Saturday, May 4, 2019

The E-1 is here!

So, as our longtime, loyal reader knows  (you know who you are, thanks!), we’re fascinated with demographics.  Each year, we wait with bated breath for the release of the E-1 report on May 1.

The E-1 is an annual report put together by the California Department of Finance...that’s DOF in acronym-speak.  The E-1 compiles population and housing projections for all the counties and cities in the state based on a whole bunch of data, including construction activity throughout the state.

Fun Fact:  There are 58 counties and 482 cities in California.

In addition to just being a crazy amount of super interesting data, these figures are helpful in identifying trends useful in various planning processes and understanding how people move in and around California.  This year’s data illustrated some dramatic shifts.  More on that in a minute…

Another use of this data is in the distribution of state subventions (that’s a fancy government way of saying money) that are based on population.

So what is interesting about this year’s numbers…well there are so many interesting things, we could go on and on...and on…but here's the reason we think you've stuck with us this long: 
  • Monrovia’s population showed a small decrease (-0.1%).  As of January 1, 2019, Monrovia’s population was estimated to be 38,529. 
  • Los Angeles County’s population also decreased slightly from 10,254,658 to 10,253,716.
  • California's population increased 0.5% to 39,927,315.
Something else reflected in this year's estimates show the dramatic population shifts that resulted from last year's catastrophic wildfires.  What is widely considered as the most destructive wildfire in California, the Camp Fire in Butte County destroyed over 14,600 housing units.  

Just to put that number in perspective, that’s more than the total number of housing units in the entire City of Monrovia.  In the Town of Paradise alone, almost 90% of their housing was destroyed and their population decreased 82.6%!  So where did these people go?  Well in a large part, they relocated to the nearby cities of Chico and Oroville, each adding more than 20% to their populations.

We wish all the residents of those communities affected by fires a speedy recovery.

If you want to know more about this year's E-1, check out the Demographic page on the DOF website. 

Fun Fact 2:  Among California's 482 cities, Monrovia ranks #213 in population. 

Want to read about past population updates, check them out here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Still Coming Soon!

Sometimes things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, there are bumps in the road, or the road isn’t paved... 

Ok, it might feel like off-roading, however that does not stop us from getting to our destination here in Monrovia.

It has been a long road for the project at the corner of Chestnut and Magnolia (soon to be 239 West Chestnut Avenue). After years of the winding, sometimes bumpy road, the developers are closer to the finish line! Hurray! The project will be the product of a 16,349 square foot 10-unit industrial condominium complex and the first industrial condominium development to be built in the City since 1980!! (As astounding as it may seem, some of our Planners weren't even born in 1980!  On the other hand, some were already working about institutional memory!)  
The project was approved by the Planning Commission in April...of 2008! As you can imagine 11 years is a long time to be off-roading and it was probably not the smoothest ride. But sometimes there are turns, road blocks, flat tires, bad weather (Is that rain!???), the Tentative Tract Map needed some adjustment. Luckily, “new routes” were created and the “map” was updated...oh, yes, then there was that little "event"...The Great Recession.

Thankfully, this wasn’t a “time trial” and time extensions were granted to help “pave the road” to “drive it home.” Whew, what a journey!

This is a prime example that perseverance wins the day. The hearts of these developers are something to be admired, as they persevered to keep moving forward through the bumpy road knowing that the finish line was a great project located here in our wonderful City of Monrovia. Stay tuned and you might see some construction on the horizon!

Oh, and if you know of any small businesses looking for a place to call home...we know just the place.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Completely Normal Blog That Is Not Written in Breaking News Format


We're trying to think up a signature greeting Good Morning Vietnam style, but we haven't come up with the right phrase just yet. "Hi guys" seems too casual. "Good Day to you Ladies and Gentlemen" seems too formal. "What's up, buddies?" seems too Paulie Shore circa 1998. Do you have any suggestions? We'd love to hear --- 

***** We interrupt this broadcast to bring you late breaking news...
This just in... In a stunning turn of events, the Monrovia Development Review Committee (DRC) has voted to change their regular meeting time from 2:00 p.m. every other Wednesday to 4:00 p.m. every other Wednesday! In a unanimous vote, the representatives of the City of Monrovia stated that it may better serve the community to move the meeting back two hours. We're live on the scene of this unprecedented move (actually, it's super precedented, but where's the dramatic effect in that?) to get the reaction of bystanders.

Reporter/Monrovia Planner (we wear many hats here):  Sir, can I get your reaction to the change of meeting time for the DRC?

Bystander #1:  I like the change. Sometimes it's hard to get away from work for a mid-day meeting.

Reporter:  Thank you, sir, that's great feedback... And you, Ma'am, what did you think about this change of time?

Bystander #2:  I also like it... it's really cool that the DRC is so committed to reviewing these projects and that they want to make it easier for all of us to be there.

Reporter:  Well, it seems like everyone here is on board with the change... young man, may I ask how you feel about the change in DRC's meeting time?

5-year-old Bystander:  What's DRC? Is that a dinosaur? My teacher likes dinosaurs and she said that we're going to the La Brea Tar Pits and look at the bones and maybe we can even see what it was like back when the dinosaurs were here.
Image result for dinosaur
Reporter:  Another enthusiastic response! Seems like everyone here feels like this is a good idea. Oh, and if you don't know what DRC is or what it does, check out this link Since we've been utterly unable to drum up some controversy here, we'll now return you to your regular programming.

***** We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

--- can come up with a standard way to end our blogs, too.

