LocationAlhambra , CA
The Alhambra City Council will hold a public hearing on the adoption of a new general plan, which details the city’s growth for the next 20 years, on topics like traffic, land use, and quality of life. Members of the public will have an opportunity to give input on the general plan during this hearing.
The last time Alhambra’s general plan was updated was in 1986. This latest update started in 2015, and on May 20, the Planning Commission recommended adoption of the general plan, and its accompanying environmental impact report and implementation actions, with recommended changes on language concerning historic preservation, community engagement and other issues. The City Council can adopt or reject these revisions, and make changes of their own. The Council could also adopt the general plan as a whole at this meeting, or request additional meetings.
The city’s zoning code will be updated after the general plan is approved. The city’s housing element, which details how Alhambra will meet its hosing needs, will be updated after the end of its 2013-2021 cycle.
Entitled “Vision 2040: A Community Mosaic,” Alhambra’s general plan covers six overarching topics: land use and community design, mobility, quality of life, resources, services and infrastructure, and health and safety. Ahead of the Council’s hearing, below is a refresher on how the general plan covers all six of these topics.
Land Use and Community Design
This section of the general plan concerns managing Alhambra’s existing land uses, such as residential, commercial and industrial, to facilitate growth in the city, while also accounting for the opportunities and constraints imposed by the city’s infrastructure and resources. General plan goals under this section include preserving the character of single-family neighborhoods, enhancing community appearance and overall identity and enhancing commercial and industrial areas to promote economic growth.
Alhambra’s vision for land use will be mainly implemented by updating the city’s zoning code, which lays out the development standards for each type of land use, and will take place after the general plan’s adoption. This year, the City Council and Planning Commission have discussed updating the city’s process of notifying residents about projects coming into their neighborhoods, especially after Lindaraxa Park residents said that they had not been adequately notified of a proposal to build a four-story office building near them at 801 E. Main St.
On May 20, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council revise general plan language to include updating notification procedures, which must be done during the zoning code update. Discussions specifically centered around widening the notification radius for new projects beyond 300 feet, as well as creating neighborhood councils or other spaces for residents to discuss projects early on in the planning process.
The Planning Commission also discussed the character of Alhambra’s downtown commercial areas, and recommended lowering the maximum building height from 10 stories to 6 stories in the Central Business District.
According to a staff report for Monday’s general plan hearing, the Planning Commission also recommended revising general plan policies to emphasize family-oriented economic development, along with an earlier revision to promote the development of small-scale boutique hotels in certain commercial zones in Alhambra. This is to address concerns that the general plan was encouraging the construction of large-scale hotels that didn’t fit the character of the city.
Other recommended revisions utilizing vacant property for permanent or temporary events, develop community facilities that celebrate important people and events in Alhambra’s history, and create a task force to explore how privately and publicly owned vacant lots can be turned into pocket parks.
The mobility section of the general plan concerns traffic circulation and transportation in the city of Alhambra. Goals include efficient traffic circulation, the promotion of alternative transport, like walking, biking and transit, and parking and street designs that accommodate community needs. According to the staff report, the Planning Commission recommended that the general plan include pursuing grant funding to promote alternative transportation.
The Planning Commission also recommended that the City Council adopt a more extensive plan to promote cycling in Alhambra, than the plan currently included in the general plan. Some commissioners and residents said that the current plan emphasizes “sharrows” or signs encouraging cars and bicycles to share the road. They asked for a plan that prioritizes rider safety and is integrated into neighboring city bikeway systems. The Commission also recommended deletion of the current bike map, since adopting a bike plan would involve a separate outreach process.
Quality of Life
The quality of life section includes a strong city economy, access to recreational and cultural facilities and activities, and quality education opportunities. Goals in this section include attracting commercial and industrial development to create more jobs, providing adequate and accessible open space amenities, and providing community events that meet residents’ needs and preferences.
Some planning commissioners said that counting Alhambra’s 109-acre 18-hole golf course as open space overstates the amount of multi-use park space that’s available to all Alhambra residents. The Planning Commission recommended that the general plan includes a per capita calculation of open space without the golf course. The Commission also recommended that the City Council include language in this section allowing exploration of alternative uses for Alhambra’s golf course, once its management contract has expired, so that it’s more accessible as open space to the community.
For this section, the Planning Commission also recommended eliminating all mentions of a “linear park” over the Mission Road railroad trench, which drew significant public opposition during the general plan outreach process.
The resources section concerns conserving, enhancing, rehabilitating and protecting natural and cultural resources. Goals in this section include maintaining water supplies for the Alhambra community, preserving open space, minimizing energy use and its contribution to climate change, minimizing air pollution, and preserving the city’s cultural resources.
The general plan implementation actions include the exploration of a preservation ordinance and program to protect historic homes and buildings in Alhambra. With significant community support, the Commission recommended stronger implementation language for a preservation ordinance and incentive programs, like a Mills Act tax incentive program. They also recommended adopting a preservation ordinance become a high priority item, rather than a medium one.
Services and Infrastructure
This section concerns the funding of public facilities and services to keep pace with Alhambra’s growth and development. Goals include fostering a strong business community and strong public facilities like the Alhambra Civic Center Library, as well as infrastructure like stormwater and wastewater capture and treatment system and telecommunications.
Health and Safety
This section lays out how Alhambra will ensure health and safety for its community. Goals include minimizing damage to people and property due to earthquakes, hazardous materials, climate change, and public emergencies. This section also covers access to basic health services and nutritious foods.
Find a copy of the January 2019 draft of the General Plan and implementation actions at the city of Alhambra’s website. The staff report to the City Council can be found here, including revisions made to the January 2019 general plan draft.
Updated Aug. 9, 2019, to include additional information from Alhambra City Council agenda for Aug. 12, 2019.