The first of three county workshops on the future of Altadena was all about ideas: participating residents were charged with telling consultants hired by the county what they treasure about Altadena, what challenges Altadena faces, and their vision for Altadena in future years.
And they were asked to do it all on post-its.
The purpose of the ' is to gather public input on what potential changes should be made to update Altadena codes, as well as take a broader look at what priorities county planners should have for Altadena's future. That will include "future land use, economic developments, streetscape improvements, open space, safety, and preservation of local character."
The public input will be used to amend the Altadena Community Standards, which governs business and residential codes that are specific to Altadena. But the input will also be used to look at bigger picture plans for Altadena including the Altadena General Plan, according to Susan Harden of RBF Consulting, which is handling the visioning process for the county.
The Post-It Results
At Wednesday's meeting every participant was asked to write three things they treasure about Altadena on a post-it and stick it to the wall. The RBF Consultant team then sorted the responses into several general recurring categories.
The same process was repeated for challenges Altadena faces, and visions for Altadena's future. Below show the major categories Altadena responses fit into:
- Treasures: Nature, Diversity, Architecture/History, Good Neighbors, Small Town Feel, Quietness, Christmas Tree Lane,
- Challenges: Communications/Governance, Streets, Jobs/Business, Safety, Schools, Library, Things to Do, Nature, People, Regulations, Cohesion and Parking.
- Visions: Activities/Parks, Restaurants, Economy, Safety, Improved Streets, Schools, Jobs/Business, Pedestrian Mixed-Use, Bike Friendly, Local Character, Transportation.
Judging by the number of post-it cards people seemed to most highlight their love for nature, the mountains and trail access as what they treasured most, closely followed by diversity.
Jobs/Business came in as the top Challenge, and Restaurants Economy and Improved Streets were very popular in the Vision section.
The responses came from an estimated crowd of between 125 and 150 people. The pictured map at right shows the homes or business locations of participants. When asked to raise their hands for how long they had been in Altadena, most had been in town for at least 10 years, and many for much longer. Six people described themselves as 50-year-residents.
Breaking into Discussions
Following the post-it exercise, the major categories that came out of the process became the subjects of discussion for residents. Residents were able to choose which discussion to join. Unsurprisingly, based on the number of post-its about local businesses, the table on that subject was jam-packed and a second table was opened up for overflow.
The group has two more meetings, but they will not have the same format. At the next meeting at April 25, participants will be asked to take the ideas gathered at Wednesday's meeting and focus further on where there is consensus and what practical ideas can be moved forward.
In May, RBF Consulting will release a draft report on Altadena community priorities for residents to review. The final meeting, one June 6, will be about gathering input on that report.
Agree to Disagree?
Though there was a lot of agreement on what priorities that report ought to contain, from looking and listening to public comment it is also clear there will be some disagreements. While there were many comments on attracting local businesses, there were also a lot about maintaining a small town character and not making Altadena a more busy place.
At a discussion on Streets and Mobility, participants supported more bike lanes, better pedestrian improvements, but the Infrastructure/Utilities group listed one priority as not spending any more money on traffic calming measures like speed bumps, which are frequently used as bike and pedestrian improvements and are currently written into a .
The discussion on business included mention of keeping more churches from opening up in commercial areas, an idea that had one participant upset when looking at coments the groups came up with.
And finally, while there were many post-its that called for less county regulation of business, there were actually a couple that called for more enforcement.