710 Freeway opponents and supporters take action

Photos by Matt Siriouthay1Photos by Matt Siriouthay

Supporters and opponents of a 710 extension are gearing up for actions in the next week. Protesters against the 710 Freeway tunnel extension will hold Friday a rally in South Pasadena. On July 10, Alhambra will host its second annual "710 Day" celebration.

Protesters against the 710 extension argue that the construction of a tunnel connecting the 710 Freeway in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway in Pasadena will compromise community safety and pose health risks to the region. Residents and city officials from La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Sierra Madre, Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, San Marino, Monterey Park, and Los Angeles are expected to attend the protest on Friday, according to a statement from the No 710 Action Committee

Alhambra's "710 Day" event will take place on Fremont and Valley Boulevard from 4-7 p.m., and will include games, live entertainment, food trucks, and informational presentations about the tunnel. 

Councilman Luis Ayala encouraged residents to attend the event and learn more about the 710 Freeway extension. "I encourage all residents in Alhambra and any other city to become informed about the issue," Ayala said, "not just based on what any other side says."

City officials in Alhambra support closing the 710 Freeway gap with an underground tunnel. The tunnel alternative is the only extension that has secured funding and is expected to significantly reduce traffic on Fremont Avenue, said Alhambra Councilman Steve Placido in June.

“One in four cars that gets off the 710 on Valley goes down Fremont to the 210 in Pasadena," Placido said during a June 3 unveiling of pro-710 banners along Fremont. "That’s 12,000 cars a day that can be taken off the street."

The No 710 Action Committee says the tunnel will not solve a traffic problem, but cause another one. Opponents to the tunnel compare the proposal to projects in Seattle and Boston that cost billions of dollars more than estimated and have taken longer than expected to complete.

"California needs realistic projects that create jobs and not endless studies to nowhere," said the No 710 Action Committee statement.

Metro is currently conducting an environmental survey of the five extension alternatives and will report its findings in February 2015.

About the author: Kyle Garcia

Kyle Garcia is a reporter for the Alhambra Source and a resident of Alhambra. Kyle enjoys bringing the news to residents and welcomes feedback on what they would like to read about.

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If the objective is to get cars off of Fremont Avenue, there is a much easier and cheaper solution. Just prevent right turns onto Valley Blvd from the 710 off ramp. Force the traffic into LA.

One this issue I may be smarter than the tunnel vision freeway builders at Caltrans or Alhambra's planners who approve high density building projects without widening streets or making others into deadends.
San Francisco and New York have extensive public transit systems both above and below ground. And both have accomodated a growing number of bicyclists.
San Francisco also chose not to rebuild the elevated freeway along the waterfront, which has added open space, improved views of the bay, and drawn development consistent with the area. San Francisco also stopped the Central Freeway far short of the projected Golden Gate Bridge connection and then demolished the stub ends that remained to ease local traffic flow.
New York hasn't built a new freeway in Manhattan for many years and turned down the proposed Westside freeway decades ago, which is what should have been done with the 710 extension.
Yes, as you suggest we can learn from San Francisco and New York: rail at ground level and below is good, mass transit is good, bicyclists should be part of the plan, mass transit serves all, cut back freeways where possible, and don't build new freeways that add traffic, pollution and noise.

Greg, I respect what you are saying. Sorry for the misunderstanding. As for someone questioning what the city is doing, I find it unproductive when commenters make ad hominem attacks on city council members. This makes the situation only worse for everybody and only fortifies the communicative barriers between residents and elected leaders.

I am also not on the city payroll nor am I a developer. Yet, on this site I've been labelled as a city spokesperson and a shill for developers. I'm just a resident of Alhambra who appreciates the positive changes of our community over the years.

Everyone has their own vision of the city, indeed.

I don't intend to change anyone's mind, it is up to that person to form his or her opinion over time. Our city is in transformation and lots of people may feel uncomfortable with all the developments going on. The key is to understand the various issues involved and this is not a simple task.

I meant condescending re: my lack of knowledge about this site.

I'm not condescending about anything. I'm asking questions in a very polite manner.

I respect your viewpoint and expect the same from all people on this site. Just because someone questions what the city is doing or wants more information is not condescension.

We all have a different vision for the city.

I'm looking forward to reading your article in The Source with the pictures. Once people see what you're talking about you might change a lot of minds.

Condescending? Please go back and read all the other negative comments. You'll find much more condescending remarks on every perceived wrong against the city.

You're already condescending against the larger developments here in the city. This isn't surprising from, again, all the condescending negative remarks that have been a forum on this site.

