Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Big improvement at Eaton Canyon falls

posted by Jeremiah 9/24/2009 08:36:00 AM

Okay, this picture may not be the most inspiring, but for anyone who may have felt a bit depressed by my June post with photos and video of the extreme defacement of Eaton Canyon, north of the Mt Wilson Toll Road bridge, I have some good news.

Last weekend I hiked the trail, and was pleasantly surprised. First, while the creek was dry about 1/3 of the way up, the water was running over the falls, and was still creating enough of a pool that there were people swimming and enjoying themselves in it.

But more importantly, all the June graffiti was painted out. As you can see from the photo above, some tags have reappeared, and some of the abatement paint jobs are not the most artful, but before you gasp in horror at the thought of painting over rocks to "remove" graffiti, it really is a gigantic improvement, and the ham-handed cover-up paint job shown in the photo in only obvious because it's on a smooth surface. On rocks, the texture forces the paint-over to be more mottled and blend much better than this. I didn't get any photos of the cover-up of the "murals" at the falls (there were some women swimming and I didn't want to be creepy), but they're far less noticeable, and a major improvement.

On the Stonehill News email group, there was some discussion about the pros and cons of painting over vs removal. I was concerned that removal might actually be worse because of the difficulty in containing any solvents or waste that would result. So in my view, painting over is not ideal, but the only thing better would be a magic wand that prevented the graffiti in the first place.

Graffiti has been will continue to be a constant problem along that trail, and as such, the rocks are were already coated with layers of abatement paint long before the major defacement I photographed in June. If you're a geologist or naturalist looking for pristine nature, you will might want to pick a different trail for hiking, but in a general sense, seeing the graffiti kept at bay so efficiently makes me feel like we live in a civil society.

The somewhat grim news I have is that while coming out of the wash I encountered a large family group staging at the bottom of the Toll Road, preparing to hike in. There were several children and adults. They were carrying folding chairs, back-packs, a cooler, etc. The grim part is that they were all dressed in kind of "gang-ie" looking clothes, consisting of tight straight braids and bald heads, black baseball hats, black baggy t-shirts or white tank tops, thin gold chains, baggy shorts, etc., and there was a large new can of Krylon industrial marking paint sitting on the ground amidst their supplies. As I approached them and spotted the paint, I commented (with a wink and a smile) something like, "you're going to use that to cover up graffiti, right?" They looked a bit surprised for a moment and then laughed it off, and went on to admire my dog (she's a pit-bull, and they liked the breed).

In any case, despite it having been notably better in terms of the level of graffiti, there were already a few tags here and there, and I assume there's a good chance that the group I encountered added their own markings when they went in.

As such, I waited until today, but I did call for abatement:

LACO Graffiti Hotline 800-675-4357 option 2

The man who answered told me they should have it cleaned up in about 3 days. (confirmation #118162)

Every time I've used this hotline, the problem has gotten cleaned up very quickly, so please do use it if you see graffiti yourself.

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At 9/24/2009 1:11 PM, Blogger Dita said...

Jeremiah, Remember the graffiti on the stone wall near Ridley Creek Park? Someone kept painting it over in white, and soon after, more graffiti would appear. Then,after years of this, someone painted it white again, and put a huge mural of a dove with the words PEACE ON EARTH over it. Never again has there been graffiti on that wall and this happened around 18 years ago. The dove mural is still there. It makes my heart glad every time I drive past. Ma

At 9/24/2009 5:59 PM, Blogger Greg Sweet said...

Forest Service (mostly volunteer labor, by the way) is using a prduct called "Taginator" that melts away the spray paint and is reportedly inert once it hits the soil or water.


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Selected Station Fire Time Lapse Videos

posted by Jeremiah 9/11/2009 06:40:00 PM

These are both worth watching full screen (they are embedded as HD already)

View from Mt Wilson Sept 4th - 7th

View from across town, Aug 29

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At 9/24/2009 12:24 PM, Blogger Above the City said...

Amazing Mt. Wilson timelapse!! Thanks.


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Dodging the Station Fire

posted by Jeremiah 9/06/2009 06:04:00 PM

Our family's two-week summer vacation started the weekend before the Station Fire. We came home for two nights (Thursday 8/27 and Friday 8/28) before it was seriously threatening our neighborhood in northeast Altadena. The breeze delivered two days of clear skies and two nights of choking smoke.

Thank goodness the wind never presented the seasonal Santa Ana pattern that can happen at this time of year, with the characteristic hot gusting winds out of the north that fanned the local fires of 1993. The Station Fire has only been fanned by the gentle Foothills breathing rhythm that residents rely on to draw the day's hot air out to sea every night. The Stonehill anemometer chronicles this pattern of gentle south breeze all day and gentle north breeze all night. A look at the current 5-day readings illustrates the breath-like regularity of this pattern.

With our windows closed all night, we contemplated our vacation plans and decided that they were in some ways a blessing. So we voluntarily evacuated to escape the smoke and enjoy the second half of our vacation on Saturday 8/29, and monitored the email lists, web cams and blogs from afar all week. The steady flow of information made it possible for us to enjoy our vacation with one eye on how things were progressing online. At one point early in the week, we contemplated flying me back home to help defend the neighborhood should it come to that, but decided against it. Amidst the bounty of near-real-time information, these photos were among some of the most reassuring to me personally. They were emailed by Dan Gollnick, showing professional Hot Shot crews fortifying the perimeter defenses along the Altadena Crest Trail.

After having seen literally dozens of ominous photos like the brief selection posted below, the photos of the hotshot crews fortifying our defenses was a welcome sight.

Station Fire flaring up above JPL on 8/28/09 at about 8pm
Photo by Dan Finnerty

Station Fire as seen from the top of Lake on 8/29/09 at about 6am
Photo by Bill Westphal

DC-10 water bomber on 8/29/09 at about 5:30pm
Photo by Bill Westphal

P-3C Orion water bomber over Mount Wilson Observatory on 8/30/09 at about 6:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

Martin Mars water bomber over Mount Wilson Observatory on 9/1/09 at about 4:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

Martin Mars water bomber flying over on 9/1/09 at about 4:00pm
Photo by Greg Garner

In the local lore about the 1993 Santa-Ana-whipped blazes that destroyed many homes in our neighborhood, one of the biggest aspects of the stories is the near complete lack of professional support in the defense. Seeing these pictures, I imagined that the Gollnicks, who are the beachhead of Stonehill, must have found some level of satisfaction seeing professionals digging literally miles of "scratch lines" with 1.5 inch feeder hose laid the entire length.

We returned from vacation late last night. I took a hike this morning along part of the "scratch-line" that the Hot Shots had built. Not to over-dramatize things, but I couldn't help looking at the coils of 1 inch hose as unmanned foxholes in hastily-build fortifications somewhere in the Ardennes, facing an anticipated German onslaught, which by some stroke of fate passed over and raged to the east. A staged Forest Service bulldozer at the ready and sky cranes ferrying supplies from the rear to the eastern front filled out the sense of walking a fortification prepared for a battle that never came.

Living in a land without war or knights-of-old, wild-land hot shots are the knights-of-new, defending our kingdom against the flames of hell.

A "knight-of-new" Grayback Forestry Hot Shots of Grants Pass, OR on 9/4/09
SGVN/Staff photo by Eric Reed

For posterity, here is a list of the best wildfire links collected during the week:
Non-government sites:
  • Mashup map of MODIS satellite thermal data and the GeoMAC perimeter data
  • Industry-watch blog
  • Time-Life-quality photos of the Station Fire
National wildfire aggregate information:

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KCAALTAD1 Reporting

posted by Jeremiah 7/11/2009 11:31:00 AM

Bill Westphal (Wunderground call sign, KCAALTAD1) sent me his precipitation stats going back to 03-04.

1999-2000 19.76" -- --
2000-2001 21.22" -- --
2001-2002 8.27" -- --
2002-2003 24.47" -- --
2003-2004 15.47" 14.72" --
2004-2005 62.56" 56.66" 61.61"
2005-2006 24.06" 22.37" 23.35"
2006-2007 6.81" 6.52 " 6.15"
2007-2008 26.04" 24.66" 23.64"
2008-2009 16.34" 15.77" 15.09"
(04+) Avg 27.16" 25.20" 25.97"

Bill calculated averages from all the data which I thought was a really interesting; I included averages from the 04-05 season to the present.

I added lines from both Stonehill stations to Bill's station. According to Google Maps, Bill is at 1640' and is approximately 1.25 miles WNW of here.

That puts him at the exact same elevation as PacRad, but he's on slightly flatter terrain (no canyon walls directly adjacent to him). I speculate that the shape of the terrain more than the elevation is causing Dan to average almost 2" more than Bill and me about 3/4" more than Bill.

View Stonehill Weather Stations in a larger map

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At 8/24/2009 4:36 PM, Blogger suvro said...

How do you get elevation information from Google Maps for a particular spot?

At 8/24/2009 6:15 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

You just have to read the contour lines carefully. It's not precise.


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Rain wrap-up 2009

posted by Jeremiah 7/01/2009 12:44:00 PM

The rain season of July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009 ended with 15.09 inches recorded on the Stonehill News weather station. I also have made a habit of reporting what my neighbor at the top of Stonehill has recorded, going back to 1999. Here are the available seasonal totals:

Season PacRad SHN Difference
1999-2000 19.76" -- --
2000-2001 21.22" -- --
2001-2002 8.27" -- --
2002-2003 24.47" -- --
2003-2004 15.47" -- --
2004-2005 62.56" 61.61" 2.6%
2005-2006 24.06" 23.35" 3.0%
2006-2007 6.81" 6.15" 9.7%
2007-2008 26.04" 23.64" 9.3%
2008-2009 16.34" 15.09" 7.7%

PacRad consistently logs a bit more rainfall, collecting 750 feet due North and 100 feet higher elevation. We assume this is due to micro climatic differences, not calibration or placement problems. The fact that the percent difference is not consistent year over year supports this assumption.

View Stonehill Weather Stations in a larger map

Here are the previous wrap-up posts:
Rain wrap-up 2008
Rain wrap-up 2007
Rain wrap-up 2006

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More June Rain

posted by Jeremiah 6/20/2009 09:01:00 PM

For the third time this month we recorded June rain. 2mm today puts us at 15.08" for the season. The wind pattern was very unusual too.

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Eaton Canyon Falls Graffiti Survey

posted by Jeremiah 6/13/2009 07:04:00 PM

Today I hiked up to the Eaton Canyon Falls, and I took a picture of every surface that had paint on it, either covering old graffiti, brand new graffiti or both. As you can tell by looking at all the painted over rocks and walls, graffiti is nothing new under the bridge and along the whole creek bed, however make sure you go all the way through to the end of the slide show. The walls and rocks of the canyon by the falls have been spray painted on a scale that is unusual, judging by the fact that many of the surfaces that are defaced do not have abatement paint behind them.

It's hard to tell from the photos just how disturbing it is to see in person. It reminds me of pre-Giuliani Central Park. This video, panning around the falls area helps illustrate how terrible this is.

I plan on calling this defacement into the graffiti hotline now, and will update this post with the confirmation number(s). The county has previously been extremely prompt about taking care of graffiti. We'll see how long this takes to clean up, as it's far less accessible. I suppose they'll hike in with supplies, as a helicopter drop off seems overkill for graffiti.

Update: I just got off the phone with the Graffiti Hotline.

LACO Graffiti Hotline 800-675-4357 option 2

The woman who answered told me they should have it cleaned up by Wednesday. (confirmation #108516)

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At 6/14/2009 8:01 AM, Blogger feonixrift said...

What's terrible isn't just the buildup of graffiti over time... I was out there a couple weeks ago, quite a lot of that is brand new.

At 6/14/2009 12:53 PM, Blogger Isaac Garcia said...

Hey man, its art.

Leave these people alone. We can't be oppressive of artists. Who do you think you are?

Do it in the road man,....its okay man, as long as they aren't hurting anybody.

Why are you such a hater? This is a racist blog full of hate-speech.

I'm going to stop downloading this web page.

At 6/14/2009 1:04 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Yes, most of the tags look new. The paint is still glossy. In particular the tag Ruf and variants of that are extremely prevalent. Some of the other large multi-color tags are Tatum, Smuk, Mireya and a aborted attempt at Voner. Vonbon/Voner, Cupcake and Caspar are fairly prevalent as small tags. There are also a few groupings with other tags mixed in like Bugs. I also note that there are at least two instances where 09 is written.

In design school I read a few books about "subway art" which featured many dozens of photographs of quite accomplished and sophisticated graffiti compositions. With regard to the artistic merit of this defacement, it all looks very crude and ham handed, leading me to think that this is a bunch of rookies. So even if it were not painted on the most inappropriate location possible, it has zero artistic merit. My instinct is that this was a bunch of high school kids.

At 6/14/2009 1:05 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

@Isaac: hahaha! ROFLMAO

At 9/24/2009 2:10 AM, Blogger Bryan said...

So sad, too painful to see the whole video.

At 9/24/2009 8:26 AM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

I meant to blog about this, but the good news is, I hiked up there last weekend, and 99% of the graffiti in these pics and videos has been covered over. It might seem just as bad to hear about rocks being painted over to "remove" the graffiti, but it really is so much better. Since the abatement, a few minor new tags have re-appeared, but it's significantly better down there now.

At 11/17/2009 6:49 AM, Anonymous CMC said...

You either "celebrate diversity" or you don't. Angelenos prattle on about their "richly diverse" environments, except when those they've defensively dubbed with diplomatic euphemisms show up for a picnic and an afternoon of spray painting. Once upon a time, the local police would have pulled over a carload of Tatums, Smuks, and Mireyas before they were two blocks from the freeway off-ramp, but that isn't done anymore, and you get to share nature equally.


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More June Rain Registered on the Gauge

posted by Jeremiah 6/13/2009 01:06:00 PM

The odd cloudy weather has persisted and today and yesterday the light drizzle brought our annual rainfall total up another 4mm (.16") for a nice even 15" this year.

Chart of June's annual precipitation to date as of 6/13/2009

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June Rain Registered on the Gauge

posted by Jeremiah 6/05/2009 01:01:00 PM

Despite the facts that we've had low rainfall overall, and that it's almost the end of the rain season, today's unseasonable sprinkles actually ticked the rain gauge up another millimeter (.04")

Chart of June's annual precipitation to date

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Bobcat on Chaney Trail

posted by Jeremiah 5/13/2009 05:13:00 PM

Received these amazing photos via email today:

Here is the note that came with it:


I read the Stonehill News blog occasionally, because I'm an avid hiker, and I like the wildlife updates. I wanted you & your community to know about this bobcat I saw today on Chaney Tr., which was acting unusual. I was driving back from Millard, and saw it cross the road. It stopped to look at my car, then walked into the brush. I pulled forward and stopped, and got my camera out, hoping to see it down the embankment.

