Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gustavo Arrelano, 4th District Supe, and Neighborhood Council

Tonight's big event is the Anaheim Historical Society meeting, which is free and open to the public. The guest speaker is Anaheim native and OC Weekly writer Gustavo Arrelano. The meeting is in the Loara Elementary School Auditorium, located at Broadway and Loara Streets. No RSVO needed, come on down.
Last night a group in Fullerton (NUFF) hosted a Candidate's Forum for the 4th District Supervisor's seat vacated by Chris Norby. The 4th District covers the flatlands of Anaheim, and the race is worth watching for all Anaheim citizens. The OC Register's Jennifer Muir did an excellent job of moderating the event, and she posted a recap at http://totalbuzz.freedomblogging.com/2010/01/25/candidates-discuss-issues-exchange-jabs-at-forum/28747/

I also recapped it at Red County http://www.redcounty.com/4th-district-candidates-forum/36150?taxonomy=29

In other Anaheim news, Neighborhood Council meetings are hosted this week for the following areas:

Wednesday, January 27 at 7 pm
Central District Council
Downtown Community Center
250 E. Center Street

Thursday, January 28 at 7 pm
South District Council
Stoddard Elementary School
1841 S. Ninth Street

Friday, January 22, 2010

HSR info from Spokker

Because I believe in giving equal time to all views, I have posted here the info from Spokker the ghost blogger, who thinks I am a NIMBY. He is right, I do not want this in my backyard. But unlike the usual definition of NIMBY I do not want to shove this into anyone else's backyard either. I would like to find a solution that does not disrupt anyone's backyard at all. A naive goal, I know. To that end, I had asked why this could not run down the I-5 where it would not bother anyone, and here is Spokker's answer. I do appreciate that he took the time to look it up. Thank you.

Spokker says;


Remember to read the description of the map and remember that it's not 100% accurate due to Google Map's limitations, but I think it paints a pretty good picture overall.

Also, I have looked over the statewide EIR/EIS again and they originally studied four alignments back in the early 2000s.

B1a was the LOSSAN alternative with three tracks.

B1b was the LOSSAN alternative with four tracks.

B2 was the I-5 alternative. There were studying an aerial along the most of the length of the I-5 to Anaheim. In OC it would have followed a frontage road near I-5. A station would have been constructed near the freeway in Anaheim and Norwalk. This one was deemed to be very expensive because of the aerial structures.

B3 was the Pacific Electric right of way. This one would be ideal because it is arrow straight all the way to OC (with a station in Garden Grove). However, it travels through many more residential neighborhoods than the LOSSAN corridor. Many of these neighborhoods are poor, Hispanic communities which would have triggered environmental justice issues. Also, Los Angeles Metro owns this right of way and has plans for possibly light rail on this corridor, which would serve the local residents much better.

B4 was the Union Pacific Santa Ana Branch alignment. This had similar problems that the Pacific Electric right of way had.

As you can see, only the LOSSAN alternatives were carried forward.

All four alignment alternatives were planned to expand further down the coast and into South OC and ultimately San Diego, but unstable coastal bluffs, sensitive habitats and San Juan Capistrano nixed that idea.

Also, I discovered some information about noise. If my research is correct a train horn is 125 db, which is even louder than a high speed train at 110 MPH. In Japan bullet train noise mitigation is an artform as trains travel near residential areas at 186 MPH. Hopefully they can help us out with that issue.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let's Think This Through

The big item on my calendar today is the High Speed Rail Authority's presentation on the Alternatives Analysis. The meeting is at City Council Chambers 200 S. Anaheim Blvd. That is the building on the east side of the street where you go for Building Permits, not the one on the west side where you pay the utility bill you forgot. Park in the covered parking structure behind City Hall, take the covered walkway bridge to the 2nd floor, and down the elevator or stairs to Council Chambers, you never get wet, so not showing up for the rain is no excuse. They will have the information for us Open House style from 5 to 7 pm, with a presentation at 5:30.

The issues I see with this plan are that first and foremost we need to be included in the process as citizens. The State has known for a year that they could not use the shared track they originally pitched to us, and they would have to build either an expensive tunnel or take homes, businesses, and public space to make it work. Why wait so long to share that with us, and then only because I threatened to go to the press?

The other issue is the route chosen. I have spoken to people in many areas of the City, even those not immediately affected, and nobody (other than Spokker the ghost blogger) wants this thing running At Grade through the middle of our town. Curt's tunnel may be doable, and if it is the only answer then I can live with it, although I am reluctant to pay for it.

