Thursday, May 17, 2012

Caltrans Knows What a 710 Tunnel Will Do to the San Gabriel Valley - They Could Hardly Care Less

The SR-710 Study Outreach Team, which is actually made up of Metro and Caltrans public relations employees, will be holding a series of meetings next week with people just like you. And while they didn't bother to mention the "tunnel" word in their recent meeting notice press release on the matter (click here), the purpose will be to convince you that building the 710 Tunnel, which will join that freeway with our very own SR-210, is really the only logical choice for you to consider.

For this occasion they have concocted some of the rather astringent government phraseology that typifies public announcements such as this. Then packed it into a press release that carefully avoided the true purpose of this effort like it was an unwanted visitation from your least favorite dead relative. Building the godforesaken SR-710 Tunnel. George Orwell must be spinning in his grave. Here are some examples of this journey into the heart of darkness, complete with edifying commentary from us.

For the SR-710 Study, Metro and Caltrans are evaluating options to improve mobility and relieve congestion within the study area of the western San Gabriel Valley and east/northeast Los Angeles.

As someone who commutes daily to Burbank on the 210, I can personally attest that it gets pretty congested at times. How building the 710 Tunnel, which would directly funnel a whole lot of additional traffic onto the 210, is going to improve traffic congestion and "mobility" in this area is beyond me. It really doesn't make any sense. Quite honestly, I think they just made that part up, and that these people will say anything to build the damn thing.

In this meeting, people will learn about the multi-modal alternative concepts under evaluation in the SR-710 Study process, including, but not limited to, "no build" alternative, improvements to local streets, expansion of transit systems, as well as freeway options.

Basically what all that gibberish says is that Caltrans and Metro are required to air (sorry) this stuff out as part of the environmental study they have to complete in order to get this project approved. But without actually having to say that this is about building a tunnel that will dump thousand of trucks, buses and cars onto an already jammed 210. Or turn our sunny valley into a diesel truck corridor that will render the air something profoundly toxic.

The alternate concepts and other study process information will be available for viewing on large interactive boards staffed by multi-disciplinary team members.

I wonder what would happen if you brought some boards of your own? Boards that might express viewpoints that are contrary to those posted on the boards they will provide? Even the ones that they claim are "alternative concepts?" I'm also curious what it is about these boards that make them interactive. Does it mean you can write on them?

Of course, Caltrans and Metro do know exactly what this is all about, and they also know that it is going to do some serious environmental damage to the already dicey air quality of the San Gabriel Valley. They just don't want you to think about that. And obviously they don't want anyone who shows up to their little "Alternative Analysis Outreach" open houses to discuss such things. That would hardly help with "the process."

In Tuesday's Los Angeles Times there is an article about electric trucks, and how some fine day they might be plying the SR-710 (click here). However, buried in the heart of this item is the following bad news about the 710 and what this all could foretell for our slice of the San Gabriel Valley should this tunnel be built and bring all of that into our lives.

"Most people think about cars when they think of vehicle emissions, but the reality is it's freight trucks," said Daryl Dulaney, chief executive of North American infrastructure and cities sector for Siemans.

More than 40% of freight that arrives in the U.S. via shipping containers comes through the ports of Long Beach and L.A. That freight then has to be trucked to rail stations and other points of distribution.

More than 10,000 trucks serve these two ports, according to a 2011 analysis conducted by the Port of L.A. The movement of goods through Southern California's ports affects almost 17 million people and causes billions of dollars in health-related costs annually, according to a 2011 report from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

"The ports have made tremendous improvements, but goods-movement-related air pollution remains our largest source of air pollution in Southern California," said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD executive officer.

And much of that is what will show up on the 210 should the 710 Tunnel be built. The thousands of trucks that will then be funneled into the San Gabriel Valley will further degrade the environment while putting the health of those who live here at risk. In addition to turning the 210 into even more of a parking lot than it already is now.

At the Caltrans and Metro open houses none of that will be brought up by the hosts. I'm certain there will be plenty of multi-modaling and alternatives analysis going on, but that is just a distraction. Don't expect much conversation on some of the topics brought up here. But should you go, do try and bring up some of the stuff we have discussed here. It will annoy them no end.

