The canyon on which I live is divided in three parts. In the bottom is the Lower Arroyo Seco, an area hosting the Rose Bowl, huge parking lots, a golf course, an aquatic center, and many, many playing fields. In the top is the Upper Arroyo Seco, a canyon that becomes increasingly narrow the farther in one wanders, and is mostly protected by Angeles National Forest. And in the middle, of course, is the Central Arroyo Seco, also called Hahamongna Park, named after the people that once lived along the canyon, who once lived right where I live now.
I've talked about this canyon a couple times before. In the time that I've lived here—two years in September—I've grown more and more attached to the place. It's hard not to. Here is what a year looks like in the Central Arroyo Seco.
But, the City of Pasadena wants to change this look, at least for a big swath in the southwest corner of the Central Arroyo Seco. Instead of what you see above, if the city's plan goes through, it will be a solid, flat, perpetually green field of turfgrass. On July 12th, Pasadena will decide whether or not it will install soccer fields where herons hunt.
Soccer fields need to be watered, mowed, maintained, fertilized, lit, monitored, pampered. In its current state, the most maintenance Hahamongna needs is occasional dredging after storms. Pasadena Unified laid off 164 school personnel—teachers, nurses, librarians—and the city wants to pay for soccer fields in a place that needs nearly nothing to maintain itself. The City of Pasadena is facing severe budget cuts that eliminated 14 police positions, limited library hours, removed all security presence at Robinson Park, and led to other painful wounds. Financially, does this seem ridiculous to anyone else? And if the funds for Hahamongna are already allotted and unable to be moved to other needs, can't we hang on to the money and parse it out through the years for dredging after storms instead of building the fields? Can't we save money?
And, while we save money, can't we save Hahamongna? The City of Pasadena, in its Green City Action Plan sets out to "protect critical habitat corriders and other key habitat characteristics from unsustainable development." The Central Arroyo Seco is clearly a critical habitat corrider; just ask the hawks and coyotes and herons that live there. And maybe (let's hope), there are a few of the Arroyo toads left down in there worrying about their futures too. I know, I know, that is getting emotional and anthropomorphizing, but I think we can all agree that a giant swath of lawn is unsustainable, no matter how "green" one tries to go about keeping it.
There aren't many places left like this in LA County. In this one little wedge of the world, tucked between Pasadena and Altadena on one side and La Canada on the other, we've been able to keep something relatively car and asphalt free, something that welcomes both nature and the wanderer, something ancient and connected to the people who once lived here but still flexible with us and our encroachments. That's pretty miraculous. Pasadena, please don't kill the miracle.
There are many locals who have something to say about this. Please take the time to read more:
Altadena Above It All
East of Allen
Finnegan Begin Again
LA Creek Freak
Mister Earl's Musings
My Life With Tommy
Pasadena Daily Photo
The Sky Is Big In Pasadena
Webster's Fine Stationers Web Log
West Coast Grrlie Blather