Why not somewhere else? Why does it have to remain along a rail line that was designed and laid out 100 years ago, for the needs of those residents in the Victorian era? If we must remain At Grade for the sake of cost, why not run it where there is already open space? The 5 Freeway would allow it to run from San Diego to the top of California, conceivably even into Oregon, Washington, and Canada if need be. Curt Pringle could have a truly international rail system, with only Cal Trans to battle instead of every Mayor up and down the rail line who are already pissed off.

I do not think we are being unreasonable to say that High Speed Rail is a good idea in theory, but the concept of building it at all costs, no matter the expense or the disruption to communities, is not what we want. Now let's take a step back, breathe, and work together to do a great project. If we miss the deadline we miss the deadline. Shoving through a bad idea just to beat a dot on the calendar is how Obamacare is being ramrodded, and folks do not like that either.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fight Eminent Domain in Anaheim!

As a follow up to the last post of the WAND meeting, I have to say that the State's lack of public disclosure regarding High Speed Rail shocks even me. It became very clear, and Councilwoman Kring confirmed my suspicions, that even the Anaheim City Council has yet to be presented with the Alternatives Analysis that lists the properties the State will take by eminent domain if the rail remains At Grade. It is essential that we attend the meeting on Wednesday, January 20, City Council Chambers. The information is available Open House style from 5 pm to 7 pm, and a presentation will be made at 5:30 pm.

It is very important that we share the following information, to be placed in the public record:

1) This meeting is the first opportunity that Anaheim citizens have had to review the Alternatives Analysis. There is an assumption in Sacramento that because Anaheim is not screaming bloody murder like other cities, that we are OK with the plan. That would make sense, how could Sacramento imagine our own Mayor had not bothered to tell us about this? So make sure that you fill out a comment card or speak at Public Comments if they allow it, and make the point that we have NOT been informed prior to this!

2) The At Grade alternative takes property by eminent domain, and is unnacceptable. We want a Deep Bore Tunnel that avoids disruption of homes and businesses, as well as utilities. There is a fear of where will the money come from for a tunnel. But at a meeting of the State Legislature's Transportation Committeee, Curt Pringle said that the Federal Government, in their requirements for the Federal Stimulus funds, required us to list the MOST EXPENSIVE scenario imaginable to base our budgets on. While this was a vague statement during a larger review by the LAO of the HSR Business Plan, that would appear to me to say that we have already budgeted for the tunnel, so let's demand it!

3) We want more public input for the project, to ensure that we are notified of any changes in the future. Be sure to sign up for mailing lists while you are there, and stay informed. These people are under immense pressure to complete the paperwork. The entire statewide Environmental Report (an overwhelming document) must be finished by September of 2011, in order to qualify for the Federal stimulus funds! These people have no incentive to come back and tell us if something has changed, as we have seen by the way this Alternatives Analysis has been handled. Running information past us might just result in us objecting to it, which creates delays. Delays run the risk of not completing the Environmental Report. Now I would not say that anyone would deliberately hide information from the public to get a multi-billion dollar project done, at least not in my outside voice that gets me sued. But I will just ask you to stay on these people, ask for additional mailings, be sure that we stay informed and involved.

Here is a list of the properties affected if the train remains At Grade. I have listed the rather generic wording that the HSR people used to describe the properties in red, and then I follow with notes I  have on each property. I am afraid i seem to have lost the ability to pull up the photos I had shot of these properties, when my computer died and I replaced it. But I hope this gives you a better overview of what is at stake.

Approx. 35' wide ROW takes are needed along the west side of the corridor between Vermont Ave. to the south and North St, to the north. adjacent to the west side of the 50' ROW there are approx 1.5 miles of industrial property takes, 0.7 miles of residential takes, and 0.2 mile park take.

Starting in the south, between Vermont Ave. and South St. there are three Industrial buildings that are within the ROW take area. The southern two buildings immediately abut on the ROW and would lose approximately 35' of building area (approx. 20% of the entire buildings).the northern most building has about a 15' setback from the ROW and would lose approx. 20' of the building area (approx. 20% of the entire building).there is also a parking area that would lose approx. 35' of space and between 20 and 30 parking spaces.

NOTE: These buildings include 2 pieces of the L3 Communications Campus. This defense contractor employs 500 people, according to their website, most on the Anaheim Campus. They build high tech weapons systems, work that is not easily relocated to another site and work that provides higher income pay scales for skilled workers.

L3 Communications


707 E. Vermont Street

The third building on the block is shown in public records as American Management Consultants

The number of employees is unknown, but their work in Immigration and Naturalization processing may trigger some Social Justice issues under CEQA, which is not mentioned in the Alternatives Analysis.