And, of course, they have a Facebook page (click here). Doesn't everybody? Except me, of course.

The get-together that I would likely attend takes place on May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the South Pasadena Library Community Room. It is located at 1115 El Centro Street in South Pasadena.

This Evening's Planning Commission Meeting

This one is all about the possibility of allowing the Pinney House to become a bed and breakfast. A cozy sounding concept that the owners hope will make this recently renovated pile more attractive to buyers as this historic structure has been on the market for a while. Word is the owner is getting rather anxious about his prospects of ever moving the place. It isn't easy (or cheap) being the protector of so large a slice of Sierra Madre history.

From the City Staff "Executive Summary" on this matter:

The applicants, Greg and Judy Asbury, are proposing the adaptive reuse of a 10,124-square-foot historic single-family residence as a bed and breakfast inn on property located at 225 North Lima Street (Pinney House). Pursuant to Code Section 17.82.065, a Conditional Use Permit is required to convert single-family residences to bed and breakfast inns. The conversion to a bed and breakfast inn would include 6 (six) guest rooms, 1 (one) innkeeper unit, and 7 (seven) on-site parking spaces. Pursuant to Code Section 17.08.020, off-street parking spaces must be readily accessible.

The Executive Summary then goes on to say that Staff recommends approval of all this, probably because the Asburys are tight with Mayor Moran. Which is how things are being done this year.

I personally have a problem with the concept of a bed and breakfast. It is far too polite a term and, as a guy, kind of suggests the sort of thing someone's wife might think is the fine use of a weekend. Which is OK, we all have to make accommodations regarding the wishes of our far finer halves. But it still sounds kind of fussy to me.

Seeing how the Planning Commission is mostly guys, I think the Asburys will find themselves getting a much quicker approval if they renovated their concept a little bit. How about instead of a "bed and breakfast," they called it a "dinner with a couple of drinks, then passing out on the couch in front of really big screen TV" place? With a cigar shop.

Put the Lakers or the Dodgers on and it would be a hell of a lot more interesting than an evening of discussing the quaintness of the carefully redesigned woodwork, or how comfortable the mattress might be. And far be it from me to start rumors, but I have heard from more than one source that marmalade causes male pattern baldness.

You didn't hear that from me.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

59 comments:

  1. Truth of the matter is that the proposed 710 connector is simply a freight route for cheap, polluting trucks. The obvious solution is to put underground freight rail connecting the Port of LA to dry ports and freight centers. No exhaust problem (electric), no grade crossings, etc. That way the rail industry pays for the infrastructure that they use, not the taxpayers.

    The surface alternative is more than adequate for the normal commuting passenger traffic.

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    1. Doesn't the taxpayer subsidize the railroads? When was the last time AMTRAK made a profit?

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    2. This is freight rail, not passenger rail.

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    3. Our Asian benefactors are not pleased that such a bottleneck exists in getting their products cheaply and quickly from the ports to the warehouses of Wal*Mart and Target. We are under orders to take care of that right away.

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    4. Well then, does the freight rail make a profit? Does the taxpayer subsidize the freight rail?

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    5. Trucks will sooner than later be using natural gas.
      There is a big problem here with all electric cars, hybrid cars,and cars that run on natural gas.
      They don't pay the federal and state gasoline tax......which in California adds up to around a dollar a gallon of gas in tax to finance our roads, and repairs, etc.
      All these "alternative energy" cars and trucks will be using our roads, but not paying for them in gasoline tax. We will be paying it all, even though they are creating traffic, pot holes, and wear and tear on our roads.

      How long before Fed and State MILEAGE TAX hits everyone?
      Just asking, please enlighten me, if this is not the case?
      Thanks

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    6. The rail head has already been extended to the ports of Long Beach/Los Angeles for several years now. Containers come off the ships and are immdediately loaded onto the train. There is a lot less truck traffic on the 710 as a result and it expedites the movement of cargo out of the harbor for rail points east.

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    7. How do you explain the 2011 AQMD report the LA Times cites? 10,000 trucks? That would be a nightmare here.

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  2. I like the B & B idea. When those very special friends or family come to visit us they can partake of the beauty that surrounds us by renting a room in town.

