Dear L.A. County Board of Supervisors,
Some of you have actually gotten on a horse and rode around the foothills. I know because I’ve been there with you. Most people don’t know first hand how we have encroached on the wilderness. I found out since that some of those houses up against the wilds are inhabited by people that hate nature. Yes! People that are actually afraid of a lizard.
It just seems unimaginable but it’s really true. Look at all those houses along the foothills and feel sad that our firefighters have to sacrifice their lives to save them during wildfires. That wouldn’t be such a frequent thing if people didn’t smoke their brains out on the trails…. I only say this after seeing the butts myself.
Here we are with Los Angeles County Public Works petitioning to clear out every living thing above Devil’s Gate Dam in the interest of safety. How sad is that? We know this mean the death to song birds, raptors, coyotes, owls, bunnies… the whole gamut of the ecosystem.
Please read the public comments on the EIR. They are thoughtful and important. It appears that the L.A. County Dept. of Public Works has already made their plans and that we (the pubic that pays the bills) are left out of it. Why else would a public meeting be scheduled after the official comment period?
It feels like a ruse. And, doubly insulting when Hahamongna is so precious to us.
Please, take a closer look.
…for 94 years of service to the collective psyche.
Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera
Guantanamera, guajira, guantanamera
I am a truthful man; I come from where the palm tree grows,
I am a truehearted man, who comes from where the palm trees grow,
Before I lay down my life, I long to coin the verses of my soul
I plant a snowy rose in January and July,
I grow a snowy rose in January and July,
For the open-hearted friend who puts a helping hand in mine
(There’s some missing good stuff here but I am out of time tonight….watch the video. Seeger explains Continue reading
An urgent message from our friend and neighbor Lori Paul:
It has come to my last minute attention that a large Indian Laurel Fig (Ficus) tree and a venerable Podocarpus tree growing by the corner of Green Street and Mentor have been tentatively approved for removal by the City of Pasadena.
These beautiful, mature trees are protected species under Pasadena’s tree ordinance, but because they are located in a privately-owned commercial walkway (near a parking lot), the application for their removal won’t be coming before Urban Forestry Advisory Committee (UFAC). Instead, Pasadena Planning Staff is recommending approval of their removal. Ostensibly, these protected species and size trees are being removed because they are “too close to the building,” and growing at an angle over the parking lot, but the real reason, as told to staff, is that the property owners intend to “renovate” the outdoor shaded walkway in the future and the trees need to go before they can submit new construction plans. See exact quote below.
Trees are not disposable on a whim, nor should protected trees utilized by birds and enjoyed by the public be chopped down simply because they are not perfect. These trees are healthy and an asset to the City. It is a slippery slope to grant the wish of every property owner whose manager doesn’t like sweeping up leaves or who has decided to pour more concrete and close off open spaces where living plants and trees now grow.
Landscaping designs and renovations need to creatively incorporate, not destroy, mature trees that require decades to grow and provide full benefits to the community. Trees are often mutilated by bad pruning or damaged by insufficient tree wells, then later removed. Those with ulterior motives use the excuse trees are surviving by growing in non-optimal locations or shapes to justify their removal. If every tree growing in a constricted concrete hole in walkway or flourishing in a too-small planter next to a building were chopped down, Pasadena would lose over half its mature trees.
The Planning Dept. report on the two trees in question can be read at the following link. Such tree removal applications should also go to the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee, but they do not under current Pasadena policy. This is a major loophole that many developers and property owners exploit to bypass expert botanical review and thereby remove large trees in the City. If a protected tree species must be removed for good reason, then the application should be able to pass UFAC approval, but that is not how the City works. It is time to change that.
“…The applicant explained to staff that the property owners have plans to renovate the bulding, including its facade and the walkway in the rear, however, the improvements cannot be performed until these trees have been removed. Although the applicant has not submitted plans for the renovation for the property, staff does not believe the removal of trees could be made using finding 6 above, in which the project includes a landscape design plan that emphasizes a tree canopy that is sustainable over the long term…”
In other words, if the existing trees are removed, the property owner’s new landscape design plan would not support the required replacement trees in their place, in spite of the property owner claiming otherwise. If the current trees are removed, no trees will be replaced that that site.
Instead, the property owners will be required to replace these mature, environmentally useful and lovely shade trees with (8) 32″ Ficus natida and (8) 20″ Poducarpus gracilior little saplings (or fewer trees in slightly larger containers)… planted somewhere off the property. Sound familiar?
This is how Pasadena will gradually become deprived of its large, mature trees that have grown “unfashionable” for new “streetscape plans,” building expansions, and so forth. Pasadena is an old city with an urban forest to protect and be proud of, not to chop down in bits and fits to suit the property owner du jour. Trees can outlive us all, giving cultural continuity to the City, along with so many other benefits.