American Management Consultants

700 E. South Street

North of South St. the ROW abuts recently constructed high-density residential units. Parking and auto access are constructed directly adjacent to the ROW. With the approx. 35' wise ROW take focused on these areas. But, additionally ROW will be required elsewhere to replace the affected parking and auto access areas.

NOTE: Colony Park recently constructed as RDA affordable project, in first phase of multi-phase project. The consultants also fail to list the loss of a cell tower in the background.

Between South St. and Santa Ana St. There are three industrial buildings with parking spaces and storage area. The southern building is new and is set back from the ROW approx. 30 to 35 feet. Loading areas run along the eastern side of the building. The loading areas would be lost and it is uncertain if the building would be affected. Just to the north of this building is a parking lot that would lose approx. 35' of space and between 40 and 50 parking spaces. North of the parking lot is a smaller older industrial building with a storage area to the north of it that would probably require a take of the entire property.

NOTE: The consultants are describing the old Kwikset site, which shows a clear lack of contact to the City of Anaheim, as the development of this parcel into the next phase of Colony Park has been on the books for years. In addition, the City Council approved the next phase of development to this site, AFTER the Alternatives Analysis was released.

Between Santa Ana St. and Broadway there are three industrial buildings with parking spaces and storage area. The southernmost building is sufficiently set back so as not to be affected, but it would the storage area it has between the building and the ROW. The industrial building immediately to the north abuts on the ROW and it would lose approx. 35' of building area (approx. 33% of the entire building). Just to the north of this building is a parking lot that would lose approx. 35' of space and between 20 and 30 parking spaces. North of the parking lot is an industrial building that is setback approx. 20' from the ROW, and thus approx 15' of the building area would be taken (approx. 15% of the entire building).

NOTE: this description refers to Firmenich, an Anaheim employer that creates fragrances and flavorings for the food industry (AKA the smell factory. Not much information is available on the internet, but one may assume by the size of the site and the full parking lots during business hours that this is a major employer, who does not seem to have space to spare. In addition, the site was originally developed as MCP foods, when Herb Leo pioneered the manufacture of stabilized pectin, which changes the citrus industry in California. Herb Leo’s Anaheim home was declared historically significant, and if original structures remain on campus there is the potential for them to qualify for Local and State historic recognition.

Between Broadway and Lincoln Ave. there is a mini park (Citrus Park) and associated parking lot, and the Y Children’s Station (located in the former UP Railroad Station building). The park would lose a 35' wide strip of land along the ROW (approx. 30% of the parks land area). And approx. five parking spaces. The Y Children’s Station building would be a total take. The parkland lost to the widening could be recouped on the excess land gained by the take of the Y Children’s Station property

NOTE: YMCA Train Station is historically significant, according to maps of historic resources provided by the City of Anaheim. This lack of documentation further proves the consultants lack of communication with those agencies and organizations commonly contacted during CEQA compliance. In addition, the City of Anaheim’s Redevelopment Agency recently funded the relocation and rehabilitation of the structure, as well as taxpayer funding for the newly created Citrus Park. Citrus Park is also the only open space in the immediate area, in a City that lags behind Manhattan for green space, according to a recent report by the Kennedy Commission.

Between Lincoln Ave. and Cypress St. there are four single family (SF) houses that are set back approx. 20' from the ROW (location of their backyard fence). The two southern SF houses are separated by the two northern SF houses by a private mini park with tot lot and basketball court uses. The 35' ROW widening would take the entire backyard of the southernmost SF house, which has approx. 15' of backyard area. This would place the back of the house immediately on the property line. Thus, this would have to potential to take this SF house. The other three SF houses have larger backyards and would lose about 15' of area but keeping 20' of backyard between the house and the property line. The tot lot and the basketball area would have to relocate on the private park area.

NOTE: Newer KB Homes, ironically developed to replace older bungalows taken out by a previous transportation project to grade separate the railroad.

Between Cypress St. and Adele St. There is an industrial use the immediately abuts the ROW. The land closest to the ROW is used for parking/storage. The closest point of the building is set back from the property line by approx. 35'. It appears the 35' widening would only remove eastern most parking/storage areas; there appears to be ample parking/storage area on the west side of the building,

NOTE: This company makes trailers and transportation equipment. The parking lot was full on a holiday, and overflows during workdays.

Between Adele St. and Sycamore St. there are two industrial uses separated by an alley. The southernmost of the two uses abuts the ROW and the 35' widening would require the taking of this property. The northern industrial use has one building and parking/storage area within the 35' widening area. The building appears to be a storage building. This use should be able to continue in operation after the widening.

NOTE: The northern industrial use is actually the headquarters for a landscape company. While the taking of the parking and storage area does not remove a structure, it renders the rear building entirely inaccessible to employees, the equivalent of a take.