When I got out of my car, it had walked back up to the road. It simply sat there looking at me for a few minutes, which wouldn't be too strange, except it was vocalizing - sometimes growling, sometimes meowing like a housecat. It then walked back across the road one more time, and up the road cut on the other side.

I have seen a couple of bobcats on hikes before, but they always run away quickly. So I wanted to give you a heads up. I'm sure everyone knows the standard advice - keep pets inside at night, don't leave food out, and just generally be aware. Hopefully this cat isn't sick, and I just had a lucky sighting.

This is a very young animal, weighing probably 10 pounds or so. Not a physical threat to anyone, unless it is in fact rabid.

Attached are the best photos, cropped and zoomed (I only got within about 20 feet, which was close enough for my comfort). The full set of pics are on my photobucket page, here.



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Mount Wilson Toll Road Reopening

posted by Jeremiah 3/03/2009 09:33:00 AM

The neighborhood was aflutter with the news that bulldozers appeared out of nowhere yesterday, and started clearing the landslide off the Mount Wilson Toll Road. This has be closed for how long?! I guess this is a "shovel-ready" project if ever there was one.

View Slideshow

And here's some video that might look a bit boring to the uninitiated, but to locals, this is exciting stuff!

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At 3/03/2009 2:06 PM, Blogger pasadenapio said...

Couldn't see the video. I'll be eager to drive up the road sometime soon, after it warms up a bit up there.


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Altadena Census Tracts Map

posted by Jeremiah 2/25/2009 01:07:00 PM

If you want to email a direct link to this map, you can use http://tinyurl.com/altadena-census-tracts

View Larger Map

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Graffiti in E Loma Alta section of Altadena

posted by Jeremiah 2/24/2009 05:50:00 PM

Below are pictures of graffiti that appeared recently on the fence of the
Rubio Debris Basin:

View Larger Map

These marks look similar to those which appeared in other places near by in
a similar time frame pictures also attached.

On the yellow directional sign at Loma Alta & Sunny Oaks the letters "HOES"
appear very similar to those on the basin fence locations.

One of the large words on the block wall on Porter (under the word "TRAGIK")
appears also to be "HOES"

We are hoping this is just a delinquent kid, but concerned that it may be a
precursor to more serious crime and/or graffiti.

In any case, I'd like to see this cleaned up as soon as possible.

Update: I just got off the phone with the Graffiti Hotline.

LACO Graffiti Hotline 800-675-4357 option 2

The woman who answered told me that there would be different response times
for each of the marks based on the surface they were on. And she gave me
three separate confirmation numbers. If any other neighbors want to call you
can reference these. In particular, the owner of the block wall may want to
have some say in how the county plans to clean it.

She said the block wall and the utility box would be cleaned in two business
days. (confirmation #97312)

The debris basin sign 3 business days (confirmation #97314)

The yellow directional sign longer because it has to go through a different
department (confirmation #97313)

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Recycling those difficult items

posted by Jeremiah 2/08/2009 03:36:00 PM

Neighbor Dan Westphal forwarded some great info about recycling household hazardous waste. He included a link to this blog and this pdf from Los Angeles-Glendale
S.A.F.E. Collection Center. Here are the details from the S.A.F.E. Collection Center flier:

Los Angeles-Glendale S.A.F.E. COLLECTION CENTER

For the Residents of the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles

For security purposes, participants will be required to check-in with guard at front gate and show a valid California I.D.

Residential Special Materials and Electronic Waste

paint and solvents;used motor oil and filters,anti-freeze,and other automotive fluids;cleaning products;pool and garden chemicals; aerosol cans; all medicine; auto batteries; household (alkaline) batteries;fluorescent tubes and bulbs,thermostats,and other mercury-containing lamps.

computers, monitors, printers, network equipment, cables, telephones, televisions, microwaves, video games,cell phones, radios, stereos, VCRs, and electronic toys.


business waste, ammunition, explosives, radioactive material, biological waste or tires. Bulky Items: furniture, refrigerators, washing machines/dryers, conventional ovens, paper, computer software.

It is against the law to transport more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds of hazardous wasteto collection sites.Please pack your waste properly to prevent tipping or spilling of the waste during transportation. No business and/or commercial waste drop-offs

Hours of Operation
Saturday and Sunday
9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.

4600 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA90039

Google directions from Lake and the 210:

View Larger Map

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New ACT Trail Markers

posted by Jeremiah 1/07/2009 09:41:00 PM

Well someone's been busy. On my walk this morning, there were two brand new signs that weren't there yesterday morning.

View Larger Map

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At 1/18/2009 12:16 AM, Blogger Uncle /\/\el said...

Very busy that day indeed. The signs were all over the ACT by Friday. Other regular walkers were staring at the signs everywhere I went.


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Gino Sund's Treatise on Trash

posted by Jeremiah 12/02/2008 05:27:00 PM

From: Gino Sund
To: Stonehill News <neighbors@stonehillnews.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 3:58 PM
Subject: [neighbors] Treatise on Trash

Treatise on Trash

Sorry, I have not been able to comment on the trash hauling thread but I have been out of town for the past week. So, please let me offer my perspective on the issue and perhaps clear up some questions that have been raised.

The current situation in Altadena

Currently, Altadena operates under an open market system. That means there is no County control or oversight over who offers hauling services, what those services are, how they operate or how they are priced. Thus anyone who wants to be in the business can collect your trash. This can range from the major haulers like Allied and Athens to some guy with a pickup truck. Currently there are around seven haulers in Altadena, including a guy with a pickup truck. These haulers offer a variety of services and charge what the market will bear. There is not adequate control of such things as collection days, services offered, billing practices or recycling performance.

How things have changed

In September of 2004, the County Board of Supervisors passed a law changing the unincorporated portion of the County to a franchise trash hauling system. With this new law, in order to collect residential trash, a hauler must now be franchised by the County and all non franchise haulers will be barred from this business. To date, the County has franchised haulers in thirteen different communities in LA County and is about to do so in Altadena. When a franchise is established, a detailed contract is awarded, a hauler is selected by the County through a bidding process and the County oversees the performance of that hauler. Typically the contract period is seven years.

Why Town Council is involved

About two years ago, the County sent out a questionnaire to residents of Altadena asking such things as how many trash cans they used, what kind of trash is offered for collection, and how many haulers the residents wanted. This questionnaire was a small yellow post card. Do you remember getting it? Most people don’t. It could easily have been mistaken for junk mail and it gave little explanation of what the issues really were. Then, about two months ago, the County was about to request bids on the contract for Altadena that would define our trash hauling for the next seven years. Several of us on Council were concerned that the community input on this was inadequate, so we stopped the process to allow us to review the contract and to gather more input from the residents. Thus, we are now asking for your input on the two important issues that we can affect at this point; what should be in the service provisions of the contract and should we have a single hauler or two haulers.

The conditions of the contract

Whoever is the franchise hauler or haulers will operate under a single contract that is offered by the County. That contract will spell out such things as the scope of services i.e. the number, type and amount of pick ups, the type of containers, the provisions for price increases, the recycling requirements, and the conditions under which the contract can be terminated.

While many of the contract provisions are fairly standard for all communities, it is important that the scope of services of our contract meet the needs of Altadena. This is the area of the contract that will most influence our weekly interface with the hauler.

[Below] is a schedule of the service provisions of the contract. Council has worked with the Department of Public Works to beef up several areas, especially the collection of green waste since we have large, leafy lots in Altadena. However, we are still looking for input from you to help us decide on what is best for most residents.

A single hauler or two haulers

This may be the most controversial and confusing issue. When the County sent out its post card survey, it asked if residents wanted an exclusive, semi exclusive or multi hauler program. The majority or respondents requested semi exclusive or two haulers. However, there was no explanation of what this really meant. Most of us thought that having two haulers would, through the mechanism of competition, give us more options, better service and lower prices. However, this may not be the case. The contract will be the same for a single hauler or two haulers so there will be no differences in the services provided. And as for price, the competition will come at the front end of the process when the haulers bid for the contract. In fact, experience has indicated that a lower price is attained when the provider has a larger customer guarantee, since among other factors, there is a capital outlay required to service the area. As for the weekly performance by the providers, the County will oversee the compliance with the contract for one or two haulers.

Of the thirteen contracts already awarded by the County, all have been exclusive contracts. The average price for service has been around 10% less that the previous price of the open market, with generally more services provided. The County reports that the customer satisfaction has been high with few resident complaints to date.

Arguments for the single hauler are:

More bidders for the contract thus lower prices.
Fewer trucks on the streets,
Fewer pickup dates. (this is big issue in many neighborhoods especially those who border Pasadena who collects trash on shared streets adding yet another day)
Reduced pollution and road wear.
More community involvement by the provider. (in other communities the provider is a regular at the Town Council meetings to hear from the residents)

Arguments for two haulers are:

Two haulers may compete by being more helpful to the residents
Two haulers may compete by adding services not covered by the contract. (however, this has happened in the bidding process by providers who wish to enhance their chance of getting the contract, again the competition up front)

What happens now

We need your input on the scope of services provided in the contract, in particular green waste pick up. We would also like your thoughts on the single provider approach.

Town Council will debate and recommend contract conditions at the December 16th meeting. The County will then make a request for bids to the industry, select the winner based on a formula that includes price, financial capacity, past history etc. Depending on the winner, as determined by the County, implementation could be from 3 to 6 months.

Who will get the bid

Of course we don’t know. It is expected that both allied and Athens will bid for the Altadena franchise. However, I find it most interesting that of the thirteen franchises awarded so far, those two large haulers were only awarded three. Most of the franchises were awarded to medium sized haulers. The feedback from those managing the bidding process is that those medium sized haulers are more likely to bid on an exclusive franchise than if a semi exclusive franchise is offered.

What you need to do

If you have input to give Town Council please contact you Census Tract Representative. The contact information is on the Town Council web site. As an alternative you may want to come to our next meeting at the Community Center starting at 7:00 p.m. on December 16th.

Thank you for your time and interest.

Gino Sund

Altadena Town Council


Regular pick up serviceWeekly between 6:00a.m.and 6:00p.m.
Typesof ContainersOne 96 gal Refuse cart
Two 96 gal Green Waste carts
Two 96 gal Recycling carts
Additional Trash carts$5 /month surcharge
Additional Recycling and Green Waste cartsAdditional carts $5/mo each
Different size cartNo charge
Bins and dumpstersPermitted but not covered by the contract
Container replacementNo charge
BearProof containers$143 for a 32 gal container
$1329 for a 2 cubic yd container
$1519 for a 3 cubic yd container
$1736 for a 4 cubic yd container
Additional Refuse collectionFourpickups per year
(curbside in bags)
Additional Green Waste collection(curbside in bags)Eight pickups per year
Holiday tree collectionNo charge
Curb side bulky item collection(unlimited)Two pick ups per year including e-waste
Additional bulky item collection$25 per collection
Annual CleanupOnce a year curb side collection of bulky itemsincluding e-waste and green waste
Special Clean up EventsHauler will provide bins or containers for discardsof solid waste four times a year for community clean up projects or publicevents
Senior and Low Income DiscountsSeniors 62 or older who are head of the householdand qualify for a utility discount based on financial need receive a 25%discount
Reduced rate for seniors with smallercapacity cartsSeniors 62 or older who are head of the householdand choose three 32 gal containers receive a 25% discount
Rollout serviceBasic service rate plus a 25% surcharge
No charge for Seniors or the disabled whoare the head of the household .
Scooter Service ( small vehicle)Basic service rate plus a 50% surcharge

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Lion Sighting in NW Altadena

posted by Jeremiah 11/13/2008 11:07:00 PM

These pictures came in at about 9pm tonight via the ACT email loop. I put a Google Map below with a pin at the approximate location described in the email.

From: Richard W: "These pictures were taken from the end of our driveway, looking NE. The ridge where I spoted the lion is maybe 200' and just accross a small canyon from the end of our driveway. Whew!"

Bonnie R added in the thread that it is "an adult mountain lion hanging out on the ridge between the ends of Coate Court and Sunset Ridge Road today around 1:50. It appeared to wander down the hill toward the top of Sunset Ridge or in the canyon behind the houses."

View Larger Map

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Rain season begins

posted by Jeremiah 9/29/2008 11:35:00 AM

Last night around midnight, I noticed an unexpected spattering of rain drops. It was not enough to register as rain on the gauge, but it would certainly have made drivers switch on their wipers.

This morning, we were greeted with amazing rainbow weather. I took this photo (click to see full size) and video (below) before leaving to drop off the kids. I wish I had taken my camera along, because there were plenty more gorgeous rainbow vistas along the way. By 8:30 enough rain had fallen to moisten the sage, and there was that wonderful fresh desert rain smell in the air.

We got a decent shower, in and out, over the course of the morning. So far we have accumulated the first 1mm (.o4") of the season. Listen carefully for the first inklings of distant thunder in the beginning of the video below (taken around 7:15am). At a bit past noon, we had a great peal of thunder, rolling along the hills from west to east, and lasting for much longer than normal; perhaps 10 seconds or longer.

By now the sun has come back out, and it feels like LA summer again.

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At 9/29/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger Stéphane Kardos said...

This is a beautiful photo! I noticed all the clouds last night as I was painting outside, it's so rare to see clouds here in California, I miss that from Europe. Anyway, the reflection of the sunset and the city lights in the clouds around 7pm is mind blowing.


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More bear sightings

posted by Jeremiah 7/27/2008 02:04:00 PM

Sameer E photographed this bear on 6/28/2008 at around noon time. He recently posted the picture in response to Brian L's sighting reported on the ACT email list.

Here's what Brian reported yesterday: "I was driving home tonight (Saturday 7/26/2008) at about 8:30 PM and was entertained by a bear roaming around on the road by the bridge over the wash at Rubio Canyon for a good minute or so. This guy looked pretty good sized to me."

Upon seeing Brian's and Sameer's reports, neighbor Sidarth D posted this on the SHN email list: "Yesterday, we had a bear in our driveway for the first time. We had left our garbage can outside unfortunately by mistake, and it was rummaging through the garbage can. Our daughter took these shots. I don’t know if this is the same bear that was seen in the Rubio Canyon bridge, but it could be as we are quite close to that." (I think this sighting was on Zane Grey).

Marianne W also reported a sighting: "We had a sighting on Tanoble and Loma Alta on Friday night at about 9 or 9:30 p.m. It was going south on Tanoble, and then headed up the hill in between houses up to Skyview. A news truck was also driving around trying to get pictures. We notified the Sheriff station."

Friday night on Stonehill Drive we had a family of raccoons in the back yard (a mother and four juveniles), and Saturday morning we were a bit stumped at how they had managed to tip over the huge Allied Waste container. Perhaps the tipped can was actually the bear. Whatever tipped our can must have been unimpressed with what was in our can, because the kitchen bag was torn open, but it was left neatly on the lid of the can, and no trash was strewn around.