Editor's Note:  For the sake of full disclosure, all bystanders interviewed for this story are completely biased with the exception of the 5-year-old.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Community Planning Oktoberfest Continues! Oi! Oi! Oi!

It has been another Award Winning Community Planning week!  You read that right, folks...Award Winning!!!  This is truly no under statement...we really really won an award!!

Extra, Extra, ... Read all about it:

Photo Courtesy of the California Preservation Foundation
The Monrovia Depot Rehabilitation project won a prestigious California Preservation Foundation Award on October 19, 2018, as it was an exemplary example of rehabilitation.  In other words it was and EE project (Exemplary Example).

The Monrovia Depot Rehabilitation project focused on restoration and adaptive reuse of the 1926 Santa Fe Depot as a future restaurant.  The Depot sits in the center of the City of Monrovia's Station Square Transit Village directly adjacent to the Metro Gold Line light rail platform. 

To read more about this important historical resource and landmark, click here

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Do you speak Plannerese?

Put down that Pumpkin Spice Latte…
Hold your thoughts on your Halloween costume…
We're continuing our celebration of what really makes October special – 


[pause for the rapturous applause to die down]

As you know loyal reader, it’s that special time of year when the winds start to gust and everyone starts thinking about urban planning. 

Well, maybe it's just us, but we hope we've heightened your awareness of all the planning that's been going on around Monrovia for the past half a century.  You're thinking about urban planning, right? Is that just us?

Like most professions, Planning has its own jargon that we affectionately refer to as Plannerese.  Not just words, but also a whole cadre of acronyms to boot!

But you know us, we like to help. an early trick or treat, we're including a special word search filled with all sorts of helpful planning lingo to add to your vocabulary.  

Can't read that small print?  Well, neither can we, so click here to download your very own copy of the word search.  Make copies, they're excellent pumpkin stuffers!

Good luck and remember – sometimes setbacks are a good thing!

Oh, don't worry we haven't included the acronym from hell.

Monrovia Planning Fun Fact: 
The City of Monrovia adopted its first specific plan in 1975.  Titled, "A Plan for the Improvement of the Downtown Area", it laid the groundwork for what has become Old Town Monrovia.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Community Planning Month - Housing Builds Community

More on Community Planning Month  
We Know You have been Waiting for It!

Last week the Over the Counter Blog received an uncharted level of viewing traffic. We spent several days scratching our heads and wondering what caused this tremendous level of interest. Then it dawned on us...!  Last week we shared that October is National Community Planning Month!!

We also promised you more blog posts on this fine topic! It is now obvious that folks, just like you, have been checking in for updates. So now that we have kept you in suspense for a week, we are ready to roll out this year’s planning theme!  

Drum Roll Please…
I can’t hear you…??
You can use your keyboard keys to drum.  The “d” and “k” keys work well for that, but just make sure your wrists don’t hit the space bar…that will get you off beat. Just a small helpful hint. :) back on topic! This year’s theme is:

Housing as Community Infrastructure!!!

We know you've heard of communities building housing, but have you heard of housing building communities? “Housing as Community Infrastructure” focuses on ensuring that all residents have safe and affordable housing options to advance economic and social equity goals. 

Did you know that Monrovia embraces this theme every single day? This month, Monrovia has the opportunity to celebrate the City’s inclusive growth policies that give residents a genuine stake in housing and development, as well as our vision to help new residents afford the ability to live and contribute to our amazing City.

Here are a few fine examples on how we do this:

So much amazing work has been completed over the last four years to improve Monrovia’s housing stock. Just within the last two years, the City has renewed its development standards to ensure the provision of new multifamily housing, neighborhood compatibility, and historic preservation.  

On the new multifamily housing front, we can boast that the City has approved two large housing developments; Avalon Bay Monrovia Specific Plan and Station Square South Specific Plan.  Together, these developments will provide 450 new residential units. And…not only will these projects provide quality housing, each one will have unique features that make them true Monrovian ventures to prove that Monrovia goes above and beyond!   

 Station Square South Specific Plan by The Richman Group of California

In addition to the 296 residential units that will be provided by Station Square South Specific Plan, the project will transform the terminus of Peck Road (which is currently a very VERY boring dead-end street on the south side of the railway) into a new “kiss and drop” for Metro Gold Line access.   

You read right…not only will you soon be able to access the Gold Line from the south side of the station, but you will be able to “kiss and drop” whomever you like while doing so. 

The new Gold Line access point is a critical design feature that lends to the success of the project. This is because placing a dense housing development near a transportation mode (i.e. Metro Station) yields less reliance on vehicles, which in turn yields cleaner air! This concept also promotes walkability, which is just all around healthy!! (4 out of 5 doctor's agree!) In summary, good planning and love will be in the air upon completion of this project!

 Avalon Monrovia Specific Plan by AvalonBay Communities

The Avalon Monrovia Specific Plan project is located just south of Old Town Monrovia, on Myrtle Avenue between Chestnut and Walnut, and will provide 154 new residential units, including 13 affordable units for very low income households.  This affordable housing component further echoes Monrovia’s desire to keep housing costs down.  As we all know, affordable housing is a hot topic for all middle class Californians. 

If this is the first time you are reading about these projects, you will want to check out Monrovia's Development Spotlight Page for more information! Just Click Here: Monrovia's Development Spotlight Page.

So now that you know another reason why your dedicated Monrovia Planners find the month of October so special! Continue to raise your glasses with us!!  This year’s theme was meant for all of us, because Monrovia embraces housing as community infrastructure every single day!! 

Please stay tuned for next week’s special focus on Historic Preservation!