Valet parking at the library planned for Main Street

Nighttime Main Street visitors should soon have valet parking at the library. City Council reviewed Monday evening Alhambra's six-month Strategic Plan, a set of future goals and objectives for the city. Assistant to the City Manager Chris Paulson announced during the meeting that the city has started the search for a parking vendor to offer valet services during peak hours at the Alhambra Civic Center Library. The service is set to start in May.

Another item on the Strategic Plan is a possible beautification project along Mission Road that will add islands with greenery in the middle of the street. Alhambra resident Lola Armendariz commented that islands can sometimes cause delays during emergency responses. During heavy traffic, police cars and ambulances may find it difficult to maneuver between cars because of islands that take at least one more lane on the road.

Alhambra City Council is holding next Wednesday a special meeting to discuss the Strategic Plan. The meeting will be on April 17 at 8 a.m. at the Alhambra Civic Center Library and is open to the public.

Not able to attend the meeting? You can watch it in its entirety here.

City Council meets every second and fourth Monday of the month in the second floor of City Hall: 111 S. First St., Alhambra, Calif., 91801. The next regular city council meeting will be on April 22.

9 thoughts on “Valet parking at the library planned for Main Street”

  1. Mr. Sunada,

    It would be best if you listened to yourself and not misrepresent State laws by mixing facts with your own personal opinions and agenda. The FACT is that there many numerous STATE-MANDATED legislative facets when it comes to supply and availability of housing. The word “STATE-MANDATE” is repeated many times in literature out there. You are the one who needs to do your research. Please stop fooling Alhambra residents who would not know otherwise. While true that the State mandates mainly apply to planning, this is exactly what our city is doing – to accomodate the zoning capacity in our city for RHNA compliance. The City of Alhambra CANNOT FORCE the CONSTRUCTION of anything, whether affordable housing or homes so expensive it makes San Marino homes cheap. Why do you think the Alhambra Place is still a huge vacant parking lot? The free market plays a powerful force not only in our city, but everywhere else in L.A. county. You say market-rate units are overdeveloped, but I must wonder, does the “market” have anything to do with it, especially now with the elimination of redevelopment agencies? It’s very sad you mention market-rate units as some sort of “throw-in” for RHNA compliance and financial feasibility for developers. The reality is that market-rate units comprise the majority of sales in our communities and this RHNA category plays a large role in providing the needed housing in our growing state. However, it is the low-income component that takes the spotlight because it makes a great political tool. So that being said, perhaps our city must dictate to developers exactly what to build instead of going through the normal processes they go through now (as if it’s so simple)? When you say we are “failing miserably” to meet affordable housing, let me ask you this, who is responsible for its actual construction, the city? There is so much more to it on the reasons why affordable housing has become so difficult: shortages of available land, antigrowth policies, etc.

    A good reference for Alhambra Residents to read is Paul G. Lewis’ “California’s Housing Element Law: The Issue of Local Noncompliance” through the following link:

    http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/r_203plr.pdf

    After reading this, I learned to better understand that this is a broad problem, regional in nature, and NOT ONLY AN ALHAMBRA PROBLEM that Mr. Sunada would lead us to believe otherwise through city misleadership. Mr. Lewis also points out the link that non-compliance was weighted more on cities who favored single-family units, with the implication that cities with compliant housing elements were willing to substitue multi-family housing for a share of single-family units. In light of this, I agree with the development strategies that our city council has provided so far.

    Goodluck with the info. session with SCAG, Mr. Sunada. Calling someone ignorant by distorting the facts with personal opinions really shows who you are.

    @TK,
    Here is one website that refers to RHNA as a STATE-MANDATED process.

    http://www.abag.ca.gov/planning/housingneeds/

    Keep in mind, the key word is PROCESS. Development in all cities IS A PROCESS. What gets planned and what actually gets built are not always mutually inclusive. So when Messina says we are mandated by the State to build, from my interpretation she was referring to this process, which makes sense. In addition, there are a host of variables involved and factors to be taken into consideration, like the real estate market. A perfect example of this is the Zen Terrance project you mention and the SB 1818 density allowance for it in a failing market economy, where even the low-income units couldn’t sell. It’s also interesting you would even blame a city council from the past who ran a city from a different era and time. However, I do respect your opinion even though I completely disagree. In addition, I hardly consider the 4-5 story projects on Main St. as highrises. They don’t even reach half the height of our tallest building now (the 12-story LA Public Works building).

  2. There is a really good book at the library called “Parking Structure Design for Urban Planning” by Carl Walker, that i highly recommend for the City Planners to check out!

