LocationAlhambra , CA United States
An idea included in Alhambra’s draft general plan to build a linear park on Mission Road has drawn mixed reaction from city officials and residents.
The linear park would be constructed over the railroad trench on Mission to connect the eastern and western parts of the city and to create new opportunities for walking and biking. It was included as a long-term option to address open space in the draft general plan, which envisions the evolution of Alhambra as a community over the next 20 years.
Planners from Rincon Consultants, the firm hired to write the plan, came up with the idea after touring the city. “Folks thought it was a really innovative for an area of the city that a lot of people would agree could be better utilized,” said Joe Power, principal for Rincon.
The linear park would also add a great deal of park space to Alhambra. Alhambra was estimated to have 0.9 acres of park space per 1,000 residents by a 2016 Los Angeles County park needs assessment, below the county average of 3.3 acres per 1,000 residents.
The general plan places Alhambra’s open space at 3.2 acres per 1,000 residents, a broader designation than the one L.A. County’s assessment used. The city’s calculation includes the golf course. It also identifies opportunities for building pocket parks on repurposed lots and on the city’s 710 stub to augment open space.
Power said that when first proposed, the linear park idea garnered enthusiasm from city staff. Since then, some city officials and residents have expressed concern that such an idea is not feasible.
“I can’t believe any councilman in this city said they thought that was a good idea,” Councilmember Barbara Messina said at a City Council meeting on July 23. She suggested that the idea be taken out of the general plan.
Alhambra resident Michael Lawrence* also wanted the idea out of the plan. “There’s a lot of work to be done to explain to the public in a genuine way how you’re going to address this idea of green space and open space,” he said to the City Council during the same meeting.
Mayor Jeff Maloney piped up to say that he found the idea interesting at the meeting. “We’re a built-out city and we have to look for every opportunity to increase the amount of open space, green space and recreational opportunities,” he said.
The decision is ultimately up to Union Pacific, which has control over the railroad trench. Power said that while the railroad wasn’t currently supportive of the idea, they could change their mind in the long run. Union Pacific declined to comment for this article.
Power said that the idea remains in the document so that city staff can get more feedback on it, but that the idea could be removed if there’s a lack of public support for it.
“If it’s not a feasible idea, we’ll have to remove it and think of another creative way to add open space,” Maloney said in an interview with the Alhambra Source.
*Michael Lawrence is also an Alhambra Source community contributor.
Updated 4:54 p.m. with additional quotes from Jeff Maloney and clarification on how the L.A. County needs assessment and the city of Alhambra calculate open space.
The city of Alhambra is also hosting a community meeting on the general plan on Tuesday, Sept. 11. More info here.