Proposed parking structure at Almansor Park hotly debated

The city has proposed a new parking structure at Almansor Park to meet demands from visitors. Some residents and members from the Alhambra Bowls Club (ABC) object to this proposal, claiming that the structure is not a necessity.
 
Almansor Park has a trail, gymnasium, basketball courts, tennis courts and lawn bowling fields. It also hosts various activities such as Little League sports and American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) games, which used to bring thousands of visitors to the park during the regular seasons. 
 

Parking spaces outside Almansor Park on E Los Higos St. | Photo via Google MapsBut the number of visitors during the sport seasons has plummeted due to scant parking spaces, according to some city officials. “That number has decreased significantly,” Councilmember Luis Ayala said at a city council meeting on March 14. He said there were over 1,000 children registered to play soccer or baseball four to five years ago. Now, “It’s 700 or 800 [children registered] for soccer and even lower than that for baseball," said Ayala, "because people can’t stand driving around to find parking”. The city wants to improve access to the park by upping the parking capacity.

The park has three existing parking lots with 161 spaces. Since last year the city has been discussing options on parking construction at Almansor. The one option that has aroused the most objection is a proposal to bulldoze the lawn bowling greens, relocate the tennis courts to the lawn bowling area, then build a multi-level parking structure on the tennis court area. This option is expected to add around 300 parking spaces.

(Alexander Jay Rivest, a local resident who lives next to the park, made this timelapse video to demonstrate the occupancy of the parking spaces at Almansor during a eight-day period from Feb 11 to Feb 19.)

Some residents argue that there are enough parking spaces on the street, and that there aren't enough regular visitors at Almansor to warrant a new parking structure. They are also concerned that a structure will be unsightly and may jeopardize property value. “The park is great [how] it is,” said a resident who lives next to the park, and declined to reveal her name. She said that a parking structure benefits only the visitors, but not nearby residents. “I don’t want to turn it into the Staples Center. When the games are going on, people will come and leave, but we live there,” she said.

Members from the ABC are concerned that their bowling greens will be bulldozed. City officials have noted that the majority of members of the ABC are not Alhambra residents. The ABC, in turn, say that their group is an active and multicultural club that brings people and money from surrounding communities into Alhambra. They argue that, by removing the greens, the city will do itself a great disservice  “The city should be proud that it provides a public good that most cities don’t offer. That’s why there are so many people coming from other cities and joining us,” said Sean McMorris, a member of the ABC.

ABC members protest outside city hall on March 14The Source has contacted Martin Ray, director of community services at the Parks & Recreation Department, on multiple occasions to ask about the progress of the proposal. We have not received a response. Christopher Paulson, director of administrative services, said in an email that the city is still analyzing the situation, and that there is no new information available.

At the Mar 14 council meeting Ayala added that the city is still working on a preferred option to increase access at Almansor. “It’s not about putting one activity over the other,” said Ayala, referring to lawn bowling. “We are really trying to figure out how to maximize our park.”

Please take a minute to fill out this survey. Do we need an additional parking structure at Almansor Park?

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An earlier version of this piece said there are three parking lots with 97 spaces at Almansor Park. This was incorrect. Almansor Park has a total of 161 parking spaces available in the three lots combined, according to Martin Ray, director of community services at the Parks & Recreation Department, who reported this at the Alhambra City Council adjoured regular meeting in 2015. We appologize for this error.

19 thoughts on “Proposed parking structure at Almansor Park hotly debated”

  1. Tomorrow August 22, 2016 Alhambra council meeting @7pm @ city hall to address a proposal for more parking at Almansor.

  2. Waste of Alhambra tax payer’s money.
    Rent more park fields to AYSO and other regions so that they are not crowded 3 days a week into Almansor Park.

    The strategy is really obvious.

  3. El Loco Vato Russo

    It is a conspiracy to make Almansor Park a Condo Complex. They did it with the old Library. It took them thirty years but that site now has housing and shops. The Architect should ‘walk’ the property, not just look at it on google maps. The structure could be built on Corto Street between the YMCA and the Golf driving range. It looks like you could put a 3 tier structure with parking on top and it would be just as tall as the YMCA.

  4. If the City plans to go ahead with the plan to turn the park into a mini-Angels Stadium, it should first conduct a thorough and scientific study of the need. For example, did those who did not register for soccer/baseball allegedly due to lack of parking ever attempt to find a parking space in the Almansor Court lot? If not, why not? Would they have come if they could/had to park in a parking structure? Same questions to those who currently registered but might consider leaving due to parking problem. Also, Alhambra residents should have the priority using city parks. How many teams using the park are non-Alhambran ones? Is it possible that the lack of parking is due to more and more non-local teams playing in the park? A decision like this should not be made based on half truth, guess, speculation, and hearsay.