Below is Doris F's contribution to the bear sightings: "Well, actually it was the bear's contribution, and it was quite a while back. However, within the last week, a bear was seen where Loma Alta terminates at Pinecrest, so it is probably the same one. Also, within the last month or so, two mountain lions were seen in Eaton Canyon. They were spotted by at least one family who lives on the rim off Altadena Dr. by Crescent."

It's unclear if this is the one bear, but it's clear that there are one or more bears living in the neighborhood.

Keep the photos coming if you can get them safely. Most importantly, be safe. Don't approach wild animals, especially not just to try to get a photo.

PS: Wow, I just googled "Altadena Bear" and found this video from February this year. There's not a whole lot of info beyond the date, February 19, 2008, the YouTube handle, "MaryToep", and the subject of the post, "Unplanned Altadena visit":

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Rain wrap-up 2008

posted by Jeremiah 7/04/2008 11:24:00 AM

The rain season of July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008 ended with 23.64 inches recorded on the Stonehill News weather station. This is the fourth complete year that I have been accurately logging precipitation. As mentioned last year, my neighbor at the top of Stonehill has been keeping records since 1999. I haven't compared notes with him yet this year; I'll update his column once we do. Here are the available seasonal totals from both stations:

Season PacRad SHN
1999-2000 19.76" --
2000-2001 21.22" --
2001-2002 8.27" --
2002-2003 24.47" --
2003-2004 15.47" --
2004-2005 62.56" 61.61"
2005-2006 24.06" 23.35"
2006-2007 6.81" 6.15"
2007-2008 26.04" 23.64"

Here are the previous wrap-up posts:
Rain wrap-up 2007
Rain wrap-up 2006

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Bear on Pinecrest

posted by Jeremiah 7/01/2008 07:20:00 PM

Greg Garner forwarded me these awesome bear pics taken on Saturday 6/28/2007. Thanks Greg!

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Cape of Good Hope to Echo Mountain

posted by Jeremiah 4/26/2008 06:45:00 PM

Last Wednesday, I saw an invitation to join Brian Marcroft, a Forrest Ranger, on a "Railfan Picnic" hike. The flier read:

"Meet at the north end of Lake Ave. in Altadena at 7:30 AM.
Carpools will be organized and will depart at 8:00 AM
After arriving at the Cape of Good Hope there will be a one-mile hike down the railway grade to Echo Mountain.

Tour of the mountain complex will include:
Seeing remnants of the Echo Mountain House and Chalet Hotels, the power plants, tennis courts, observatory, Zoo, Section House, Cable House and Incline. See ongoing work performed by the volunteer groups.


There will be a limited number of visitors.
We will be behind a locked gate and those attending will be required to stay with the group from 8:00 AM to 1:00PM.

Not knowing exactly where the Cape of Good Hope was, the part that caught my eye was, "we will be behind a locked gate." So I packed a picnic of nuts and water along with my digital camera, and set my alarm for Saturday morning.

We congregated at the top of Lake, and at 8am, we set off with about 15 or 20 people in a caravan of 5 cars. We drove to the top of Chaney Trail and were given special access to drive passed the locked gate at the Mt. Lowe Road. We drove east up a slight grade for about two miles, and stopped at a small dirt parking lot located roughly along the historic rail bed at a point known as the Cape of Good hope.

From this point, there is a nice, well maintained trail, following the historic rail bed about 3/4 of a mile from Mt. Lowe Road, south on a shallow down grade to Echo Mountain. I uploaded my snapshots from the walk, and placed them roughly where they were taken on the map. Make sure you switch to Satellite view (upper right corner) so you can zoom in closer.

Photos on a map

I met lots of nice people, and I hope I meet them again soon. Before walking back to the cars, we sat and had a picnic in the shady area just west of the Echo Mountain House ruin, known as the tennis courts.

I got some nice hand-drawn maps from Brian Marcroft, and found out about his web site, mtlowe.net where I found a topo-map of Mt Lowe and the trails leading to it. I added those to my Altadena Crest Trail map project.

View Alatadena Crest Trails map

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Re-greening of burn area at top of Lake

posted by Jeremiah 3/24/2008 02:46:00 PM

Local photo blogger, Petrea Burchard captured a nice comparison of the burn area at the top of Lake, just after it burned and after a winter of rain:


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At 3/24/2008 6:57 PM, Blogger Petrea said...

Hi Jeremiah,
Thanks for mentioning my blog! Just to clarify: I don't have any photos taken right after the fire.

The first photo I posted was taken in February, 2008, and the second only a month later (making the growth spurt seem even more prolific). The fire occurred in August, 2007.

I've bookmarked you. Thanks again.

At 4/04/2008 11:45 AM, Anonymous AP said...

Miss you man.

- AP


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What the hail?!

posted by Jeremiah 3/16/2008 06:03:00 PM

A brief hail "storm" hit Altadena, CA on Saturday, March 15th, 2008.

This little March event was NOTHING compared to the October 17, 2005 hail storm we had. Here are the two posts with links to video of that one.



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At 3/17/2008 1:52 PM, Blogger Stef said...

and no power at all today! scary night last night, was the first strong storm for us.


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Old Wamu on Lake Burns: Time to Renovate Ralphs?

posted by Jeremiah 2/28/2008 11:15:00 AM

Please click on the links under each question to cast your vote, then click View the results to see what others are saying.

Would you be in favor of Ralphs renovating their Altadena branch?



Not Sure

View the results

Would you support Ralphs if they wanted to expand onto the old Washington Mutual property which burned down on 2/28/2008?



Not Sure

View the results

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At 7/06/2008 4:41 PM, OpenID snoddoggy said...

I recall prior to The Strike that "Ghetto Ralphs" had planned to renovate. Hope they can finally make that a reality as I'd prefer to patronize them at sometime more convenient than just 6:30am ... but until they shoo-away the evening pan-handlers I continue to trudge to Chez Ralphs in La Canada, even with $4 gas

At 10/22/2008 9:39 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

Please, not another big corporate chain store. Why not a Trader Joes or smaller chain market?


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Notice of Intent (to cancel Allied Waste Services)

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 07:21:00 PM

For shame!

A little background. As many in this area will recall, about two or three years ago, BFI was bought out by Allied Waste Services. When it was still BFI, Athens Services came to town , offering a cheaper alternative, but rather than switch, I called up BFI and told them I had a lower offer. BFI promptly matched Athens' rate without argument. Ever since Allied Waste took over, they have been trying to sneak up my rate, but each time I have called and told them that Athens is cheaper, and they have (now grudgingly) acquiesced and matched Athens rate.

Allied Waste bills quarterly, and I being the techno-dweeb that I am, have them on automatic bill-pay service. As it seems, last quarter (the bill due in October) they raised my rate by $5.06. Upon receiving payment for the normal amount, they decided to threaten me with a $25 penalty if I did not square up with them.

I received that notice in December, but being a busy month with work and being December holiday season, I didn't open it until last weekend. By then I already had a second notice along side the first one informing me that I was now delinquent and that I now owed them the penalty. I resolved to call them this week and take issue with the charges, but before I got around to calling, I received the above threatening letter in today's mail.

Not only is this an issue of a mere $5.06, it is also transpiring before they have even waited for a complete billing cycle to elapse. Most other companies I've dealt with simply put any balance due on the next bill, as long as you don't abuse the situation. In this case, I've paid like clockwork (almost literally, given that it is paid automatically by a service).

They inform me in the letter, "This is your final opportunity to settle this matter quickly and amicably. Be assured that should you fail to comply with this request, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our interests. Should it be necessary to file suit, we will request prejudgment and postjudgement interest, court costs, and all additional attorney's fees incurred in the prosecution of such an action, as allowable by law."

And then in a brilliantly ironic closing, "Respectfully, Collections Department"

I don't know whether to laugh or go ballistic. Maybe it's some kind of prank being played on me for Candid Camera.

Already I was on the fence because of their repeated attempt to raise the price. The primary thing that was holding me back from switching was an assumption that Allied must do a better job of separating waste because they start out with it separated by making us do it and sending three trucks up the street. Athens only sends one truck, making a total of four huge garbage trucks on Stonehill every week. Some of the neighbors have already been casually lobbying me to switch to Athens to limit the number of big trucks on Stonehill. After a quick Google search for an Athens website, I found out that my reservations about post collection sorting seem to be unfounded. http://www.athensservices.com/materialrecovery.htm

I am now bound and determined to lobby everyone on Stonehill (and anyone who will listen for that matter) to dump Allied Waste.

Let's see. More expensive, more trucks, more cans to bang around the yard, and terrible (non-existent) customer service for the same end result. Seems like a no-brainer to dump Allied Waste Services.

One reservation I have heard from some other Allied Waste customers on Stonehill was about price. I currently pay $62/quarter and they evidently are trying to raise me to $67/quarter, which is still about $20 less than what Athens quoted me when I called them for rate information. They don't have any promotions to offer, even when I suggested that we might bring a group of people to the table.

Here is what Athens told me on the phone:

$29.25/month (bills quarterly for $87.75/quarter)

With Athens you provide your own cans and they allow up to six 35 gal. barrels. They ask you to put your garbage in separate cans from green waste and recycling.

Anyone 55 years or more gets a senior discount of 10% or $78.49/quarter

Allied Waste quoted me the following:

10 containers for trash (you provide) except select routes which have the large cans (Allied provides)

Separate containers for recycle and yard waste (Allied provides)

Three separate trucks for each type of material.

Standard rate is $24.50/month + taxes & fees = "About $90-$100/quarter". The customer service rep could not tell me how that was calculated or give me a precise quarterly cost.

Senior rate is $19.12/month + taxes & fees. The customer service rep could not give me an estimate of what this would amount to on a quarterly basis.

Extra charges for bulky items (anything that doesn't fit in trash can):
$27 for first two items and $11 each additional

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At 2/01/2008 10:49 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

Dear Stonehill News Blogger:

You are not the only one having problems with Allied Waste. A dear friend of mine who lives in Altadena, and, who happens to be 101 years old, has received the same letter. Since Allied took over, they've stopped giving her the senior discount; they increase her rate almost every month; and they are now saying she didn't pay her last bill (for Nov, Dec, and Jan)..... even though she has the cancelled check to prove it.

This was her last week with them. She switched to Athens.

Good Luck to you!!

At 2/01/2008 10:50 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

I meant quarter, not month. sorry!

At 3/28/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger a said...

i live in Altadena and i pay Allied $86.22 or so every quarter. The cost is similar to Athens so no real advantage in changing except if Athens has better service

At 3/30/2008 5:34 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

That's right. The price is so similar it boils down to service. It's the (lack of) good customer service that inspired me to undertake this whole drama. Since I've switched, I'll admit to missing the huge rolling trash can.

All other things being equal, I think I'd probably be inclined to pick Allied based on features. I discovered that they have an automatic payment option (subsequent to switching to Athens). This would prevent the $5 payment drama I experienced, and taken in combination with the big rolling bin, I'm seriously considering going back to Allied for the features and convenience, despite my bad (or more to the point, impersonal) experience with their bureaucracy. Frankly, I have no assurance that I won't get the same sort of red-tape snafu from Athens, who has an arguably inferior product for the same price, and with automatic bill payment, I frankly should never have to talk to or interact with either of them.

I'll post a follow up if I do switch back.

At 5/25/2008 5:10 PM, Blogger Palm Axis said...

I'd go with the company thats Union and pays it's workers a living wage. BFI payed less then half of what the city of L.A. pays it's trash collectors. With Athens you can pay the guys out of pocket to carry out heavy items.
I have enjoyed visiting your blog..

At 8/26/2008 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I'm so glad I found your blog.... I am currently with athens and being hassled beyond belief including being charged for a huge container they say I had in front of my house for a week. This didn't happen and not i have a 300.00 + bill for something I didn't order and they can't proved I ordered etc... but they sure are sending me to collections.... THE THING is .... everyone is talking about allied as having taken over BFI but I'm with Athens and my statement is from ALLIED! Do they now own both BFI and athens???? God help us!

At 9/05/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

I don't think Allied and Athens the same company (as you say, God help us!). If you're getting a bill from Allied, that's probably different from Athens. I'd call them for clarification if I were you. Please let us know if it turns out they are somehow joined together.

Also, FWIW, I did switch to Allied with the automatic deduction. It's worth it for me to have the large plastic residential bin on wheels.


Wind-powered Blackout

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 09:07:00 AM

As far as I know, we still have no power this morning (I'm in a Starbucks). According to Steve Gerow, the Edison message from last night estimated power being restored by noon today. My rough estimate from a walk last night is that the blackout area was all of Loma Alta east of Sunny Oaks and all the side streets off Loma Alta along the same stretch. Zane Gray and Rubio Crest were lit up as if nothing happened. I didn't walk around the bend towards Noyes, so I don't know how far east it really stretched. A few of us saw a truck driving around last night with a spot light, presumably looking for downed lines. My weather station computer stayed on battery power until about midnight. The image above is the last one it uploaded before the network went down.

[10am Update: Got back to Stonehill and found power had come back at about 8am. Updated wind gust chart above shows additional weather station logging all the way through the windstorm, and then a gap until it came back to life when the power was restored this morning.]

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Great Cougar Pic

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 08:45:00 AM

This amazing shot of a mountain lion was posted on the ACT mailing list this morning with a caption reading in part, "Photo taken by JPL employee Wednesday,1-16-08, looking down into the Arroyo Seco from the bridge from the JPL east parking lot to the JPL campus."

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PSN focus on Education

posted by Jeremiah 10/30/2007 02:40:00 PM

Pasadena Star News deserves credit (clicks and eyeballs) for giving us a dedicated Eduction section on their website to complement their new Tuesday section on the same subject.


This kind of substantial reporting about PUSD that goes beyond the scandal-du-jour is to be commended. Please vote with your clicks and visit it every week.

(One day maybe they'll even give us the Education article RSS feed I've been asking for)

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Jack Scott at ATC meeting tonight

posted by Jeremiah 9/18/2007 09:53:00 AM

from http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/search/ci_6921705

State of the State address in Altadena

ALTADENA - State Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, will give a State of the State address at tonight's Altadena Town Council meeting, which begins at 7 at the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive.

Scott will speak at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, call (626) 398-6174.

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At 9/18/2007 10:28 AM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Original post had a typo where it says ATC.

At 9/20/2007 2:48 PM, Blogger Isaac Garcia said...

Any reports on this?

At 10/10/2007 4:14 PM, Anonymous AP said...

Hope all's well?


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Pasadena Now: scooping the pulp press

posted by Jeremiah 9/14/2007 02:03:00 PM

I just read a Dormitas post in which s/he makes this aside: "This from Pasadena Now (the most consistent coverage of Pasadena news we have):"

I couldn't agree with Dormitas more.

Pasadena Now, the news organization that recently made the headlines by outsourcing journalism to India, seems to be scooping the old guard Pasadena pulp press.

