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How Should SPUSD's Parking Lot be Developed?

Those living in close proximity to the project insisted their voices be heard at a community meeting last month. What are your concerns regarding the development of the school district's parking lot?

officials held a special meeting Jan. 23 in which neighbors of the district offices could express concerns reagarding the parking lot development.

While a committee was created last year by Superintendent Joel Shapiro—filled with community members from  PTA, Historic Society, etc.—those living in close proximity to the project insisted their voices be heard.

There are currently three RFPs on the table; two include commercial/ residential properties and one proposes a , which would comprise of an indoor pool and underground parking garage.

Here's what those who showed at the meeting had to say, according to community member Sheila Rossi. 

  • Proximity: Neighbors should be defined by the residents residing on Windsor, Fairview, Diamond, Meridian between Monterey and Hope Street (including Oxley and El Centro).
  • Stakeholders: They'd like to be seen as stakeholders in the process and would like to be included in any decision-making/committee process in the future.
  • Parking and Traffic Flow: They'd like to ensure there is plenty of parking to accommodate the increase in population and/or visitors/customers. The devlopment should ensure that traffic does not spill onto residential streets. 
  • Project Density: Neighbors would prefer a lower density project than a high-density project. If not the YMCA, then townhomes and not one to two bedroom units.
  • Open Space: They would like to maintain open community spaces, particularly with the large influx of visitors that come to visit the and .
  • Population Control: District would need to address enrollment and overflow situations at that prevent neighborhood kids from attending their neighborhood school.
  • Efficiency: They have concerns that the appraisal process needs to be done diligently and accurately. 

Interested in voicing your opinion, too?

"The best way for people to be involved is to attend any board meeting when this is being discussed," said Superintendent Joel Shapiro.

"We want to give equal opportunity to anybody who has an interest in this project. We want information to be available to everybody. It's very difficult to define neighbors in a way that is fair to everybody."

Related: 

SPUSD Considers Development of Parking Lot

School Board Candidates Talk Parking Lot Development

Patch Asks: What are your concerns regarding development of the SPUSD lot? Take our Patch poll, and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the YMCA has intentions of building a second location in South Pas. That is inaccurate. Patch regrets the error. 

