2016-03-08 – March 2016 Meeting Minutes

Altadena Crest Trail Restoration Working Group (ACTRWG) Steering Committee
…from Arroyo Seco to Eaton Canyon
Tuesday, March 8,  2016
DRAFT Minutes

7:00 PM meeting at Altadena Community Center

(730 E Altadena Dr.)

0. Introductions for new attendees. Steve Messer, Mitch Marich, Robert Staehle, Lori Paul, Bob Blount, USFS District Ranger, Dennis Merkel USFS Recreation Officer, Marietta Kruells, John Grancich, Olga Ruano, Vicki Thompson, ? Thompson, Tim Callahan, Kevin Singleton, Linda Burle, Altadena Heritage. Hans Ghekiere, Mark Goldschmidt.

1. Desired adjournment time for this meeting?, 8:20 pm target for adjournment.

2. Decision on meeting Secretary & Recorder of Action Items. Steve Messer will serve as secretary.

3. Review Minutes and Action Items from January meeting (the February meeting was cancelled). Correction: no minutes for December to review. Correction: Kevin brought up camera on AFC; Lori seconded adjournment motion. With corrections, minutes were approved unanimously.

4. County / City / U.S. Government Announcements of any items not covered later on agenda. Sussy Nemer / Field Deputy for LA County Supervisor Antonovich; Ken Slu / Senior Manager LA County Chief Executive Office; Olga Ruano / Park Planner, Special Trails Projects, County Parks & Recreation; Pasadena / TBD; Dennis Merkel / USFS Recreation Staff Officer; Bob Blount / USFS District Ranger.

Bob Blount, USFS District Ranger. Has 7 Years on Angeles National Forest as Santa Clara Mojave District ranger. The Angeles is being reorganized from three ranger districts into one district and the national monument. He will be district ranger for everything outside the monument. Santa Clara Mojave has a lot of infrastructure, and is a blue collar area of the forest. Right now he is covering two of the three districts. He is fact-finding at this and other meetings. One challenge is “which promise am I going to break today.” Hopeful that more money will come to the Forest because of the monument. Comes from the east coast where there is nothing like this. Naval Academy, then a Masters at Duke. In real estate business, was pillaging land is now doing penance. Will remain for at least four years until the forest is transitioned to new structure. Looks forward to being of service to the group. Reorganization won’t happen until after fire season. There are already more uniformed staff expected. No reduction or increase in recreation sites due to monument. The additional funds from the monument may lead to additional services and facilities. No change in fee structure for use of facilities anticipated. Wants to reach out to establish a better relationship with Sherrif’s department. More gis work needs to be done, and field staff will be trained in GIS use. Requested two interns from Student Conservation Association to survey trails.

Rob Staehle gave a history of the Altadena Crest Trail. Liz rode it end to end in 1974. The length is about 13 miles from Eaton Canyon to Arroyo Seco on the west. Aerial photos from 1964 show a continuous trail. Significant set of storms in the 70s washed out some portions of the trail. It was considered a County trail at that time, but some portions were on National Forest Land, some on County Land. This group was established after La Vina development was put in. Purchased land from the La Vina Sanitorium, which closed in the early 70s. Private developer originally included Trails in marketing materials. Some trails were closed during construction, but were never reopened. There was a description of public trails in the original application. Some trails were declared not public. HOA took ownership of the trails and open space, and closed access to the public. The Chief Executive Office of the County held meetings and asked Altadena Residents to form a group to advise the County on how to reconnect the gap in the trail. Anne Dove with NPS facilitated meeting.

There are now three gaps. La Vina development gap. Skylane Gap between west of Cobb Estate and Alzada road and Chaney Trail, and the Rubio Canyon gap. Group was established in 2003. Trail crosses private land with easements, some private land without easements, County and Forest Service and Conservancy lands. Trail was about 13 miles when it existed uninterrupted. This group’s goal is to reconnect the trail, and to monitor and improve trails throughout the Altadena Area.