No, John, I'm not as familiar with the site as you are.

I found your comment a bit condescending.

So, why don't you become a community contributor and write an article? Please include actual photos of the courtyards, etc., especially from your building, since it is finished and not a Disneyesque sketch by the developer.

Greg, you're not familiar with this site are you? Commenters can't post pics directly here.

Apparently you seem not aware how basic interior courtyards look like in high-density developments. There are numerous resources on the web for this.

Or even better, why don't you walk in downtown Alhambra when these developments are finished and experience them yourself.

Shea properties with their new downtown project will be incorporating public open spaces with "unique features" in the first phase of the northern retail section of the project.

Want a good description of it? Go to the Alhambra Civic Library, 2nd floor, and ask the librarian (at the info. desk, center location) for the Amendment to the Alhambra Place 2006 Specific Plan. This publication will give you much more information and details for what you may be looking for.

Thanks for the link, John.

Unfortunately, what developers put on their promotional websites and what things will look like are often very different.

Since you say you live in one of the high-density developments, please take some photos of the interior courtyards and post them on this site.

Please describe the "open spaces in downtown" and their "unique features."

Mrs. Rivera, did I say ALL developments are wonderful? I favor the developments mostly along Main St. So do you think all the developments going up now in Alhambra is horrible? Speaking of the project across from Story Park, would it have been better to have kept that wonderful parking lot that was there previously? I've walked around this area often and many homes there consists of multi-family units as well.

This project is called Park View Place and here's the website describing it...

http://www.210monterey.com/home.html

I don't think the design is "wonderful" and would have preferred these units not be exclusively senior condos. Perhaps according to your logic it should have just stayed as a parking lot.

While my comments to you might reflect me as spokesman, your comments perfectly exemplify those against high-density, from a quote of a reviewer from Jonathan Levine's book "Zoned-Out"...

"...NOT EVERYONE'S PREFERENCE CAN BE SATISFIED. IN ORDER FOR ME TO LIVE IN AN AREA WITH A DENSE POPULATION, OTHERS MUST DO SO AS WELL, WHILE IN ORDER FOR ME TO LIVE IN A LOW-DENSITY AREA, OTHERS MUST NOT DO SO..."

I advocate for focusing growth and density in the downtown core, and no Gloria, I don't think "high-rises" belong everywhere...

Mr. Gacis - I guess you think all of the developments are wonderful including the one going up across from Story Park. Ask the poor residents who live in the small homes that are just a few feet away from the "high rise" that cuts out their sunlight if they are as happy as your are with high density. It is obvious to anyone that the development is grossly inappropriate for the site. I often walk in the Story Park neighborhood and everyone I talk to in the neighborhood is disgusted with that development. You are out of touch with the residents and only promote the real estate development interests. The city of Alhambra must thank you for being their spokesman with your unflagging defense of this out of control building boom.

Greg, I'm referring to the central courtyard of the CV Main St. Collection, and for the Alhambra Pacific Plaza, the Garden/Landscape/Architectural features can be seen here on this link...

http://www.300westmainst.com/?p=266

The 129-unit Alhambra Gateway project on Bay State also has a central courtyard plaza with BBQ area and rec. room.

The idea and perception of open spaces are relative to the built environment around them. Open spaces in the downtown area are going to have its own unique features compared to the suburban tracts.

Mr. Chris'Meds, so what alternate universe did Alhambra begin as high-density mixed-use projects? Our city began with low-density structures and of course most residents would prefer a little more green space. As we have progressed in this world, more people have decided to live in Los Angeles, including Alhambra.

Your perception however seems to have a twist to it as you seem to neglect that each city is unique on its own historical basis. Shall we blame Alhambra's James Shorb for being a "greedy developer" or whine that Henry Huntington didn't plant his mansion here instead of San Marino? The real cookie cutter here seems to be everyone wants to be like South Pasadena or San Marino. Do you even know what the average median home value is in San Marino? We're talking around the $2,000,000 range.

Who can afford that? YOU?!...

So what if Alhambra is #94 in density. What about the other 93? Are they in the headline news burning in Armageddon? You must also understand how density is defined, as land area is important. With Alhambra being such a small city, we are indeed dense. But is density necessarily bad? I say no if we build smart - the key is in design and respect for both low AND high-density infrastructure.

Gloria's "high-rise" is more of an emotive conjecture than talking about the real issue here - which is people who don't like change. If you want a good definition of what a HIGH-RISE is, then let us use a common standard. The industry standard definition would be a good start...

http://specsandcodes.typepad.com/the_code_corner/2013/02/high-rise-build...

