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


The Arroyo Seco was once snubbed for money for local restoration projects. That could soon be fixed.





Steve Scauzillo


Pasadena Star-News


A stream meanders through the Lower Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. As per a new bill, the Arroyo Seco would be included in a “working group” for restoration of the L.A. River and its tributaries. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Walt Mancini/SXCity)
Last year, when Tim Brick learned of a bill to establish a working group to restore the upper Los Angeles River and its tributaries, he scanned the text but could find no reference to the Arroyo Seco.

When asked why a major tributary to the L.A. River was not included, he was rebuffed. The bill became law.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, introduced fix-it legislation that would add the Arroyo Seco Tributary to the Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Working Group, which is headed up by the powerful Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

“I am happy to help solve a problem raised by constituents and to underscore how important the Arroyo Seco Tributary is to the greater watershed,” Portantino said in a written statement.

Brick, managing director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation and a former board chairman for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said he was pleased that Portantino was acting to rectify the situation. The move could bring funding to local restoration projects.

“If you are concerned about restoring the habitat, it is important to link the mountains to the L.A. River,” said Brick, a Pasadena resident. “And the Arroyo Seco is part of the L.A. RIver.”

Spanish for “dry stream,” the Arroyo Seco is a real river flowing 22 miles from the mountains above NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, around the Rose Bowl, the Hahamongna Watershed Park, under the Colorado Street bridge and through the communities of Altadena, Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, South Pasadena and a cluster of northeast Los Angeles burbs hugging the 110 Freeway.

Except for hikers, people usually don’t see the Arroyo Seco in its natural state. Mostly what’s visible are miles of chain-link fencing attached to concrete walls surrounding a narrow channel used for flood control since the concrete was poured in the 1930s.

But even today, the Arroyo Seco watershed starts high up in the San Gabriel Mountains, northeast of Big Tujunga canyon, what many consider the headwaters of the L.A. River.

During rainy winters, water gushes into the Arroyo Seco and drains into the L.A. River in Lincoln Heights where the 110 and 5 freeways merge. During the El Niño winter of 1998, a torrent of water drowned an Occidental College biology student who was mountain biking near the Arroyo. His body was found pinned against the Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena.

Going back several more decades, the tributary was home to the now endangered Southern California steelhead trout.

Brick awaits completion of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study on the Arroyo Seco that began 13 years ago. He believes adding the Arroyo Seco to the working group could jump start projects including trail repairs, removing of concrete walls and old dams, and even reintroducing the steelhead trout.

Removal of a circa 1942 Brown Canyon Dam more than three miles north of Pasadena also is on Brick’s radar — the dam filled up with silt less than five years after it was built, blocking the stream and making it all but impossible for fish to traverse, Brick said.

He believes by joining the working group, the Arroyo Seco region of the L.A. River may receive funding for restoration of the Gabrielino Trail, damaged in the Station Fire of 2009.

The original bill was authored by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, to add restoration of the Tujunga and Pacoima washes to the larger L.A. River project supported by the city of Los Angeles. Bocanegra resigned in November after six women said he sexually harassed them, according to news reports.