5. Any serious new trail conditions or problems requiring immediate attention (firsthand reports strongly preferred; photos much appreciated)? Tim reported that the Sunset Ridge trail is being graded. Graffiti is becoming a bigger problem. Dumping is becoming a problem. There was a bedhead thrown off the road along Chaney Trail. Lincoln Ave Water Company is working on Sunset Ridge trail, and have contracted with Bellfree Contractors to repair failed retaining walls that they installed as a part of the pipe replacement project. The cutoff valve is being moved further upstream. Parking at the top of Chaney Trail has been striped so there are fewer spaces, but better defined. Angled parking allows more vehicles.
Mitch and Steve worked on removing downed trees from Dawn Mine Trail. Restoration legacy crew is restoring the Dawn Mine trail and the Millard Falls trail.

Abandoned pipes still a problem on Chaney Trail/ACT connector. Pipes must be removed in accordance with their permits. Gram Breakwell needs to be contacted.

6. Current Tasks

A. Tentative plan for expanded child care facility along ACT, 3636 Skylane Drive. Lori Paul. Historically known as Penny’s Barn, was on two sides of ACT and convenient to horse people to board horses and access the trail. Sold a few years ago to start a day care center. No info on whether day care is authorized. they are looking for a conditional use permit to tear down the barns and put in a 40 student day care/pre-k facility. We are losing equestrian zoned homes, and changing the character of the neighborhood. If it goes forward, there will probably be a fence erected.

B. Re-grading to new County standards for erosion control on vulnerable ACT segments before predicted major El Nino rains. Robert Staehle / ACTRWG, Olga Ruano / LA County. Mitch was there on February 19 and didn’t see any additional work between Zane Gray and Eaton Canyon. There is one bad drain on the way up, where the culvert is undermined by water. Past the slot canyon there hasn’t been any additional work done on the trail. Some Graffiti on the check dam. Slot canyon has been filled in with dirt over the rocky, rough canyon floor. Some drainages have been repaired since the last report. Above Glen Allen on one of the high ridges there are several switchbacks that had drains under the tread, that have long since failed. The top switchback has been undermined and the drain has failed, which creates erosion on the trail below it after the switchbacks.

C. Emergency acquisition of bear-proof food boxes for 5 sites in Millard Cyn Campground. Lori Paul, John Grancich, Dennis Merkel. Recent “bear encounters” due to unsecure food puts campers, trail users, and bears at risk. Update: Scout installation of first bear locker; plans for more individual site lockers? Bear proof food box has been installed at Millard. Kevin Hunt reported that the boy scouts are considering an eagle scout project to install an additional bear-proof locker. Millard Campground has been adopted by South Pasadena Boy Scouts. Problems continue with visitors eating food in campgrounds, leaving trash, and bears coming into the neighborhoods and getting into trash. Having bear-proof boxes would help deter bears from habituating to campgrounds and neighborhoods. Keith Payne, local person may become camp host.

D. Any update re: New fence erected along ~200-foot segment of ACT above Windfall Ave (E. of Rubio Gap and Stonehill). Fence blocks or obstructs drainage culverts and the view to south from the trail. Olga Ruano / LA County, Dennis Merkel / USFS. Dennis talked to Cliff Johnson, Forest Service Surveyor, who said that the fence is on Private Property. Would take an in-depth search, which costs money and takes time to verify. Zoning laws don’t prohibit privacy curtain, or fences over 6 feet. Are there any ordinances to prevent neighbors from doing the same? If there is a code issue, County needs to enforce it. If it is OK, then the next step would be a political solution to prevent future fences that block viewsheds, drainage, and impact the trail experience. Question was raised, are permits required for such fences? Olga would need to issue a notice of violation of codes as a written notice, with an opportunity to correct the problem.

E. DPW Devil’s Gate Reservoir (Hahamongna Watershed Park) / ACT Trailhead / Recreation impacts? Arroyo Seco Foundation Litigation? JPL / NASA Security Gates Project? Marietta Kruells or Lori Paul. Lawsuit is continuing. Points of concern are the water diversion proposal to store water. Grant for $28m applied for to put a pipe from Hahamongna to Pasadena across Woodbery to Raymond Basin to benefit Pasadena instead of Altadena. Grant was obtained with an application that has inaccuracies and inappropriate language. Integrated Regional Water Company? CEQA requires cumulative impacts, so this should be considered under Hahamongna Watershed Park’s environmental study as a cumulative impact. Pasadena and County are proposing a pumpback system to benefit Monk Hill. There’s a chance if the pump is put in, it will not be used consistently. Will impact recreation and habitat. One of Pasadena’s projects is to improve trail from Altadena Drive to Hahamongna. Work has begun on rehabbing the trail through this section.

