The second of three Community Workshops for the Downtown Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Specific Plan was held on August 11, 2014, in the Adobe Room of the Baldwin Park Community Center.
The presentation included a description of the Specific Plan area, background and purpose of the Specific Plan, process to date, and the preliminary land use, circulation and urban design plans. Potentials for implementation and how to realize change in the Downtown area were also identified in the presentation.
Many workshop participants agreed that the City is heading in the right direction by planning to return Downtown to a more walkable and less auto-oriented area that would attract visitors and bring more people into Downtown. Downtown should be more attractive, interesting and walkable to become something that is enticing to attract visitors from the region. Comparisons were made to cities such as Monrovia and Covina where walkable, mixed use downtown areas have been created and are successful.
There was considerable discussion on the issue of parking. Some participants expressed concerns over the potential removal of one aisle of angled parking along Ramona Boulevard and its impact on businesses. It was noted by the consultant team that sufficient parking will be provided over the entire Downtown area to encourage in strategic locations “park once” behavior and more walking around the Downtown. Some suggested that a good location for a parking structure may be on the site across from City Hall to serve the businesses along Ramona Boulevard. It was suggested the site could include a parking structure with some retail uses, as well as a civic plaza.
The idea of creating a civic plaza on the City-owned site across from City Hall was presented and discussed. Overall, there is support for a civic plaza, however some participants believe City Hall should not be the focal point of Downtown as it is a “dead” use in the evening and on weekends. Others noted that creating a civic plaza is an opportunity to enhance City Hall and create a vibrant place by having the space for community gatherings and events, such as farmers markets, music and art festivals, etc. There may be a design opportunity to better link a new civic plaza to Ramona Boulevard by developing a walkway through the retail buildings fronting Ramona and providing a direct pedestrian connection to the plaza.
There was also discussion and varying perspectives about providing for bicycles in the Downtown. Some participants feel that there are few bicyclists in the Downtown area, while others feel there are a lot of people using bicycles, and more who would if they felt safer riding around Downtown. It was noted that bike popularity is increasing, especially among the younger generation, and including provisions in the Specific Plan for bikes is necessary to build a safe community for both biking and walking.
In addition to the above discussions, the following is a sampling of additional comments:
- There are too many medical office uses on Ramona Boulevard taking up prime retail space and causing a parking problem. We should consider moving the medical uses.
- While having an alleyway walkway system may be desirable (i.e. Pasadena and Monrovia), consider keeping people focused on the main streets in the early phases of revitalization for economic development.
- Making Maine Street one lane in each direction is a concern because that is how the street used to be and it was a problem for businesses.
- More consideration should be given to the area around Downing Avenue. This would be a good area for mixed use across from the Metrolink station. However, to accomplish this, parcels must be aggregated because the parcel size and dimensions are not conducive to mixed use development.