Feliz, his first summer job was cataloging historic courthouses for a preservation group. He was hooked. Since then he’s made a hobby of refurbishing vintage buildings with his father and brother, restoring aging gems first in Angelino Heights and then in Silverlake, Hollywood, Echo Park and now Alhambra.

Why? “For a love of old things and history. And the satisfaction of being able to bring something back to life that has stood the test of time and restore it to again be beautiful and useful.”

So in 2015 Mike bought the building at 1500 West Alhambra Road and began researching its history. “I love this building’s history,” he says. With so many individual spaces, it housed flourishing neighborhood businesses for decades. Among the longest running were the HM Pease & Co. Grocery, opened in 1918, along with a drug store, fruit specialist, butcher shop, barber shop and tailor. Small businesses came and went, including in 1932 a carpet store; 1937 a beauty shop; 1941 a lawn mower store; 1946 an upholsterer; 1949 a drapery boutique; 1952 a variety store; 1954 a doll shop; 1956 a plastic products manufacturer and in 1964 a café, and Golden West Books publishing, which occupied the building up until the early 2000s.

Mike was also pleased to learn that during the Great Depression, the grocery store owner, Alhambra resident Howard M. Pease, organized the donation of more than 1.5 million loaves of bread and other supplies to local residents in need.

“Hidden treasures” were also discovered during the renovation process – a bunch of wires going into a back room looked like they had been put in after the Great Depression.  “I’m guessing it was probably a bookie joint,” he surmises.

Mike began the renovations in 2016. Using his own good taste and love of vintage architecture, he added skylights to open up sunny spaces, and exposed the original brickwork, original beams, and concrete to give the building a stylish, vintage/contemporary feel.

Alhambra.Rd.Iona.Workspaces.2What’s the highlight of his reborn space? “All the beautifully preserved, and now exposed brick, and solid redwood beams. These beams shouldn’t be destroyed. We should be exposing and celebrating this rich beautiful wood. I love to see and celebrate the old brick, the wood and the concrete, and the new steel – the beauty of form and function.”

Work was completed this past summer. Mike threw a community party, in partnership with Brethren Shoes a new e-commerce company founded by an old friend, on September 9, 2018 celebrating his beautiful new Alhambra-based IONA Work Spaces. Mike chose to highlight Brethren as a nod to the original owner’s community service. “Brethren sells stylish shoes at reasonable prices — and for each pair they sell, they donate another pair to the homeless. Howard Pease would be pleased!” Mike adds.

Alhambra.Rd.Iona.Workspaces.3“Everyone is always impressed with the space,” he says. “Warm. Inviting. Calm,” is how his clients, visitors and prospective tenants describe this newest of Alhambra’s retro gems. “People like that they can have a beautiful office and natural light,” he says.

IONA Work Spaces features a collection of unique offices, common areas and meeting spaces, with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows and large spaces opening onto an historic street. “We’re getting a lot of interest from a mix of professionals including design and architect, consulting and real estate firms and tech oriented business who find IONA an ideal space to run their businesses and meet with clients. There are also a lot of neighbors within walking distance with home-based businesses who want a desk here as their ‘home office,’” Mike says.

A large “living room” space is perfect for after-hours events, like the informal chamber music performance put on by one of IONA Work Spaces new members. Mike hopes this space can be used for ongoing similar gatherings for its members.

More than a beautiful office building, Mike is looking to IONA Work Spaces to be a center of attraction to Alhambra. He hopes to use it to strengthen and promote Alhambra’s position as a center of all the economic activity coming from Pasadena, Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. In particular, “I would love for IONA to be a hub of China-related businesses,” he declared.

IONA Work Spaces is currently accepting tenants. To learn more, visit IONA Work Spaces or email info@iona.work.

Photos courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Marcello.LA.ConservancyClose to 100 people were in attendance at the City of Alhambra’s kick-off community meeting on December 12, 2017 regarding the development of a historic preservation program. Dozens of members of the Alhambra Preservation Group, as well as a representative with the Los Angeles Conservancy, were in attendance to provide input and feedback to the City of Alhambra regarding which elements need to be included in the City’s historic preservation program.

“We are pleased that the City of Alhambra is finally recognizing the value of preserving and protecting its cultural, historical and architectural resources,” stated Joyce Amaro, President of the Alhambra Preservation Group. “APG is excited to be an active partner in developing a preservation program that fits our unique community,” continued Amaro.

During this kick-off meeting, City of Alhambra Director of Development Services, Marc Castagnola provided a presentation on the development of a historic preservation program and the input being solicited by the City of Alhambra. After the presentation,  attendees were separated into four different working groups to provide input into what elements need to be included and what issues needed to be addressed in the development of a historic preservation program for Alhambra.

“After so many years of talking with Alhambrans about the benefits of historic preservation, it was gratifying to me to witness the very positive response of our citizens to this issue in the General Planning process,” said Christine Olson, Alhambra Preservation Group’s immediate past President. “I was pleased that the City responded with the December public meeting and I look forward to more substantive meetings in the near future,” continued Olson.

The City of Alhambra welcomes additional input regarding this program. Alhambra Preservation Group is in the process of drafting a position letter on the development of Alhambra’s historic preservation program. If you were not able to attend the December 12 meeting, but would like to provide input, please visit the City’s historic preservation program web page.

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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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