  3. Although details of the Valet parking at the library were not given, I find it hard to believe that the City Council would limit parking to patrons of the library so that they can offer paid parking to visitors.

    This would greatly affect residents/students ability to use the library to study or simply find a quite place to read. In addition, when does a public facility turn into a for-profit venture?

    Definitely, compromises the services offer to the residents of this community.

    The fact that Alhambra does not host a bookstore, the library seems like the last refuge for residents/students/scholars who are interested in reading, research, literature, audiobooks, to avail themselves of these resources.

    If parking is at a premium, perhaps the City Planners need to rethink building apartments along Main Street.

    1. @ Roz Collier, I don't quite understand why you think the city is limiting parking to library patrons. Unless I'm mistaken, the Six-Month Strategic Plan states: “Explore the possibility of using underground parking at the library for valet or controlled parking when the library is NOT IN USE and report the results to the City Council.” (Caps mine). When the library is closed, all that underground parking becomes dead space (underutilized). Since parking is at a premiun, this dual-use function is exactly the kind of ideas the city needs to be brainstorming. The article above mentions that the city is looking for a valet-parking vendor during “peak hours”. I'm thinking this is more towards the evening when the library is closed. And when you say that this would greatly affect residents/students ability to use the library to study, how often do you go there? Almost everytime I go there, the place is packed with students. While walking to the Post Office or Main St., I see many parents pick-up or drop-off their kids at the library. Parents, when dedicated to their child's success, will see parking as the last thing stopping their child's education. At least that's what I've observed from this library. I also wish Alhambra did host a bookstore. But this library is definitely NOT the last refuge for residents/students/scholars who are interested in reading, research, etc. There are many more libraries around the regional area. And why ignore the ramifications of the internet, which has contributed to the demise of many unprofitable bookstores across our nation, not just Alhambra. Last, it's interesting how you suggest that the city planners should reconsider building apartments along Main St. due to the parking issue. I totally disagree. Since I live in a condo complex myself near Main St., everything is within walking distance and I have no need to drive and park my car elsewhere other than the one assigned to my residential unit. The same could be said for all the other residents who will be living on Main St. when the other projects get finished. The biggest problem with parking on Main St. that I see are from the people who have to drive from other neighborhoods that lack the walkability and agglomeration of amenities that Main St. offers. You also seem to ignore the fact that our city has the responsibility to provide zoning for more housing. There are State laws and guidelines on this. So do you think we should build more apartment buildings in R1 tracts instead of along Main St.?

      1. John,
        Why is the response by the “more development is better” faction always we are mandated by the State laws? City council has been asked numerous times to outline the mandate and I have yet to see it. Also like you, they respond with “we really don’t want to rezone our R1 neighborhoods” and use this as a threat to push though these unpopular mega condo developments. The question is why should Alhambra suffer the problems of higher density developments and not other cities like San Marino do nothing to provide more houseing?

        Our density level is second only to El Monte in the SGV with 11,000 per square mile (Very High) as compared to Pasadena at 5,000 per square mile. Which city has the higher property values and better quality of life? Residents are really fed up with the problems that over development brings with traffic and a lower quality of life. What an uproar we heard from the Midwick neighborhood when City Ventures proposed their project.

        We have about 65% rentals currently and by any standard that is high. Drive down Chapel from Main on any given day and tell me the old couches and mattresses on the curb from the constant flux of transient renters is a good thing for Alhambra. The other cities in SGV could take up the slack, but they actually have a growth plan that takes into account feedback from the residents.

        It was only a few years ago that Julio Fuentes and members of the city council proposed building high rise condos in Story Park in exchange for a new senior center. Julio and company tried hard to push it,but a grass root uprising of a couple of hundred citizens put the kabash on that ridiculous idea.

        Alhambra has always been about real estate and backroom deals and that is not going to change unless we have new representation.

      2. TK,

        Why must you label “more” development as being something “better” when the reality is that development has always been going on. Perhaps you see it as “more” because of the density all around us, but it’s also a wake-up call that reminds us that land is limited in Southern California and that our population continues to grow. Although the word “mandate” by the City Council might not have been the best word to use among political opponents such as yourself, I hope you do understand that the State of California, through the Housing and Community Development Department (HCD), requires STATE-MANDATED documents such as the RHNA and RHNP. California has a Housing Element Law (Government Code, §§ 65580 et seq.) and it is well known that some of the biggest housing issues in our cities are affordable and available housing, IN ALL income categories. However, the state gives many incentives for developers to build in favor of the lower-income groups (SB 1818, HUD programs, etc.). You seem to keep waiting for an outline from the city council but the fact is all this information is available to you, but that’s if you would give yourself the time to do the research.

