Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Biggest, HUGEST, MOST ENORMOUS ANNOUNCEMENT EVER!!!

We have some really, really big news to share! It's just about the most exciting thing to ever hit the Development Review Committee (we lovingly refer to it as DRC)! Really, this is huge, you won't want to miss it... are you ready?? OK, here goes!

DRC is changing their meeting schedule from every-other-week to twice a month!! WOW!  That's right, DRC on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.

That's it... end of blog post.

...

...

Oh, you know us so well... of course we're not done talking about this enormous news, but for the sake of transparency, we want you to be the first to know...

So, for many years now, DRC has met every-other-week (apparently there was a time way, way back when DRC met weekly). But, given that the City Council meets twice a month and all of the other Commissions, Committees and Boards meet on a once or twice per month schedule, this year, DRC finally decided to get on board with the schedule. No, it's not a Board, it's a Committee... so we guess they actually decided to get on Committee with the schedule? 

Anyway, DRC was so excited about the change, they went so far as to adopt this doozy of a Resolution:

DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE RESOLUTION NO. 2020-01


A RESOLUTION OF THE DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE OF THE CITY OF MONROVIA, CALIFORNIA, ESTABLISHING THE REGULAR MEETING DATES OF THE DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE FOR 2021

 

THE DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE OF THE CITY OF MONROVIA DOES hereby resolve as follows:

 

WHEREAS, the Development Review Committee was created by the City Council by Ordinance No. 79-19 to eliminate any unnecessary waste of time and money on the part of both applicants and city officials in the processing of various applications; to ensure that single-family, multi-family, commercial and industrial development in the city will be compatible with the architectural character of development in the immediate area, and to provide a potential applicant with a means of having a proposed development concept reviewed prior to submitting a formal application as set forth in Title 2 of the Monrovia Municipal Code; and


WHEREAS, the Committee is required to establish by resolution, the time and location of its regular meetings.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, THE DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE OF THE CITY OF MONROVIA, CALIFORNIA DOES RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

1.                   The regular meetings of the Monrovia Development Review Committee shall occur every first and third Wednesday of each month at the hour of 4:00 p.m. with the exception of the necessity for Special Meetings; and such meetings shall be held in the City Council Chambers at Monrovia City Hall, 415 South Ivy Avenue, Monrovia, California 91016.

            2.                  The Committee adopts the meeting schedule attached as Exhibit A.

            3.                  This resolution shall take effect beginning on January 1, 2021.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 18th day of November, 2020.



Pretty exciting, right? We thought so and we couldn't wait to share the news with you! To see the schedule of upcoming 2021 meetings, events, and City happenings, you can visit the calendar page on our website here. And, we're pretty optimistic that we may actually get to hold some of these upcoming events in person in 2021. We can't wait to see you all face-to-face again! But, in the meantime, please stay safe and distanced out there. For the latest news about COVID-19 and the City's response, check out this webpage

Thursday, October 29, 2020

It's Almost That Time Again!

Things have been looking scarier and scarier out there... 

No, we're not talking about the Halloween ghosts and ghouls. With all the fires...and COVID-19 and...well, it's been a year like no other...we're actually looking forward to fighting off vampires and werewolves in a few days! Not to mention, the election is just around the corner... EEK! (If you haven't already, VOTE!)

But the scariest thing of all is that National Community Planning Month is almost over! 

That's right, this past month of Planning insights will be coming to an end. (We can practically hear the screams, "NOOOOO!" echoing off the foothills.) But fear not! We at the City will bravely continue to keep you informed of new and exciting things to come.

As a way to send you off and celebrate the last days of National Planning Month, we want to sing you a merry song, ready? 1...2...3...

We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish... 

Oh, too soon? Did the reminder that Christmas is right around the corner scare you even more? Not to mention Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice...Ok, ok. We can skip the song...for now.

Instead, let's look back on some of the spotlights of this month and recap what we are planning for the future! First, we highlighted some different ways COVID and the fires have inspired us to communicate with each other. Sometimes using futuristic technologies like Zoom, while other times using more classic methods like painted rocks, chalk drawings, and signs. We have really come together as a community to keep connected in more ways than ever!

