Updated: Final County Visioning Workshop to be Held Wednesday

The county's final Altadena Community Visioning workshop will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Updated: The report has now been released since the publication of this article and is attached on right.  We'll have a post up on its contents by tomorrow morning.

Original: The third and final Altadena Community Visioning workshop will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the gym.

The purpose of the final workshop is to review a draft report on community input on potential planning changes and other policy preferences for Altadena's future.  

The draft report may not be released to the public prior to the meeting - Altadena Patch requested a copy from RBF Consulting, the county's consultant on the visioning process, but was told that the report may or may not be released ahead of time.

RBF Consulting has previously released some of the public input from the first two workshops, which includes high-priority policy changes that the workshop participants said the county should consider.

That list is available below, and the full list of ideas that participants labeled as high-prioirity and low-priority can be viewed at right.

Wednesday's meeting is open to the public and will be the final one in the process.  For more on previous meetings, check out the links at the bottom of the story.

High Priorities

  • Consider mixed use zoning in commercial areas (condos) – more density to create more vibrancy.
  • Parking – Smaller parcels have limited on‐site parking, and larger lots are not shared. County zoning requires a certain number of spaces per business, so for a smaller parcel this means a new business will need a conditional use permit to open—the cost and delay for such a permit are prohibitive. Diagonal parking. Restripe Lake for better parking (possibly diagonal)
  • Liquor stores – Community members feel that there are too many of these businesses and that they are hotspots for unsafe activity.
  • Signage – Business owners feel that limits on signage are too restrictive [underline added], for both permanent and temporary signs (for instance, sandwich board signs are not permitted onsidewalks).
  • Murals painted on buildings should be permitted.
  • Fines – Fines for code violations related to signs, etc. are higher than fines for lack of property maintenance, but some community members feel that it is more important to discourage blight. Punish slum lords and reward active business owners.
  • Storefront churches religious institutions – Some feel that in commercial areas, storefront churches are less desirable than businesses because they are only active a few days a week and do not pay taxes [underline added]
  • Revise parking requirements to allow businesses to count spaces in common and reduce the need for them to obtain Conditional Use Permits.  
  • Allow temporary signs, sandwich board signs, and permanent window signs.
  • Allow murals
  • Create bigger disincentives (increase fines) for vacant and unmaintained properties.  Raise fines for property maintenance violations, and enact a tax on vacant buildings equal to the general fair market rent of the area. Lower fines for code violations that do not cause blight, and lower fees for permits.
  • Enact a moratorium on storefront churches in commercial areas.
  • Grandfather original zoning to allow present day businesses to open (street front retail)
  • Light manufacturing use could be allowed to encourage better business use (i.e. artists) + employment
  • Create a one‐stop shop / ombudsman [underline added] for permitting to help businesses start and expand – locally in Altadena.
  • Discourage excessive code‐related complaints from a single anonymous individual.
  • Crime – Concerns include burglaries, robberies, gang activity, and guns/shootings.
  • Promote neighborliness
  • Liquor stores – Limit the number/concentration
  • Leaf blowers – Limit days/hours for their use, mandate electric blowers
  • Urban agriculture – Encourage more urban agriculture activities such as small farms, community gardens, homesteading, a farmer’s market, and beekeeping.
  • Keep hillside neighborhoods in harmony with the natural landscape
  • Install traffic calming elements to address speeding.
  • Support the library as a community hub
  • Maintain communication between County and community members
  • Maintain cooperative community relationships with law enforcement
  • Library – Physical improvements are needed for ADA compliance and safety; additional parking would help meet demand.
  • Schools ‐ Develop and strengthen partnerships in community to support schools.  Engage community and Supervisor in education oversight and support.  Deploy retired teachers as tutors. Provide staffed school libraries, arts education, and resources for student health.  Develop joint use agreements to make school grounds available for community recreation when not in use by schools, and to make community facilities available for school use.  Make all schools community schools with wrap‐around support for children and their families
  • Provide and maintain pathways throughout Altadena for safe travel on foot, bike, and horseback
  • Promote safe sharing of streets between people using different modes of transportation
  • Lack of designated bike lanes and sidewalks
  • Traffic/speeding enforcement
  • Lack of coordinated master plan for bikes, pedestrians, and equestrians (integrate local network of bike paths with County bike plan)
  • Bike racks at businesses, schools, parks.
  • Expand Farnsworth Park by developing publicly owned plot next to the park, while preserving oak trees. Create a community center building (1), tennis center (2), and off‐leash dog park (3).
  • Use stop signs, speed bumps and speed traps around neighborhoods, especially coming out of La Vina.
  • Encourage walking and enjoyment of the streets—bring the streets to life
  • Provide parking adjacent to businesses as well as shared parking areas and on‐street parking so visitors can “park once” and walk to businesses
  • Allow a variety of building types and styles in keeping with Altadena’s eclectic character.
  • Walking – Commercial areas are not pedestrian‐friendly, and crossing streets in front of downhill traffic can feel unsafe.
  • Vacant/underused properties – Besides the smaller vacant storefronts, community members would like to see development or rehabilitation of some large and visible properties including those at Lake and Calaveras, Lincoln and Altadena, and the Rite Aid shopping center.
  • Parking – Smaller parcels have limited on‐site parking, and larger lots are not shared.
  • Revise parking requirements to allow businesses to count spaces in common and reduce the need for Conditional Use Permits.
  • Provide design guidance that promotes architectural quality without dictating a particular style or color scheme.  
  • Eliminate 35‐foot height limit and encourage developments that bring more people into town/district centers such as two‐story and higher mixed use buildings. For buildings higher than two stories, set the upper stories back as needed to preserve mountain views from the street.
  • Use urban design and landscaping to make pedestrians feel safe and create gathering spaces
  • Create parking/gathering space in the middle of the Mariposa right‐of‐way (similar to the new median in Lancaster’s downtown, or a row of diagonal parking as in Pacific Grove).
  • Parking reform #1 priority. Establish a mechanism for shared use of existing and future parking among commercial, public and non‐profit entities. Or create new public parking. Eliminate or reduce County parking requirements for new businesses.
  • Head‐in parking on Lake – redesign + narrow street to calm traffic.
  • Create stronger disincentives for landlords to allow properties to remain vacant, unfinished, or dilapidated.
  • Add trees and landscaping. Require shade trees in parking lots and use drought‐tolerant plant species.  Require proper maintenance of trees and landscaping.
  • Create specific plans for town/district center areas.
  • Establish a Business Improvement District to address existing underkept business properties, especially on Lake between Calaveras & Mariposa.