  5. I echo Sean McMorris’s concerns. Councilmember Luis Ayala needs to clarify what he said. 1,000 vs 700/800 children registered to play soccer or baseball — how many are Alhambra residents? How did he conclude that they did not register because they could not find parking? Did he do a survey? Or just guess? And did Parks & Recreation count the number of park visitors, in general, 5 years ago and now? Is there a drop too? If not, then why? Maybe visitors do not know they can park in the Almansor Court parking lot. So, the city should first improve signs directing people to park there. I do not know any park in this area has a parking structure, probably except the East L A Civic Center park, but there are a court building and library there too.

  6. At the rate we are going, Alhambra, as well as every city will ultimately be completely covered with paved parking lots filled with cars. The few remaining spaces like the Lawn Bowling Pitch should be considered as small respites from the sight of cement and asphalt as far as the eye can see.

  7. Dr. Tom:
    1. are you lost?
    2. are you sick?
    Alt#3. why not build the parking lot ON the golf course? Golfers use square feet space more than tennis courts?

  8. I agree with all the comments made above that are against the parking structure. It is a complete waste of taxpayers money and a misuse of HUD Funds. This money, can, and should be used for projects that benefit the city as a whole, such as repairing sidewalks, streets and building playgrounds. A playground for handicapped children would be amazing.

    How can the City Council justify destroying lawn bowling greens (valued at $200,000.00 each) destroying good tennis courts and rebuilding them where the bowling greens are, all in order to build a multi-story parking structure? One does wonder how the City Council is benefiting from this destruction and construction.

  9. Everyone has made great points for NOT having a parking structure. It does not belong in this green space and will be a major eyesore. The park is not a shopping center. Please keep us posted on how residents can make their views known to the city officials.

  10. Build the parking lot structure between the YMCA and the Golf Course on Corto St. Building it there it will not be an eyesore.

  11. Oh no…another high-rise structure that will impact a green space. Although city council members say “they are no planning this structure; they are only trying to determine if it’s a good idea” (yet enough city time and resources have been used)…I think, as usual city council WANT that structure built; before we know it, construction will be starting.For people that are opposed to that plan – you need to be vigilant, don’t trust city council, do research NOW, prepare for a long battle.

  12. Since the beginning of February, when I first heard of this awful idea, I have only noticed an hour or two when the parking lot next to the tennis court was at >50% capacity. While there may be a few hour stretches now and then throughout the year where it takes ~5 minutes to find a spot, there is clearly not a chronic demand for such a structure. If Ayala is right and kids are no longer participating in sport because their parents do not like to drive around for 5 minutes, then it is not a parking problem we have, it is a parenting problem. No structure can fix that.

    The Department of Justice has reported that 7.3% of all violent crimes and 11.2% of all property victimisations took place in parking structures, women feel less safe in parking structures, and particulate matter / pollution is significantly enhanced in and around parking structures. The scientific literature on that is clear and not contested. (See “Concentrations of vehicle-related air pollutants in an urban parking garage” Kim et al. Environmental Research Volume 105, Issue 3, November 2007, Pages 291–299) for a start into the literature.

    Parking structures are used by scientists as an ideal environment to study automobile emissions: they are semi-enclosed, with automobile emissions the dominant pollution source. Carbon monoxide, particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds in parking structures are comparable to other densely packed urban settings. Also found are arsenic, cadmium and antimony and extremely high levels of fine copper. These compounds are associated with, amongst other issues, lung and cardiovascular issues due to the production of reactive oxygen species in the human lung.

    From a 2007 study from the journal “Environmental Research” “Parking garages are a “hot-spot” microenvironmet for exposure to the air pollution from vehicles due to their semi-enclosed structure, intensity of vehicle activity, and the proximity of pedestrians. Furthermore, it has been shown that these facilities can become a source for infiltration into adjoining buildings” – and let me point out that that adjoining building in that case is the school Emmaus Lutheran.

    Exposure to particulate matter during pregnancy and the first year of life has been identified as being associated with autism. On the same street are two schools and a pre-school. The exact types of developing lungs and brains most affected by increased toxins. Los Angeles is already one of the most polluted places in the world, and now, next to schools, the city wants to add just a little bit more.