Pasadena Now shows some technical rough edges, probably hallmarks of being a small operation. For examples, the fact that their home page CSS doesn't render properly on all browsers, and their Flash content throws non-fatal errors (see screen image above). At first I was dismissive of PN based on their lack of technical polish, but then Jill Davis Doughtie pointed out their Headlines RSS feed:


Of course I immediatly subscribed to the feed. I subscribe to the pulp version of Pasadena Star News (yes, I know; what other version is there?!) and have now grown accustomed I seeing an article in PSN, which I already read (often covered more thoroughly) the day before when it came across my PN feed. Not only is PN scooping PSN by a full day with great regularity, but PN has quality that strikes me as a generally more granular, relevant cross section of *dena issues than PSN.

Add to high quality, timely, Web-friendly reporting the fact that their links don't grow stale after a couple weeks like PSN's do, and you've got a friend in me.

You can find Pasadena Now at either http://pasadenanow.com/ or http://pasadenalivingmagazine.com/
(don't ask me why their name and their url are branded differently)

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At 9/14/2007 3:33 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

I like Pasadena Now....but they do sometimes get "out-scooped" and credited for "scooping" by people who just didn't happen to be on the PSN website at, say, 2 in the morning.

Nice entry as always.

At 9/14/2007 4:31 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

P.S. I ranted on that Peter Dreier article in the P-Dub on my blog.

At 9/14/2007 4:33 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Yeah, I read that. Nice one :P

At 9/14/2007 4:38 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

PS: AP's rant in case you were wondering is at www.proctorformayor.com/2007/09/14/ scroll to second post. LOLZ the Bee Gees picture!

At 9/14/2007 4:44 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Oh, and re: scooping? Posting at 2am, even if it is a scoop, is not a scoop if there is no feed to "deliver" it. Right now, we have to wait for the pulp to plop. NOTE TO LARRY WILSON AND PSN AT LARGE: PLEASE OFFER RSS HEADLINES

At 9/17/2007 12:46 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

Thanks for having Kelli and I over on Friday!

Just minutes before Sock On Madison began!

At 9/17/2007 1:00 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

It was a pleasure. We must do it again sometime soon.

At 4/26/2008 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that when the brush fire over at Chantry Flat was clearly visible to everyone in Pasadena after 3pm today, the Pasadena Star-News site had a report by half an hour later (3:38pm); as far as I can tell Pasadena Now still has nothing. For this neighborhood, that sort of thing is obviously of some importance.

At 4/27/2008 1:59 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Very true. I've also noticed that their RSS feed is still broken, making them essentially irrelevant for me. It's been down for a long time.


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Yesterday's high over 109 °F

posted by Jeremiah 9/03/2007 10:21:00 AM

Yesterday the Stonehill News weather station recorded a high of 108.1 °F but we lost power and Internet during the hottest part of the day. The mercury thermometer topped out between 109 °F and 110 °F (approximately 109.5 °F, but I don't want to state it too precisely as the mercury thermometer has lower resolution than the digital one).

KCAALTAD1Top Of Lake Ave108.3 °F
KCAALTAD2Stonehill Dr108.1 °F
KCAALTAD3N. Mount Curve104.1 °F
KCAALTAD7Zane Grey104.4 °F

The other three Altadena weather stations all seemed to have stayed online through the day yesterday. Above are yesterday's local highs as recorded on WUG.

Last year, July 22 is the day (not) to beat with a high of 112.5 °F recorded at Stonehill News.

It seems that we may have the dubious distinction of being the hottest place in Altadena =)

I considered the possibility that my temperature gauge was out of calibration, but it generally agrees with the mercury one. I guess it's possible they're both reading high, but not likely. They are both positioned in the shade on the north side of the garage, and never see direct sun. Assuming that the thermometers are reading correctly, I assume that there is some micro climate effect having to do with the orientation of the Gooseberry Canyon (watershed)

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Altadena August 2007 Fire (Video and Links)

posted by Isaac Garcia 8/26/2007 11:07:00 PM

Media Coverage: CBS News Report, ABC7 News Coverage, Story from KTLA, Pasadena Now
Pasadena Star News

Yes, they made it look easy today, but lest anyone doubt how serious things were before the fire was extinguished, take a look at this photo of about 20 fire fighters (lower left) on the ridge just south of the fire. Look how intense the flames are just beyond the ridge. According to the Pasadena Star News, the people in the photos are 20 specialized fire fighters known as the "The Bear Divide Hot Shot Crew."

After analyzing the photos, Isaac and Jeremiah's best estimate is that today's fire burned approximately in the area of this Google Map marked in red.

Here is a montage of the tankers reloading in the Rubio Catch Basin:

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At 8/28/2007 3:44 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

Really good pictures.


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Proctor Coming Back

posted by Jeremiah 7/24/2007 10:36:00 PM

My favorite politician, Aaron Proctor, has announced his return to Pasadena after two months in exile in St. Louis. Yeah!


See you in August!

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At 7/25/2007 7:46 AM, Anonymous AP said...

Thanks for your kind words!

At 7/25/2007 1:56 PM, Anonymous AP said...

So when I get back, we're hanging out?

At 7/25/2007 2:14 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Love to :) We can swap notes on growing up in the Philly suburbs. Am I invited to the gala reception upon your return?

At 7/25/2007 2:49 PM, Anonymous AP said...

There's no gala planned yet. :-) But if there is, of course you're invited.

And yeah, swapping Philly stories would be fun.

Honestly - I want to check out your house..all the way up there..must be awesome.


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Summer Rain

posted by Jeremiah 7/23/2007 10:20:00 AM

What month is this again?!

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At 7/23/2007 11:57 AM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

Damn, I'm missing that unusual summer rain in Pasadena/Altadena. We get plenty of summer rain here in St. Louis but it's disgusting.

I wish I could come back like...tomorrow. I hate this place and everything about it.


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Altadena Crest Trail Google Map

posted by Jeremiah 7/10/2007 09:44:00 AM

I have started a Google Maps version of the Altadena Crest Trail. I am transcribing it from the map published in a flier that was snail-mailed out by LA County several months ago (map is dated 2-1-05). So far my Google version only has the trail heads and the proposed Rubio Canyon Gap segments.

I'll work on the proposed Skylane Gap and LaVina sections next (the proposed sections are more time consuming because there is no existing trail to trace). After I get my best shot at those in, I'll trace the exiting trails and access paths as well.

This is really fun, because with the Google satellite and hybrid views, you can inspect the route in tons more detail than you can with the printed maps that I have seen.

On a related note (in case you hadn't noticed), the satellite images of our area have been recently updated (looks like maybe this past winter). While we already had hi-res imagery of the populated areas, it was a bit long in the tooth (recent construction changes were not reflected). More to the point, the new images include the mountains as well. Perfect for mapping the hiking trails!

Enjoy =)

posted by Jeremiah 7/11/2007 11:44:00 PM

I updated the map with the two of the three Skylane Gap options that were
published. I'll be adding the third as well as the La Vina ones over the
next few days, as I have some time on my hands (had hernia surgery this
morning, so on bed rest...thank god for laptops and wireless internet).

FYI I have marked the ones "proposed" based on the documents I could access.
By whom they are "proposed" is not indicated. I guess it implies that the
people who did the surveys are proposing them as their favorite ones?

I am copying off a glossy pamphlet I was mailed several months ago (also posted as a pdf), and pdfs I found here:


(the defualt apache index can be viewed too)

These two are my main references:
ACT Trail Pamphlet.pdf

ACT Initial Study - Part 2.pdf

Note the pdf maps above were posted almost a year ago, but that's
all I have to go on, as I haven't attended any of the meetings. Any updates

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At 7/16/2007 11:15 AM, Anonymous AP said...

Thanks for your purchase, btw. Please encourage others to purchase stuff to help "the cause" :-)


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Will Instant Runoffs Trickle Down to PUSD?

posted by Jeremiah 7/09/2007 09:22:00 PM

This article caught my eye today:

Senate committee considers bill allowing instant-runoff voting

By STEVE LAWRENCE - Associated Press Writer

Published 12:10 pm PDT Sunday, July 8, 2007

Voters could express their first, second, third, fourth and maybe even more choices in local government elections under legislation scheduled to be considered this week by a state Senate committee.

Read the full story here:

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At 7/10/2007 4:12 AM, Blogger BROKEN LADDER said...

IRV survives on common myths that are perpetuated by IRV propaganda groups, like FairVote.org. The truth is that better and simpler methods than IRV exist - and IRV is lethal to third parties, because voting for a non-major-party candidate is statistically more likely to hurt you than help you. The world needs Range Voting or its simplified form of Approval Voting. Here's why.

Consider this hypothetical election using IRV.

% of voters - their vote
28% "Green" > Edwards > McCain
20% Edwards > "Green" > McCain
6% Edwards > McCain > "Green"
46% McCain > Edwards > "Green"

In this IRV election, Edwards is eliminated in the first round, and then McCain wins against "Green". But wait! 54% of voters prefer Edwards to McCain - and 72% prefer Edwards to "Green"! Yet Edwards loses? The Greens now slap themselves on the forehead for not strategically top-ranking Edwards, the most similar major party candidate to their true favorite.

IRV sounds initially appealing, because people picture a weak third party candidate who loses in the first round. The myth is that this takes away the fear of voting for your sincere favorite candidate, and gives third parties a fair chance to grow; but if that candidate or his party ever grows to be a contender, he is statistically more likely to hurt the party closest to his own than to win. It doesn't matter how unlikely you imagine the above scenario to be - it's still _more_ likely than the odds "Green" will win. And so third party voters will learn to strategically vote for their favorite major-party candidate. You don't have to buy my math; you can look at decades of IRV usage in Australia's house, and Ireland's presidency. Both use IRV, and have been two-party dominated. So much for the myths that IRV allows you to "vote your hopes, not your fears", and eliminates spoilers. Now we know why the Libertarian Reform Caucus calls IRV a "bullet in the foot" for third parties.

Electoral reform advocates (especially third parties!) should be demanding Range Voting - score all the candidates and elect the one with the highest average. Its simplified form, Approval Voting, is probably the most feasible to implement. It simply uses ordinary ballots, but allows us to vote for as many candidates as we like. Consider the benefits:

* Spoiler free: Whereas IRV merely _reduces_ spoilers
* Simpler to use and implement: A simple one-round summation tells us the results, whereas IRV's potential for multiple rounds can cause long delays before the final results are determined. A side-effect of Range Voting's simplicity is that it makes the necessary transition away from voting machines more feasible. IRV's complexity leads most communities implementing it to purchase expensive and fraud-conducive (electronic!) voting machines, the fraudster's best friend.
* More resistant to strategy: As we see above, IRV often strategically "forces" voters not to top-rank their sincere favorite. But with Range Voting and Approval Voting, this _never_ happens. A vote for your favorite candidate can never hurt you, or the candidate. With IRV it can hurt both.
* Decreases spoiled ballots: Since voting for more than one candidate is permissible, the number of invalid ballots experimentally goes down with Range and Approval Voting. But here in San Francisco, we saw a seven fold increase in spoiled ballots when we started using IRV.
* Greater voter satisfaction: Using extensive computer modeling of elections, a Princeton math Ph.D. named Warren D. Smith has shown that these methods lead to better average satisfaction with election results, surpassing the alternatives by a good margin. But IRV turns out to be the second _worst_ of the commonly proposed alternatives. This mean that all voters will benefit from the adoption of either of these superior voting methods, regardless of political stripe.
* Reduces the probability of ties: While they are not extremely common, they do happen. IRV statistically increases them, but Range Voting decreases them.

Get the facts at RangeVoting.org and ApprovalVoting.org

And if you're in the market for a better system of proportional representation than the antiquated STV system, check out Reweighted Range Voting and Asset Voting.


At 7/10/2007 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IRV in fact survives on a track record of success, popularity with voters and support from groups like the League of Women Voters. It's endorsed by Robert's Rules of Order, used by more than half of the nation's top-rated 30 universities and used to elect the president of India, American Political Science Association and India. Voters in exit polls in the three most recent cities to implement it expressed overwhelming support averaging more than 4 to one backing of IRV over their old system.

"Broken Ladder" is a broken record, advocating reforms that aren't used in any public election and probably won't be any time soon -- one reason being they run counter against common sense definitions of majority rule Check out www.instantrunoff.com for more


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posted by Jeremiah 7/08/2007 02:55:00 PM

The graphs and data on this page are updated every five minutes.
The raw data is also submitted to Weather Underground every five minutes.

Running 5-day Temperature:

Running 5-day Pressure:

Running 5-day Rain:

Running 1-day Wind Speed and Gusts:

Running 5-day Wind Direction, Speed and Gusts:

See photos of the weather station components.
Weather Station

The hardware is the discontinued WM918 kit from Oregon Scientific. These are the Tech Specs.

The software is Virtual Weather Station from Ambient Weather

Anyone may link to our weather images. A fresh version of each one is automatically uploaded every 5 minutes (assuming everything is working right, which is most of the time). If you use an image on a public site, I'd be grateful for a link-back.

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Rain wrap-up 2007

posted by Jeremiah 7/07/2007 06:34:00 PM

The rain season of July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007 ended with 6.15 inches recorded on the Stonehill News weather station. This is the third complete year that I have been accurately logging precipitation, but my neighbor at the top of Stonehill has been keeping records since 1999. Here are the available seasonal totals from both stations:

Season PacRad SHN
1999-2000 19.76" --
2000-2001 21.22" --
2001-2002 8.27" --
2002-2003 24.47" --
2003-2004 15.47" --
2004-2005 62.56" 61.61"
2005-2006 24.06" 23.35"
2006-2007 6.81" 6.15"

I find it interesting that he consistently logs a small percentage higher rainfall. The PacRad rain guage is 750 feet due North and 100 feet greater elevation. (see map)

Here is last year's wrap-up post:
Rain wrap-up 2006

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Town council up in arms

posted by Jeremiah 6/21/2007 08:51:00 AM

Crown City News

Pasadena Star News

Town council up in arms
Campaign battle shakes meeting
By Elise Kleeman Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/20/2007 11:43:19 PM PDT

ALTADENA - The normally sedate monthly Town Council meeting turned raucous and emotional Tuesday night as council members struggled to resolve allegations of misconduct during the recent elections.

For about three hours, veteran Town Councilman Steve Lamb was disqualified from returning to his seat for a 17th year when Election Chair Jamie Bissner ruled that Lamb engaged in negative campaigning, violating election rules.

But by the end of the meeting, which was rife with accusations, threats of legal action and even challenges to manhood, Lamb had reclaimed the seat he won June 9 by a 29-vote margin.

The controversy began two weeks before, when an interview with Lamb aired on the Crown City News Web site. During the interview, Lamb said that his opponent, Matt Littell, had paid

$1.5 million for his house and was an employee of Council Chairman Ken Balder.