Fortunately, Councilmember Terry Tornek has called this tree removal up before Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) on Wednesday the 15th, 6:30pm at Pasadena City Hall in the Council Chambers.
Please attend tomorrow’s meeting if you can! Speak for the trees that have no voice of their own. If you cannot, please send an e-mail ASAP.
E-mail protesting removal of the two trees at Green Street and Mentor must be sent before tomorrow (Wednesday 15 June) afternoon to:
Pasadena Zoning Administrator
Be sure to state that you want your e-mail comments entered in the official record for the Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) meeting on 15 June 2014.
It is important to CC:
Mayor Bill Bogaard
Pasadena Deputy Director for Planning
Councilmember Terry Tornek
Even a few sentences in your own words in support of saving these two “protected trees” would be helpful. (Please do not forward this e-mail with “I agree” or some other comment; that is NOT helpful. In fact, it is counterproductive. Yes, that has been done in the past, necessitating this caution.)
More about the Pasadena Tree Protection Ordinance & Tree Protection Guidelines:
December 16, 2013, the Pasadena City Council amazes. Here are video highlights from that meeting.
Victor Gordo makes sane and reverent comment on the subject of Hahamongna. What a beautiful way to turn it around. Mr. Gordo said he favors the slower and smaller approach to Los Angeles County Public Works Sediment Management Draft EIR, an alternative proffered by Tim Brick. :::
Margaret McAustin wants the position to be much stronger … strongest possible language. The City of Pasadena assert their legal ownership and rights. All agree. :::
Tonight I attended the regularly scheduled meeting of the Pasadena City Council about Hahamongna and Devil’s Gate Dam. The subject was on the Agenda listed as Item 14. It was the first meeting I have ever attended (and there have been many) that was all about its protection but not just that, members of the council made it abundantly clear to me that they understand the meaning of “rare riparian habitat.”
I am full of gratitude for this change. It was unclear to me until tonight that council really understood the significance of Hahamongna. Up until now, it seemed some members still thought of this area above Devil’s Gate Dam as little more than a useless vacant wasteland in need of development. A place that needed improvements in the form of soccer fields and whatnot.
Apparently, as witnessed tonight, that is not the case. I heard members speak to its value to wildlife and an acknowledgement of what it has come to mean to so many of us. I heard the concern for air quality, water quality, and to its spiritual intrinsic value. I about fell out of my chair with love.
I told them in my public comment how much I appreciated their position to protect Hahamongna from the overkill, scorched earth approach to flood control management that the Los Angeles County Public Works is proposing. I told them that after attending the last meeting of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee meeting a few weeks ago, I was impressed with the change in tone and direction of the committee to being a strong protector of Hahamongna.
Public Comment is only three minutes. I did not use the entire time allotted. What I should have told them, I realize now, is why I love Hahamongna.
I am an oil painter in a long tradition of oil painters. I have been instructed to paint with techniques used by the oil painters of the Renaissance Period. I mix some of my own colors from the dirt and sands of Hahamongna.
Raphael used the color Umber named from the sands ground to fine powder from Umbria, and Sienna from Sienna. Burnt Sienna was actually burnt dirt from Sienna, Italy. I use sands and dirt ground to powder and mixed with a medium (oil, in my case) to create colors. the colors unique to Hahamongna.
As I amble through the black willows, buckwheat, mulefat, I take little samplings of soil that has a particular sheen, hue and depth that attracts me. All things that have a certain chemical and mineral alchemy when mixed with a medium and slid across a canvas, react and then with time change and convert themselves into something. It’s a kind of magic.
What makes Pasadena so special is its craftsman history. We see the evidence of that all around us; the craftsmen, Greene and Greene, Millard Sheets, Frank Lloyd Wright, Stickley, Batchelder, and others. When artists ruled this domain and were revered, given full reign to design and create from local materials and from the general aesthetics of the natural environment that once surrounded us here, creation was full throttle excitement. A lasting love, as we see in museums now.
Hahamongna holds the seed of that aesthetic and its alchemy. It’s a fascinating experiment what happens to these different pigment creations when applied to canvas or used in a glaze. The chemical and mineral make up react to each other. Then with time, other things happen. It’s quite an experience. Full of surprise.
The uniqueness of Hahamongna holds inspiration of rejuvenation, a new life for an artist like me. That’s why I love and other artists love Hahamongna but we don’t say… Perhaps afraid of being labeled a fruitcake?
As experts from the world renown and Pasadena’s own Norton Simon Museum or the Huntington Museum and Library will tell you, a painting is really a thing; not just some digitally generated image. If you are sensitive to it in person, it will connect with you through its alchemy. A painting or a tile or a piece of wood work from whence it came, may move you in ways you may not know how to explain.
That’s why I love and treasure Hahamongna.
