Pasadena City Council to Meet Monday, Will Hear Arroyo Plans, Consider Landmark Designations

Published : Monday, February 5, 2018 | 6:37 AM

Pasadena’s City Council is scheduled for public hearings Monday on proposals to designate the historic Livingstone Hotel at 139 South Los Robles Avenue, and a single-family residence at 580 Arbor Street, as City landmarks.

The public hearings are part of the agenda for Monday’s weekly City Council meeting, which will also tackle recommendations to appropriate funding to the City’s One Arroyo Project, and to amend the City’s housing regulations to include Accessory Dwelling Units.

In a meeting in December, the City’s Historic Preservation Commission recommended that the City Council approve the designation of the former Livingstone Hotel, now a multi-family residential building, as a landmark after several of the present residents expressed support in writing for the designation.

A backgrounder prepared by the Department of Planning and Community Development said The Livingstone, built in 1927, is one of those old hotels in Pasadena that survived the Great Depression which devastated the tourism industry at the time and led to most of Pasadena’s grand resort hotels closing or being demolished or converted to other uses.

The Planning Department said the building qualifies as a landmark under at least two criteria, because it is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of the history of the City, and embodies the distinctive characteristics of a locally significant property type, architectural style and period and represents the work of an architect whose work is of significance to the City.

The building was designed by architect Myron Hunt.

The house at 580 Arbor Street, meanwhile, is eligible for designation as a landmark since it embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, architectural style, period, or method of construction, or represents the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder whose work is of significance to the City or, to the region or possesses artistic values of significance to the City or to the region, according to the Planning Department’s report.

The Mid-Century Modern property type building was designed by John L. Pugsley, a Canadian-born architect who designed a number of buildings in Pasadena. He became an American citizen in 1952 and received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California in 1953. Three of the homes he designed in the late 1950s and early 1960s are located in the immediate vicinity of 580 Arbor Street.

One of the recommendations to be discussed Monday at the City Council is a joint proposal from the City Manager and the Rose Bowl Operating Company (RBOC) general manager for the City Council to appropriate $100,000, to be taken from the undesignated General Fund balance, to support efforts to enhance and improve the Arroyo Seco under the One Arroyo project.

Specifically, the funds will be used to develop and refine at least two demonstration projects prepared by consultants of the Arroyo Advisory Group, formed early last year, that focus on special habitat restoration areas at key connection points within the Arroyo. The consultants were engaged last year to develop a concept plan for an’ improved end-to-end trail system for the Arroyo Seco.

With the help of these consultants, the Arroyo Advisory Group and City staff have identified three key trail objectives in support of the One Arroyo vision: Connect, Enhance, and Inspire. Connect includes minimum improvements to create a unified One Arroyo Trail; Enhance means improvements that further enhance the user experience along the trails’ and Inspire covers additional inspirational designs that foster a deeper connection to the Arroyo Seco.

The two demonstrate projects which will use the $100,000 initial funding are now referred to as the “Woodlands Loop,” located to the North and just under the Devil’s Gate Dam, and “Streamside Walk,” located to the South and adjacent to the soft bottom and low-flow stream areas in the Lower Arroyo.
The City Manager’s and RBOC General Manager’s Agenda Report for Monday showed that AAG is now in receipt of a comprehensive plan from the consultants which outlines trail concept alternatives and explores design solutions to fulfill the Connect, Enhance and Inspire objectives. The estimated cost of the entire package, if implemented as one, would be about $37 million.

“The AAG recognized that it could take a generation or more to bring the One Arroyo vision to fruition. As such, the AAG is recommending that the program be implemented in phases, beginning with a demonstration project to catalyze fund raising and serve as a proof of concept,” the Agenda Report said.

Regarding the proposal to amend the City’s Inclusionary Housing Regulations to include Accessory Dwelling units, the Planning and Community Development Department is recommending that the City Council adopt a Maximum Accessory Dwelling Unit size that’s the lesser of 800 square feet or 50 percent of the size of the primary dwelling as a new standard for properties greater than or equal to 7,200 square feet and less than 10,000 square feet, and for properties 10,000 square feet and larger, a Maximum Accessory Unit size of 1,200 square feet or 50 percent of the primary dwelling.

Existing regulations limit the size of newly constructed accessory dwelling units to the lesser of 800 square feet or 50 percent of the size of the primary dwelling, while state law permits local municipalities to allow as much as 1,200 square feet.

Another related recommendation from the Planning and Community Development Department is to amend regulations about the City’s Residential Impact Fee, established in 1988, which applies to all new residential units in the City including accessory dwelling units. The fee – currently at $19,494.41 per one bedroom unit – is charged once a new building permit for a new residential unit is issued.

The City has been conducting community meetings in the spring and fall of 2017 to discuss possible amendments to the accessory dwelling regulations. One of the most common concerns raised at these meetings was about the potential that development impact fees could increase the cost to construct accessory dwelling units, and become a disincentive to their construction.

The City Council ultimately decided to provide for a reduction of the residential impact fee only if the applicant enters into an affordability covenant of 30 years.

The Planning Department is now recommending that the affordability covenant be reduced instead to seven years. The covenant would require a homeowner to set the rent for an accessory dwelling unit at a price affordable to households with an income between 80 percent to 120 percent of the Area Median Income for seven years. After the conclusion of the seven-year term, the covenant would expire and there would be no limitation as to whom an accessory dwelling unit could be rented to.

Staff is also recommending that the fee for a covenanted accessory dwelling unit be the same as any other covenanted affordable unit. The current Residential Impact Fee for affordable units is $957.30.

The City Council will also tackle Pasadena’s future participation in the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, in the light of recent developments including the ongoing transition of the Arroyo Verdugo Communities Joint Powers Authority into a separate Council of Governments.

Mayor Terry Tornek is expected to present three options for the City Council to discuss: continue the City’s current membership in the SGVCOG and adopt a resolution approving an amendment to its Joint Powers Authority which will integrate the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority into the COG; withdraw altogether from the SGVCOG; or continue current membership for the short term and begin to transition the Arroyo Verdugo Communities Joint Powers Authority into a separate Council of Governments.

Depending on the City Council’s choice among these options, Mayor Tornek is prepared to present a resolution for the Council’s approval Monday.

The City Council meeting begins with a closed session 5:30 p.m. and proceeds to the public meeting at 6:30 p.m.

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