Then we gave you a sneak peak into the new Environmental Justice Element for the General Plan. This new chapter, *ahem* Element, will feature new goals the City will be working towards for a more equitable Monrovia. Stay tuned for upcoming community meetings... this will be a great opportunity for you and your friends to put on a Planner's cap and make a big impact for the City! You didn't know Planners were known for their hats? Well, they are! Just check out this picture of the "Father of Urban Planning," Daniel Burnham. 

Get a load of his sweet haberdashery fashion sense! (For a refresher on the General Plan update, you can click here.)

We then gave some shout outs (or is it shouts out? we can never figure that one out) to new developments going up throughout the City. These are exciting new projects that took a lot of work and collaboration from City staff and applicants, the Planning Commission and City Council and most importantly from you (collectively and affectionately known as our community!)  We are so excited to see them come to life. You can keep an eye out for these and other projects at the City's Development Spotlight Page.

Finally we couldn't forget about a truly important part of Monrovia, its historic landmarks! Specifically, the two new landmarks at 742 E. Lime Avenue and 512 W. Maple Avenue. These are two period revival (remember those words?) homes that have a lot of character. Having so many landmarks (153 to be exact) helps make Monrovia the Gem of the Foothills. The City's Historic Preservation Commission also celebrated its 25 year jubilee! A big part of planning for resilience is the protection of historic resources by landmarking structures and designating historic districts. With your help we can continue to protect the historic gems of Monrovia for future enjoyment.

We've really enjoyed celebrating National Community Planning Month with you, dear Reader, and we hope that you've enjoyed it too. Now go out, take a look at the built environment with (hopefully) new appreciation and don't forget the next time you see a Planner - complement them on their hat!



Thursday, October 22, 2020

Planning to Keep Revivals Remembered

Hello Dear Reader,

We hope you are all enjoying this October... we heard recently that most Americans call this "Spooky Season." (BTW - When did that become a thing?) Anyhoo... as much as we enjoy a good spook (unlike the Cowardly Lion), by now you can probably tell that we like National Community Planning Month even better!

When last we spoke (or wrote, in this case), we told you all about the new and exciting projects that you can see all over town. Did you miss it? Don't worry, you can find it right here. And as much as we love these new projects, Monrovia would not be what it is today without it's history. So, today we will be focusing on our Historic Preservation Program. 

Does historic preservation relate to our theme of "Planning is Essential for Recovery?" Why, yes, yes it does... Historic preservation is a cost effective, environmentally sound, and culturally sensitive strategy. It is used to preserve affordable housing, allow new commercial and mixed use opportunities through adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and anchor the compatibility of established neighborhoods. Yes, Monrovia's Historic Preservation Program does all of that... That's some pretty heavy lifting!

And the cherry on top of that sundae is that this year, 2020 is the Historic Preservation Commission's Jubilee! Yes, it's a regular cherries jubilee! But, seriously. The Historic Preservation Commission was established in 1995 and is now 25 years old. In that time, the Commission has designated 153 Historic Landmarks and 2 Historic Districts, and has helped earn the City an A- rating from the Los Angeles Conservancy. That's a lot of accomplishments in just 25 years! If you want more specifics of the amazing progress of the past 25 years, here is a great overview.

And just this week, two more houses were added to the landmark rolls! This first one is an American Colonial Revival home. 

So, what makes it a revival? 

We're so glad you asked. Since it was built in 1925, it missed the first movement of American Colonial architecture, which occurred in...well, Colonial times (you probably guessed that). But, during the early 20th century, the style made a comeback! Notice that prominent arch? Those columns? The symmetry of of the front façade? Those are just some of the tenants exemplifying the American Colonial Revival Style. You can read all about this home here.

This second brand new landmark is an English Tutor Revival - Storybook Cottage. We dare you to say that five times fast.

There's that word again... revival. Pop quiz time! Based on what you read above about revival architecture, what can you deduce about this house? That's right! It harkens back to the architecture typically found in the famous Storybook Cottage time period. You can practically see the Keebler Elves baking some cookies in the tree! (Please note:  "Storybook Cottage" is not a universally accepted time period. But, it sounds nice, doesn't it?). If that's piqued your interest... check out some more fun facts about the house here.

Ok, we've gone on and on about our Historic Preservation Program, so we'll let you get back to your regularly scheduled reading. Keep enjoying your October... to paraphrase the Cowardly Lion... 

"We do believe in National Community Planning Month. We do, we do, we do, we do, we do believe in National Community Planning Month."