JPL has a pending proposal to put in a new security gate. First comment period ended, Lori sent in comments and copied Olga on the project.

F. La Vina litigation resolved: update & resumption of trail planning. Marietta Kruells, Olga Ruano / LA County. Bob Musselmen wrote a report. As of yesterday the HOA finished an audit of the trail alignments. SMMC and County have developed a legal description of the trail easement. Was delivered to HOA for approval last week. HOA reps walked the alignments on Monday, and conculded that the trail alignments are consistent with those proposed and documented by the surveryors. HOA reps will recomment approval on March 21 at HOA meeting. Then County will submit the easement to the County for recording. By separate court filing the transfer of property along the trail from HOA to SMMC will go into affect without any futher involvement of the HOA. Could happen as early as May. Construction of trail could begin as soon as this summer. HOA will then have no responsibility for trail or land. There are overlays for the AFC who mostly oppose trails.

Report from La Vina HOA March 7, 2016 (via Bob Musselman):

  • The SMMC and County have developed a legal description of meets and bounds describing the trail easements to the County, and subsequent property conveyance from the La Vina HOA to SMMC.
  • The legal description and easement document was delivered by the County to the La Vina HOA for approval last week.
    HOA reps, including myself, walked trail alignments today per the legal descriptions, and they are consistent with the trails agreed by the HOA, County, and SMMC and documented by the surveyors.
  • HOA reps will recommend approval at the next HOA Board meeting on March 21.
  • If the Board signs the Agreement, then the County will submit the approved easement document to the Court for recording. This action will satisfy all aspects of the July 2008 court judgment regarding the County.
  • By separate Court filing the property transfer of property along the trails and outside the trails from the HOA to the SMMC will go into effect without further approvals required by the HOA. The transfer of property will satisfy all aspects of the agreement between the HOA and Kruells dated February 2012. This may occur as early as the end of May, 2016.
  • The schedule for actual trail building will be up to the SMMC, but could certainly start this summer providing they have funding and availability of trail building crews.
  • When the trails are actually constructed, all work will take place on what will then be SMMC property, and the HOA will have no authority or responsibility with regard to the construction, operation, or regulation of the trails.

G. Rubio Cyn Gateway trail planning status / discussion with AFC. Olga Ruano / LA County. There are two appraisals being worked on. County is reviewing trail easement legal descriptions, and has contracted DPW to start legal descriptions on those two parcels. They are supposed to received three legal descriptions total. Two sections are on private property, a third on Rubio Water Company property. Appraisal needs to happen first before county can determine next steps. Progress has been made with AFC/John Howell. Geotechnical report of trail easement on AFC property was presented to John Howell. Geotechnical report says a trail can be constructed. One more item is the maintenance responsibility for trail easement. Parks and Rec will write an MOU to outline trail maintenance conditions, and how the easement from AFC will be recorded.

H. Update on locked Pinecrest Gate. Mitch Marich or Paul Ayers. Mitch reports no changes to the gate. Asked OLGA to determine the owner of the parcel on which the gate is located. It appears the gate is on County land, Assessors ID 5857-013-037 (Art’s property – Gate is adjacent).

7. Other Old Business. Nothing reported.

8. Other New Business. Restoration work is ongoing at Dawn Mine trail. 591 Devonwood is for sale, and has a County trail easement, and has a county motion to landscape with native plants, but that requirement never never put on the lien.

9. Review of Task List for next meeting.

Steve to add USFS volunteer meeting to web site

Olga will check with zoning enforcement to check fence along trail item 6D.

Mitch to send OLGA photos and locations of trail problems.

Contact Graeme Breakwell about LAWC pipes on chaney trail connector. John Grancich will provide location of other pipes that need to be replaced.

Determine if there is an Assessors ID number for the parcel on which pinecrest gate. Is the property on County or City property.

10. Upcoming Events: The next ACTRWG meeting falls on Tuesday, 2016 April 12 (2nd Tuesday of each month, unless cancellation is announced, 7pm at the Altadena Community Center).

11. Adjourned at 8:55 pm.

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