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Alhambra Planning Commission Approves Revised Plans for Former Twohey’s Location

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Alhambra’s Planning Commission unanimously voted Monday night to approve a revised plan to demolish the former Twohey’s restaurant building, and build a new restaurant and retail building in its place.

Representatives for the owners first presented plans in March to replace the Twohey’s building, which included 6,217 square feet of restaurant space, and a separate 1,534 square feet of storage space, with a commercial building of 6,926 square feet. The original plan was to have four retail spaces, with three of them possibly becoming restaurant space.

The Planning Commission continued the hearing on these plans twice, in March and then last month, over concerns that the four retail spaces would increase congestion on the streets surrounding the project site, and in the parking lot, which the new building would share with the very popular In-N-Out restaurant.

Alhambra’s Community Development staff presented revised plans on Monday night that include eliminating one retail space, leaving a total of three, and reducing restaurant square footage from 5,311 square feet to 3,267 square feet, including outdoor dining space. The two other units would be designated for retail or medical office space, instead of dining.

Staff said the new building’s parking requirements would be reduced from 76 spaces to 71 spaces, but that the property owner would still include 76 spaces, giving the parking area a surplus of 5 stalls. The property owner is proposing other changes to alleviate congestion in and around the parking lot, by reducing the landscape peninsula within the In-N-Out’s drive-thru, adding two dedicated entrances from North Atlantic Boulevard, and adding another right-turn lane from Atlantic Boulevard onto Huntington Drive, which the property owner will pay for.

The revised project will also include reducing 21 compact parking spaces to 16 compact spaces, and adding 8 total bicycle parking spaces. Deliveries would be limited from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The Planning Commissioners thanked the property owners for taking their feedback seriously and addressing their concerns about the project. Commissioner Ron Sahu asked if they would consider hiring a parking lot attendant to direct people in and out of the parking lot during peak traffic hours. The owner’s representative Pat Patterson said they were open to the idea.

The vote for this project was nine to zero, with Andrea Lofthouse-Quesada recusing herself, in the interest of giving the applicant a fair hearing, after having informed Alhambra residents of the project on social media.

In other meeting business, Sean McMorris, a member of the public, expressed his disagreement with the decision during the last meeting two weeks ago to not allow the Planning Commission to vote on a motion to consider a revocation hearing for a mixed-use development that would mean displacing a Sikh temple. He also criticized Planning Commission President Allan Sanchez’s decision to direct staff not to put a discussion item on thie issue on a future agenda.

Deputy City Attorney Greg Murphy clarified that the decision not to make a motion came from him, because it is standard practice in Alhambra not to vote on items that are not on the agenda. He said that since the City Council has adopted Rosenberg’s Rules of Order to guide future city meetings, there will be more clarity going forward.

Sanchez also explained his decision. He said that Alhambra, including its Sikh community is facing gentrification, but said that there were not any facts surrounding land use that would justify holding a revocation hearing. “We are responsible for making findings that support or not support land use approvals,” he said. “Our commission does not deal in ethics or justice or equity, or fairness regarding displacement or gentrification.”

Alhambra’s City Council voted during their Oct. 14 meeting to agendize a discussion of whether the Planning Commission should hold a revocation hearing on the Sikh temple matter. That discussion is set for next Monday.

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2 thoughts on “Alhambra Planning Commission Approves Revised Plans for Former Twohey’s Location”

  1. It is curious that the city attorney keeps referring to “past practice” as justification for not acting on an important matter. “Past practice” is not law. “Past practice” does not by default equate to best practice. Many institutionalized practices are indeed bad practices that should change. For instance, is City Hall’s “past practice” of giving out annual no-bid contracts good practice? Is City Hall’s past practice of charging people to attend the State of the City address good practice? The “past practice” defense is cover not defense, and it’s deceptive because it assumes that if the City did it in the past then it must be okay.

    I have to say that Chairman Sanchez’s statement about planning commissioners not dealing with ethics, justice, and fairness is startling, and it is both cold-blooded and incorrect. If a planning commission’s job is simply to pass a project if it adheres to the letter of the municipal code, which is not infallible, then there would be no need for a planning commission. Lawyers could take care of all development in Alhambra. Planning commissioners take all kinds of things into account when determining whether or not to grant permits and other entitlements. In short, planning commissioners make judgments all the time based on what they believe is best for the community. And we should want commissioners with a soul, not simply robots that don’t think critically about the broader implications of a project upon society.

  2. Not sure why sharing something on social media means having to recuse oneself from voting.