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San Gabriel Commissions Begin Work on Greening Its Code

By JIM E. WINBURN

The San Gabriel Planning Commission and Design Review Commission organized a workshop on Tuesday to gather community input and priorities on “greening” its code.

According to San Gabriel Planning Manager Carol Barrett, the city is updating its cumbersome and unclear zoning code by incorporating principles of sustainability that would make San Gabriel “greener” in terms of open space and development practices.

The evaluation and update to the city’s code is being sponsored by a grant from the Southern California Association of Governments, which is promoting the “best practices for zoning provisions” that will help cities to become more resource-efficient, according to urban and regional planners Dyett and Bhatia, who are serving as consultants to the city.

The joint-commission event held a workshop exercise that asked participants to identify the most important green issues for the city as well as their own top recommendations.

Although only a handful of people turned out to give community input, Barrett said the recommendations from the workshop would still factor into the overall process as far as what green practices should receive priority in the city.

“The next step will be to present a summary of the recommendations so that the city can establish priorities,” she said. Based on these priorities, the city will then code-line particular recommendations to be developed. Next, the Planning Commission and City Council will hold a series of public hearings on any of these proposed code changes.

Martha Miller, who helped facilitate the workshop, tabulated the participants’ recommendations after the exercise and revealed the top three sustainability topics, as being most important to San Gabriel, to be the following: landscaping and water conservation; parking, mobility and connectivity; and water quality.

Whereas the top three individually recommended topics were recognizing the Alhambra Wash as a citywide open space amenity; allowing mixed-use development subject to the highest permit level required for any individual use; and allowing alternative parking configurations that provide for efficient use of space.

One participant, by the name of Angela, told Barrett that she hopes the city does not ignore those areas of proposed sustainability that did not receive any feedback from participants at the workshop. “There’s a lot of good ideas but which there may not be enough of us here to make a recommendation on,” she said.

Barrett said that the exercise is only a way of helping the city to prioritize which areas of sustainability should be actualized into the code. “You can’t get everything done the first time out, so maybe there are some things we’re able to move forward with more quickly, and maybe other things that we’ll take more time in research and development before we’re able to make the final recommendations to council,” she said.

According to Barrett, the project will go forward by refining some of these concepts recommended in the workshop and developing these recommendations for implementation. “Some of these are ordinance changes … and other things we’ll be thinking about how to ‘incentivize’,” she said, adding that the project should be complete by April 2013.

The Planning Commission will meet next on Monday, Aug. 13, and the Design Review Commission’s next meeting is on Monday, Aug. 27. Visit the city’s web site at www.sangabrielcity.com for more information.

August 2, 2012

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