For more on the Altadena Community Visioning process, check out our previous stories:

Nico June 06, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Anyone who doesn't want Altadena to get crowded with cars and condominiums (followed by apartments and blight) should call/write against mixed use. Prominent real estate agents and developers are teaming up with the County trying to push this into the plan -- opening up the opportunity for the County to increase density up here. They have been trying to do this for years -- destroy our peace and quiet and home values. Those people who envision some quaint upper middle class condos above a coffee shop are deluded --what we will get is underground parking, high rise apartment occupied by multiple people who can't afford SFRs, and on LIncoln, the lovely historic farm homes will be razed and cheap apartments put up, resulting in increased crime, traffic and blight. Say NO to increased density. Show up at the meeting Wednesday or at least write to Antonovich and the Town Council to be on record as against this part of the proposal.
Nico June 06, 2012 at 01:33 PM
If people cannot make the Wed. meeting to express concern about the County increasing density in our quiet community, email the supervisor and the scoping committee. The emails are below: matt.lust@lacdc.org fifthdistrict@lacbos.org
Bill Madrid June 06, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Very interested in making our Altadena a mural-friiendly town (in reference to bullet point #5 on the High Priorities list). There are many surfaces in Altadena that could be transformed to enhance, beautify, and add distinctive character to our town. I have worked with high school students and groups of Developmentally Disabled young adults to create large scale murals in other areas of LA, as well as working as a single artist here at home in Altadena (painted the Patticakes mural at Allen/New York Dr.). I would be anxious to work with community leaders to organize group/community projects to beautify Altadena and involve the community. I plan to attend tonight's meeting at Loma Alta Park.


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