Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Mother Road; Past, Present and Future

If you have been around as long as we have, you might remember the phrase “You don’t know where you are going until you know where you have been.” -  or -  “Remembering the past helps create a purposeful future.”  

Ok, so we may have made that second quote up, but it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Either way, we can’t think of a better example of this idea than how it relates to our very own Monrovia segment of Route 66.

Did you know that Route 66, also known as “The Mother Road,” originally travelled along East Huntington Drive, then veered northbound on South Shamrock Avenue, and then went west again on Foothill Boulevard? 

Yep, this is a true fact! It wasn’t until the 1930’s that Route 66 was realigned to exclusively run along Huntington Drive.  But that realignment left us with some great classic buildings associated with the former Monrovia Route 66 corridor. Two buildings in particular are the Old Monrovia Market at 525 South Shamrock Avenue and the Flying A Gasoline Station at 721 South Shamrock Avenue.

Our long time readers know we're a fan of quotes so to quote Ferris Buller “Life moves pretty fast…If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

525 South Shamrock Avenue


721 South Shamrock Avenue
In their younger years, these roadside buildings served the community vibrantly. 525 South Shamrock was a number of uses back in the day, however most notably it became locally known as the Monrovia Market, where residents could get simple groceries as well as get a get a quick bite from the deli pick up window. 


721 S Shamrock Avenue was…wait for it…a gas station. Although at the time of writing this blog, you may not see the original pumps as they are currently being restored! However, these properties sadly became vacant, fell close into disrepair, and ultimately yearned for new life.

Fortunately, Monrovians love and value their history and the your planners do too!  So knowing this, we had to be a little more creative as we tackled these buildings on Shamrock.  The plan needed something more than just “a lot of Oil of Olay” to resuscitate, reinvigorate, and rejuvenate these gems. Why?  Well because they are right smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Finding a balanced solution to encourage preservation, economic viability and neighborhood compatibility was imperative.

So what did we do? Well...working with all our partners, the preservation community, Commissioners, neighbors, property owners and the City Council, the ultimate proposal was something far greater than any wrinkle cream or face mask…a nifty new land use designation, with an apropos moniker, Planned Development – Area 66 (PD-66) fully geared toward bringing new life into these historic gems!

The PD-66 standards were adopted by the City Council in October 2019.

Anyway… PD-66 provides land use standards designed to embrace the past as well as provide a “road” (see what we did there?) to the future for these remnant Route 66 roadside commercial properties.

Wouldn’t you know that these land use standards worked better than any wrinkle cream. Soon after the standards were adopted, a really cool adaptive reuse project idea for the Old Monrovia Market was submitted that would preserve the history of this building and its relationship to the former Route 66 corridor. The project will preserve the classic exterior brick, reuse the existing commercial building for a Special Event Venue (Auto-themed) and add two loft apartments above the ground floor commercial space. Check out the progress below and stay tuned:

Coming Soon!

525 South Shamrock Avenue Rendering


Concrete pillars to support the new second story

Garage Framing






Friday, February 26, 2021

Is a BigBelly Attractive?


Well, we think ours are.  Let us explain...

Perhaps you have noticed these public recycling bins spaces around Old Town’s sidewalks.  You know the ones, decorated with historic photos of Monrovia’s Old Town.  

Yes, those Bigbellies!  


Well just in case you don't know about them...They are futuristic, solar-powered refuge receptacles (say that three times fast)...which is a fancy way to say cool trash can.  And they are super smart too!  Not only does the enclosed design keep waste in, it keeps pesky critters out AND it electronically notifies City staff when they are full.  (Nowadays there's an app for everything!)  Knowing when to collect and keeping waste contained means that the community benefits from cleaner spaces without windblown, and stinky overflowing litter.  We'd like to say we were the first to discover this amazing technological wonder, but many cities have embraced their Bigbellies.  What's not to love?

But Monrovia, being Monrovia, we always look to improve on every situation.  So we gave them the Monrovia touch, by using them as a canvas to showcase our history. Through a collage of historic photos, each Bigbelly illustrates Old Town through the years.  (Big shout out to the Monrovia Legacy Project!This artwork really captures the Monrovia spirit bringing out our local color...even though they are in black and white.  It also clearly sends a message to the rest of the world that we Monrovians are passionate about our rich history.  When you look at these pictures, it takes you on a stroll down Myrtle Avenue  reminding us of days passed.  It tells our story.

In case you haven't seen these great pictures, here's a closer look.  Want to learn more? Keep scrolling to the table to see more information and we've even numbered them for your reference.


 
BIGBELLY PICTURE TABLE

 


 
But Monrovia is not just about the past, we're also excited about where we are now and  what our future has in store.  So we've put together a collage of our own to give you some perspective of then and now.  Compare these with the collages above and although this shows that Monrovia has changed a good deal, what hasn't changed is who we are.    

This was definitely a team effort.  Spearheaded by our Public Works folks, who engaged the Monrovia Legacy Project to supply the historic photos and coordinated with the Art in Public Places Committee and the Monrovia Old Town Advisory Board also known as MOTAB.  Phew...that's a lot of input.  Well...that's just the way we roll. 