Similar claims were made in a flier Lamb distributed in his census tract, 4603.02.

Littell disputed both claims and lodged a complaint with Bissner about negative campaigning. Lamb later lodged a counter-complaint about negative campaigning by Littell.

According to election rules, the election chair and Town Council chair arbitrate any disputes. Because Balder was mentioned in one complaint, though, he recused himself, leaving Bissner to reach his own conclusions.

Tuesday night, Bissner issued his decision.

"I do determine that it was negative campaigning, and so Steve Lamb is removed from the election," he told the standing-room-only crowd.

He did not find Littell guilty of wrongdoing.

His unilateral declaration left several council members aghast.

"You can't have one person make all the rules," said Councilman Dennis Bridwell.

Adding to the confusion, although the election rules ban negative campaigning "as defined in the Bylaws," the council bylaws do not mention negative campaigning at all.

When the dispute came up for discussion later in the meeting - by which point Bissner had left - debate got heated as council members discussed alternatives.

Some suggested voiding the entire election. Others supported forming an investigative committee. At one point, Lamb agreed to pass out fliers clearing Littell's name, if that would resolve matters.

In the end, though, it came down to an apology. At the urging of Councilman George Lewis, Littell agreed to drop his complaint if Lamb apologized, which Lamb did.

With peace restored, the council resolved to review the bylaws and rules before the next election.


(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451

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At 6/21/2007 9:54 PM, Blogger Isaac Garcia said...

This is the most hilarious things I read today.

What a joke.

At 6/29/2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

I miss that wacky foreign land of Altadena.

P.S. Not sure if I linked you on my site at proctorformayor.com - will check this afternoon and do today.


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Bad fire season predicted for region

posted by Jeremiah 6/15/2007 08:48:00 AM


Bad fire season predicted for region
Firefighters warn residents to prepare
By Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/14/2007 10:54:03 PM PDT

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE - Faced with the driest weather in history, Southern California fire chiefs warned Thursday that firefighters and residents need to brace for an especially dangerous fire season.

Fire chiefs from Ventura to San Bernardino counties stressed the need for fire training - and brush clearance.

"The most important thing the public can do is to clear their brush ... to give firefighters a fighting chance to defend their property," said Chief Doug Barry of the Los Angeles Fire Department, who met with area chiefs at a county fire station at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Fire prevention plans are being drawn from Sacramento to Southern California at the close of the driest weather season in history. Since July, Los Angeles has received a scant 3.21 inches of rain.

Wildfires, including the nearly 1,000-acre blaze that burned a quarter of Griffith Park last month, have increased from 296 from January to June last year to 2,100 in 2007.

Brush moisture levels are dropping toward critical levels throughout the region.

On Friday, a firefighting DC-10 jumbo jet will be deployed in Victorville under contract to the state to battle future blazes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also signed an executive order to add resources to firefighters across the state.

"We're preplanning what could happen this year in order to be ahead of the game," said Chief Bob Roper of the Ventura County Fire Department. "Our firefighters are doing training, training and more training."

Residents should not only cut back brush and flammable ornamental plants, the chiefs said, but also make evacuation plans that would include more than one route, what items to bring and where to take family pets.


(818) 713-3730

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Altadena Town Council election results

posted by Jeremiah 6/10/2007 01:04:00 PM

From: gino sund
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2007 20:52:07 -0700
Subject: Re: ATC results?


News flash Tim Kelly wins. Actually running unopposed he got 60 votes.
Quite an impressive showing by our Census Tract. It is very encouraging to
see the neighborhood be so involved. The total vote at Patticakes was 145,
the highest vote total was Webster's at I think at 167. Total vote count
for Altadena was 613 up almost 30 percent from last year. Ken Balder was the
highest vote getter at 102. I don't have all the totals be polling station
but will get them in a couple of days.

Tim Kelly

Justin Chapman

Keith Gibbs

Steve Lamb

Gene Campbell

Michele Zack

Ken Balder

Lorie Judson


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Altadena Town Council Elections June 9th

posted by Jeremiah 6/05/2007 09:45:00 AM

ATC Representative, Gino Sund (4601), provided us with this list of this year's candidates by census tract.

(no incumbent)
Tim Kelly (unopposed)

Sarah Fuller
Justin Chapman (incumbent)

(no incumbent)
Alice Wesson
Keith Gibbs

Matt Littell
Steve Lamb (incumbent)

Gene Campbell (incumbent; unopposed)

Michelle Zack (incumbent)
Jerry Rhoads

Ken Balder (incumbent)
Laura Graham
Peter Baumer

Lorie Judson (incumbent; unopposed)

From: gino sund


I think it is a good thought to share info about all candidates in the Altadena Town Council Election. It is important that everyone vote even in census tracts that candidates are running unopposed. The greater the community involvement, the greater the voice of Town Council to the various government entities and departments with which we work.




Election date
Saturday June 9, 2007


Altadena Main Library, 600 E. Mariposa

Farm Fresh Market, 2260 Lincoln Av.

Gordies Garage, 843 W. Woodbury Road

Webster's, 2450 N. Lake Av.

Pattycakes, New York and Allen

Loma Alta Park, 3330 N. Lincolin Av

Proof of residency (census tract) required

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42 mph gusts over the weekend

posted by Jeremiah 5/08/2007 12:53:00 AM

Saturday night/Sunday morning's overnight gusts put last year's unseasonable June gusts to shame. Last night gusts dropped from a top speed of 42 mph to 25 mph. So far tonight has been quiet and normal, but there's still time some bluster before morning.

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Lion Kill

posted by Jeremiah 9/29/2006 10:05:00 PM

Neighbors may recall a post in January with pictures of deer and a concern being discussed about the ever tamer deer attracting mountain lions.

Well, last night I got the email below via the neighborhood email loop (you can subscribe here).

So on our way out to dinner (yum) this evening we stopped at the trail head to see what kind of kill it was David had seen. We easily found the carcass of a young doe.

Sure looks like the work of a lion to me. I took a few pictures with my phone. Note the wide shot where you can see Norah standing just off the road through the trees. That's where the carcass is.

------ Forwarded Message

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 21:37:16 -0700
Subject: mountain lion kill

Today we found a fresh mountain lion kill about 50 ft off the road across the street from my house at the top of Tanoble Dr. It is right by the trail head for the crest trail. Please be careful if you are hiking in the trails!

David Lewis
Tanoble Dr.

------ End of Forwarded Message

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At 10/01/2006 8:26 PM, Anonymous Patrick said...

We should be careful about assuming this was a mountain lion kill without some more information, like a sighting. Certainly coyotes are much more common and quite capable of killing a deer (they are known to kill elk). According to www.sheepscreek.com/rural/pred.html mountain lions cover their prey. Coyotes are apparently known to eat the abdominal cavity of their prey, sort of how it looks in the pictures. Not that it couldn't be a lion. We certainly have them, and we should all be careful on the trails and avoid hiking alone.

At 12/07/2006 6:46 PM, Anonymous doris finch said...

Checking in more than a day late and some short. I agree with Patrick. Lions generally break the neck of their prey. If there were tooth marks on the neck, that might tip the balance toward lion. Pug marks in the dirt would prove it. Too late now though. Although I seriously doubt that a bear was responsible, we did have lots of evidence of bear activity a week or so before that, including one lovely "gift" discovered in the yard on a morning scat scan. Note: Don't leave the gate open. Photos available on request.


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Rain wrap-up

posted by Jeremiah 8/27/2006 01:50:00 PM

The rain season of July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006 ended with 23.31 inches recorded on the Stonehill News weather station. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to resetting the total on the weather station until today, and we got a millimeter (.04") of rain on Aug 4. So my seasonal reading is off by a millimeter… oh well, 23.35" it is then. This is only the second complete year that I have been accurately logging precipitation, but my neighbor at the top of Stonehill has been keeping records since 1999. Here are the seasonal totals from both stations:

Season Theirs Ours
1999-2000 19.76" --
2000-2001 21.22" --
2001-2002 8.27" --
2002-2003 24.47" --
2003-2004 15.47" --
2004-2005 62.56" 61.61"
2005-2006 24.06" 23.35"

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At 9/09/2006 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


We took our daughter to Gymnastics on Foothill this Saturday, and we noticed a sign for a proposed strip club. I'm hoping that everyone can band together to sign the petition against this.

Here is the website:




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Unseasonable isolated gusting

posted by Jeremiah 6/16/2006 09:44:00 AM

This morning we were awoken by Santa Ana-like wind at about 5:40am. We had uncharacteristic gusting up to about 20mph until about 8:45. The wind was hot. I talked to some folks who live in Pasadena this morning, and they reported nothing unusual further down the hill. Other Altadena stations recorded similar gusting, although not as strong. It appears that the Weather Underground servers were down for over an hour starting about 6:30, as all three Altadena sites reporting today ( 1 2 3 ) have a data gap there.

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Uplifting day on Loma Alta

posted by Jeremiah 6/08/2006 09:07:00 PM

Today Loma Alta was closed to through traffic so a crane crew could set up and hoist replacement utility poles to hard-to-reach locations. The large (160 ton) crane was brought in to reach over neighbors' homes and drop two new utility poles into holes which were prepared in advance by SCE.

The first one was on the north side of the Gooseberry catch basin (south of Loma Alta), a couple hundred feet west of the Stonehill intersection. The other was on the west side of the Gooseberry flood channel, just north of Loma Alta. Both were basically in people's back yards, so lifting the 40 foot poles in from above was the only practical way to get them in.

Once each new pole was secured in it's hole next to the old one, the power lines (which run at the top of the poles) were moved over to it. Then the crane was bridled to the old pole, and the crew chainsawed off the top 8 feet or so. Once the top of the old pole was cut loose, the crane hoisted the piece of scrap back up over the rooftops, leaving the shortened old pole in place until the other utility crews can come out and transfer lower telephone and cable lines to the new pole. Then the old poles can finally be removed altogether.

From what I understand, the crane is called "160 ton" because that is the gross weight of the whole system. I assume this includes the support vehicles, etc., because the three huge counterweights they used, which travel separately on tractor-trailers, weigh 12 tons each. So if there are "only" 36 tons of counterweight, they must be factoring in the whole crane itself plus three or four support vehicles, etc. to get to 160 tons.

The rigger told me that with the jib out and the boom fully extended, the crane was 270 feet tall, but that there were additional inserts which could be installed to bring it to a maximum height of 320 feet. I assume the 50 feet of inserts were somewhere else, as I didn't see it anywhere on the job site.

I seem to recall that the maximum allowed "gross vehicle weight" of a tractor-trailer is 40 tons on major roads (many smaller roads are less). They brought three (large) vehicles (forget about pickup trucks, etc.), so assuming each one vehicle is limited to 40 tons (3 x 40 = 120), one must assume the didn't bring all their toys with them. One of the young guys mentioned their was an additional counterweight that I didn't see anywhere, and the inserts were nowhere around, so there must be one or two more tractor-trailers full of Legos to get them up to a full 160 tons of fun.


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June 3, 2006 hits 103 °F

posted by Jeremiah 6/03/2006 08:57:00 PM

Well, it's really summer now. We just missed a high 103 up here on the hill today.

Other local stations report similar highs, but KCAALTAD3 on Mount Curve seems to either be having technical difficulties, or knows something we don't know. Also, unfortunately, KCAALTAD5 seems to have gone offline sometime after lunch, but not before they posted the highest high for the day at 103.1 °F

KCAALTAD1 102.4 °F
KCAALTAD2 102.9 °F (Stonehill News)
KCAALTAD3 _94.0 °F (?!)
KCAALTAD5 103.1 °F

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Clark takes Noyes off table

posted by Jeremiah 4/26/2006 07:13:00 AM

In response to the massive showing that Altadenans for Action mustered at last night's Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Percy Clark took a moment to speak on the non-agenda item.

Clark stated that he and the board officially withdraw Noyes as a potential site for a high school program. This proclamation was greeted by enthusiastic applause from the audience, and numerous Altadenans who had filled out public comment cards in anticipation of having to argue against the proposal, modified their comments to express thanks to the board for being responsive to the community's concerns.

During the comment period there was still broad concern conveyed by the community about the potential for segregation in the implementation of the proposed high school reform plans. It was evident that the board also strongly heard and agreed with this message in their discussion of Attachment R-1 titled "Priorities 06-07" which ensued later in the evening.

The board ended up approving a motion by Mike Babock to endorse the seven general priorities presented by staff, however specifically refrained from providing the weighted "A or B" prioritization staff was requesting. Noteably, they did make a special point of setting the high school reform plan aside as the one priority of the seven that specifically needed more study before it could move forward. It seemed that those on the board who had expressed concerns about the high school reform proposal at last month's meeting were emboldened, an any who may have been neutral or positive about moving forward for fall of 06 are taking a serious second look at the issue.

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At 1/09/2009 9:14 AM, Blogger DeAnna said...

I know this is an old post, but I hope this comment will reach you by email. We are now facing exactly the same scenario you faced with your battle over Noyes Elementary. I read with interest your posts on this short saga, and I'm keen to know what arguments and tactics you found most persuasive with your school district. If you have a few minutes to respond, you can reach me by email at my cox.net address: ddburghart. Many thanks!


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Altadenans for Action takes shape

posted by Jeremiah 4/10/2006 01:33:00 PM

Steve Escovar, Isaac Garcia, and I represented the newly formed Altadenans for Action (AFA) at the Pasadena Education Foundation (PEF) meeting yesterday which (I think) was originally scheduled as a fundraising and general community outreach event.

According to the host, Jeanne Register, the turn out was much larger than predicted, most likely due to the heightened community concern about the proposed use for Noyes.

In attendance were, PUSD Superintendent, Percy Clark, President of the PUSD BOE, Ed Honowitz, the PEF supporters (somewhat bemused), the usual cohort of angry parents and rabble rousers that seem drawn to controversy, and neighbors of Noyes with an agenda.

I'm not sure where Isaac, Steve and I fall in that spectrum, but probably somewhere between angry parents, rabble rousers and neighbors with an agenda. The difference is, we are organizing the community and making a concerted effort to structure the discussion in a positive way rather than simply going negative.

AFA's primary tack is to address the issue on its merits (or lack there of), and work with the 7-11 committee and the district to find a more appropriate solution for the Continuation School. We also are committed to engaging in the process and helping to identify an appropriate use for the Noyes property. We see this crisis optimistically, and are hopeful that we can not only help resolve in constructively, but that the net result will be the organization and uniting of a new generation in our community.

If things don't go as we expect them to, judging from the response that was rallied on two day's notice at the first neighborhood meeting (last Saturday at the Escovars), I am confident that the resources and resolve are available in the neighborhood to bring a phalanx of much more aggressive tactics online if it comes to that.

