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


Our View: Many interests complicate Hahamongna Park plans







Pasadena Star-News


There may be public open spaces in the Southland with more competing governmental bodies, interest groups, nonprofits, private concerns and sheer numbers of people interested in the way it's going to look and feel in the future than Hahamongna Watershed Park.

But it's hard to think of one offhand.

The wild - sort of - land in the Arroyo Seco north of Devil's Gate Dam has more would-be mother and father figures than an orphaned billionaire baby has potential legal guardians.

Much of its 1,300 acres are within the city limits of Pasadena. But that is very much only the beginning of the story. It is bounded on the west by La Ca ada Flintridge. On the northwest by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Due north is the federal Angeles National Forest. To the northeast is the unincorporated town of Altadena. County Flood Control has a dog in this fight, as does the county Fire Department, which has a training area there. All the cities of the area take water from the ground above the Raymond Basin aquifer, which Hahamongna is the prime source for, and the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a player in the politics of the park. While the private mining company that had the whole place to itself for decades as a rock quarry is thankfully out of the picture, its legacy lives on. The private Tom Sawyer Camp continues to delight new generations of summer campers in the park. Equestrians abound - the Rose Bowl Riders and the MACH 1 therapeutic program for disabled children, which works wonders. PCC has an ecology program there. The first permanent Frisbee - er, "Disc" - golf course in the world is there. So are baseball and soccer fields and the tranquil picnic areas of Oak Grove Park.

So the master-planning process that has gone on for years and seemingly will continue for decades has a reason to be complicated. There are so many competing interests. There are battles brewing over who will get to use the old Forest Service buildings, and who will take out the asbestos. There is a huge fight to come over where JPL employees will park when the large lot on the Arroyo floor is mostly converted to spreading basins for water. There will be a smaller fight over another lot that was supposed to be temporary - two decades ago.

"You'd never imagine what a bunch of dirt and bushes can cause," says one player in the Haha game.

The latest skirmish is over whether all non-native trees lining an access trail above the equestrian area should be immediately removed - pepper trees, most anything that isn't an indigenous oak.

We fully understand the long-term good of ridding as much of the Arroyo Seco as possible of invasive plantings. So many foreign plant species thrive all too well in Southern California, and we would be choked in weeds such as the so-called trees of heaven if we don't make with the machetes. But, especially in Hahamongna, only small parts of which are covered any longer by anything like a protective oak canopy, shade is at a premium, especially on trails used by horses and hikers. Such is the case with the trail in question. We would for now favor a go-slow approach to removing those trees.

It's just one among many issues in Hahamongna, and a relatively minor one. The overriding point there is what its best users have emphasized for years in community meetings: Keep the watershed park rustic. New buildings of any size anywhere in the park would be inappropriate. So many people worked so hard to keep the open space open. So many will work out the details of what that means for years to come.