• OPINION

      church before and during construction near it

      Historic “Church of St. Simon and Jude” in Alhambra then and in 2020 (Photos – Melissa Michelson)

      Unless the community speaks up to a City Hall that’s willing to listen, Alhambra will continue to suffer from haphazard constructions that are good at generating traffic and making a buck for the landowner, but terrible at providing for the community.

      By Melissa Michelson

      I’m referring to three projects on the City’s docket this week:

      • The intent to bulldoze two fast-food mom-n-pop eateries at Valley and Cabrillo and instead build a car wash along the Midwick Tract.
      • The intent to build a very incongruously designed two-story nursing home next to a historic Spanish chapel designed by a renowned architect.
      • The Villages of 774 luxury units along a stretch of Fremont Avenue that suffers from rush-hour traffic jams.

      On Monday, June 7, Alhambra’s Planning Commission will consider Agenda Item #3, to construct an ultra-modern two-story addition to the existing Sunnyview Care Center skilled nursing home facility at 1516 Marengo (at Valley Blvd.) The addition would be awkwardly located between the existing nursing home and the Church of St. Simon and Jude designed by Reginald Davis Johnson and constructed in 1923. It barely escaped the bulldozer, but that’s more than can be said for over two hundred mature trees that had cleaned the air and provided shade to the area. For over three years starting in 2017, the community lead by Marengo Avenue Water Brigade, voiced severe opposition to the City Council’s decision.

      rendering of a medical building

      Rendering of proposed skilled nursing annex (Photo – Planning Commission)

      Also on Monday, June 7, the Planning Commission will consider Agenda Item #4, the destruction of Aloha Food and Ernie’s Burger to make way for a car wash. The City sent a public notice about the owner’s intent to a scant 62 neighboring households within a 300-foot radius of the site. The Planning Commission ought to extend that distance and extend the time, in case residents have some better ideas, like cafes and shops, with some affordable housing units upstairs.

      On Thursday, June 10, the Alhambra City Council will continue hearing about The Villages from the public and the multi-million dollar Ratkovich Company.  The neighboring community and several community groups, like Grassroots Alhambra, Emery Park Community Group and The Coalition for Equitable Development at The Alhambra, have been in an uproar about the developer’s questionable traffic studies and the potential 5,466+ vehicles the 774 luxury units would move daily, the lack of significant affordable units, and construction on a potentially contaminated site.

      Unless they want to take what’s given to them, Alhambrans should comment on the developments before the published deadlines ((See the agendas of the Planning  Commission and the City Council on the City’s website).


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      Contributor

      Comments

      1. MelissaMichelson says:

        I heard that 4 people spoke at the meeting on June 7, there were 51 public comments that were read, all against. Public comment began at 9:45 and continued to 10:40. They talked about noise,objections to a car wash,and traffic. Here’s one letter:

        “Dear Members Of the Alhambra Planning Commission,

        I am a long time resident of Alhambra and have been living in Alhambra since 1974. I am well aware of the changes in the city over the years.

        I, first, wanted to thank the Commission members for their due diligence in the thorough research that was completed in analyzing the plans for the proposal for The Villages. I attended a number of the planning commission meetings where research and evidence was reviewed and discussed as to the impact the proposed plan would have on the people of Alhambra. I was highly impressed with the workings of the Commission and the caliber of expertise of its members. The Commission very prudently opposed The Villages Plan as it was not in the best interest of the people of Alhambra and the neighboring cities. I greatly appreciated your caring and thoroughness of your evaluation of the plan.

        I am now writing you in opposition to the proposal of demolishing Aloha Food Factory. It has become an institution in Alhambra, being here since 1994 – 27 years. Many people come from places far away from Alhambra to enjoy the authentic Hawaiian food. For example, my sister drives in from the Northridge to enjoy the food because it is so authentic and the staff are so friendly and accommodating.

        I cannot believe that you can, in all conscientiousness, approve a plan that would be taking away the livelihood of people who live and are working in Alhambra ! So many businesses in Alhambra have closed because of the Covid pandemic and here is a business that has survived. Approval of the plan to demolish a business that is thriving to build an automated car wash makes no sense to me. Our city government should be supportive of businesses that did make it through the pandemic which are providing livelihoods for its residents. An automated car wash would only provide income for the owner.

        It is my understanding that the proposal also includes Ernie’s Burger, another Alhambra restaurant which has survived the pandemic. I additionally oppose the demolition of that restaurant as well – destruction of another Alhambra business.

        Additionally, it is my understanding that there was a very short notice given of the hearing to approve the plan to demolish the 2 restaurants. I believe it was a little over a month.
        That is certainly not enough time for the owners of the restaurants to make plans to relocate. There should have been adequate notice to the owners so they could be making plans to relocate if that is their only option.

        Also, what studies have been completed to see the impact such a decision would have on the traffic, additional air pollution, use of water and chemicals have on the residents of Alhambra.

        Again, I am strongly opposed to the plan to demolish Aloha Food Factory and Ernie’s Burger and be replaced by an automated car wash which would only make profit for its owner. And in the process would destroy the livelihoods of people and residents of Alhambra of the two restaurants.

        I expect that you to do as thorough and conscience job in your decision making as you did with The Villages proposal and not approve the plan to demolish Aloha Food Factory and Ernie’s Burger.

        I expect this to be read and become a part of the record for tonight’s meeting, June 7, 2021.

        Thank you,
        Beverly Murata”

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