The highest occupied floors of the new mixed-use projects along Main St. do not surpass 75 ft.

There is nothing wrong with these mixed-uses, in my opinion. They will provide the critical density mass that will incubate the economic vitality along Main St. They provide identity along the streetscape and it's higher infrastructural capacity means more anchor customers for the retail businesses at street level. Higher-density is also more sustainable for our environment as it promotes people to walk to nearby amenities and reduces short-trip commutes by car. Here's one reference for this...

"the largest component of travel is for social or recreational purposes, with even those of working age driving more for non-work purposes than they do to get to their jobs."

http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/infrastructure-governm...

The paradigms I have noticed are that some people only see high-density as traffic and congestion generators, whereas others see them as promoting walkability and sustainability; facets that help REDUCE vehicular traffic congestion. For more on this, you may want to read Jeff Specks' "Walkable City".

You don't think anyone shares my view? Not from the Alhambra residents I know. Many don't even read or comment on the Alhambra Source. Do you even live in the Alhambra downtown area?

The older residential areas of Alhambra are anything but cookie cutter. Most of the homes from the 20s and 30s are custom, though they may be modest. That's part of the charm of our old neighborhoods.

Go to neighborhoods in Lancaster, etc., where you can pick one or two models and you'll see cookie cutter houses.

Since I haven't been inside any of the new multiple-use developments I'm not familiar with the open space areas you are talking about. Please let me know which ones you are referring to.

When I went to the sales office to inquire about open space in the development where the library was I was told that city parks provide that, not the development.

In my opinion, the most attractive new "space" on Main Street is the L.A. County building on the SE corner of Main and Atlantic. Love the landscaping.

Felix Gutierrez, are you smarter than the people at Caltrans and Metro who are trying to ease congestion in Alhambra where 710 freeway ends?

"It's Alhambra, Monterey Park and parts of Pasadena that have spurred the population growth.."
This is happening all over US cities and throughout the world. You need to visit San Francisco and New York.

"Low-Density models of single-family homes have created the mess..."

...in Alhambra?!

Mr. Gacis -- That's a good one. It'd be hilarious if it wasn't such a ludicrous statement. It's pretty clear that you live in an alternate universe where facts don't match your perception of reality. I also think you don't enjoy living in a city where an overwhelming majority of it's residents would prefer a little more green, open space. Maybe you'd be happier in a city such as Manila (Philippines) or somewhere in India.

Do you realize that of all incorporated cities in the U.S., Alhambra is Number 94 in density? That's above Philadelphia, Berkeley, and nearly every city in New York.

As far as Gloria's comment about "high rises"—she's probably referring to the massive size of these projects and not necessarily the amount of stories. In any case, I can't think of anyone who shares your view (other than a developer).

Gloria, why solely blame the "high density" model when it was the LOW-DENSITY models of single family homes and sprawl that have largely worked against population growth in creating the mess we have today.

When you talk about "not waive open space requirements", what do you actually mean? There are lots of opens spaces in Alhambra. Just drive down most streets and look at the single family homes with their front and backyards. As an aggregate, they amount to huge open spaces. The problem is they are all divvied-up per house and maybe its your perception that they don't exist. Well...they do exist - they just don't conjure up to the ideal image of what you want as "open space".

I hardly call the mixed-use developments along Main St. "high-rises"(See Chapter 2 of the International Building Code). Calling them cookie-cutter is no different than blaming all the older single family homes as cookie-cutter. These mixed-uses do have open spaces in their design. Just because you may not see them as you would in the front yards of single family homes (or as a park), again, doesn't mean they don't exist.

I live within the CBD. Downtown Alhambra is becoming a great place to live through a strong walkable community, a lively pedestrian environment, and infrastructure that promotes walking instead of driving.

Jon: Check out the map of the proposed tunnel, which has no entrances or exits between California in Pasadena and Valley in Alhambra. Thus, it won't do much to help folks going from Pasadena or South Pasadena to the 10 freeway, as you say it would. As for population growth, South Pasadena's population has been steady at around 25,000 for decades. It's Alhambra, Monterey Park and parts of Pasadena that have spurred the population growth by converting lots with single family homes to apartment houses and condos over the last 40 years.