        You compare Alhambra to San Marino in terms of density but as I have mentioned before in other comments, are you even aware of the simple fact that the median price of a home in San Marino is much higher than Alhambra? Just look at the median sales price of a home/condo in San Marino compared to Alhambra for the month of February, 2013 (http://www.dqnews.com/Charts/Monthly-Charts/CA-City-Charts/ZIPCAR.aspx).

        The median sales price of a San Marino home is over a million dollars ($1,550,000) compared to an Alhambra median sales price of $430,000. No wonder why most people would rather live in Alhambra than San Marino! Do you think the majority of folks out there can afford to live in San Marino? And just look at San Marino’s streets. Main St. is much more walkable with many amenities than say, compared to Huntington Drive. So please, no need to compare apples and oranges; that includes El Monte and Pasadena, which have their own unique elements. By the way, I lived on Chapel Ave. for many years. And yes, I have seen a few old sofas and mattresses in the dumpsters and next to the street curb (but I can also say I’ve seen old sofas and mattresses in San Gabriel, Rosemead, El Monte, Los Angeles, etc.) What would you expect on Chapel Ave. that has an abundance of 50+ yr. old apartment buildings. Should we blame the 1960 Alhambra City Council for this as well; as contributors for the higher-density we have today in 2013?

        You talk about other city growth plans that take into account feedback from the residents. So tell me, has City Ventures broken ground on their “original plans” in the Midwick Tract area yet? Have they not even reduced the number of housing units in their project, a number much less than the number of housing units once made available for the senior citizens in this now defunct retirement community? Do we see a condo hi-rise (that you seem to despise so much) in Story Park? Our city council does listen to the community, but they must also balance it with their responsibilities to manage a living and evolving city. The issue of density is really not just Alhambra’s problem, but a regional issue as well. We can’t dictate how many babies a couple can have, or where they can and can’t live. In our free market, every city must take the responsibility to address their local concerns. What works in one city may not work in another. Actually, I do wish there is more of a growth plan for the regional area, but unfortunately, our fragmented governing bodies with their diverse constituents makes it very hard. So when you talk about backroom deals, constituents play a role in it too. For the most part however, in my opinion, if people educated themselves more on government matters (including regulations), transparency comes about much easier. Not only would people ask THE RIGHT questions to our city council members, but they would also better understand the context and city-wide (not just constituent-based) responsibilities our elected officials are subject to.

      3. John,
        Yes I do blame the city councils from earlier times as well as our current council for not having a thoughtful and progressive plan for the growth of our city. Alhambra was once known as “the city of beautiful homes” but the rezoning of R1 neighborhoods and resulting destruction of our historic housing stock so that they could be replaced by the shoddy apartments and condos we see now was done so that developers and people on the “inside” could profit financially at the expense of the rest of us. You are well informed and must know about this part of Alhambra’s past that has been documented with bribes to city officials and conflict of interest charges throughout the years.

        As I stated before, the city uses the above mentioned documents to justify the non-stop building program that is now in many cases servicing foreign investors and providing a nice location to park their money. An example is the Zen Terrace development on Commonwealth which received density bonuses for low mod housing and sold the units to foreign investors.

        What exactly is the penalty for slowing growth and taking care of the infrastructure and needs of the residents? Talk with long term or permanent residents about the city and you will hear a litany of complaints about the current and past developments. Many of us would support a slow down and reexamination of Main street corridor of high rises plan.

        I am still looking for one apartment or condo complex in San Marino. If you spot one, please let us know.

      4. Mr. Gacis,

        It would be best if you do not mis-represent state laws or defend city council members who have made these same errors.  The state does not mandate any developments.  As you typed in bold, STATE-MANDATED only applies to PLANNING for housing.  And they aren't even following their own plan:  This planning is to provide a good faith effort for the development of affordable housing.  It is a fact (and I am going to push for SCAG to hold a information session at a ocuncil meeting to correct Messina et al. on their ignorance) that the purpose is to encourage affordable housing.  Along with that must come some market rate units for financial feasbility for developers, which is why that component is included in the RHNA.  The farce that city leadership continues to carry is that they keep claiming a mandate to develop housing.  The fact is that the city has overdeveloped in terms of their market rate units and are failing miserably to meet their affordable housing metrics.  This is clear even in their own Housing Element.  So how many of the new developments are dedicated to the affordable housing stock?  Zero.

        So when you demand people to “take the time to do the research,” you should take your own advice and get it right.  Unless you are purposely trying to mislead as the city leadership has done repeatedly.

  4. The valet idea is just stupid, and the islands are a waste of money, and as Lola said, can cause police and ambulance delays.

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