If you haven’t seen them, come by Old Town and check out the cheerful and colorful artwork on the Bigbelly smart waste and recycling bins located in Old Town Monrovia.  We are proud of our Bigbellies!


Fun Fact: Did you know that the Bigbelly holds five times as much waste as traditional waste bins? 


Friday, February 12, 2021

A Smorgasbord of Transparancy

Well if that title doesn't peak your interest...

Not ones to constantly reinvent the wheel, we do try to find those little tweaks that provide the greatest bang for our buck.  

A few weeks ago, our staff started looking at how we send out agendas for our meetings, you know, Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and the like...and we found that over the years, what started as a fairly straight forward process morphed into something much more unwieldy. We won't get into the details... we tried to figure out what went awry, but in the end we were left scratching our heads...huh?

Enter our super-smart PIO to rescue us from the morass of...uh...well let's just be honest, to paraphrase Laurel & Hardy, the fine mess we'd got ourselves into...

Oh, PIO, that's Public Information Officer in government-speak. She's the one that ensures that we all stay informed of the comings and goings in Monrovia City Hall. So she pointed out that our website has this new, super cool feature that allows people (that's you and us) to subscribe to one, some or many of the agendas of Monrovia's various Committees, Commissions and Boards...even the City Council.  A plethora of options!

How cool is that? 

You decide which agendas you want to receive and poof! They will automatically appear in your inbox about 10 minutes after the agenda is posted.  

Sometimes its those small, seemingly infinitesimal things that make us so happy. Especially when we can keep you (and the rest of our community) informed of all things Monrovia.

Maybe not all things, but lots of things.

So to help you keep that 2021 resolution of staying informed...oh, wait, that was our resolution, but it's a good one...click here to start your subscription now...and it's free too!

Don't forget to confirm your request by responding to the follow up email. Very important.

And since we got your attention, here's another shameless plug to subscribe to this blog.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Survey Says? More Survey!

Stop everything! 

Drop whatever it is you are doing and get ready to hear the most important bit of news of the day. No, no it has nothing to do with politics. Nope, it's not about Covid-19. Or the Big Game... Ok, fine, get ready to hear the FOURTH most important bit of news of the day!

Ready? Ok, here it is... The Focused General Plan Update survey deadline has been extended to February 19, 2021!

If you recall, last we blogged, we had just released the FGPU survey (Do you guys like the FGPU acronym? We're not so sure... it kind of sounds like something stinky...which of course is the complete opposite of our sweet, sweet survey) and asked you to please help us by getting as many Monrovians as possible to complete it by February 12th. 

Why are we extending the survey? Well, we ran into a technological glitch (where are those 10 year-olds when you need them?). 

So many folks were trying to send us their input, and the survey fell offline. We actually heard it fall offline. There was a loud boom and many people called us about it. 

So, due to popular demand, we've extended the deadline to the 19th... that's right - a full week longer! So if you haven't completed the survey yet here is your opportunity.

·         To complete the survey in English, please click here.

 

·         Para hacerla encuesta en Español, pulse aquí por favor.

Your participation will help shape the future of the City. And maybe you can point us towards a better acronym, too.

Monday, January 25, 2021

We want to know what you think!

 Focused General Plan Update - an Important Survey for YOU

Have you been paying attention? We sure hope so because we need YOU - our eyes and ears on the streets of Monrovia - to help guide future housing development in the community! 

We recently told you about an upcoming General Plan Amendment (need a refresher? Check this out!) that will update the Housing and Safety Elements, as well as create a new Environmental Justice Element. Well, we've now come to the point where the "upcoming" General Plan Amendment has become the "right now, at this very moment" General Plan Amendment. 

 

Yup, you read that right,  we are in the midst of working with our land use consultant, MIG (no, not the Russian fighter jet made famous in the 1980s cinema classic Top Gun), on a Focused General Plan Update. This update will:

 

·       Plan for community’s future housing needs for the 2021 - 2029 planning period and establish policies, programs and strategies specifically to address those needs within the Housing Element.

 

·        Adopt climate adaptation and resiliency strategies including wildfire planning within the Safety Element.

 

·        And focus on communities within the City that bear increased burdens, including high poverty, high unemployment, and air and water pollution in the Environmental Justice Element.

                               

But, we cannot update these elements without guidance from you! Just 8 minutes of your time will help us plan for the next 8 years! (We know, that sounds kind of gimmicky but just because it's a gimmick doesn't mean it's not true!) So, if you can spare a few minutes, please click on one of the links below to fill out the Housing and Safety Elements Survey. 

 

·         To complete the survey in English, please click here.

 

·         Para hacerla encuesta en Español, pulse aquí por favor.

 

The Housing and Safety Element Survey will be active until February 12, 2021. An Environmental Justice Survey will be released at a later date (so stay tuned to your favorite blog!). 


If you have any questions or comments about this project, please leave a message at (626) 932-5565 or an e-mail at planning@ci.monrovia.ca.us. And thank you in advance for your help!


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!