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As Crescenta-Cañada YMCA expansion heads to Planning Commission, neighbors voice concerns

As Crescenta-Cañada YMCA expansion heads to Planning Commission, neighbors voice concerns
La Cañada resident Rod Snyder, right, talks with YMCA of the Foothills chief executive Tyler Wright in a special meeting Monday about how the facility's plans to expand would impact street access to his home nearby. (Sara Cardine)

After years of planning, YMCA of the Foothills will put a $7-million expansion plan for its La Cañada facility before the city Planning Commission in an Aug. 28 public hearing — but the public’s full reaction remains to be seen.

The two-phase project includes construction of a two-level parking deck on the north end of the campus fronting Foothill Boulevard, demolition of nearly 7,000 square feet of existing structure and the addition of nearly 15,000 square feet of new space.

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Representatives will seek a conditional use permit for the property, a permit to remove 48 trees to accommodate the 24,500-square-foot parking structure that will add nearly 70 spaces, and height and setback variances.

On Monday, YMCA officials invited nearby residents; many of whom use private roads and driveways near the site to access their homes, to review the plans and share their questions and concerns.

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“I’m very happy you’re here tonight to listen to a little bit about our project, but truly tonight is about you,” chief executive Tyler Wright said as he addressed the small group. “We do want to hear your comments and your feedback.”

A rendering, on display Monday at a meeting between YMCA of the Foothills officials and area neighbors, shows an interior courtyard that is part of a $7-million plan to renovate the Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA campus.
A rendering, on display Monday at a meeting between YMCA of the Foothills officials and area neighbors, shows an interior courtyard that is part of a $7-million plan to renovate the Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA campus. (Sara Cardine / La Cañada Valley Sun)

YMCA board member Warren Lukesh and Stephen Finney, president of Glendale-based architectural firm CWA AIA, Inc., explained each building phase and plans to mitigate noise, light spillage and visual impacts.

They estimated construction of the parking deck could take six to eight months, while the campus restructuring could last up to one year. A traffic study indicated the additions would create a net addition of 30 car trips per day.

Plans also call for a change-up of entrances and exits to the campus, a vital sticking point for nearby homeowners. The main western entrance will remain unchanged, but the eastern driveway will be relocated to the northeast corner of the property to form a four-way intersection with Palm Drive.

That relocation is part of a larger plan being undertaken by the city, which is currently redesigning a stretch of Foothill Boulevard from Leata Lane to Hillard Avenue through a grant-funded Link Bikeway and Pedestrian Greenbelt Project that aims to replace parking on Foothill with bike paths and sidewalks.

Those plans propose a solid curb at the Y’s current eastern driveway. Wright said his organization’s hands are tied when it comes to changing the city’s plans for the street.

Several neighbors decried the relocation, claiming intersection traffic would interfere with their access to and from a private driveway just east of the proposed campus exit.

“I’ve been hearing the city’s plans (for the greenbelt) might be changing, so I want to take this back to the city and say this is what we’re hearing from our neighbors — what can we do at this point?” Wright responded. “But I can’t speak for the city.”

Other neighbors, who use an unpaved road near the facility’s western entrance, were concerned the parking structure would increase traffic and queuing near routes they use on a daily basis.

“These driveways are aggravating — the question is, are things going to be more aggravating?” asked Mark Hunter, who lives on Rancho Cañada Road. “This design has the potential to make people more frustrated, not less.”

Attendees expressed additional concerns about tree removal and landscaping, construction noise, parking structure lighting and the impact of construction and increased traffic on emergency response times.

“I moved here 24 years ago because it’s a nice, quiet neighborhood,” said Rancho Cañada resident Marissa Solis. “Now I see more concern from the YMCA about members, and providing for members, but not the neighbors.”

Lukesh assured residents’ issues would be considered.

“We’re not going to forget these things,” he said.

FYI: The La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1327 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada. For more, call (818) 790-8881.

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