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:

City eyeing deal on 30 acres

Subtitle:

Date:

2005-01-22

Author:

Gene Maddau, Staff Writer

Publication:

Pasadena Star News

Content:

Friday, January 21, 2005 - PASADENA -- After years of negotiations, the Metropolitan Water District has abruptly decided not to lease 30 acres of parkland to Pasadena, choosing instead to sell it on the open market.

Pasadena leaders view the surprise decision as both a setback and an opportunity to acquire the land outright, provided the city can scrape together about $1.6 million to purchase the land in the next three months.

"I prefer the purchase because it's permanent and final,' Mayor Bill Bogaard said. "There is a degree of uncertainty as to whether we will prevail, but we are going to try hard to be the purchaser.'

The 30 acres are adjacent to the Hahamongna Watershed Park, just south of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Part of the land is used by the Rose Bowl Riders equestrian club. A county fire camp sits on another part, along with some abandoned forest service buildings.

Pasadena would like to integrate the land into the Hahamongna park, which now covers about 300 acres, while retaining the equestrian area and the county fire camp.

"This is a really important piece of property to us,' said City Manager Cynthia Kurtz.

The city sold the land to the Metropolitan Water District for $430,000 in 1970, when the water agency planned to build a water treatment plant there. Those plans never got off the drawing board, and in 1998 the city expressed interest in buying the land back to incorporate it into the park.

The water agency suggested leasing the property, said Tim Brick, Pasadena's representative on the water agency board. The two sides negotiated terms for several years and ultimately reached an agreement whereby the city would pay a nominal rent and assume about $50,000 in annual maintenance costs.

The water district staff took the plan to its board last week. The board balked at the plan, voting to sell the land instead.

"We no longer needed the property,' said Glen Peterson, a board member who voted for the sale. "What business is it of the MWD to be the landlords?'

Bogaard, who attended the meeting, said the board was also sensitive that the arrangement not appear to be a sweetheart deal, given increased scrutiny of the district's contracts and a new focus on ethics.

Some board members stressed the need to get "market value' for the land. But the land is zoned as open space, and is thus worth only a small fraction of what it would be worth were it zoned for condominiums or office space.

Bogaard said it is unclear if Pasadena will have any competition from other interested buyers.

"We want to use it as open space,' Bogaard said. "Someone who has a dream of using it some other way should be aware that the City Council is the decision-maker on the land use.'

JPL spokeswoman Veronica McGregor said the lab is aware that the land is going up for sale and has no plans to bid on it.

The water district has announced its intention to dispose of the land within about 90 days.

"If I was Pasadena, I'd be out there getting ducks in line to purchase the property,' Peterson said.

Kurtz said the city is now evaluating where the funds will come from for the purchase. The city may attempt to fund the purchase on its own, or look for help from from conservation agencies' grants.

"We will look at that but we won't wait for that,' Kurtz said.

-- Gene Maddaus can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444, or by e-mail at gene.maddaus@sgvn.com .