Between Sycamore St. and Wilhelmina St. there is one long industrial building that abuts the ROW. The 35' widening would require the taking of this property.

NOTE: This structure is divided into multiple "for lease" units, impacting many employers, and depleting Anaheim’s income from business taxes. Also calculate loss of sales tax, building materials are revenue generators.

Limited ROW takes needed at grade separations to preserve access to properties facing lowered streets.

NOTE: Remember what happened the last time government grade separated something in the Colony? Go look at how many homes were taken out by the Lincoln underpass and tell me this is a good thing.

If this scares you as much as it scares me, please attend the meeting on Wednesday, make it clear that we want a Deep Bore Tunnel, or no train at all! Thank you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010



West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council



speaking about

ARTIC, Transportation Issues in Anaheim

Police Update:

Sgt. Sharon Pietrok, Anaheim Police Department
Following Councilwoman Kring will be Cynthia Ward with an update on High Speed Rail and its potential impact to Anaheim.

Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 – 7 p.m.

Location: Maxwell School Multipurpose Room

2613 W. Orange Avenue, Anaheim

Questions? Please contact Esther Wallace at 714-828-5526

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eminent Domain returns to Anaheim as White House celebrates 100 years!

Today's post is the official notice of the upcoming meeting for High Speed Rail, scheduled to carve up Anaheim like Sherman's March to the sea. No, I am not kidding. If the plan remains to build the system At Grade, as described in the Alternatives Analysis, there will be right of way takings under eminent domain. I spent the other day photographing the properties that will be lost, and will post those with the pertinent portions of the AA, as my time allows. For now, I would enourage you to open and save the notice here, and please share it with anyone you know who needs to hear about these plans. I am especially concerned about the lack of notice to those businesses and homes that are directly in the path of the project. The State's consultant team has done what can only be described as an information-light job of public outreach to date. Oh yeah, they have done meetings, we have all seen the slick, glossy sales pitch of bullet trains zipping across the screen. My gripe here is that I cannot recall that presentation saying anything about private property takes, or night time construction in residential areas. Nor can anyone I know recall that message being conveyed to us. Heck, checking over the City's listing of workshops and presentations to City Council, I cannot find evidence that the Council has even been told of the Alternative Analysis, and its impact on properties in the City. The last HSRA workshop to the Council was here http://anaheim.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=357 and it was essentially the same presentation we saw. At least Parsons Brinckerhoff did bother to share one sentence with Council, that if they could not get shared track they may have to widen the right of way with takes. I cannot find any evidence that they notified anyone that this is indeed the case, nor that they have already selected the properties they wish to take.

Part of the communication breakdown has been the decision to break the largest transportation project in California history into many mini-projects, each with their own project teams. The purpose was to make a large and unweildy project more manageable, much like eating an elephant one bite at a time. The result has been a complete obsufucation of information, as the State's right hand does not tell the State's left hand what it is doing. To avoid any slight of hand in that handshake, some volunteers have been transcribing the public meetings into written form, which comes in handy, should you need to remind an elected official that they did indeed promise you the sun, moon, and stars. I understand that anyone with the ability to use a keyboard can do this, and there is a tremendous need for more helping hands to transcribe the meetings. If you can spare some time, and you are one of those sick individuals like myself who actually LIKES sitting through these meetings, watching the political chess game unfold, your people need you. Contact me directly and I will put you in touch with folks who know what they are doing (don't look at me, I can barely text message).

In happier news, Bruno Serato shared his new "West Wing" (which sits on the East Lawn, but I digress) with the people of Anaheim, as we celebrated the 100th birthday of the historic Gervais-Truxaw house, now the White House Restaurant. http://www.anaheimwhitehouse.com/ Bruno was quite relieved to see that Mayor Curt Pringle arranged for Bruno's name to be set in a larger font than the Mayor's, on a plaque for the building. While technically the construction of a new, non-contributing structure set in front of a National Register structure would be a violation of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, I am told that the West Wing banquet center is temporary, and portable, and there are plans to move it as soon as additional space can be purchased on the block. That means that the party pavilion is a reversible change, and I am going to encourage the preservation community to give a little wiggle room, as long as it remains a temporary fix. I am far more interested in preserving the house itself. Not everyone knows that the White House Restaurant received the very first Mills Act contract in the City of Anaheim, qualifying for that property tax reduction as a National Register property. Bruno clearly has a lot more work to do on the house, and we are grateful for any of the innapropriate changes that Bruno is able to reverse on this wonderful landmark property!
The Anaheim White House feeds a hot dinner to every child in the Boys and Girls Club, every week night. For many of these kids, this is the only hot food they will eat all week.  Here's best wishes to the man with the biggest heart in Anaheim.