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Seeing is Believing

Seeing is Believing


So, over the past couple of weeks  we reminded you that it is National Community Planning Month and that “Planning is Essential to Recovery.” Then we showed you our building blocks of Planning.
No not those building blocks. Our building blocks are the General Plan Elements which are our foundation to Planning. But if there was ever the time for perseverance and resilience it is now, during the global pandemic. Although these times seem dire in the world, there is still plenty to celebrate.  Seeing is believing, you say? Well, get on your feet!  If you have not  taken a walk around Monrovia recently you might be surprised to find some of the fruits of our labor.

The City is busy as ever and has made some changes to serve its residents and businesses. Today Monrovia businesses can operate outside with a TOBO permit. No, not Toto (though outdoor dining is pretty darn dog-friendly)! Residents can continue to eat and drink at their favorite restaurants with proper, socially distant outdoor dining. HUGE shout out (woot-woot!) to our Neighborhood and Business Services team for implementing and processing 32 TOBOs since July!

The Planning Division has also been busy as ever helping projects get approved. Maybe you’ve noticed… .


For example, have you noticed any small changes near the southern entrance to Old Town? I’ll give you a hint, it’s a just a small 6-story mixed use development, no big deal (just kidding… it’s actually a VERY big deal!). If you guessed the Avalon project then you are a winner!!! The Avalon project will contain 154 apartment units and 3,500 square feet of ground floor retail space.


But as much as we are in awe of the big projects like Avalon Monrovia, our smaller projects are just as important to the community. These projects are spread throughout the City and some of them are just getting started, like the 3 new two-story units at 518 East Olive Avenue, which has just finished the demolition of the lot.

And some are almost finished, such as this 4-unit condominium project at 1224 South Alta Vista Avenue.

And a few are just getting off the ground, like 525 South Shamrock Avenue, which will modify the old market into a small Auto Museum with two residential apartments on top. Or the old Frontier Building in Old Town. This large 4-story building is being renovated to include ground floor commercial tenant spaces with a self-storage facility on top for everyone to store all of the quarantine items you have purchased over the last half year! 

So keep any eye out the next time you take an evening stroll around town and you too can believe by seeing that Monrovia is still going strong! And remember, we are in this together.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

HE, SE, and EJE – General Plan Elements for Resiliency!

Last week your Monrovia City Planners blogged about this year’s theme for National Community Planning Month Planning is Essential to Recovery.This week your planners would like to let you know what type of “planning” we are doing relative to this topic. But first -- we want to make sure you got the “take away” from last week’s post. 

So, here is a pop quiz.  We love pop quizzes!!

Last week’s message was:  (Select all of the following that applies.)

A.       Monrovia Planners wear triple layer pocket protectors.
B.       Monrovia Planners have genetically modified DNA.
C.       Monrovia Planners are still standing.
D.       Monrovia Planners are still planning.

Now, if you guessed D, you got it! Great job! We even wrote a beautiful song about it inspired by Elton John! (If you want to hear his version, you can access it here…. But we still like our version better!)

We’re still Planning

We’re still planning, better than we ever did
We’re looking like true survivors, feeling like little kids
We’re still planning after all this time
 Thinking about the future of our residents
not gonna leave anyone behind
We’re still planning yeah yeah yeah
We’re still planning yeah yeah yeah

Phew, wasn’t that fun?  So now that that’s done, let’s back to the subject of this week’s post.

You may be wondering…What type of planning is "essential for recovery"?

Well, you have heard of the Periodic Table of the Elements – the building blocks for, like, everything on earth …but have you heard about the General Plan Table of Elements?  

  1. Land Use Element
  2. Circulation Element
  3. Housing Element
  4. Safety Element
  5. Noise Element
  6. Open Space Element
  7. Conservation Element 

We know, we know... it just looks like a table of contents. BUT these elements are exciting to us because they are the building blocks for, like, everything in Monrovia!

"Elements" is just a planner’s fancy word for “chapters,” but these chapters are critical in a City’s General Plan because they guide land use decisions with an end goal of achieving sustainability and resiliency! Monrovia's General Plan is the blue print for the City’s long range planning goals.

You may also be asking yourself... So when a General Plan is planned, are only planners doing the planning? 

That is great question. We Plan, You Plan, We all Plan! Guess what guys... Even Peter Piper Plans!