    The 710 Tunnel is going to get rammed down our throats one way or another. Organizations and concerned individuals better take action now and get the word out.
    Tattle Tale, Tattle Tale ,,, Thank you.

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    1. It seems like the people who live around the Pinney House are ok with the b and b idea, or they would have been at the meetings. The Alfington will bring people from out of town to vist their elders, and the Pinney could do some business with that.

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  3. Why stop at a B&B, why not rezone all of Lima into a commercial zone....this will make Moran orgazmic.

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    1. Good idea. We could call it the "Crumpet Zone."

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  4. Since my home was built in the 1950s, and has the distinct one story charm of that era, I would like to turn it into an themed overnight stay inn. We would exclusively serve Swanson's TV dinners, and the TVs, all black and white, would only show Leave It To Beaver and I Love Lucy. A complimentary pack of Old Golds would be left on every pillow.

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  5. Sierra Madre changes it Municipal Code every time someone want to make money.
    *City ignored the General Plan for 1 Carter
    *The City is trying to change the GP and Municipal code for the ALF
    *The City is now changing the municipal code for the B&B.

    The Development Department is for those people who want to make a buck and DAM^ the neighbors.

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    1. 7:35 - Please explain specifically how the General Plan was ignored for Carter 1

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    2. Good morning, Steve!

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    3. Beware folksies. Trollses are out this morning intent on doing mischiefs.

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    4. Don't you just love people who demand explanations? Like we owe these idiots anything.

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    5. It's easier to call someone a troll than it is to discuss the facts. General Plan wasn't changed for 1 Carter.

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    6. Even if you have a point, what difference does it make? One Carter is the greatest environmental crime in Sierra Madre history. By far.

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    7. The General Plan was ignored by the City higherups.

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    8. Read it. Then everyone will be on the same page.

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    9. Late to the blog today, but 10:45 I totally agree with your first statement - lot of that Steve calling going around - and totally disagree with your second statement - no one said in the comments above yours that the general plan was changed - it was "bypassed." Probably much the same way any citizen objections to the 710 Tunnel O'Death will be bypassed.

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    10. Again, what does it matter. The developer those 4 clowns bent over for couldn't get anything more done that cut down all the trees. And it has sat as a lunar landscape for 6 years. The only people dumb enough to buy lots there were realtors.

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    11. "The Lunar Zone"

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    12. Let's all remember the scoundrels who sold us out with the One Carter deal.

      John (green) Buchanan, Enid(Green) Joffe; Rob (failed bankster) Stockley, and Tonja Torres (sold out to Bart Doyle DSP gang).
      Our Planning Commission recommended not to approve Dorn Platz scam. The evil gang of the above, voted it in.

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    13. I remember, 1:38. Stonehouse and Carter should be called the BuchananJoffeStocklyTorres Estates.

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    14. Acouple of days ago someone posted on here that the reason nothing was built at One Carter was because Greg Galletly was prevented from building because of resident interference until after the bubble had burst.I'm starting to think it is Greg himself we're hearing from.

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    15. Residents prevented building? Poppycock, balderdash, and ignorance of the timeline of events.

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  6. The wiggliest moment last time when the Pinney seller was speaking, was about having big groups of people there.
    He wouldn't rule it out.
    The street would be packed with cars for a big event.

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    1. Alverno on Lima.

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    2. I think there is a CUP required for any event over a certain number.

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  7. If the government really cared about being Green, the AQMD would have a lot more power.

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    1. The government just wants to create opportunities for their favorite lobbyists.

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    2. Oh, the AQMD has power. Afgter the windstorm 11/30-12/1, they even fined Sierra Madre on some sort of violation for running the generator at the City Yard so we could make sure water got pumped.

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    3. Have you looked into AB32? We'll have clean air but mostly because no one will live in California anymore

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  8. The "Study Workshops" look well planned and will no doubt be comfortable under attended. What Metro and Cal Trans have to do, however, to have any integrity at all, is blanket the areas at the mouths of the tunnels with outreach materials, and the first page should be the statistics about increased emphysema and cancer rates in those kinds of locations. Then they need to close down a chosen street in those two areas for a block party, maybe with a theme like "Study Workshop on Living with Carcinogen Level Increases"

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    Replies
    1. Maybe CalTrans could hire some oncologists as guest speakers.