Last night I attended the Pasadena City Council meeting to see Keith Lilley of LACPW and Flood Control’s latest presentation on the Devil’s Gate Dam Sediment Removal Project. It sounds boring but members of the public made it interesting. Watch.
I’ve posted a copy of what Mary Barrie is talking about in her address to the city council with its illuminating details.
Sent: Mon, Dec 9, 2013 11:41 am
Subject: Devil’s Gate Sediment Removal and Management Project
Mayor Bogaard and City Council:
There are many reasons the Pasadena City Council might ask County Flood Control to go back to the drawing board and come up with new smaller alternatives than those in the Devil’s Gate Reservoir Sediment Removal and Management Project currently out for environmental review. Chief among these are:
· The County’s numbers simply do not add up
· The public has been given confusing, misleading information
· There may possibly be another project driving the size and scope of the sediment project as proposed in the DEIR
The key questions are why has the project more than doubled in size from when it was first proposed? Can the goals of the project, especially downstream flood protection, be accomplished with the removal of less sediment and/or the extension of the project over a longer period of time? The advantage, of course, would be greatly reduced environmental impacts particularly to air quality, traffic, noise, habitat, and aesthetics.
COUNTY NUMBERS DON’T ADD UP
In November 2010 the Hahamongna Advisory Committee was informed that the sediment removal project would remove 1.67M cubic yards and scour 50 acres with only 15 of those to remain permanently bare. Now the DEIR project and alternatives would scour up to 120 acres and remove from 2.4 to 4M cubic yards of sediment. No credible answer has been given to account for this huge increase in the scale of the project.
According to the County’s Sediment Management Strategic Plan 2012 – 2032 Flood Control has historically taken far less sediment out of the basin than they want to now and still been able to keep the downstream safe:
Strategic Plan Table 8-12 Devil’s Gate Reservoir Historical Sediment Accumulation and Removal, shows that since 1938 the sediment stored in the basin has averaged 3.24 million cubic yards. In the late 1960s and 70s the amount of sediment in the basin was more than 4 million cubic yards. At no time during this 90 year period was more than 750,000 cubic yards removed during each cleanout operation. The 750,000 cubic yards was removed in 1977 when the sediment in storage was 4.14 million cubic yards, more than the amount that is in the reservoir now (which is 3.89 million cubic yards). Why is it necessary to remove from 2.4 million up to 4 million cubic yards of sediment for safety reasons when this was not necessary in the past? This is three to almost six times as much sediment as was ever removed at one time in the past.
Table 2-1, p.2-3 in the same document shows that in March 2011 the storage capacity of the basin was 47% or 3.7 million cubic yards. In November 2010 Pasadena’s Hahamongna Advisory Committee was shown a presentation by County Flood Control which stated that the storage capacity in the basin was only 17% or 1.242 million cubic yards. This major discrepancy needs to be resolved.
County Flood Control recently received a grant for $28 million from CA State Water Resources for the Devil’s Gate and Eaton Stormwater Flood Management Project, a component of which is the removal of sediment from behind Devils Gate dam, described in the application as follows:
“To restore reservoir capacity to address the post-Station Fire sediment impacts at Devils Gate Dam, the Devil’s Gate Reservoir Sediment Removal and Management Project will remove an estimated 2,000,000 cubic yards of sediment from the reservoir.”
When this grant application went before the Board of Supervisors for their approval, this is how Gail Farber’s letter describes the project “modifying Devil’s Gate Reservoir by removing up to 2,000,000 cubic yards of sediment… to enhance flood protection to the downstream communities” (Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Statement of Proceedings, March 19, 2013)
If the state is being told the removal of 2,000,000 cubic yards of sediment is sufficient to protect the downstream communities, then why in the DEIR is the project, and all the alternatives studied, with the exception of the No Project, for removal of more than 2,000,000 cubic yards??? Why are the proposals studied by Flood Control in the DEIR more extensive than that for which the grant funds were obtained?
CONFUSING, MISLEADING INFORMATION
As recently as October 2013, the Los Angeles Times was reporting that the Rose Bowl would be flooded in the event of a capital, or 50-year, storm. The grant application, however, includes an exhibit which shows that flooding in Pasadena would be minimal and none of it near the Rose Bowl (Exhibit A.1 in Workplan 2of2). Unfortunately, the public has been allowed to confuse the overtopping of the dam in a capital storm with the catastrophic failure of the dam, an event the County deems “highly unlikely.” KCAL News presented an inflammatory and inaccurate report on the Devil’s Gate situation in November 2013. The strategy seems to be to frighten the public so much that they will go along with the County’s massive DEIR plan without question.
What is really driving the size of this project?
