The plans the City of Pasadena has in store for Hahamongna canoodle under an umbrella .
It's a project name that’s semi-manipulative-semi-clever.
It hints that Hahamongna, in its current configuration as a watershed, nature preserve, and wildlife habitat, is of singular and quite possibly exclusionary interest. Something for the connoisseur; a private club that squats on unexploited resources. How much better it would be, the project name implies, to transform Hahamongna Natural Watershed Park into something for everyone.
If the members of the Pasadena City Council, advisory committees and their paid consultants really believe in transparency – and believe it’s in the best interests of current and future generations to rip out acres of the watershed park and replace them with athletic fields, cars, and porta-potties -- then they should call this battle between the city and the citizens of Pasadena, Altadena, and La Canada by its true name: Soccer Fields-Parking lots versus Open Space.
But no, they’re all cagey and coy. Hence, “Multi-Benefit – Multi-Use.” Like they’re selling us something; a shampoo that both “cleans and conditions,” or a deoderant that’s “strong enough for a man and gentle enough for a woman.”
For years, the City of Pasadena has tried to make Hahamongna something other than what it is today. And in the face of public protests, the City has backed down, or appeared to, until it could sneak something in, one acre at a time. Then before you could say multi-benefit-multi-use (and yes, that can take awhile), the City and its advisors produced a completed and approved multi-hundred page master plan to destroy the integrity of the watershed park.
I understand their motivation. At least I think I do. Something to do with grant money and deadlines, which would explain why, in the publicly-held meetings between the City and those opposing development in Hahamongna, there was little time or space for dialogue, free exchange, give-and-take.
Now I suppose Pasadena feels some pressure to wrap things up. Possibly there’s some sort of project deadline looming, where a shovel has to crack the earth for the first soccer field in order to qualify for the grant as a shovel-ready project.
The benefits and uses of Hahamongna as they exist today are many. Hahamongna is a natural watershed, a habitat for birds and other wildlife, a small, peaceful area where humans and other animals can enjoy native and old growth plants, and share in responsible use – biking, riding, walking. An area where youth groups explore and learn about a delicate ecosystem.
Nothing can be semi-preserved. You either save something, or you don’t.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --/I took the one less traveled by..." That's Robert Frost, you know the rest.
When it comes to Hahamongna, those in the majority who represent the City of Pasadena have chosen their road -- not the one less travelled but the one that's paved.
That's the road they're selling, and they’re all sweaty to close the deal.