Anyone who is interested in staying informed and participating in this effort can find information and resources at http://pasadenaschools.info

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At 5/04/2006 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IT'S NOT TIME TO GO TO SLEEP RE NOYES. At the 4/25/06 School Board Meeting we heard that Noyes did not appear to be a proper site (reasons stated) for a high school. Additionally it was stated that the merits of a separated continuation HS had not even been discussed with the Board, therefore, any location consideration, if needed, was premature. At the May 2. 2006 Board meeting, the same HS continuation plan, without Noyes but with "Location: To be determined," was submitted. Additionally, there was a presentation for the Board which was singly directed toward a dedicated site for a continuation HS, with implementation plans for a dedicated site in the works. There does not appear to be a viable alternative proposal from the Superintendant's Office.
Even though the issue of whether there is a dedicated continuation HS and whether that is located at Noyes are two issues, they are related and both issues to be determined. The Superintendant submits the proposals and recommendations to the Board. The Board decides on whether a dedicated continuation HS is appropriate and where it will be. Even if Noyes is not submitted as a proposed site consistent with Dr Clark's stated determination that Noyes is not an appropriate site, the Board members knowing that Noyes was once considered appropriate, may still vote for the Noyes site for their respective reasons: i.e. it's a done deal.
Fot those who stayed to the end on 4/25/06 we had heard some of the "complaints" about some of the condition of some of the schools by members of the public. However, since there is an official complaint procedure which is to be followed regarding "complaints about schools" and complaints to the Board at Board meetings is not part of the process, it was determined for the in question reporting period that those complaints were not lodged and not referenced.
There was a reference to a LAUSD program (I believe LAUSD((my ears don't work as well as in the past)))which is similar to Rose City but has a requirement of at least 14 days in jail (among other requirements) to go to the school. Apparently PUSD uses the facility for some of its qualifyng students from time to time. They said the lease for the facility was running out and that inquiry was made to Pasadena or PUSD for possible sites. The name I heard for the existing school was Alta Pasa or something like that. I was unable to find reference to it on the internet. It was mentioned shortly after reference to a Noyes reference re a continuation HS on 5/2/06. There were a few snickers and hidden/unheard comments among some of the Board members which logically would have been along the lines of "How about Noyes" or "If they didn't want a continuation school, how is this for an alternate." If a lease or sale is made for this out of LAUSD district site, some of the constraints such as renovation costs or community input may be avoided.

At 7/01/2006 11:24 AM, Anonymous Janet Castro said...

I attended the 4/25 PUSD meeting along with others from the Noyes neighborhood. I also spoke to the board during the public comment session and remained at the meeting until some time after 10:00 I also contributed money to AFA that evening as I take your efforts seriously and appreciate the work you folks have done. I was disconcerted by the massive walk out that occured right after Percy Clark made his "cart before the horse" statement and withdrew Noyes as a candidate. As a committed and united neighborhood, there should have been no mass exit as soon as our immediate worries were alleviated. There also should have been no whooping or laughter. It was not respectful to the Board or district. We, as members of a larger community should have remained in our seats and listened politely to the other speakers and heard their concerns even though they are not the same (necessarily) as ours. I was embarrased as I watched many of my own neighbors high fiving and beating a path to the door. We looked like complete NIMBY's and as there is still much to do related to the Noyes property and the district in general, we would have served ourselves better to have behaved in a more attentive and dignified manner. A simple "Thank you for hearing our voices" would have sufficed and while that was accomplished during the comment session later in the evening the original impression had already been set. If there is another such meeting for AFA's in the future, I am hoping you will encourage attendees to demonstrate a deeper and broader commitment to the big picture. There would be no downside to that. Incidentally, as I stated at the PUSD meeting and at the Community Center meeting the night before, my now college age son attended Noyes, I was on PTA and Site Council during my son's K through 6 years there and I believe that Noyes represents a wonderful opportunity for an outstanding neighborhood school within the PUSD or otherwise. Thank you for your time and your efforts. You folks have set an excellent example. Unfortunately it wasn't necessarily followed by all of your neighbors. Let's hope for better the next time as I have to assume this isn't close to over. Janet Castro, Homewood Drive

At 7/01/2006 5:02 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...


Thanks for participating. I assume you know about the website dedicated to PUSD issues at pasadenaschools.info. Make sure you subscribe to the email list if you are interested in this sort of discussion.

At 7/01/2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Point of clarification... I am referring to the pasadenaschools email list, not the stonehillnews email list, although you are certainly invited to join both. The stonehillnews list is much lower volume and focuses on neighborhood issues rather than PUSD issues.


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Coordinating opposition to Noyes proposal

posted by Jeremiah 4/07/2006 01:11:00 PM

Isaac Garcia set up a "Central Desktop" for collaborating and coordinating opposition to the proposed use of Noyes.

I contributed pasadenaschools.info as a shortcut in case anyone finds it an easier name to remember than the direct url.

Please forward any factual information you may discover (with complete provenance please) to Isaac or me if you don't see it on the site already and can't figure out how to contribute directly.

We would like to make a special point of avoiding all speculative, unsubstantiated, un-attributed, mean-spirited, or generally useless information.

Let's stick to the facts and play nice. Many of us feel strongly about this issue, but it is still early, and I am optimistic that the practical problems are so obvious that this plan will founder under it's own weight. This is not to say we shouldn't speak out strongly and quickly, but again, let our voice be constructive and solution oriented.

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Convert Noyes for 700 Troubled Teens?

posted by Jeremiah 4/05/2006 06:19:00 AM

An article in yesterday's Pasadena Star News reports that PUSD "officials want to turn the Noyes Elementary School campus into a continuation school for struggling high school students."

This is a major problem as far as I am concerned, and yes, I admit I am exhibiting NIMBY syndrome here, but an influx of "
600 to 700 students in grades 10 to 12" into this neighborhood is not to my liking. Even if they can somehow find enough parking for that may high school students and support staff, it will still mean huge neighborhood parking overflow. This is not to mention the incoming commute-time crush of vehicles converging on Allen and Altadena. The thought of 700 teenage drivers flowing out and around this neighborhood does not make me happy.

Then I worry about collateral damage (graffiti, vandalism, petty crimes?) which has been on the rise around here as it is. 700
high school students of any sort are bound to come with the associated adolescent behavior and mis-behavior. This bunch is characterized as "struggling." It may be an unfair stereotype, but at least when I was in high school that was a euphemism for "bad." Before anyone jumps on me for this, I am not saying they are all bad kids. I am just pointing out that introducing 700 struggling high school students to a quiet residential neighborhood raises the probability that there will be problems.

Finally, it seems a shame to convert Noyes to accommodate teens rather than children. All the bathrooms and playground equipment will have to be torn out in favor of appropriately scaled replacements.

If any or all of these issues concern you, please contact your Town Council Member and let them know your opinion.

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At 4/05/2006 11:15 AM, Anonymous Isaac Garcia said...

I've already emailed my Town Council representatives.

I am guilty of NIMBY and proud of it.

My family and I moved to this particular area of Altadena to avoid the inner city, not to get closer to it.

Consider me a VERY STRONG advocate AGAINST this proposition and I plan on being very vocal on this issue!

Isaac Garcia
1537 E. Loma Alta Drive

At 4/05/2006 7:34 PM, Anonymous Norah Small said...

Having spent a lot of time at Noyes in the past (I went to school there) and also some time there recently, (one of my best friends teaches at Noyes), I would have to say that I am pretty familiar with the campus. I find it laughable that PUSD would even suggest that they could put 600-700 10th to 12th grade students at that site. It currently houses less than 300 students and on any given day there are about 25 staff members and they already have parking problems. The campus is designed to be an elementary school and I don't see how a financially strapped district can spend the money which would surely be in the 10s of thousands to make the campus ready for high school students. How can that cost be justified when the largest high school campus in the district, John Muir, has an enrollment (according to a 2006 PUSD publication) of only 1290 students vs. the 2787 at PHS. The Pasadena Star News states that one of the reasons that the Rose City campus is not suitable for high school students is that it has no athletic fields, labs or meeting spaces - neither does Noyes. Why not move these students to an appropriate location where they can have access to all of these things, plus vocational programs and extracurricular activities which just might pull these students out of their "struggling" status.

There are so many reasons beyond the strictly NIMBY ones for why this is a really bad idea. I plan to email these reasons not only to each and every Town Council member (including Justing Chapman who heads the education subcommittee of the Altadena Town Council) but also to Percy Clark, the superintendent of PUSD. I hope that everyone in the neighborhood who is against this plan does the same.

Norah Small
2870 Stonehill Dr.

At 4/26/2006 7:32 PM, Blogger Denise Johnson said...

I have worked at Noyes Elementary for 22 years. In that time, our campus has changed dramatically. When I was first hired, many of the students came from the Noyes neighborhood and their parents were extremely active in PTA. It was a very special, dynamic school. We had monthly sing-a-longs, dedicated PTA families, and a wonderful reputation. When our popular and extremely well-liked principal, Mr. Bill Rosecrans, was transferred to Sierra Madre School and a new principal replaced him, the school began to lose families due to the change in leadership. When that principal moved on, the district made the wise decision to hire Dr. Isaac Hammond. This principal, like Mr. Rosecrans, was highly popular among families and the school began to flourish again. After Isaac left, a series of other principals were brought in, but they lacked the leadership skills that attracted families to the school. It is my feeling that we need to encourage the district to carefully choose principals, teachers, and programs that would make schools attractive to families. Noyes could be the wonderful school it once was if the families in this community were vocal about the kind of a school they want to see for their children. Perhaps Noyes could be reopened in the near future as an elementary site if we can communicate our ideas and visions for its future to this district.

Denise Johnson


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Neighborhood Watch: Update (sort of)

posted by Jeremiah 3/06/2006 09:10:00 AM

Well a busier than usual week got by me, and I didn't get a summary posted of what happened at last Wednesday's Neighborhood Watch meeting until now.

Very briefly, it seems there has been a "rash" of minor burglaries in the last six to eight weeks. There are at least two other incidents in addition to the ones previously reported here, bringing the total to at least four burglaries, one stolen car (and of course the break-in at Everest).

One of the people who was burglarized has developed his own pattern MO. He says that based on the facts he has unofficially compiled, they are all in the day-time, involve a minor break-in (screen latch, etc.) and result in, at most, losses of about what one person could carry in one trip (example, a flat screen TV and some jewelry). He also added that some unwanted items are often (or always?) discarded in the front lawn.

I was hoping that one of the people who had more facts at the meeting would compile a better summary which I could post, but my third hand report is all we have so far.

Deputy Estrada indicated that not every incident gets an official report, so the official crime stats available at the Altadena station (I'll go get them when I have a chance) do not include the whole picture.

He gave some pointers on how to organize and be more effective when communicating with the sheriff dispatcher.

He handed out a couple dozen thick Neighborhood Watch "manuals" (maybe 50 pages drilled for a 3-ring binder). As far as I know, there is no PDF available for posting. If anyone finds out otherwise, please let me know.

Finally, he said the best thing we can do is stay in touch with each other. The traditional method is to create a phone tree, but that is a bit analog for me, so I created a self-serve Email Loop at neighbors@stonehillnews.com. One of the organizers last week compiled a list of names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. As soon as that is updated and made available to me, I'll manually add all those email addresses to the loop. Anyone else who wants to get in the loop may use the new subscription link in the "Quick Links" section available in the upper right corner of the website.

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At 3/06/2006 5:13 PM, Anonymous Isaac Garcia said...

I think we should all assume that the crime wave is slightly related to the rampant amount of construction going on in the neighborhoods.

Our daytime-neighborhood population probably swells by 10% with all of the different workers, vendors and suppliers in the area.

I think crime is inevitable. We all just need to keep aware and watch out for each other.

At 3/10/2006 10:04 AM, Anonymous doris finch said...

You are probably on a productive track, Issac. One other thing to look at while "patterning": Do the times correspond with out-of-school times? That might suggest a juvenile. Also, I believe there is a small group home for girls on Via Maderas, off Rubio Canyon Rd. Since I don't think these girls have cars and they are not so close, this would be a pretty unlikely focus. And yes, Isaac, we have to take care of eachother. In our neighborhood, just west of the upper entrance to Eaton Canyon, we have not succeeded in organizing a formal Neighborhood Watch so my suggestion has been that each one have close contacts with about four adjacent neighbors. It makes for a network. Helps if you run out of milk or sugar, too. One evening I put out an APB for two potatoes and three neighbors met me in the street each with a sack of potatoes!


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Neighborhood Watch Meeting

posted by Jeremiah 2/27/2006 06:47:00 PM

We just got a flyer delivered to our front door by one of the neighbors:
"Deputy Estrada with the Altadena Sheriff's will be at the home of Rick and Theo Engen's house on 1602 Woodglen Lane from 7 - 7:30 pm this Wednesday, March 1st for a Neighborhood Watch Meeting. I'm sure there will be discussion afterward, but this is when the deputy is available."
See you there :)

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At 3/01/2006 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

since we all can't make it to the meeting, hopefully someone can provide a digest for us who couldn't attend?

thanks, Isaac


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Mountain Lion Story with Pics

posted by Jeremiah 2/27/2006 12:42:00 PM

Thanks to Isaac for the tip off. CBS2 News is reporting that a mountain lion was tranquilized and removed from a yard near Pine Street and Fair Oaks. According to CBS, sheriff's Sgt. M. Jacobs said that Edison Elementary School was locked down as a precaution.

Read the CBS News story (has good video)

NBC4 News has the story too with pictures and video:

Read the NBC News story
NBC Slide Show 1
NBC Slide Show 2

NBC Video (Windows IE only)

[added: 9pm]

The story and pictures are showing up on national outlets like CNN and Rueters.

Also LA Times has a good picture of the cat getting an ear tag.

[added: 2/28 10am]

Pasadena Star News came out with the story and a great slide show.

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Snail-mail Spam?

posted by Jeremiah 2/10/2006 09:27:00 AM

If you're like me, the unruly circulars full of ads and coupons that show up in your real mail box bother you almost as much as their modern equivalent in your email inbox or your fax machine. The good news is, the "real" spam costs the sender money, unlike email spam which is "free" or fax spam where the spammer actually steals your supplies to advertise to you.

I have had a surprisingly easy time getting in touch with the senders to remove my address from their lists. I decided to tear off the address portion and contact portion of all the junk mail circulars that arrived in January. I discarded all duplicates and came up with four publishers so far.
Advo publishes Shopwise
They have a web form. I filled this out and promptly received a confirmation postcard informing me that it could take 6-8 weeks to be purged from the system, and that the removal was good for five years, at which time I assume I will have to remove myself again.

LA Times publishes Local Values
They have a removal instructions on their website which state:
To discontinue delivery of your Local Community Values, contact Customer Service, (626) 472-5242.