Remember that... because in the upcoming months, the Monrovia Planning team will be launching a comprehensive update to Monrovia’s Housing Element (HE) and Safety Element (SE). We will also be commencing the preparation of a brand new element called an Environmental Justice Element (EJE). And there will be opportunities for you to participate!


You too could attend a community meeting just like this... 
except, you know, virtual because it's 2020 

Now that you've got the lingo, you're probably asking... So why are the HE, SE and EJE elements important?  Another good question!

The Monrovia Housing Element provides a blue print for an adequate supply of safe and affordable housing for all economic segments of the community. The Safety Element identifies and evaluates natural hazards within the City (like wild fires, earthquakes, etc.) and outlines goals and programs aimed at reducing all types of loss associated with those hazards. The new Environmental Justice Element will be designed to include goals and strategies that address environmental concerns, such as  air quality impacts, and goals to ensure every resident has access to public facilities, healthy food, safe and sanitary homes, and opportunities for physical activity.

Dialog as a community will be an important initial step in this General Plan update process for identifying the right goals and strategies to keep Monrovia on a path for a stronger tomorrow. Remember - Planners don’t plan alone – we plan with you!  So, keep your eyes peeled. In a few weeks will be reaching out to YOU for your important planning input.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Rocktober...a Plantabulous Month!

Ah... October! That wonderful month when you start craving a Pumpkin Spice Latte even if it is 100º outside, when children embrace their true natures as superheroes, and when orange really is the new black.

But October is our favorite month for a different reason - It's National Community Planning Month! When else can we get little nerdy about Planning all while celebrating our Monrovia community? Ok, ok, we're nerdy all year long and we never stop celebrating Monrovia, but October gives us a convenient excuse to press our pocket protectors and glasses into action.

This year's National Community Planning Month theme is VERY topical, "Planning is Essential to Recovery," and centers on how cities are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that this community will find a path through today to a stronger tomorrow because, in Monrovia, resiliency is in our DNA! In fact, we are already planning for and building that tomorrow. 

Thinking back to January of this year, nobody could have anticipated that a public health lockdown would keep us all in our homes for months, or that Monrovia would face its biggest wildfire in decades. But we've adapted. We've learned new ways to communicate - using paint and chalk and rocks. We've learned new ways to connect - with art and Zoom and signs. And we've started a whole new conversation - with essential workers, COVID pods, and public health officials.

And through all of that, we are still here. We're still planning. We're still building. We're still celebrating! Here are some of the moments from the past seven months that stand out the most to us.

As city staff, we are proud to serve residents, business owners, and visitors who have demonstrated strong commitment to meeting today's challenges together

Like everything this year, we will be celebrating National Community Planning Month in a virtual manner. So stay tuned to this space for information, meetings, pictures, and maybe even a few chuckles.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Art on a Box!



Hear ye – Hear ye!

The City of Monrovia is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Art on the Box Contest.





Side note: Did you know there is an actual Town Crier Competition? Neither did we...check it out… Annual Town Crier Competition

So back to business...The Art on the Box program was created to add some local color to our streets and beautify our communities by turning blank utility boxes into unique, stunning works of public art (trust us, this is no easy feat!) The program improves our neighborhoods while supporting local artists (and their mad skills!)  For some light reading, check out the full story of the Art on the Box Program.

Each year, the City reaches out to our local creative community to submit their designs for consideration.  This year there were thirteen entries and six images were chosen for creation. (While they were all terrific, we needed to stay within the budget.)  In the upcoming weeks the artists will paint various utility boxes throughout Monrovia...of course while maintaining social distancing protocols!

Can’t wait that long??? You don't need to twist our arm, we're happy to share a sneak peek at the images that will be coming soon to blank utility box near you!



If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this year’s images are a novel!

In addition to the six boxes that will soon be painted, Monrovia already has 20 Art on the Box creations. Twenty you ask? Yes! How many have you spotted in our beautiful city?

Sounds like a great scavenger hunt to us (#artinmonrovia)!

Here's a hint: Many of them are located off around Myrtle Avenue, but not all of them.   

Want to know the location and description of all boxes??? We hope your answer is yes.

Then, visit this Blog regularly (or better yet subscribe) to get updates on the finished boxes and locations. 


We're sooo excited to see the finished pieces and share them with you!