Feeding the never ending high density model is a short term vision for Alhambra. There has to be a balance between livability and growth. Alhambra has the second highest density in the SGV and 60% + rentals is not a model for a sustainable community. Our city government should concentrate on the community first by improving our infrastructure of open space, traffic issues and maintained parks and then work with the developers to build quality high density that does not waive open space requirements and reasonable density levels. The current crop of cookie cutter block high rises on Main have very little open space and the density levels are way off the scale of good design.

Do you really support high density building when you already have a crowding problem? That's insane. Support transit and get people out of their cars and then maybe there will be more room for infill. Alhambra's ruthless "build at any cost" attitude is what has gotten you into this mess to begin with. A tunnel will not solve the traffic snarls at 4 times the projected number of vehicles as now. Get it, that's 4 TIMES the number of vehicles as now.

Yes, but most residents will complain to city council because rent and home prices are too damn high due to low inventory and need more density so that it'll be more affordable to live in Alhambra.
Keep in mind that these new condo buyers/renters are high income earners and well educated people because they can afford to to buy a 2 bedroom unit at $450k+ with HOA fee at $300 per month or rent the unit at $2300 a month. Don't you want these type of people moving into your neighborhood?

Yes, I agree with you about the 50's city council mentality, and they still continue and continue making more and more dense development and the seem not to hear/care about resident's concerns about over-development which adds to traffic congestion.

funny

If you are against the 710 extension, then you must stop complaining about our congested streets caused by residents of S. Pasadena and Pasadena using out streets to get on the 10 freeway and blaming overbuilding of condominiums. There are no bike lanes because there is not even a parking lane on Freemont, Garfield, and Atlantic Blvd. The projected population growth will make it worst if you don't fix the problem now.

You get a 1950's approach when you have a 1950's city council. It is time for a 21st century city council.

You forgot riding bicycles. Unfortunately, Alhambra has no bike plan implemented. I think a bike plan was pushed by a group of riders a couple of years ago, but our council has no interest in making it happen. Very backward thinking and you are right: this is 50s mentality. The council is so against anything modern. Only some changes on the council will get the city moving in the right direction.

The best way to reduce congestion on Alhambra's Fremont Freeway is to provide options that encourage folks to leave their cars and take light rail, busways, buses or shuttles. That's what's been done or is being built west of the LA River and in the San Fernando Valley. Meanwhile Alhambra city politicos are supporting a 1950s approach to 21st century transportation needs. Alhambra had changed a lot since then and so should the thinking of its leaders.

Lot of talk and questions about how much taxpayers will have to pay for the completion of the 710.

I bet the same people are all for the proposed bullet train Jerry Brown wants to build, and they don't care how much taxpayers will pay for it.

As everyone has known for a number of years, many cities and communities such a La Canada/ Flintridge, Los Angeles, El Sereno, Pasadena, Glendale, Sierra Madre and more, strongly oppose the 710 Extension. It's interesting to note that the cities supporting the freeway/tunnel are not willing to have it in their backyard.
Step up to the plate Alhambra, San Marino, Monterey Park and volunteer to have the 710 mow down your neighborhoods! Sounds silly, right? Well we agree with you, and we don't want the 710 in our cities for the same reasons as you.
We agree with the growing number of Alhambra residents and business people who oppose this boondoggle. NO 710 Extension!

This project, if carried out, will be a disaster for the region. The project is NOT funded. Measure A monies are dwindling due to Metro/ consultant studies. Another sales tax increase will be costly to consumers. The project will cost as much as $11 billion. A hefty toll will be charged to tunnel drivers, so fewer people on the 710 freeway will actually use the tunnel. The tunnel will have NO EXITS except at either end, so that's 4 1/2 miles driving in a tunnel. That's a disaster waiting to happen,especially if trucks are allowed in the tunnel. Pollution from the tunnel will spew out of exhaust towers placed along the tunnel route. Several cities in the region are opposed to this project including Los Angeles, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Glendale, Burbank, Sierra Madre and others.

If you live in Alhambra, you must learn the details of this project. Talk to both sides and make up your own mind. Your city is not being straight with you. I have heard Councilmember Messina say that no trucks will be allowed in the tunnel and that is simply not true. And Councilmember Placido now says that the project has secured funding? Say what? Measure R only provides $780 million of the over $5 BILLION that is needed. Far from secured. And Metro reports (actual documentation) dispute the figures about reducing traffic. They project four times the number of vehicles to move through the area (180,000 vs the 44,000 now) with a toll diversion rate of 35%, about 63,000. So actually, there will be more traffic on Fremont & Valley, not less. Do your homework and see that there are far better concepts out there to move people and goods, than this massive tunnel.

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