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:

Arroyo Seco plans approved - Deal took five years; millions to be spent on both ends

Subtitle:

Date:

2003-09-30

Author:

Gene Maddaus, Staff Writer

Publication:

Pasadena Star News

Content:

PASADENA -- The City Council, acting after midnight Tuesday, took less than a half-hour to dramatically redraw plans for the Arroyo Seco that have been five years in the making.

At the end of a dizzying blitz of deal-making and project-swapping, the council had adopted the long-delayed Hahamongna Watershed Park Master Plan and the Lower Arroyo Master Plan, defining documents that will set the course for the arroyo for years to come.

"It was quite a whirlwind,' said Mary Barrie, president of the La Canada Flintridge Trails Council. "I just sort of sat there with my mouth open.'

The master plans will allow city staffers to move forward with spending millions of dollars on projects on either end of the arroyo. The Central Arroyo Master Plan is on hold, pending the outcome of the city's negotiations to bring a National Football League team to the Rose Bowl.

Among other changes, the council eliminated two artificial lakes in the Hahamongna area, north of Devil's Gate Dam. The lakes were originally proposed as habitats for native species, but environmentalists objected to them, dubbing them "fake lakes' because of their artificial linings.

"They were kind of Disney,' Barrie said.

Councilwoman Joyce Streator, who represents a district in Northwest Pasadena that borders the Hahamongna area, spearheaded the elimination of two sports fields on the east side of the park, and scuttled a road widening and a new parking lot that would have drawn more cars and congestion to the area.

"The improvements would have made that area basically an east side public park, and that will no longer be the case,' said Rosa Laveaga, the city's Arroyo Seco park supervisor.

Streator's proposal was welcomed by environmentalists who have strongly opposed developing the eastern portion of Hahamongna.

"I think Joyce's motion really cleared a logjam,' said Hugh Bowles of the Hahamongna Watchdog Group. "She suddenly removed this huge obstacle to the plan moving forward.'

Streator's motion initially drew strong opposition from Councilman Victor Gordo, who has pressed for more athletic fields. With help from Councilmen Paul Little and Steve Haderlein, the council agreed to put sports fields on the 4.8 acres that would have been occupied by the western artificial lake.

Councilman Steve Madison, who had earlier advocated holding off on the approval, added his support when the council agreed to do away with an artificial stream.

Everyone but Councilman Sid Tyler found something to like in the altered proposal, and the plan passed 7-1.

Tyler said he felt the park was out of balance because the recreation areas had all shifted west, and was disappointed that certain improvements on the east side, like new picnic tables, would not happen.

The council then moved on to the Lower Arroyo Master Plan, which was less controversial. Gordo sought alterations such as better signage, an expanded rest room and drinking fountains, that would make it easier for residents from far off to find and use the park.

"I want to ensure that the park is accessible and user-friendly not only to people who live in and around the arroyo but to everybody in Pasadena,' Gordo said.

Little picked up on Gordo's comments about prominent signs that would help guide unfamiliar visitors to stress that the massive investments in the canyon are not meant to create a "nice back yard' for West Pasadenans.

Joan Hearst, who lives adjacent to the arroyo and is chairwoman of the Coalition for the Protection of the Arroyo Seco, called the comment "an inappropriate remark.'

"I think his remarks were disrespectful of the desire by the community to protect a natural space,' Hearst said. "That space is used by not only our community but our region.'

Environmental groups had advocated earlier in the meeting that the council hold off on approving the master plans until several errors and inconsistencies could be corrected. But the groups seemed cautiously pleased with the compromises that resulted from the late-night meeting.

"A whole lot of compromises were made, perhaps nobody was really happy,' Haderlein said.

Nobody except maybe Laveaga, who never expected when she started that it would take five years to get master plans approved.

"I was happy that decisions were being made,' she said. "Basically we wanted to throw everything up on the wall and see what stuck. That's what I guess the exercise was about, but I was surprised it went so quickly.'

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