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


Bicycle Trail at Hahamongna Sparks Debate





M. W. Mosqueda, Jr., & Sang-Hee )h


Pasadena Now


It's very sad and disheartening to me that a city that is so green supposedly as Pasadena that the citizenry has to keep [going to court] over and over again in trying to preserve the Arroyo," said Mary Barrie of the Friends of Hahamongna

Mary Barrie of the Friends of Hahamongna shown speaking at the Pasadena Design Commission meeting held in the Pasadena Senior Center, July 13, 2009. [Staff Photo: Sang-hee Oh]

The Design Commission on Monday requested a public onsite visit of the Hahamongna Watershed Park (HWP) to consider the various issues raised during the review of the HWP Master Plan, including the proposed 30-foot wide bicycle trail that sparked a debate.

Committee President Dr. Julianna Delgado requested the Parks and Natural Resources Division, especially Arroyo Seco Project Supervisor Rosa Laveaga, prepare for a public onsite visit to the HWP to address issues and clarify them to the public.

Delgado’s request came after the Friends of Hahamongna raised objections over the planned construction of the 30-foot wide bicycle trail at the HWP, saying the trail could damage the environment.

Mary Barrie of the Friends of Hahamongna said the project staff should instead provide adequate bike and trail access that does less and create a narrower corridor.

“We want to come up with other alternatives that will meet the project objectives and do the less damage environmentally,” said Barrie after the meeting.

Barrie said there had been instances in the past that the community had to hire lawyers and go to court to protect the environment and with the bike lane proposal, she said the group will have to do the same thing again.

“It’s very sad and disheartening to me that a city that is so green supposedly as Pasadena that the citizenry has to keep doing this over and over again in trying to preserve the Arroyo. It shouldn’t be this way,” Barrie said.

The issue on the bike trail was also raised by Commissioners Lyla White and Abe Chorbajian but the review, after a lengthy explanation, stressed that the bike lane is only a study model used for studying the maximum impact of the proposal.

“We will work hard to prepare for the site visit with the design commission and try to explain very clearly the limits of the trail and the impact,” said Arroyo Seco Project Supervisor Laveaga.

Laveaga said the issue has become more complicated but expressed optimism that the Master Plan will be approved as the site has incredible potential for the city.

“Everyone seems to be in great agreement (with the Master Plan). I think it’s just a matter of doing a little bit more work and determining the best alignments for this recreational greenway and I think we will get there,” said Laveaga.

The HWP Master Plan is one of the three park plans that make-up the Arroyo Seco Master Plans and addresses the southern-most 300 acres of Hahamongna Watershed Park, which lie within the Upper Arroyo Seco.

Thirty new acres were recently purchased and added to the park. The Hahamongna Annex, as it is tentatively being called, is proposed to bring a variety of equestrian facilities to the City along with a future environmental education center. The future of the Hahamongna Annex is currently being planned and an update to the HWP Master Plan to incorporate the vision for this area of the park is also underway.

The Design Commission approved the revision of the Annex Master Plan Use Area that will now include environment education center, equestrian center, natural open space, recreational greenway, and LAC fire camp.

During the same meeting on Monday, the commission junked the proposal for the weekend use of JPL parking but passed the amendments to the Master Street Tree Plan.

4 Responses to “Bicycle Trail at Hahamongna Sparks Debate”

1. Mary Barrie Says:
July 14th, 2009 at 7:34 am

One point I would like to clarify - no one is opposing bike access to Hahamongna. The problem with the current plan is not that it is a bike route but that it is 30-ft wide! It is an access corridor being built on the footprint of a road which was taken out of the Master Plan in 2003. That road was to provide visitor access to a 1200 space parking garage which would have had a huge environmental impact on the park.
The problem with a 30-ft corridor is that it is easily wide enough for a road to be built in the future even if, technically, one is not in the plans at the moment.
The citizen groups which I mentioned which have worked to protect the Arroyo include the People for the Arroyo, the Hahamongna Watchdog Group, the Spirit of the Sage, and the Coalition for the Protection of the Arroyo Seco (CPAS). The Friends of Hahamongna is only the latest in a long line of community groups trying to resist the development pressure on the Arroyo. It is a mystery to me why this should be such an unending battle in a city whose environmental charter states that [the city] “is striving to become a model for environmental excellence and a prevailing force in environmental protection.”
Why not start with the Arroyo?
2. Christle Balvin Says:
July 14th, 2009 at 9:03 am

As someone who worked on the initail Hahamongna Master Plan and has attended some of the numerous follow-up meetings, one fact has become clear. Residents of Pasadena want to preserve their open space. The City staff’s repeated efforts to push through a road that could be the stalking horse for commercial development at the north end of Hahamongna have been repeatedly and resoundingly rejected by the public. In accordance with the 7th Principle of Pasadena’s General Plan, it is important for the City staff to remind itself that it works with the community in planning important efforts like this and should no longer push an agenda of its own. The public has spoken repeadedly. So on behalf of all of us who use and value the arroyo, I thank the Friends of Hahamongna for their efforts to preserve open space in Pasadena.
3. Steve Lamb Says:
July 14th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

OH MY GOD!!! HELL HAS FROZEN OVER INTO A SOLID BLOCK OF ICE!! Christle Balvin and I are in complete and TOTAL agreement on an issue!