    Why bring crime and pollution to a beautiful green park, especially when there is no chronic demand for it? The city has money that it can only use if it finds projects to spend it on in a short time frame, and this structure is the result. They are using CDBG funds, which require that the usage of said funds directly address at least one of the three following objectives: 1) “Elimination of slums and blight and blighting influences;” 2) “benefiting low to moderate income persons or neighborhood” and/or 3) “meeting other urgent community needs imposing an immediate threat to safety and health.” (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/c…)

    How this structure fits into ANY of those objectives is beyond me, without really stretching justifications…

    A parking structure that is unnecessary, that brings crime, pollution, and traffic to a residential neighborhood will negatively influence these national objectives, and thus, it is also a possibility that Alhambra seeks to use these CDBG funds inappropriately.

    Like the famous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska as a sign for bad government and wasteful spending, I call this the “Parking Structure for Nobody.” It is a clear example of just plain bad government with extra money to spend and no imagination as to how the money can most appropriately and effectively be used.

    1. Thank you for the educational essay. Not sure if you habe heard about Alhambra council meeting tomorrow @7pm @ city hall to address a proposal for more parking.

  13. There are way more parking spaces than 97! If you include the parking by the YMCA, the golf course and Almansor Park plus the two parking lots by the tennis courts and the parking lots by the baseball fields there are hundreds of parking spaces.

    It is also utter nonsense for Ayala to say registration for baseball and soccer is down because parents don’t like driving around to find parking. What evidence does he have of that? And why is it okay for soccer and baseball players to come from other towns to use Almansor Park but the City cites the Alhambra Bowls Club’s non-Alhambra members as reason to dispose of the club? And why is it okay to build a multi-level parking structure in a residential area to accommodate SEASONAL baseball and soccer play? What about the people who live and go to school on Almansor Street? Does the city consider them less than baseball and soccer players?

    The real story is where the money is coming from to build this parking structure. The money the city wants to use to build this structure is federal Community Development Block Grant money, and that money is supposed to be used to benefit low-to-moderate-income people, not people who come from outside of the neighborhood who may not even qualify for CDBG money. It is scandalous that the City of Alhambra would use federal money on a multi-level parking structure in a residential area when it could use it for street repairs, housing, and relief programs that would help low-to-moderate income people in Alhambra. I would be very interested to find out which contractors will benefit from this project and what their ties are to City Hall.

    The homeowners, lawn bowlers, and schools in the area have collected hundreds of signatures on petitions against this multi-level parking structure in Almansor Park that would devalue homes in the area, obstruct views, lower the aesthetic of the neighborhood and park, increase traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, invite crime into the area, and destroy park assets. Say NO to this monstrosity and YES to green parks and safe beautiful neighborhoods in Alhambra.

    1. Amen to that!!!! This is a park not a shopping center! Parking structures bring crime, pollution and concrete to a green park!!
      No more traffic, more green.
      Don’t destroy paradise to put up a parking monster

  14. Michael Daninger

    I see that this parking lot will only benefit Almansor court. What is wrong with walking a bit to the baseball field.

  15. Linda Trevillian

    I cannot think of ANY neighborhood/community park that I have visited ANYWHERE (and I’m including Beverly Hills, New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Albuquerque, San Francisco, et al) that has a parking structure. Such a building does not belong in a neighborhood like the one that surrounds Almansor Park. There are too many potential negatives: theft, rape, vagrancy, decline in property values, less space for the components that a park needs for its residents. The video illustrates clearly that the existing parking areas are not filled, and there is adequate parking on the perimeter streets. So what’s the problem? Surely, parents of youth who engage in the various sports can drop them off close to their particular location, and certainly those parents can stand to walk a block or two themselves (if it even becomes necessary). Remember, too, that Almansor Court is inside the park, and it has a wealth of free parking spaces. Plus, the potential parking structure would be built right next to the Lutheran school, which would allow anyone on that side to stare right into the classroom Windows. Not exactly ideal for the children or their teachers.

    There are undoubtedly many other uses to which the City Council could put this HUD money. I am strongly opposed to building a multi-level, 400-space parking structure that is totally unnecessary, especially because it would not benefit the immediate neighborhood. Replace the streets that meet it, build affordable housing (something our city has ignored for too many years), hire more staff to keep the park clean and free of graffiti, buy more tables, benches, barbecue grills, improve the infrastructure. And that’s just for starters.

  16. There are alternatives…
    #1 1.a make arrangement with Costco/Target/Other within a few block south of the Park to have a shuttle bus (ACT) for some days…or
    1.b even regularly by changing ACT routes/stops…cheaper than ripping out and building….
    Alt#2…build the parking underground of tennis courts…
    Alt#3…remove tennis courts – when you consider that only 2 people use a space 110×50+ft/5500sf for an hour…vs 200sf/car = 27 car spaces…why are individual sports so coveted compared to team sports…

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