The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News

Title:

After years of objections , Pasadena passes tentative plan for Hahamongna

Subtitle:

Date:

2010-02-03

Author:

Dan Abendschein

Publication:

Pasadena Star News

Content:

PASADENA - The City Council voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to a plan last night that could bring an environmental education center, a new equestrian facility and a bike path to the Hahamongna Watershed Park.

Those projects would be located on a 30-acre lot in the northwest corner of the park near the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The lot was acquired by the city in 2005.

The plan would only provide general guidelines for the future of the park: none of the projects are guaranteed to happen, and each would have to come before the council for approval. There is no timetable in place for when that might happen.

The future of the park has been a big source of discussion for the city over the last two years , as open space advocates have criticized the city for various proposals, including the bike path, and some possible tree removals.

But at last night's meeting, the city made several changes to the plan that pleased at least some critics.

"We're light years ahead of where we were a year ago," said Mary Barrie, a trails and open space advocate and member of the Friends of Hahamongna group.

Among the changes requested by the City Council is language that says that trees should not be removed unless absolutely necessary. The plan lists up to 70 non-native trees that could be removed, either because they are invasive species, or to make way for the bike path.

Any tree removals will also have to go for a hearing at the city's Urban Forestry Advisory Committee and the City Council.

The plan will also have different language in its planning section that prevents the city from seeking one permit to approve all the possible developments in the area.

Finally, the Council asked city staff to put explicit language in the plan stating that it will not build a road in the area. Past proposals for the area that were rejected several years ago suggested the possibility of a road and a new parking structure for JPL employees.

A new draft of the plan with the changes will be brought back to council in several weeks for a final vote.

Councilman Terry Tornek, who considered himself a critic of the plan, said he believes the city has come up with an agreement that will work for everyone.

"I don't anticipate any controversy when we vote on the new language," said Tornek.

Arguments over the future of Hahamongna are nothing new for the city: the city revised its plan for the whole park in 2003, and was criticized for proposals to add the JPL road and parking lot, and for more soccer fields.

One local group, the Spirit of the Sage Council, threatened to sue the city over it's plans, and ended up coming to an agreement that led the city to drop most of those proposals.

Today, Leeona Klippstein, the head of that group, says the city is in danger of violating that agreement, especially if it pursues tree removals or the bike paths. She said Tuesday that the group is prepared to file another lawsuit if they feel the city's proposals hurt wildlife or plant species.

Though the city's endorsement of the plan Monday would seem to indicate that the proposals within will all be carried out, there is nothing definite about it, said Martin Pastucha, the head of the city's Public Works Department.

The environmental education center and new equestrian center both have near-unanimous community support. Both are on sites where there is existing development and will not require additional tree removal, said Pastucha.

The equestrian facilities will host a group called Mach 1, a charitable organization that does therapeutic horse sessions for disabled children and adults. Supporters of that group showed up Monday to advocate of the program, which they say is currently limited in size because it needs the larger facility.

Not one person of the 35 or so who addressed the Council at Monday's meeting spoke up in favor of the bike path. Two bikers who spoke at the meeting even said they opposed it.

But the path might not even be on biker's radars right now: Joe Linton, the campaign director for the C.I.C.L.E. bike advocacy group, said he was barely familiar with proposal.

"I've seen it, but just as a line on a map," said Linton, who has been actively advocating for bikers as the city has been working on its' Master Bike plan. He said that his group is more focused on projects that will allow more people to commute on city streets.

Pastucha said the project was part of an older city proposal to have a bike path that loops through the park, and has not been discussed in recent years with bike advocates.