Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project Begins in South Pasadena

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I have been saying for years that Pasadena needs to give Fair Oaks Ave an extreme pedestrian-cyclist make-over along the street from at least the South Pasadena border (by the Raymond Restaurant) to Old Pasadena. The need for this make-over seems obvious when you consider: 1) Fair Oaks Ave looks like a mini-highway as you drive or, god forbid, walk down it, and 2) that the Huntington Hospital (a huge employer) adds a substantial presence to the built environment in Downtown Pasadena, but is tenuously connected at best to the area for pedestrians and cyclists, diluting if not completely negating its potential positive effects on the urban environment. In other words, the synergy is lost.

That’s why I am particularly excited to learn that South Pasadena (actually a separate municipality but closely tied to Pasadena both historically and culturally) will hopefully jump start the process for Pasadena (by giving us an inspirational nudge) as construction begins this week on a major revamp project along Fair Oaks Ave, called the “Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project,” that goes right through South Pasadena’s downtown district. The improvement plans entail the following:

1 24 11 yen2“Roadway improvements, construction of medians, installation of streetlights and banner poles, installation of trees and landscaping, driveway and sidewalk reconstruction and other associated work on Fair Oaks Avenue between Columbia Street and Monterey Road, and the entire length of State Street.”

“The entire project should take about a year to complete,” according to the Assistant City Manager of South Pasadena, Sergio Gonzalez, who I spoke to this month regarding this infrastructure project. Gonzalez also informed me that the Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project is actually only one of four major roadway enhancements South Pasadena planned to complete, funded by a combination of the Rogan Bill, Metro, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and other local funds.  The entire list of projects include:

1) Orange Grove Improvement Project (Completed in 2005)

2) Fair Oaks Traffic Signal Improvement Project (Completed)

3) Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project (Under Construction)

4) Fair Oaks/110 Freeway Intersection Improvement Project (Proposed)

I am hoping that when the Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project is completed early next year in 2012, Pasadena will be inspired to implement similar roadway enhancements along Fair Oaks Ave from the South Pasadena border to at least Old Pasadena, improving the connection of the area by encouraging pedestrian activity (along with policy changes that nurture future mixed-use developments). When you consider that the Fillmore Gold Line station, which is only 2 short blocks from the Huntington Hospital, is currently surrounded by “nothing,” do we really need anymore reasons why we should invest in this area?

  • Fair Oaks north of the 210 needs more public investment

    Let’s remember that Fair Oaks north of the 210 Fwy needs more public investment too; we need to avoid reinforcing the economic and racial disenfranchisement of the poorest neighborhood in Pasadena.

  • la rider

    The area north of the 210 is beautiful and was even better through the 50’s and 60’s. Period. There is no ‘reinforcing the economic and racial disenfranchisement’ going on here.

  • I’ll tell what is disenfranchising: having no safe and contiguous walking or bicycling route between Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles.

  • True Freedom

    I think the folks of Fair Oaks north of the 210 are disenfranchising the rest of us. Would it kill the folks to put their trash in a can instead of all over the sidewalk, curbs, and jammed in bushes? Would it kill the folks that hang at La Pintoresca park to smoke their weed in the privacy of their own home so the rest of us could bring our kids to the park?

    I think those folks are actually trying to keep the rest of us away!

  • They smoke weed there? Killer! Why is that such a bad thing?

    As for trash – there is a lot of turn over with the high number of renters in the area. The population is dense, and is obviously wanting for some basic services to meet its needs.

    We have the same problem in my neighborhood in Lincoln Heights. The city services need to be engaged intensely to prevent all sorts of waste collection and infrastructure problems.

    I think it is fair to ask that areas north of the 210 get some bike facilities. Being stuck with public transportation or expensive car trips means people are not able to access basic services conveniently.

  • True Freedom

    Smoking weed in a public park with young children around, and you ask why that’s a bad thing? It’s all part of a sub-culture that is pervasive in that part of town that disenfranchises the rest of us.

    Litter on the streets, curbs, in bushes is due to renters and lack of city services? Put down the bong, bro. Again, it’s part of a pervasive sub-culture that doesn’t care about much of anything. My part of town is neat as a pin. It’s not because the city provides trash cans or exceptional litter removal… it’s because our residents care and we know it’s wrong to litter in the first place because it negatively impacts our neighbors. We think about more than ourselves.

    That part of town has major cultural problems (of course, not every person). The problems are not going to be fixed by the city.. it has to start from within, with the residents embracing some set of communal values.

    Some bike lanes would be cool, though.

  • Spokker

    “The problems are not going to be fixed by the city.. it has to start from within, with the residents embracing some set of communal values.”

    That’s what these people don’t get. You can throw down as many trash cans as you want but it isn’t going to do any good until residents respect the neighborhoods in which they live.

  • Warren

    We should build the missing link of the 710 Fwy straight down the center of Fair Oaks. The 710 missing link is slowing the MOVEMENT OF COMMERCE.