The grant application states that the sediment removal is one component of a project, another component of which is the Devil’s Gate Water Conservation project which would store water behind the dam. A pipeline would be built to carry the water to the Eaton spreading grounds. The sediment removal project and the water conservation project are both in the same location with the same lead agency being done at the same time. Despite this, they are segmented and studied in two separate environmental documents. Since the environmental documents for the water conservation project will not be available until February or March 2014, the public is not able to assess how the massive increase in the size of the sediment removal project may be related to the other project. That there is a relationship between the two is suggested by the following:
“There is a need to remove sediment from the Devil’s Gate Reservoir in order to increase
Reservoir capacity and reduce the flood damage risk to the communities along the Arroyo
Seco Channel. The resulting new reservoir configuration will result in the ability to
impound stormwater to be conveyed via the new pipeline to Eaton Wash spreading
Grounds for conservation” (p.7-3 Grant Application, Technical Justification 1of2)
Maximizing our local water resources is a laudable goal but if it requires the denuding of almost half of Hahamongna Watershed Park, the public might say let’s take a long and careful look at this, the opportunity it seems we are being denied at the moment. There would certainly be questions about how do we arrive at a compromise which increases water supply while still retaining the habitat, recreation, and aesthetic values of the park – not to mention the lessened impacts upon air quality, traffic, noise, etc. which a smaller project would have.
Why also in the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan data base is the City of Pasadena mentioned as a partner of County Flood Control in the Devil’s Gate Water Conservation Project for possible IRWMP grants? The 2010 Pasadena Urban Water Management Plan states that Pasadena Water and Power plans to participate in the project funding and receive credit for a portion of the water recharged. If there has been a precommitment to the water conservation project which would affect the design and implementation of the sediment removal project, the staff of both the City and the County should inform the City Council and the public. The relationship between the two projects must be disclosed in the sediment removal EIR so that the public and the decision makers can understand the full impacts of the two projects upon one another.
l urge the City Council to get to the bottom of all this because Hahamongna is too important to just allow this DEIR to move forward unchallenged.
Thank you for reading.
Mary E. Barrie
Friends of Hahamongna
County Flood Control Original Presentation to the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee, November 2010
Click on Devil’s Gate EIR Toolkit
Click on County Environmental and Planning Documents
Click on Original Presentation November 2010
Los Angeles County Sediment Management Strategic Plan http://www.dpw.lacounty.gov/lacfcd/sediment/stplan.aspx
Devil’s Gate And Eaton Stormwater Flood Management Project
I had trouble getting to the grant application directly – I kept getting broken link messages. You can google the title but the sections come up separately so it’s confusing. The following is how I got there:
From Water Resources home page http://www.water.ca.gov, click on these tabs:
Grants and Loans
IRWM (Prop 50, 84, and 1E)
Prop 1E Round 2 Stormwater Flood Management Applications
Los Angeles County Flood Control District
The link below is the audio recording of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee on December 5, 2013. It is not the entire meeting. Regretfully, I had to leave before the end. I’ve been told an incredible little drama unfolded afterwards.
In the recording you’ll hear some bombshells and interesting revelations come to light by public investigation. Hahamongna, Devil’s Gate Dam, LA County DPW and the HWPAC are a complex puzzle of maps, myths, mystery, misogyny and misdirection.
Tim Brick made me laugh when he explained that removal of 2,000,000 cubic yards of sediment from behind the dam would bring the level to about the same as in the 1930s and taking out 4,000,000 cubic yards would match the sediment level PRE-DAM. Yes, that’s before there ever was a Devil’s Gate Dam. Makes me wonder…
Lori Paul’s testimony at 32:23 of the recording made me cry.
After the meeting officially adjourned, I learned that two committee members, Thom Mrozek and Rita Moreno, submitted letters in opposition to the HWPAC’s offering recommendations to the Pasadena City Council for their Monday, December
916, 2013 meeting. The HWP Advisory Committee’s job is to investigate and then to advise the city council. Saboteurs afoot?
And speaking of saboteurs, where was my boyfriend Loren Pluth, the concrete skateboard park designer?
It was reported that after the committee adjourned, Commissioner Rita Moreno (different kind of dancer) attempted to give a lengthy letter to the Chair in blanket support of the county proposals to be included with the committee’s official letter. Her political maneuvering did not go unnoticed and her behavior reflects badly on the councilman who appointed her. She knows better how improper a thing that is to do.
Good or bad, I feel grateful to the majority on the committee standing up in protection of Hahamongna and listening to the public which includes voluntary dedication by engineers, biologists, research pros, writers, artists, teachers, naturalists, birders and ordinary tax paying residents. We all love Haha (all except for two).
Waiting to see what happens Monday night,
Up next… activism for your participation. Here’s Julia Posen (tree sitter) and Darryl Hannah the day after LACDPW destroyed Arcadia Woodlands:
“A Warning To My Readers”
by Wendell Berry
“Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.”
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