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Will the Alhambra City Council vote to support the I-710 bills in Sacramento?

Photo by Flickr user Crystal Niebla licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Alhambra’s City Council is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote on their preferred use for the I-710 stub, should state legislators decide to remove it from the state highway system.

According to the agenda for Monday’s 7 p.m. meeting, the Council would decide whether the stub, which runs almost a mile from the I-10 freeway to Valley Blvd in Alhambra, should remain; who would gain the right-of-way over the stub if it is removed from the state highway system; and what other uses the stub could serve if the right-of-way goes back to Alhambra. These uses could include building housing and turning the area into green space.

These decisions would be given as feedback to state legislators considering two bills that would remove the I-710 stub from the state highway system and prohibit the I-710 Freeway extension from being completed.

“I think the city needs to figure out the direction we’re going to go in before we can give any meaningful feedback on legislation,” Council member Jeff Maloney told the Alhambra Source.

Alhambra city staff has also asked the Council to designate a two-person subcommittee from their ranks to discuss bill language with state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada) and state Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), the legislators introducing the I-710 bills. The measures are intended to clarify freeway stub ownership and potential uses if it is taken out of the highway system. The subcommittee would report back to the City Council on how the legislation evolves.

Beginning in Long Beach, the I-710 Freeway was originally planned to meet at the I-210 Freeway in Pasadena, but has terminated at Valley Boulevard since the 1960s, due to opposition from South Pasadena and other cities that would have been affected by the extension. This has caused major traffic congestion, affecting Alhambra neighborhoods around the I-710 stub.

In 2017, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority pulled funding for a proposed tunnel that would have finished the freeway. Late last year, the California Department of Transportation formally decided to support transportation system management/transportation demand management solutions to alleviate traffic issues created by an incomplete I-710 freeway, instead of a proposed extension tunnel. Metro approved $100 million for Alhambra TSM/TDM projects at the 710/10 interchange, as well as $20 million each for improvements to the on and off-ramps at of the I-10 at Fremont Avenue, Atlantic Boulevard and Garfield Avenue.

At the beginning of this year, Portantino introduced a bill that would prohibit any tunnel or extension from being built between the I-10 Freeway and the I-210 Freeway. Holden also introduced a bill that would take the I-710 stub out of the state highway system, so that the extension tunnel would not be built.

In late February, Maloney, who was then completing his term as mayor of Alhambra, held a forum to discuss what should happen to the I-710 stub. Maloney had expressed some interest in the possibility of turning the stub into a regional park, while also saying that “a properly planned [freeway] system would never allow a multi-lane highway to just dead-end into a local street like Valley Boulevard.”

During the lively forum, many residents expressed vehement opposition to closing the freeway stub, saying that doing so would actually mean more traffic on Fremont Avenue, and in areas near the on and off-ramps to the I-10, as well as in adjoining neighborhoods.

Other residents, however, advocated turning the stub into a public transit hub, building low-cost housing in that area or exploring green space options including, but not limited to, a regional park. Current Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler said her focus with the I-710 stub would be on alleviating traffic in the area.

The Pasadena City Council will decide during its Monday meeting whether to spend $184,000 to hire a consultant to advance that city’s interests in what happens to the I-710 extension area, should either or both of the bills pass. Both bills could have serious consequences for Pasadena’s mile-long I-210 Freeway stub, according to a Pasadena city staff report. The report listed two possible actions from Caltrans: it could give the right-of-way over the I-210 stub back to Pasadena, or under special rules, it could sell the right-of-way to the highest bidder. Pasadena would not have the funds to either maintain the stub or buy back the right-of-way, given how valuable land is in California, according to the staff report.

At Monday night’s meeting, the Alhambra City Council will also consider an increase in the Department of Public Works’ budget from $194,590 to $365,000 for watering and otherwise maintaining trees located on city parkways. While parkway trees are city property, residents are expected to maintain trees on the sidewalks in front of their residences. Many residents had not been watering as often due to the years-long drought, making them more susceptible to disease and increasing the number of maintenance requests to the city, according to a staff report. The budget increase is intended to cover the maintenance increase.

Last year, the City Council approved a tree protection ordinance for private property trees, an outcome of a controversy over plans to cut down more than 200 mature trees on the Sunny View Care Center campus on Marengo Avenue.

The consent agenda also includes entering into a contract valued at $28,400 with Exposhows Inc. to put on Alhambra’s annual 4th of July fireworks display. It also deals with the retirement of the Alhambra Police Department’s two Belgian Malinois service dogs, Harm and Enzo, who have served for eight and seven years, respectively. At 11 years old for Harm and 9 years old for Enzo, both have reached the age where their performance is less reliable. The City Council would approve their retirement and transfer ownership of Harm and Enzo to the police officers who work with them at a cost of $1 each.

At 5 p.m., the City Council will hold a special meeting with the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority. JPIA representatives will give an overview of the services it provides its members, which includes the City of Alhambra. According to its website, the JPIA is one of the largest municipal self-insurance pools in the state, providing liability protection from lawsuits and other losses to those who join.

Read the entire City Council agenda here. Read the agenda for the special meeting with the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority here.

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