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


Saved by the Bells?





Laura Garrett


Pasadena Audubon


Photo by Dave Bell

The City of Pasadena is planning to build a soccer field and parking lot in Hahamongna Watershed Park and to "restore" many acres of habitat. The field and parking lot will be located east of the current field and parking lot, right in the middle of willow and mule fat habitat. Their plan includes burying up to 27 acres of habitat under 12-25 feet of sediment to create a pad for the field and lot. This will require about 300,000 cubic yards of sediment to be moved from near the dam to the area east of the parking lot. The City is presuming that Los Angeles County Public Works will happily provide the sediment from its own plan to remove over 3 million cubic yards of sediment from behind Devil's Gate Dam. The County is not as sure about this, because moving the sediment from one part of the basin to another will not increase capacity of the dam. But that’s another battle.

The City is required to conduct an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) to determine the impacts of their plan. The first step was the Initial Study, released July 10, which had few details. Once the Initial Study was prepared, that was the time for us to ask questions about this plan. The City held two public scoping meetings to take questions, and they accepted written comments and questions as well. Our comments and questions were due by August 23, 2012.

Next, the City will prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Report. This should respond to our questions and concerns and will be more detailed and specific. We will have another public comment period and some more public meetings. The dates of these events will be determined by the date when the City releases the Draft EIR.

You’ll be happy to know that at the two scoping meetings on July 12 and 14, not one person spoke in favor of this plan and most spoke vehemently against it. Some common concerns included negative impacts on habitat and wildlife, the effects of the County’s sediment removal on this plan, the claim that this plan will not affect traffic, the claim that increased use of pesticides will not affect the environment, water quality, or wildlife, and that the increased noise will not affect the environment or wildlife. Clearly, the word “effect” can have multiple meanings, and it is doubtful that the City looks at impacts on wildlife, including the fifty species of birds that nest there.

Ironically, the day after the second scoping meeting, July 15, Dave Bell (love the name!) found two “Least” Bell’s Vireos right where the field and parking lot are proposed to be built. This is a federally listed Endangered Species. The birds appeared to be an adult and juvenile; the juvenile was making begging calls. Could they have nested there? Dave contacted a bunch of Audubon folks, and Darren Dowell, John Garrett and I re-found the birds that afternoon. Joined by Dave, we were able to get excellent photos and recordings. (That's Dave's photo at the top of this article.) Aided by Lance Benner, John Garrett, Dave Bell and others, Darren Dowell has been faithfully visiting Hahamongna for the last month, and documented the birds’ presence through the middle of August. Could these birds be the nail in the coffin of this incredibly stupid idea to put a soccer field in one of the last bits of open space in Pasadena?

Once we had documentation, I sent it to Chris Medak at the U.S. Fish & WildlifeService. In a conversation with me she said that when the City applies for the many permits it will need to complete this project, our documentation of the birds’ presence will be in the Fish & Wildlife report, and will make it much less likely that the plan can go forward. So it’s not a slam-dunk, but these little birds might have saved the day at Hahamongna.

It isn’t over yet. We need to keep working to save Hahamongna. But those ‘Least’ Bell’s Vireos gave us some excellent ammunition.

To see the Initial Study and the Draft EIR when it’s ready, please visit

To join the battle to save Hahamongna, on Facebook, join the group “Save Hahamongna!” Or you can go to to get updates and information. To get a virtual tour of the area that will be buried, visit You Tube and search for “Take a Tour of the Site of Pasadena’s New Athletic Field.”

Questions? or 626-564-1890 .