Penny Saver is it's own publisher
They give out a subscription department phone number from the automated phone tree at their Customer Comments line: (800) 422-4116

Cox Target Media publishes ValPak
They have a web form.
Note: I called Penny Saver first (in December) and left removal instructions. Their outgoing message states that it takes them 2-3 weeks to purge you from their system, but I was still receiving their circular five or six weeks later. I called the same number and requested that someone call me back with a confirmation, which they did. I was told that they took me off on my first request, but that they use an "address card" that is separate from the circular. She told me that I am certainly not receiving that, and I should "inform the mailman" to stop delivering the circular. I taped a little note on the inside of my mailbox door addressed to Letter Carrier. We'll see if that works.

If I identify more publishers in our area, I'll update this list.

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At 4/16/2006 9:03 PM, Anonymous Geoffrey Baum said...

Thanks! This was very helpful information. I've filled out the forms already.

At 12/29/2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Local values" circulars are published by the local newspaper. In San Diego the Union-tribune does this and the contact information to be removed is 619-293-1544.

At 8/24/2009 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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Crime Wave?

posted by Jeremiah 1/30/2006 05:49:00 PM

Hey, I thought this was a crime free area! What's up with this? First the reports from last month and now this. According to Nick, the owner of our local lunch stop, Everest Burger got broken into and robbed the night before last. They were installing the new glass today at lunch time. I snapped some pics of the smashed door with my phone.

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At 2/01/2006 5:13 PM, Anonymous doris finch said...

Hi, Doris Finch checking in again, with the long view. In my 33 years here, I've seen patches of crime come and go, mostly petty, some horrific, such as the body dumped on Pinecrest in the late 70's or the mother of four shot to death early in the morning on her way to the car [10 years ago at most], just west of Altadena Dr. near Eaton Canyon. We've had prowlers and juvenile break-ins on Crescent, Bowring, Pinecrest etc. The sherriff will tell you that we are about as safe as it gets though. It is just that our world has an irreducible portion of nastiness. Bottom line: Use reasonable precaution, lock doors, keep in touch with your close neighbors and watch out for each other. Altadena is still a very special place.
PS. Your [potential] new neighbor sounds pretty cool, just what we need here. Hope her hay bale project will work and the hill won't slide.


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Seasonal Wind Storm

posted by Jeremiah 1/23/2006 11:08:00 AM

As you can see from this chart, we've been having one of our regular winter wind storms since about 2 pm yesterday. It really started to get going around nightfall, and then got quite intense overnight. Not too many people slept soundly in greater L.A. last night. So far our maximum gust has been recorded at 41.6 MPH. Lots of trees and branches are down, flaky power and utilities everywhere, the usual. These are the so called Santa Anas winds. Other reports indicate that we have not been getting the brunt of the Santa Anas, with other communities seeing nearly 70 MPH gusts.

Lucky me, I have not actually lost power for more than a few moments so far. The "logic" of wind driven power outages is never clear. For instance, I couldn't gas up at the local Chevron this morning and the traffic signals are down a few blocks away, but for once my utilities are mostly still up. My power has fluctuated enough to make the clocks start blinking, but all my computers, and network gear are surfing through it on the UPSs. I did lose one of my internet connections for a while, but my backup DSL is still holding.

Check out this 3.7MB video of the anemometer going nuts.

Here's another 3.7MB video of the blowing trees behind our house.

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Renovation Boom

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2006 03:04:00 PM

If you live in the greater LA region (or maybe anywhere in the country for that matter), you would have to be particularly un-observant to have missed the hot real estate market. A look at the LA County Assessor web site can be quite astounding. I created the composite image at right by overlaying one of their maps on a satellite image of our neighborhood. The tinted tracts are ones that recently sold.

All this activity seems to be fueling an equally hot home renovation boom, no doubt spurred by the ironic fact that homes are "worth" so much, people who already own can't afford to trade up. Home equity loans, on the other hand, are a fairly painless way for home owners to tap into the real estate bonanza, without having to move out of state. Surely home equity is behind this flurry of additions and remodels. In our little part of the world, it is particularly obvious. I snapped these pics this morning in less than a one block radius.

"1 wall standing" remodel. Almost a new house.

Gutting interior. Enclosing back porch.

Nice addition on the front (living in rest of house).
But the big news is about the new construction that I heard about yesterday. In our neighborhood, the 900 pound gorilla has been the vacant "lot" on the west side of the street. Long time residents have seen for-sale signs go up and come down many times on this overgrown mud cliff. No-one ever thought someone would build there. When we saw a soil testing crew come and dig four deep sample wells a few months ago, we thought that would finally put an end to the discussion, and the unfortunate owner would finally realize that the lot was unbuildable and donate it to the County or a conservancy or whatnot.

Much to our surprise, the soil test came back "buildable". Look again at the image at the upper right corner of this post. See the tract with the little star in it? That's right. Freshly sold. So fresh in fact that it is not on the assessor map yet. This news according to the new owner, whom I met yesterday while she was inspecting the land. I am happy to say that she seems very friendly, she is an artist, and part of her mission yesterday was to spread poppy seeds on the lot :)

She says she does not have a building permit yet, and is still working on funding, but is planning on using straw bale construction.

I did these little connect-the-dots exercises on the survey stakes in case you are wondering exactly where the property is.

Also, for my own jollies, I made this hi-res composite image from terraserver. I'ts under 1MB if you want to check it out.

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Stolen car and burgled house?

posted by Jeremiah 1/05/2006 08:16:00 PM

A couple worrisome things our neighbor Isaac heard recently:
1. Right before Christmas a house was broken into on Windfall. It happened during the day. Not sure of what was taken or what happened.

2. Another neighbor on Loma Alta (between Noyes and the Rubio Basin) had their Cadillac Escalade stolen right out of their drive way. The thief must have had a key since the alarm didn't go off and there was no sign of entry (no glass etc). My wife's parents live down on La Paz Road (a mile south of here) and their neighbor also had their Escalade stolen out of their drive way the same way. The cops say that 4 were stolen in the area within a few days. They were found stripped out in San Bernadino somewhere. Cops think it might be an inside job with a dealership or a body shop.
Thanks for the heads up, Isaac. If anyone knows more details (without posting private details please) about these stories, we'd love to know. Stay vigilant, everyone. Sometimes it's hard to remember to treat security like we live in a major metro area, even up here in our little town.

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Critter Talk

posted by Jeremiah 1/02/2006 07:19:00 PM

Doris Finch dropped by today to report on her sightings of bear, coyote, coy-dog (maybe) and fox (past tense). Thanks Doris. We haven't seen anything with claws over here lately, but we do have a small family group of deer that graze our hillside. They are quite tame, so Norah was able to walk quite close to them and snap a few pics. Unfortunately the light was a bit low for our digicam so they mostly came out blurry. You can check out the ones that more or less came out here. (There are also some interesting recent insect pics to see at that link.)

I have been wondering if we should try to frighten the deer so they don't become too used to people. I remember in the story of Gentle Ben (a grizzly), when it was time to send him off into the wild, the boy tossed fire-crackers and things to make him shy of people. I must admit, I worry about tame deer attracting mountain lions further down. Our new kitties are strictly indoor cats. We lost our two previous cats recently, suspecting coyotes, but as Isaac pointed out, it could just as well have been the mountain lions.

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At 1/03/2006 10:30 AM, Anonymous doris finchI recommend frightening the deer for a number of reasons: said...

I recommend frightening the deer for a number of reasons, the cougar attraction being a big one. They can also be awful pests in yard and garden and their ticks do carry Lyme disease, though it is still pretty rare out here. My son, when hiking in the Sierra, was bitten by a deer tick [Ixodes pacificus, which I identified under the microscope] and later tested positive for lyme Disease antibodies. Luckily no symptoms. Lastly, have you been reading about deer attacks in other areas with overpopulations? One guy died of his goring. I've thrown away the NY Times in which the account appeared, but it was a pretty good source.

If I ever get the coyote image from my house sitter, I'll pass it along.


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Weather Underground

posted by Jeremiah 1/01/2006 05:41:00 PM

It looks like Altadena has become a hotbed for personal weather stations. As of today Weather Underground is displaying data from four stations in Altadena. I note that the station IDs skip a number so chances are we will see KCAALTAD4 come online soon, if they can figure out how to get hooked up.

Weather Underground Tips & Tricks:

1. Check out the new feature that allows you to view Personal Weather Stations using Google Maps.

2. Using a tabbed browser, open up each of the four stations in tabs. Carefully scroll each page down so the graphs are showing and all aligned with each other. Click from tab to tab and observe the similarities and differences in the Altadena foothills micro (nano?) climates. Note: If you have trouble with one of the pages being a tiny bit off alignment from the others, try reloading it. Some of the banner ads are shorter than normal.

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Hail all hail!

posted by Jeremiah 10/17/2005 06:15:00 PM

My buddy emailed me this video (3MB), and this video (2MB) of the hailstorm. At Stonehill News we have now heard reports of similarly large hail ranging from Old Town Pasadena, to JPL, and to Hastings Ranch. If anyone has a report farther flung than that, please let us know.

Most old-timers seem to agree that these were the largest hailstones seen in this area for as much as 60 to 90 years. One ornery, senile old-timer says no way man, he's seen hail almost the size of golf balls, big enough to dent a car. But he lives out of state now, so I guess we can give him his fish story for old times' sake.

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At 11/20/2005 10:24 AM, Anonymous doris finch said...

I just casually dropped in today, 11/20/05. Nice to have some local observations. Very Altadena. The hail/rainstorm on 10/17 was indeed quite an event. We've lived here [Crescent Dr., near upper Eaton Canyon entrance] since 1973 and it had the largest hailstones I've ever seen, but not the biggest accumulation. I was out driving and noted with some amusement a line of upright garbage pails proceeding in an orderly dignified file down Altadena Dr. I wonder if they waited quietly for retrieval at the bottom.

Have you been bothered by the bear? Those living along Pinecrest, both above and below the canyon gate have had their garbage sampled. One resident right near the gate was putting out his trash one night and intercepted a bear with his flashlight beam. Said there was more bear than beam, so he went back in to wait for morning.

At 11/20/2005 10:48 AM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

We haven't had a bear visit, but we have had two reports of first-hand bear sightings in the last couple years. Both were in early-morning daylight. Our friend, Chris, was on his way to work at about 6am, and saw a bear crossing Altadena drive right near the little real-estate cottage just east of Holliston. This must have been at least two years ago. Also, our neighbor Jill, while on a morning walk a year or two ago, saw one just off Loma Alta over by that big wooden debris fence (off Sky View or Glen Allen, I forget which). If anyone hears of somebody snapping a picture, please let me know, as I would love to post it here.

At 12/06/2005 8:16 PM, Anonymous Isaac Garcia said...

In February of this year, a bear was sighted twice behind the house on the corner of Porter and Loma Alta. A few months before then, a bear was sighted way up on Fair Oaks. I'm sure we are all talking about the same bear.

Also, just recently (about two months ago) a neighbor went jogging on the trail head at the foot of Zane Grey. On his way up the trail he felt like 'something was watching him.' He ignored it and went up the trail. About 45 mins later, when he came back down, a deer was dead in the trail....its neck snapped.

Mountain lion tracks all over the place. Neighbors have lost a few cats over the past few weeks....another sign of a mountain lion in our neighborhood.

At 1/02/2006 6:01 PM, Anonymous doris finch said...

Dropping by for another visit, critter talk. We startled a bear in a driveway in Kinneloa a while back, just off Brambling Lane.

Has anyone made any good pics of our coyote pack? They moved onto our property for nearly a week while we were gone. Our house sitter phtographed one just outside the window eating pyracantha berries, but hasn't figured out how to send it to me. Neighbors saw them in the street during the day and independently described them as beautiful and healthy. One was especially big, and two different people compared him to a German Shepard. Coy-dog maybe? I'd like to learn more. I've only seen one coy-dog in my considerable years here--it had something of the collie about him/her in the coloring and look, but when I got a closer look, the coyote part was really strong in coat quality, gait, face and general behavior.

This lot left two groups of four bedding spots, lots of scats and some tattered remains of what may have been a fox. Dang.


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Hail stones

posted by Jeremiah 10/17/2005 02:06:00 PM

Hail videoWe just had a fierce downpour with 3/8" to 5/8" dia. hailstones. It only lasted a few minutes in total and I was so stunned by the intensity, it took me a few extra moments to even think about the camera, much less to get it out. By the time I made this video (3.5MB), it had started to taper off a bit. Take a look at the pictures too

As of this minute we've had over two inches of precipitation since midnight. The season total so far is 2.87" at 1552 feet.

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Rain begins in earnest

posted by Jeremiah 10/17/2005 06:52:00 AM

Saturday night and last night we had our first real rains. We already had a third of an inch on Sept. 20, but this system has delivered five times that already. Sunday it didn't rain much during the day, but it was consistently overcast with intermittent thunder storms.

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First Rain Measured

posted by Jeremiah 9/20/2005 07:54:00 AM

The first millimeter of rain for the season was measured at 2:56AM Tuesday, September 20th, 2005.

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First Rain

posted by Jeremiah 9/20/2005 01:01:00 AM

The roofers finished up Sept 9th. Not a moment too soon. It remains to be seen if the rain we are receiving right now will amount to enough to register on the rain gauge, but it is most definitely raining here tonight. The rain guage resolution is 1mm (.04"). While the rain we have had so far tonight has not been enough to register, I am awake listening to gentle rainfall and distant thunder. There is water running off our brand new roof. I couldn't be happier.

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A Close Shave

posted by Jeremiah 8/14/2005 08:00:00 AM

We were woken up at 2:30 this morning by thunder! Our roof looked just like you see here. There was intense lightning half a mile away, but we have a huge tree above, and we decided in the heat of the moment that the tree was likely to work as a pretty effective lightning rod. Norah and I scaled the roof under surprisingly bright skies and laid spanning lumber and rolled out plastic in the middle of the night. I guess that the excellent visibility was due to the city lights reflecting off the clouds. We were finished by 3:30 am. It only sprinkled on us for less than a minute, and was so light that it didn't accumulate anywhere. Even still, I had no way of knowing we would get off that easy. As soon as I felt the first drops, the 2x6 lumber I was hauling became feather light. I had reports on Sunday and Monday from people only a few miles away who saw "significant downpours" for up to half an hour. We got off easy this time. Needless to say, we picked up the pace on finishing the roof :)

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Hip to be Square?

posted by Jeremiah 7/31/2005 10:34:00 AM

Pasadena Star News
Well maybe it was all the rain we just had that sparked the interest, but it seems that reporters have locked onto the personal weather stations in Altadena. A couple months ago, we were interviewed for an article in the Altadena Heritage Foundation newsletter, drawing attention to them, and just today we made the front page of the Pasadena Star-News under the headline "The Weather Underground". I take it as a badge of honor that the story ran side-by-side with the headline "Revenge of the nerds" featuring a picture of a hottie sporting a tiny-t emblazoned with the slogan "I [heart] Dorks" :)

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At 7/31/2005 5:04 PM, Anonymous Isaac Garcia said...

