Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Disconnect

Last night the Pasadena City Council took up review of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Master Plan Addendum for the Hahamongna Annex. As I posted before, this is about the community insistence on the preservation of natural features in this new annex area and not allowing development in this critical watershed. This park is for the purposes of watershed protection for the Arroyo Seco which is contributory to the Los Angeles River watershed and streams.

The response from staff was basically descriptions of road widths, paving, Cal Trans highway standards (???) and reasons why the proposed tree removal did not affect the ecosystem and the environment all that much. Except that it does, and I pointed out in my presentation that we have critical current and ongoing regional water and heat-gain issues that have to be addressed if Pasadena is to consider itself a "sustainable city". It's not about just permitting minor degradations to the watershed.It's about taking big steps to restore the ecosystem and increase tree cover and recharge the aquifer by minimizing paved surfaces and directing rainwater runoff into the soil instead of the storm drain that runs out to the ocean via that concrete channel courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers. This storm drain is the subject of the Central Arroyo Stream Restoration Project.

Again, it's the mindset of concrete control versus the application of natural principles and practices, and a lack of understanding of the consequences of deforestation and its impact on the ecosystem and the local wildlife. This disconnect was highlighted very dramatically last night with the citizen opposition to tree removal and paving, capping a decade of citizen opposition to development in the watershed. The public is requiring the city to be consistent with the statements issued under the Parks & Natural Resources Division with respect to Hahamongna.

Ultimately the Council voted to ask staff to actually incorporate the public recommendations into the final plan of public comment over the last year at various hearings, as well as the input received last night, as opposed to making them conditional per staff recommendations. In this way, the plan can move forward to capture funding for upgrade and restoration of existing uses.

These small victories are important, and hopefully will ultimately prevail.