  • True Freedom

    @Warren: You are the WINNER.. of the Worst-Idea-Ive-Ever-Heard award. Congratulations.

  • Kathleen McG

    True Freedom, you write from a position of privilege from the dominant culture. Not everyone can live up to your expectations when poverty is a real issue not some excuse for others behavior, bad or good based on your judgment.

    I see what you are doing and you are simply using code. I live very near the area, and you can call it “values,” or a “subculture” all you want. I’m going to call it what it is, a predominately black and Latino neighborhood, that does not have the privilege of your position, education, or income background.

    So, back off!

  • True Freedom

    @Kathleen: Talking in code? I think I was pretty clear with what I was trying to say. Trust me, being a decent person doesn’t have anything to do with socioeconomic class. I don’t come from a privileged background. Quite the contrary. I grew up mostly in a trailer park in the rural south. Some of the most decent people I’ve ever met were there. I’d be willing to bet you couldn’t find a trailer park with a better sense of pride and community than the one I grew up in. We squashed riff-raff, we kept that place as nice as we could with no money.

    So, don’t tell me the folks in the NW can’t do the same. Don’t use poverty as an excuse, because that’s all it is… an excuse.

    My neighbor growing up (1st gen American of Mexican decent), went on to become a surgeon… and my best man. Trust me, you have ALOT more privilege being poor and of color than poor and white. I don’t fault my buddy, but there were people lined up to hold doors of opportunity open for him, because he was Latino.

    I made it through, working my way through college, taking out loans, etc. Yes, now my income (along with my wife’s), qualifies us to be labeled “wealthy”, but I never forget the road I traveled….

    which is why I reject poverty as an excuse for lack of pride in one’s neighborhood, a lack of pride which is evident on many streets within the NW. And, that ain’t no code.

  • Kathleen

    Well, if you must put others down to feel better about yourself, then by all means, continue. I seem to remember that this article was about the city of *South* Pasadena, not about Pasadena at all. A commenter was encouraging cycle infrastructure in a neighborhood that is economically and racially disenfranchised.

    Trying to point out that there are systemic issues beyond your judgment of the area based on cleanliness it a waste of time. However, I will say using the word disenfranchisement to describe your own reaction to the neighborhood is disingenuous, at best. You have no idea of what disenfranchisement is unless you are a person of color. No idea. However, as a “wealthy” person, you’ll continue to reinforce the current stereotypes. Typical. White. Man.

  • True Freedom

    Wow, Kathleen. Not sure why you are so bent on making this a racial issue. I think you may have some deep rooted issues worth talking to someone (a professional) about. I never mentioned race in my initial post, and you start in with “talking in code” and me being a “typical white man.”

    The ghetto mentality/ sub-culture is not relegated to any particular ethnic group. And, yes, I do think the rest of us, that want to live a certain type of life, one where people care about their neighborhood and take care of it, one where we are free from gangs, one where neighbors are on the same side as the police, one where neighbors care about each other…. yes, we are disenfranchised by the non-negligible percentage of folks in that part of town that live according to a ghetto creed. I would have loved to bought our house up there. I would have loved to not have to spend over $2M bucks just to get away from it. But it’s the price I have to pay by being driven out by a sub-culture that I’m not willing to subject my family to..

    I haven’t formed my opinion based on seeing some litter on the occasional drive-through. No. I used to work up there. I take my kids to the skate park at La Pintoresca (cause we don’t have one on our side of town). I hang out with my PPD friends. I talk with my two friends who are social workers there. I talk with many of the kids during the summer who are bused to our side of town for a summer program. The list goes on.

    There are serious issues there.. and it has nothing to do with city services (or lack of) and everything to do with people embracing and perpetuating the ghetto mentality.

    Get off the racial tip and go seek some help.

  • SPas resident

    How does a post concerning traffic planning manage to illicit overt, but barely self-acknowledged racism? 

    Anyway, the corridor improvement project is a complete debacle in the eyes of the local community. Given, construction isn’t complete, but the promised result has always been something akin to Brand Blvd in Glendale. Having worked in downtown Glendale, I can attest that traffic is a complete nightmare there and parking isn’t any better.

    Additionally, local businesses have taken up to a 70% hit in sales. The extended corner sidewalks/curbs serve as bottlenecks where those who need to make right turns are stuck waiting in endless congestion. I just avoid main thoroughfares (i.e. Mission Ave & Fair Oaks) in order to avoid right turns, which I’m sure thrills the shops on those streets. 

    Poor budgeting, planning, and execution altogether. Plus, there was simply no need for the “improvements” in such a small town. I could have happily walked w/ my family & our dog from Garfield Park through Fair Oaks & Fremont to the Farmer’s every Thursday. Not so much anymore. However, in a more populated, urban environment like Pasadena, such a project could make sense.