By Alex Cordero
Several local residents, city staff, developers, Pasadena police officers, and council members John J. Kennedy and Victor Gordo recently gathered to participate in the Fair Oaks and Orange Grove specific plan area community walking tour. Specific Plans for certain areas in the City of Pasadena continue to develop and local residents have been very vocal about the type of changes they would like to see in their respective districts.
This community exercise was primarily based on a concept envisioning Fair Oaks and Orange Grove as a mixed-use neighborhood and obtaining feedback from local residents as to what type of mixed uses they would like to see in their neighborhood.
City staff members along with police officers and councilmembers lead community residents on a walking tour covering business and residential areas asking for specific ideas that may improve this area of the city.
As we gathered in groups to begin the walking tour, Pasadena resident Michelle Bailey shared with me that the Starbucks in the Fair Oaks Renaissance Plaza used to be a gas station. She has been living in Pasadena her entire life and knows her local neighborhood pretty well — as her family members were business owners on Orange Grove Boulevard when she was a little girl.
“But before we even start developing this area we really need to focus on cleaning up this area first,” Bailey shared with the entire group. “I do not feel safe pulling over to get something to eat around here after work; I drive down Fair Oaks to get to the other side of town to do so and I shouldn’t have to.”
A couple of local residents shared that the Church’s Chicken fast food restaurant on the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove may soon be replaced with housing. This corner is considered a “bad area” in the neighborhood by some local residents. Although the Specific Plan for this area has not been finalized, this group of local residents was on the same page: they suggest replacing the Church’s Chicken with housing for seniors.
As we crossed the intersection to a Walgreens parking lot Bailey shared that this area of the city needs “services like dialysis centers, small clinics and drugstores so the senior community will not have to worry about commuting far to get to what they need.”
A pause in the walking tour to take a look around sparked a conversation about parking lots. The Walgreens parking lot is vast and although easy to see when police officers are patrolling the area, the parking lot is also subjected to loitering. Local resident Gabriel Ceja Sr. suggested is that parking lots should be built in front of businesses, rather than the back, to be able to be more vigilant in the neighborhood.
Officer Alexander agreed that open parking lots that are built above ground are easier to see when patrolling the neighborhood for potential crime situations in certain areas but big parking lots may also be hot spot areas for loitering due to the open space.
What do you think? Do you think parking in front of businesses could make a difference in looting and criminal activity in a neighborhood?
The next specific plan area community walk is scheduled for Aug. 24 at Lamanda Park at 8 a.m. Please visit cityofpasadena.net to obtain more details and information.