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Gathering Ideas on Altadena's Future Focus of First County Workshop

Wednesday night was the first of three Altadena Community Visioning Workshop on the future of Altadena, and the workshop's focus was on gathering public input.

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.  

Lori A. Webster April 05, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I thought it was a wonderful first step to a complicated process. Let's hope we keep the momentum going and distill all this down into positive, forward movement.
Ericka April 05, 2012 at 04:37 PM
i agree! it was wonderful to see so many people there participating and making their voice heard. looking forward to even more folks joining the next meeting on april 25th.
Chris April 05, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I was shocked there were so many people ... shocked in a good way. Would love to hear how "the upset participant" could defend storefront churches: They're almost a bigger blight on our community than empty businesses and vacant lots. Hopefully, this whole process moves forward in a way that will benefit our community.
Monica Hubbard April 15, 2012 at 10:59 AM
At the next visioning meeting on April 25, I hope many people will bring up the issue of emergency health care services. We have no hospital in Altadena, nor do we have an emergency room (which must be attached to a hospital), or urgent care facility. Getting down to Huntington or over to Arcadia Methodist or Verdugo Hills can be challenging in an emergency situation; even more so in a disaster situation where there are serious injuries and first responders cannot get up to Altadena. At the very least we need an urgent care facility here.
Kaitlin May 30, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I was thrilled to be able to bring my horse with me when I moved to Altadena this year- as an avid equestrian who rides every day with my well-behaved and gentle horse, thank you to all who support the equestrian aspect of Altadena! City planners, please keep the rural aspect of Altadena and its proximity to the mountain trails in mind and keep those trail routes open!

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