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    2. Maybe SCAG can come up with a fully electric hearse.

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  9. Why is lobbying allowed?

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    Replies
    1. It provides a second income for State Senators and Assemblymen.

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    2. Because "WE" allow it!!

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  10. The Staff Report on the Pinney House, aka Hotel Sierra Madre, has an extensive and very handsome Operations Plan that the current owners put together. So since we hear that they're leaving town as soon as they can sell this, ya gotta wonder how well that plan will be implemented with new owners.

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    1. I'm sorry, but this sounds like a favor being done for specific individuals. Has there ever been a bed and breakfast in Sierra Madre before? If not, what was the reason? Anybody know?

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    2. The staff report says there is one bed and breakfast with one room.
      I think this is one of the only ways a place like the Pinney House can be maintained.
      Or be a home to a very rich person. But the rest of the neighborhood is very Sierra Madre - a mix. And then there's that big old mansiony place. So I don't think it's a real draw for a multi millionaire.
      What else can the owners do? Especially as they want to get out of Sierra Madre.

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    3. Definitely falls into the white elephant territory. A historic structure, beloved by many in the community, and as expensive as hell to maintain.

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    4. If all 6 rooms were occupied by paying customer every weekend for a year the gross would be about $100,00 - before the cost of those decorator sheets/towels, food, servers, a gardner, and "the help". And it's on the market for about $2 mil? I've gotta think anyone who could afford that price wouldn't be interested in being tied down to a big old house and a bunch of strangers every weekend of the year.

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    5. There's a network of BnB owners, Innkeepers, etc, and they have their own selling sites. Bet the Pinney House is itching to get on them.

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    6. The Bed and Breakfast in town is the old jail. I think it doesn't have food service but gives a chit to a restaurant in town. Personally, I think it would be nice to have the Pinney house a bed and breakfast -- it was once a hotel, why not a B&B? Why the griping about it when the neighbors are not?

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    7. I agree with 1:55 about a B&B being a good use, but we'll see tonight if any neighbors show up to oppose it.
      Griping? Just discussing is more like it.

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    8. Not griping. Just having fun with it.

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  11. I just read the staff report. My assumptions were that a family/couple would be living/owning Pinney House and the guests would be arriving for long weekends in picturesque Sierra Madre. Wow! Was I wrong! Not that's what the Asbury's have in mind is bad, but it's very different from what I had imagined. No where in the staff report is any mention of the Asbury's experience as innkeepers and if the property is for sale they clearly will not be living there. So I'm thinking more than a bed and breakfast it's a small boutique hotel. So why not call it a small boutique hotel? With an onsite innkeeper, a chef, gardners, and service staff. And what happens after a year if the new investors have not complied with the business and operating plans the Asbury's have agreed to? After spending a couple of million and the CUP is pulled? This plan is fraught with pitfalls. It's very similar to the plans the developers/real estate folks come to the Planning with where they get the plans approved in advance and then advertise a lot with approved plans in place.

    Am I against the Pinney House Bed and Breakfast? Not necessarily. It has much to commend it - but let's be real clear about what is being proposed: a small hotel with no ability to install a restaurant or a venue for weddings or events. Several times "corporate events" were referred to in the staff report. And, have the Asbury's ever put together a business/operating plan for a project such as the Pinney House Pie In The Sky?

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    1. A boutique hotel it is. Maybe that's why it's been named the Hotel Sierra Madre on the plans, rather than A BnB on Lima, or The Pinney BnB, or The Pinney on Lima BnB, the more usual kind of names.

      If it was such a great plan, why would the people who put it together be ready to drop it?

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    2. Maybe they could make it into a rest home for old punk rockers. They could call it The Pinhead.

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  12. Here's a site that inn owners use to buy and sell, that'll show some of the usual prices. The pinney's on the high side:
    http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/InnsForSale/california.html

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  13. The listing on Trulia has it for $2,795,000

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  14. The Asburys estimate a 54% occupancy rate at $190/night per room. And what would the ROI be for the new owner(s)?

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    1. That is a wildly optimistic occupancy rate estimate.

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    2. For fifty dollars less I could stay at the perfectly adequate Springhill Suites in Arcadia. Not elegant, but more amenities and centrally located for transportation needs.

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