Timothy Hillman February 06, 2012 at 05:57 PM
As a resident who also works in the film industry, the parking lot is one of the few that can accomodate production vehicles in the town. Filming brings revenue from a clean industry that is disparately needed by our little town as we have no car dealerships or big box stores. Any development of the property would be wise to consider making the first floor parking with 14 feet of clearance to accomodate production vehicles. You could still put a facade on the front to hide the vehicles and the upper floors could be either residential or commercial (preferably commercial). That way the school could still get the parking income, which they need to charge more for and which they disparately need and the town could have more viable commercial space to generate more tax income.
Janet Cartwright February 06, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Leave it empty. Why do we need to fill the limited empty space we have in this town? Where is everyone supposed to park when these new bldgs go in?
Case February 06, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I, too, like the idea of leaving the lot empty; it's not an eye sore, even when the filming trucks are there and is useful for overflow for the farmer's market and surrounding businesses. But if anything HAS to go there, I'd "vote" down more residences, in the interest of not over-packing Arroya Vista Elementary. I'm sure this will be considered as it's in the school district's best interest. Only small businesses make sense on this block, if something must be built.
sp February 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Leave it alone!!!! Jeez
Janet Cartwright February 06, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Back in the 70s, us high school students had our behind the wheel part of driver's ed. in that lot. Oh, the memories...
Chris Page February 06, 2012 at 08:55 PM
it's an historic site like the library. consider NOT developing it! except plant grass and trees. consider design as an extension of historic public library and green areas. continue to use for public purposes and farmer's market etc. (Same should be considered for corner lot at mission/ fremont.) I understand why private developers/ property owners get so excited to develop every square inch of real estate as soon as it becomes available $ - but for this unique location, let's just say no as matter of public policy.
TreeBees February 06, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I heard one of the proposals includes historic preservation of the property with trees in a courtyard and a kid's water fountain. It's one of the proposals with retail and residential.
Kristen Lepore (Editor) February 06, 2012 at 11:07 PM
At the last school board meeting, the Superintendent's committee presented analysis of the three RFPs. Overall, the YMCA ranked the lowest of the three proposals when evaluated on the following topics: qualifications of proposer; value of proposal to the district; and value of proposal to South Pasadena. As for the historic aspect, it does say that one of the proposals "The School Yard" would "Provide $1,000,000.00 in 'historically preserved' tenant improvements to the district offices. District would remain on site." Here is a link to the group's presentation: http://bit.ly/wIqWBN
Janet Cartwright February 07, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I say this over and over: Do we really need more retail/condo development?
Ron Rosen February 07, 2012 at 01:05 AM
I continue to think that input just from the nearby neighbors is not right. This town is 3 square miles in area. We are all neighbors. One thing that all of you who advocate leaving it as it is and not adding more commercial development fail to consider is that the city needs money to function.
Janet Cartwright February 07, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Let's turn it into a big petting zoo and charge admission ;-)
Lori Fuller Rusch February 07, 2012 at 02:41 AM
SPUSD desperately needs a income source. Sensitive development and retaining the existing building is a viable options. No one wants to preserve our architecturally significant structures than I do, but the State of California cannot pay its bills (read our teachers and staff) or provide for more than the bare minimum for our students. Make the parking clearance to accommodate commercial vehicles for additional film rental income. Let's hear what SPUSD comes up with ...
Chris Page February 07, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Ron, please check out the article again. The neighbor's requested an information meeting because they were specifically NOT considered or included in the "committee [ ] created last year by Superintendent Joel Shapiro—filled with community members". Odd, huh?
Joanne Nuckols February 07, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Did I miss the "community" meeting (not a school board meeting) that the SPUSD had specifically to discuss their plans/need to develop the property on Mission St to all the citizens of So Pasadena BEFORE requesting proposals? Or, how about a list of the committee members who are supposedly representing the community...have they had a public meeting to discuss the proposals? If neither of the above has happened, it appears SPUSD is going down the wrong path again in their attempt to play developer. Does anyone remember the first proposal they entertained years ago for an alzheimer care facility proposed by an Orange county consultant? The right type of development should be an asset to Mission St shopping, the school district AND the city as a whole. Everyone should be involved in the decision, not just a select few chosen by the Superintendent to evaluate the three proposals.
Kristen Lepore (Editor) February 07, 2012 at 07:46 PM
This meeting mentioned above was held because a group of community members who live in close proximity to the district offices wanted to obtain information and state their opinions. However, before the 18-person Superintendent committee was formed and proposals were analyzed, the district was—and still is—encouraging residents to share their thoughts, concerns, etc. at school board meetings. You can also e-mail Superintendent Joel Shapiro (JShapiro@fc.spusd.net), and he will relay your thoughts to the board. I just uploaded the Superintendent committee's report to this article. If interested in this development, take a look.
Joanne Nuckols February 07, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Thanks for the quick response Kristen. I guess my comment was too subtle and I will have to explain. I'm all for the neighbors that are affected having a meeting, but they shouldn't have had to go out of their way to ask for this meeting...it should have been the first step for the district if they wanted an open, collaborative process with the people. But, of course they don't. And, to expect people to go to a school board meeting to express their opinion is like So Pasadena freeway fighters going to Caltrans to express their opinion...it goes exactly nowhere! So back to my original questions...was their ever a single community meeting specific to this subject to discuss the proposals and solicit input and comments from the community about the three proposals and who, specifically named, are the citizens representing the entities on this committee? I think the answer to the first question is no. It's not too late for the district to salvage this process before it develops into a full-blown land use controversy (as is usual in So Pasadena) and seek the input from the community and really mean it. Reconsider their process for seeking input on these three proposals and have a meeting or two to provide information. It's time for the district to show some respect for the citizens who have voted in two parcel taxes.
Sam Burgess February 07, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Joanne, Your points are well taken. However, I do not believe this process can be salvaged. E-Mailing the school superintenant with our concerns and asking him to forward these concerns to the board is not the same as an open and collabortative public hearing. What we now have is another Fair Oaks fiasco in the making. But on a much larger scale. Kristen. May I suggest a new Patch Poll on this subject with the following question: "Do you believe the South Pasadena Board of Education has properly involved the public in the proposed development of the SPUSD Parking Lot?"
Kristen Lepore (Editor) February 07, 2012 at 11:14 PM
@Sam: I would be happy to do so. I will link the poll to this thread when it's published.
Joanne Nuckols February 08, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Excellent suggestion Sam. Thank you Kristen for following up with a new poll.
Sam Burgess February 08, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Thanks, Kristen.
Kristen Lepore (Editor) February 21, 2012 at 09:09 PM
As promised, here is the transparency poll. Feel free to pass it around. http://patch.com/A-rbb9
Joanne Nuckols February 07, 2013 at 02:02 AM
So, here we are a year later and, from what I can tell, no response from the district about a community meeting or better communication with the immediate neighbors. It the school district expects the electorate to vote for an extension of the parcel tax, they might consider having a little more consideration for that electorate and not just ignore community input.

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