Community Comments on Arroyo Advisory Group Recommendations
ASF Quarterly Meeting —April 13,2018
Credit: Pasadena Now
This is a summary of comments from the public after the presentation about the recommendations of the Arroyo Advisory Group. Christle Balvin facilitated the discussion.
Restore the rock amphitheater south of the Aquatic Center. A $1,000 contribution was promised at the meeting toward this goal.
Natural trails are the most desirable such as those seen in the upper and lower arroyo.
In the Arroyo Seco Master plan, to which thousands contributed their thoughts and insights, the clear preference was for a natural environment as opposed to a cultivated garden look.
Because the Arroyo Advisory Group was hired using Rose Bowl Operating Company funds, there is a feeling among some that they have driven the agenda.
A project level environmental review will be required. Demonstration projects will require it and likely fail.
Financing should not be from the RBOC which might mean more concerts and named projects such as those from Honda.
So many events in the Arroyo are disruptive to regular community users.
There should be no funding for new facilities until the issue of maintenance and repair of what already exists in the Arroyo is dealt with. Currently these are underfunded.
Apply the anticipated $5 million in proposed funding toward the work of the Arroyo Seco Foundation as opposed to creating a new entity.
Report from the Arroyo Advisory Group is impressive and reflective of new thinking. The value of the report is the list of choices to be made from among the demonstration projects.
How were the two demonstration projects costing $6.2 determined? Who was involved in this determination? How was public input incorporated in this decision?
There needs to be a historic inventory for the upper Arroyo and consideration of National Register nomination.
Historic structures can include smaller "sexy" projects that might attract funds such as the Bird Sanctuary or Rockery.
While working to examine potential improvements and projects, there should be no expansion of existing facilities (casting pond, Children's Museum, Aquatics Center).
Was there any inventory of user groups? If not, this is needed. Questions should be asked such as who are they? Are members local? What do they contribute to the city?
Traffic on Linda Vista is terrible. So many users are increasingly impacting residents who live on surrounding streets.
Bicyclists love the Arroyo. There are cyclist who ride from So. Pas to Altadena, but there are no bike lanes through the Arroyo. One speaker hopes that a strategic trail can be developed and shared with bicyclists.
The city provides "unbalanced support" in that the Rose Bowl gets lots of money and attention but bikes, archery and anglers do not receive a fair or anywhere near equal share.
Native American heritage needs recognition.
There should be more support for the native plant nursery. Currently people go to outlying areas for plants that they could be purchasing through this Pasadena nursery.
Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something if the planning is not thorough and thoughtful.
The Arroyo is a spiritual place. Naturalize the concrete channel. The natural environment and protecting it is most important to planning the future of the Arroyo. Look to the inspiration it has supplied to generations of Plein Air painters.
Restore the rock walls that were built by the Works Project Administration (WPA) and that Pasadena has neglected.
This discussion validates the guiding principles. These principles should serve as a prism through which projects should be viewed and decisions made.
There are real safety concerns for the Arroyo where a much greater clean out of brush/and fire material is needed. Any new plan must achieve a balance between protecting what is natural while maintaining and clearing out what is dead and needs to be removed.
Maintenance is crucial and there needs to be a balance. The City must not allow too much overgrowth. And professionals are needed for much of this work. Although there is definitely a place for volunteers, there is also a great need for professional care and maintenance.
What happened to the plan years ago for removal of the cement channel and restoration of the natural habitat? In responding, Tim Brick indicated that some of that proposal is still moving ahead through the US Army Corps of Engineers Arroyo Seco Ecosystem Study with many partners involved, including the County Flood Control District, Pasadena and other agencies. The study is "back on track." The current channel doesn’t have adequate capacity anyway in the event of a 100-year flood.
There is tension between three groups actively concerned with the Arroyo. They include those who want a natural arroyo, user groups such as the archers and those who think more commercialization in order to raise money for maintenance and improvements can all be accommodated by the Arroyo.
What is the business model proposed by the Arroyo Seco Task Force? What are the proposed funding sources? Has there been a breakdown of maintenance costs vs. new projects?
Questions were asked about governance of the Arroyo. According to Tom Seifert, this issue is before the Finance arm of the One Arroyo group, the successor to the Arroyo Advisory Group. Its charge is the exploration of fundraising options and opportunities. Ultimately, a new non-profit might grow into the governance role. But some feel there are "too many cooks in the kitchen" with each concerned with different aspects of the Arroyo and little coordination between them.
Several requests were made for an evaluation of user groups, particularly their contribution vs. the costs to the City of their continued use of the Arroyo. Several speakers indicated that the issue of governance should come before consideration of other issues. They felt the Advisory Group may have had it backward. Several indicated that they feel a business plan should precede much of the activity now being undertaken by the One Arroyo Finance Committee. They advocate a business plan before action.
One speaker liked forming a non-profit because of its potential ability to go after government funding. The speaker asked if historic hikes could be used to raise funds?
The Arroyo should be a central location for all environmental activities in the City. This is a historic project. All information could be in one place. It is long overdue since the City has held the former Forest Service property for over a decade.
There should be a habitat survey for the entire Arroyo that is available to the public on the Internet. A speaker suggested a careful review of the Arroyo master plans for a lot of information that would be helpful to further action by the One Arroyo group.
What is the AAG Finance Committee doing? Are committee members contributing? And how does the new non-profit propose to recognize donors? Some attendees are worried about more large commercial signs such as those that are already going up around the Rose Bowl.
A request was made for more focus upon the stream and for stream restoration projects.
From Topey Schwayenback
I like very much the recommendations, especially: 1) The Native American Cultural Recognition; 2) The natural restoration of trails; and 3) The naturalization of the Rose Bowl Golf Course. I would add a historical component going from Mount Wilson to JPL to early rocket experimentation. That is a thread of scientific research. This would link the Arroyo to the scientific community -- from the heavens to the sea.
From an anonymous written comment:
I'm all for natives but I'm also a fan of shade and large established trees. Years ago, hundreds of non-native large trees were cut out of the Arroyo. It felt like a very large waste of money. I'm sure it cost thousands of dollars and wasted the valuable hours of manpower and resources that would have been better used on maintenance. The new trees that were planted take years to become large and sometimes don't succeed at all. So I'm not in favor of spending any money on cutting out large trees, even if they are not native. There are so many bigger and more impactful ways to spend money.
From another anonymous written comment:
As we consider costs of and revenues from current (and possibly future) Arroyo users, let me emphasize something obvious. We must consider the opportunity costs of keeping or having these users in the Arroyo. What is the total value of natural habitat and income that the cities and then the public are not receiving because of the occupation and use of the Arroyo by these users?