Natural Habitat or Grass? South Pasadena Council to Decide

April 1, 2011 § 7 Comments

Photo: Barbara Eisenstein.

And today’s ticking time bomb for the remnant wildness of LA is in South Pasadena, along the Arroyo Seco. South Pasadena is considering taking over some undeveloped land between the Arroyo Seco Golf Course and the Arroyo Seco Nature Park. This undeveloped land has lovely habitat – which you can view in some detail at Barbara Eisenstein’s Wild Suburbia blog. 

Conservation ecologists have taught me that habitat that established itself – as opposed to what we plant, even those of us with the best of intentions for creating habitat – is often of superior quality. In the restoration field, we do our best to observe and mimic natural patterns, but natural processes and site conditions ultimately provide the driver for the most suitable vegetation for a place. And it appears that natural processes did their work on this small parcel.

Economics are often the motivator behind tearing up nature – in this case, I’m guessing it’s about golf course revenues. Less apparent is the economic value of passive stormwater runoff cleansing, infiltration into local aquifers, or of a natural buffer – the effect of a few trees on maintaining property values, of a little carbon sequestration?

Ah, perspective. See, if I had my druthers, the Arroyo Seco Golf Course might look more like this:

And yes, we’d probably want to time the replacement of the sod with the 10-year flood event.

You can provide public comment by emailing, calling, writing or faxing South Pasadena City Councilmen Michael Cacciotti, Philip Putnam, Richard Schneider, David Sifuentes, Mike Ten.

Emails should be written to the specific councilman, but sent via the city clerk, Sally Kilby:   

To leave a phone message call: 626-403-7218, press 1 for Cacciotti, 2 for Ten, 3  for Putnam, 4 for Schneider and  5 for Sifuentes.

Thanks to Barbara Eisenstein for making us aware of the issue and providing the contact info for the councilmen.


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§ 7 Responses to Natural Habitat or Grass? South Pasadena Council to Decide

  • Ray Cirino says:

    We need to go back to the natural world after destroying it for 5,ooo years. Santa Monica is making the mistake of putting in a $25 million lawn in their city, which costs will run in the super high, not to mention the cutting. NO GRASS.

  • Sonia Nicholson says:

    Thanks for posting this! I love the image you made. Maybe we can convince the So Pas city council to make the golf course more challenging by adding the water traps and leave the native habitat alone!

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Hi Sonia! Long time, no see. Wouldn’t that be fun?! And considering that the image is a cut-and-paste job from somewhere in Ventura or Santa Clarita area – the concept is so real and do-able, albeit the golf course there was an intrusion into habitat, whereas it would be an improvement here in the Arroyo.

  • Barbara E says:

    Love your graphic. If only…

  • Morton Gorel says:

    I am writing this from a mixed perspective. I have had periods in my life during which I played golf fairly consistently and was sort of an intermediate level golfer. I have not played in the last four or five years, though, recently, I have hit balls at the Arroyo Seco driving range. I have been to the nature park, often with my dog, many, many times during the 11+ years I have lived in South Pasadena. I discovered the world of California native plants about 5 or 6 years ago, and, eventually dug up my scraggly, weedy backyard “lawn,” replacing it with a multitude of Calif. natives, about which I have become passionate. I was present at the City Council meeting last night, but was unable to stay past 10:45. What I observed was that golf course pro-expansionists received unlimited amounts of time to speak, were asked a multitude of questions by council members, though, apparently no audience members are allowed to ask questions, many of their arguments were repetitive, and many issues were belabored in a manner akin to congressional filibustering. I don’t believe that South Pasadena citizens or city council should be responsible for increasing the golf course’s profitability. I do believe that enjoying a nature park and being outdoors is an activity that is accessible free of charge to everyone, and benefits the physical and mental health of everyone. Open spaces that are not developed are becoming increasingly scarce and, at the same time, increasingly important for healthy people and communities. One of the representatives who spoke offered to preserve and care for the trees, but would traditonal grass lawns be planted intermingled with the trees? Would those native trees then be watered every time the lawn was watered? Does the management of the golf course know how to best protect those shrubs and trees? I believe that, with this issue before us, we have a historic opportunity to come to an agreement that allows public use of land for recreation within a context of honoring, caring for and preserving our natural habitat. I believe that some exceptional examples of such
    uses of public land exist in the Los Osos/Morrow Bay areas.

  • charlie says:

    I just found this today.

    I sent them a nasty email. Not that it will do any good.

    Like I mentioned to someone on Facebook earlier… when the water dries up, it will all go away.

    The canyons are patient but I am not and I will be dead before things go back to how they should be.

  • Sorry that I have been silent for the past two days – this kind of thing is very draining.

    I too left early but received an email with the following information – I will try to be as accurate as I can.

    Councilman Sifuentes made a motion to direct staff to extend the driving range to the edge of the Nature Park. The city’s lawyer said that the Planning Department would have to perform an initial CEQA review. This got support only from Mayor Ten.

    Councilman Putnam then made a motion to give staff direction to continue negotiating with the potential new golf course operator to: 1) extend the driving range but only to the drip line of the most significant trees in the undeveloped area, and 2) to curve the fence as needed to keep those trees on the Nature Park side of the driving range fence.

    Other than Mayor Ten, the council members felt the use of the land for the driving range extension was not about revenue but about balancing competing values and interests in the community.

    The good news: 1. The issue was brought out into the open (daylighted, sort of speak).
    2. the city will have to do a determination of whether a complete CEQA review and an EIR are needed. This will allow for more public comment.

    The bad news: 1. The city ran this meeting in a totally inappropriate and unfair way, indicating that at least some city council members believe that use of public land is the purview of five individuals without the need to consult the people they represent.
    2. The land is still very much endangered and will only be saved if enough people participate in the process.

    I was heartened to see so many people come and stay until well after 11 PM in support of preserving habitat!

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