Congratulations on making the front page! When I first saw the article this morning I immediately thought about Stonehill Weather. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to read the article...if it wasn't for this blog, I would have skipped right over it.

I live on Loma Alta next to Gooseberry Creek and I check the temperature and weather on this blogsite several times daily.

I, too, have always been fascinated by weather but have never been disciplined enough to set up the weather station etc. Each time I check the temperature at your weather station it fulfills a tiny bit of my childhood fantasy to be a weatherman.


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End of the rain year

posted by Jeremiah 7/01/2005 07:01:00 AM

In Southern California, the official rainy season ended last night at midnight. Here at Stonehill News we measured 61.61 inches for the season. This total is closely corroborated by nearby personal weather stations.

Eric Malnic, Staff Writer for the Los Angeles Times, complained yesterday, "The epic 2004-05 rain season comes to an end at midnight tonight, and downtown Los Angeles missed the all-time record by a measly 0.93 of an inch."

He goes on to note,
This rain season, which ran from July 1 to June 30, ends with 37.25 inches falling at the National Weather Service monitoring station at USC. The wettest season on record was 1883-84, when 38.18 inches fell in downtown Los Angeles.

But the rainfall was actually much greater in other cities in Southern California, especially in hillside communities.

Pasadena had 56.06 inches of rain this season, almost 10 inches more than the previous record of 46.62 in 1982-83. Burbank had 44.64 inches, compared with the old record of 39.39 in 1977-78. Canoga Park, with 41.50, squeaked past its old record of 40.19 in 1997-98.
With no long-term historical data to compare our readings too, I think we will have to conclude that the rain season of 2004-2005 is the season to beat at Stonehill News.

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Quiet Dog :)

posted by Jeremiah 5/19/2005 08:20:00 PM

I had a very productive conversation with the owner of the dog who's barking has been at issue recently. His name is Mohan Chhabra, and he was extremely understanding about the issue. He was also extremely frustrated and annoyed that the issue had been allowed to get out of hand, with leaflets being distributed and Animal Control being contacted, before he was given a chance to do anything about it. From my phone call with him, I can attest to the fact that Mohan is a rational and level headed individual. Mohan told me that a missive in his mailbox on May 9th was the first contact that had been made with him or his family on the subject, and that the leaflets went out around the neighborhood on May 11th, hardly enough time to do anything about it. I will again attest that given his level-headed-ness and willingness to resolve the issue, I find it utterly credible that, despite other neighbors expressing facts to the contrary, he and his family were utterly unaware that there was an issue until after things had escalated unnecessarily.

I deeply regret that the facts got distorted in our little neighborhood game of whisper-down-the-lane. There was a great deal of unnecessary distress inflicted on the Chhabra family. I personally recommend that if you were involved in the "campaign" to abate the barking dog, you contact me for their phone number, or visit them in person and express your gratitude for promptly addressing the problem and your condolences for the un-neighborly manner with which the problem was handled. Mohan indicated that he would greatly appreciate the sentiment if people would call and offer an apology for escalating the issue in an impersonal manner without doing him the courtesy of talking to him in person or even leaving an anonymous note in his mailbox, for those that might not cherish the idea of a possible "confrontation" with him. I can tell you, however, such a fear is utterly groundless, as he is an utterly civil and understanding person, who is completely motivated to be a good neighbor, despite feeling a bit put upon at the moment.

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At 5/19/2005 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeremiah - your time to discuss the issues on the phone and this correction of the situation is very appreciated!

Mohan & Rosalinda

At 5/19/2005 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this update and thanks for being humble enough to post the full story. I hope we havn't scared the Chhabra's away!

I have to agree with Mohan that I, too, would appreciate a face to face or even a telephone call if any of my neighbors had an issue with me, my family or my property.

Loma Alta Drive

At 5/19/2005 9:50 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Yes, it is most unfortunate that simple a discussion between persons did not actually happen before the rumor mill got cranked up. It appears that the "in person" conversations that were supposed to have happened never did. Now that I have finally talked to Mohan in person, I am confident that all those for whom the barking was an issue, as well as the Chhabra family themselves would have been saved a good deal of stress if only such a connection had been made sooner. Let all those who "campaigned" against the barking dog take a lesson from this.

Again my sincere regrets that this situation got out of hand and sincere thanks to the Chhabras who clearly intend to remedy the situation now that they are aware of it.


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New speed limit?

posted by Jeremiah 4/17/2005 09:30:00 AM

The new crop
As you are most likely aware, a new generation of children is growing up amongst us. We have at least half a dozen children of pre-school and kindergarten age living on Stonehill Drive, and another handful of grand-children in that same age range who visit and play here on a regular basis.

Why the new sign?
You probably noticed the home-made sign that went up on Stonehill Drive recently. For those of you who hadn’t heard, a car accident occurred on Stonehill Drive not too long ago. One of our neighbors was backing out of his driveway, and was hit by a gardening truck that was traveling down the hill. There was major damage to the vehicle. Thankfully this time it was a car that was hit and no one was hurt.

Speeding downhill?
It is easy to forget how steep our street is. On a flat road, stopping distance is proportional to the square of the speed. Translation? Doubling your speed quadruples your stopping distance in the best of conditions. When traveling downhill, as on our street, stopping distances are more than quadrupled when speed is doubled. With summer on the way and so many children (and pets) in the neighborhood, combined with the steep hill and numerous “blind” front yards due to tall shrubs, etc, it is a good time to take a moment to remind your guests, visitors and workers to keep their speed in check. Please remind them that even mid-day during the week, there is a good chance that children might dart out from behind a hedge.

Pedestrian/car accidents
Pedestrian fatalities are the second-leading cause of motor vehicle-related deaths, following occupant fatalities. Pedestrian-related fatalities account for about 13% of all motor vehicle-related deaths. On average, one pedestrian in the United States is killed in a traffic crash every 101 minutes.

Who is at risk for pedestrian Injuries?
Children 15 years and younger represented 23% of the total population and accounted for 30% of all nonfatal pedestrian injuries, 11% of all pedestrian fatalities, and 18% of non-traffic related fatalities (this includes incidents in drive-ways and other non-public roads). Among children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes, 25% were pedestrians.

Speeding Accidents
Speeding is defined as traveling faster than the posted speed limit, or traveling too fast for the road conditions even at speeds under the posted limit. It's a major road safety problem because it dramatically increases braking distance and significantly increases crash severity.

Prima Facie Speed Limits
The 2005 California Vehicle Code states:

  • 22352. (a) The prima facie limits are as follows and shall be applicable unless changed as authorized in this code and, if so changed, only when signs have been erected giving notice thereof: […]
  • (2) Twenty-five miles per hour:
  • (A) On any highway other than a state highway, in any business or residence district unless a different speed is determined by local authority under procedures set forth in this code. […]

Basic Speed Law
The 2005 California Vehicle Code states:

  • 22350. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.
  • Amended Ch. 252, Stats. 1963. Effective September 20, 1963.
  • 360. "Highway" is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.

Common Sense
Despite the fact that California law defines the prima facie speed limit to be 25 mph on Stonehill Drive, given the Basic Speed Law, it might be argued that the prima facie speed limit is not “reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway,” or that the prima facie speed limit is “a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.” As such, common sense suggests that 15 mph might be the “reasonable or prudent” speed limit on Stonehill Drive.

Thanks for helping out :)

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At 5/17/2005 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should advertise this blog to more of our neighbors to encourage community. I live on Loma Alta Drive but still appreciate your blog. I love the weather station and was wondering how much rain Altadena has received this season (61 inches!) and I was always curious as to what the elevation was here! I estimated around 1450-1600 one time....seems like I was close.

Regarding the speed limit, you are right on the money. For a quiet street, Loma Alta gets a fare bit of traffic.


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Altadena Web Links

posted by Jeremiah 9/15/2004 07:56:00 PM

Great place for gifts
Created by local talent

The Underground Arts Society
Featuring monthly gallery openings with local artists
Located at
2473 N. Lake Ave (Accross from Webster's)

Calendar, Advice & Tips for Busy Families
in the
San Gabriel Valley

Calendar listings for kids

A neighborhood website serving the far northwest parts of

Altadena Foothills Conservancy
The Altadena Foothills Conservancy was founded to preserve and restore open, undeveloped land and associated trails and historic structures in the foothills of

Eaton Canyon Nature Center
Unfortunately bad web design, but useful information :)

Altadena Town Council
The Altadena Town Council is a forum instituted by the citizens of unincorporated Altadena to present a unified voice to Los Angeles County Supervisor (5th Supervisorial District) and County government. Its sixteen representatives and eight alternates are elected by the residents of each of eight respective census tracts.

Altadena Mountain Rescue
The Altadena Mountain Rescue Team is one of the oldest search and rescue organizations. Staffed by reserve deputies (all volunteer), it's goals are saving lives through mountain rescue and safety education. Headquartered at the Altadena Sheriff's Station, the team is operational 24 hours each day, 365 days every year.

Farnsworth Park Concert Schedule
In the amphitheater Farnsworth Park
Lake Avenue
at Mount Curve in beautiful Altadena
All performances begin at 7 p.m.
(Note: not all evenings are Saturday)

Altadena Library
Special events as well as information services including online databases and the "Ask Now" service. Ask questions and get answers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This reference service is staffed by California Librarians

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Kids
"Welcome to the
Space Place!
Come on in and check out our games, animations, projects, and fun facts about Earth, space and technology."

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Stonehill Fire Fighters

posted by Jeremiah 5/09/2004 04:48:00 PM

More pictures here

Stonehill Drive is at high risk of fire. Our proximity to the National Forest puts us in the path of seasonal wildfires. 1993 was the last major fire in the area. It claimed many houses in the immediate vicinity. There were no houses lost on Stonehill Drive, due to the coordinated efforts of the residents. Dr. Dan Gollnick, who lives at the very top of the street has installed a fully equipped fire house on his property. Dr. Gollnick played a major roll in the fire fighting effort of 1993, but he did not do it alone. If you have not had a tour of the fire house, please contact him to arrange one. When the next fire comes, you will be glad you did.

How To Protect Your Home

There are basic measures that you should take on your property. The following was written by Bruce Keene of the National Parks Service

Though people can never fully protect their homes and adjacent wildlands against wildfires, you can take steps to reduce the risk.

For example:

* Remove combustible vegetation from the vicinity of any structure. Thin out continuous tree and brush cover and remove dead limbs, fallen trees, leaves, twigs and evergreen tree cones within 30 feet of the structure to create a " safety zone of low fuel density all around the home" (NFPA). Likewise, prune trees branches to 10 feet above the ground and remove leaves and twigs from beneath trees, in the yard, on roofs, patios and landscaped shrubs.

* Limit the number and density of landscaped vegetation and do not use highly flammable landscaping near structures. Maintain a greenbelt or noncombustible zone around the home; avoid using bark or wood chip mulch in the safety zone.

* Stack firewood uphill at least 15 feet from a house. Fire risks increase when wooden decks, patios and woodpiles are placed close to structures or when flammable materials are stored near structures.

* Be aware that roofs and walls made of untreated flammable materials such as wood shanks and shingles pose a significant fire threat. Wind­carried embers or the intense heat from a nearby fire can ignite such fuel sources. Fire does not need to "burn over" a structure for it to catch fire.

* Clean roof and gutters. Remove pine needles and leaves to eliminate fuel sources.

* Prepare for water shortages. Lack of piped water to protect against fire is a major problem in wildland/urban interface settings. To protect a structure, develop an external water supply, such as a small pond, well or pool, for fighting fires. Publications such as Planning for Water Supply and Distribution in the Wildland/Urban Interface (see references in this section) provide valuable information for preparation of homes and protection systems in the event of wildland fire.

* Choose home location wisely. Building structures in canyons and on slopes increases the chances that those homes will be destroyed by wildfire. Canyons and slopes serve to channel fires up in elevation, similar to the way chimneys channel fireplace emissions. When upland slopes and canyons are selected for home sites, downhill or lower elevation areas should be clear of excess fuel, to add an additional element of protection. If a home is on the crest of a steep hill, thin the fuel sources at least 100 feet below the crest.

* Mow tall grass and keep it to a maximum height of two inches within the home safety zone. Avoid tall grass around driveways, areas susceptible to ignition by automobile exhaust systems.

* Inspect and clean chimneys regularly. Equip chimneys for woodburning heating units with spark arresters.

* Avoid all outdoor burning to decrease the likelihood of fire ignition near a home structure.

* Prevent mishaps with outdoor cooking grills by carefully maintaining the grill and using caution during grill use.

* Have the right tools. Equip home with smoke detectors. Keep these tools in good working order and store hi an easily accessible area of the house.

Source: National Parks Service

Other Links:
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

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Stripes on Loma Alta: News Flash

posted by Jeremiah 10/14/2003 09:01:00 AM

It looks like our phone calls paid off. I called Mr. Ashburn to thank him for being so responsive and getting the stripes installed, and he told me that the leafleting campaign definitely made a big impact. He said with the dozens of calls he received from the community in favor and with no one calling with opposition, he had a very easy time getting it approved.

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Stripes On Loma Alta

posted by Jeremiah 9/30/2003 04:05:00 PM

The Problem

Hey... We've all been there. With Loma Alta being such a nice wide road, it is easy to swing wide and try to catch that flat spot just right. The thing is, we are all lucky that no-one has gotten very badly hurt. One of our neighbors recently escaped with his life at this intersection after he had to ditch his motorcycle and slid under a truck that was Dip Dodging. Thank God he slid under the truck behind the rear wheels and was able to walk away.

A Dip Dodger at the intersection of Loma Alta and Stonehill Drive

Tell-tale tire marks from a Dip Dodger

The Solution
Last year I attended an LA County Community meeting and met the Traffic Engineer, Pat Ashburn, who is responsible for roads in our area. At that time, I submitted drawings suggesting the addition of a "curb lane" to protect the many pedestrians, joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists and other motorists from "Dip Dodgers". Since this could be done simply with white stripes and perhaps some "Bots Dots" at intersections, it would be an extremely cost effective way to dramatically improve our safety and quality of life in this neighborhood. Last year he agreed.

I have recently been in touch with Mr. Ashburn, as have one or two other neighbors. He still concurs that this is a good idea and that indeed this would be a perfect time to add white stripes to delineate "curb lanes" for the length of Loma Alta from Noyes School to the new Rubio Canyon Bridge. This 1 mile stretch of road is already a major pedestrian corridor. Please make your voice heard by calling Pat Ashburn and telling him your concerns about safety. Let him know what you think about adding two white stripes to the existing striping plan. The more people her hears from, the more likely it is that something will get done about it.

Call Pat Ashburn
Traffic Engineering
LA County Dept of Public Works
(Direct Line) 626.300.4739

PS: download the pdf Flyer that was distributed in mailboxes here (1.1MB)

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