I was at the morning Brunch of a sub committee of the Pasadena Strategic Planning Committee where the kernal of ideas that grew into the Hahamongna project first came together. From the very beginning the idea was to restore the native flora, catch and retain as much local water as possible into the ground and make low impact hiking and biking trails. A thirty foot wide road bed isn’t a low impact trail, no matter what you call it. Something more like eight to twelve feet wide was what I believe the concept at the start was.

There have been endless efforts to build parking garages, office buildings, roads, soccer fields, and all manner of un natural un anticipated un desirable structures. These efforts have all been initiated by city staff, for various odd reasons.

We fought the County for a decade to get the Dam fixed and thought that was the big battle, but here we are a decade and a half later, still arguing about the barnacles that City Staff wishes to glue onto this project. We are twenty five years since the inception of this project as a simple non controversial obvious thing to do. Lets get back to that point and build it before its a whole forty year and a generation from the time this really simple project was proposed until it’s completion.
4. Lori L. Paul Says:
July 14th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Adding to what Mary Barrie has said, it is extremely frustrating that Pasadena seems intent on implementing a new, paved, ROAD BIKE trail around Hahamongna Watershed Park. Pasadena in the Hahamongna WP Master Plan continues to ignore the fact that ROAD bikes are very different from MOUNTAIN trail bikes. ROAD bikes require paved roads. Defining bicycle type and usage is very important for park planning, but the current Master plans fail to do so. Trying to ram Pasadena bicycle rules from the lower Arroyo into a wildland park that historically connects mountain bikers, along with hikers and horseriders, to 4 regional trail systems and JPL is not acceptable. Not does it make good sense to bring fast street bike riders into Hahamongna by paving a perimeter trail and dedicated paved bike lane. Such a paved track will invite road bike racing around this natural and peaceful wild parkland. Road bikes have never been allowed in Hahamongna Watershed Park and do not belong there now.

As has been stated at the numerous meetings in various committees ad nauseum, Pasadena keeps ignoring the existing multi-use trails and trail hubs in Hahamongna Watershed Park. When L. A. County operated the park, County and U. S. Forest Service multi-use trail standards were in effect on all the trails in Hahamongna (formerly Oak Grove Park). Hahamongna trails connected to trails in Altadena, LCF, and north into the Nat’l Forest (on the Gabrielino Trail). Current County multi-use trail standards permit pedestrians (hikers), equestrians on horses, and mountain bikes on unpaved, dirt trails. There are signs about trail etiquette that enable these diverse trail users to coexist. Those multi-use trail standards are still in effect in both Altadena and La Canada Flintridge to the East and West of Hahamongna and North into the Angeles Forest trails. Changing historic use of the park to exclude mountain bikes now would block long time users from connecting to local trail systems.

Those in Altadena who wish to ride to work at JPL on trails or to connect with the Gabrielino Trail in the Angeles Forest have always ridden their mountain bikes in the park. Conversely, Pasadena’s planned actions will bring fast street bike riders that have never been in Hahamongna onto new paved paths, while prohibiting mountain bikes that have always had access. This is not fair. It may even illegally block access for mountain bikes to popular trails into National Forest. Fast moving road bikes racing around on paved bike ways will be intrusive and dangerous, particularly where street bikes are in close proximity to hikers, birders, horse riders and, yes, mountain bikers moving slower on single track trails.

Converting perimeter trails in Hahamongna Watershed Park that have long existed as multi-use trails under L. A. County jurisdiction to a perimeter vehicle road occurred insidiously between versions of the ever-changing and confusing HWP Master Plan and Annex supplemental plan. In the HWP Master Plan Appendix where there were hikers and a horse on the perimeter trail illustration, a car appeared instead in later versions! Once you pave a road (and street bike way) around this wildland park, then parking structures and other inappropriate uses of the park become more feasible and more “urbanized” uses of the park will move in.

The proposed corridor through the park Annex at the far North end of the Hahamongna is essentially a trail `highway’ that makes no sense. In just that one area of the park, a 30 foot wide swath would separate a horse path, road bike lanes, hiking trail and road into multiple lanes divided by thin strips of foliage and fences. That “highway” would cross through what is now a barn and useful equestrian area and require removal of oaks and other useful trees, destroy nesting habitat and adversely impact small wildlife living on a rocky slope that would be removed.

Keep an eye on what is being planned in Hahamongna Watershed Park. Participate. Keep advising Pasadena not to apply their city park rules blindly in this natural area shared by other communities. Retain the dirt trails and build no paved roads nor paved bike ways. Allow those who have used HWP for many decades to access JPL, Angeles Forest trails, and trail systems in Altadena and La Canada Flintridge to continue to do so. Keep high speed street bikes out of Hahamongna Watershed Park. There are many more appropriate locations where road bikes can ride in packs and enjoy their sport, but no other place quite like Hahamongna Watershed Park at the edge of Angeles Forest.

If Pasadena really wants to be a “model for environmental excellence and a prevailing force in environmental protection,” then the City can start by using common sense in the upper Arroyo and working better with the two communities of park users East and West of the wild HWP, in Altadena and La Canada Flintridge.