La Vina Site Compromise Opposed

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Times Staff Writer

Developers presented a scaled-down plan for developing the site of the former La Vina Hospital at a hearing Thursday, but opponents at the meeting made clear that the compromise was unacceptable.

Altadena Town Council Vice Chairman Duane Merrill Sr. likened the developers’ compromise plan to a speedster reducing his speed from 100 m.p.h. to 80 m.p.h. in a 40-m.p.h. zone.

The Pasadena development firm of Cantwell-Anderson and Irvine-based Southwest Diversified Inc., joint owners of the property, described the revised plan, which reduces the number of homes to 277 from 350, to the county Regional Planning Commission on Thursday at a public hearing.


The meeting room was packed with about 130 people, most against the project.

The hearing will continue Oct. 19.

After close to two hours of testimony, commissioners questioned the density proposed and potential damage to the hills, which prompted cheers from the audience. One encouraged spectator yelled, “They’re listening!”

“There’s something wrong with a plan that this many people are opposed to,” Commissioner Lee Strong said.

The 220-acre property in northwest Altadena, 180 acres of it within the Angeles National Forest, was the site of the hospital prior to its merger with Pasadena’s Huntington Memorial Hospital in 1984.

The pared-down plans for the $100-million project include about seven acres for a park and the Ribet Academy, a La Canada private school with 350 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“The density . . . is too high,” Commissioner Sadie Clark said, adding that establishing a private school that would introduce traffic from outside the area “does not make too much planning sense.”

But Chamber of Commerce President Don Rutherford said the chamber supports the revised plan, although it too would prefer a lower density.


All the units in the project would be detached single-family residences, ranging in size from 1,750 to 3,200 square feet, with 2- and 3-car garages. Town homes have been eliminated from the plan, which now has lots averaging more than 10,000 square feet.

Scott Woodward, Southwest Diversified’s planning vice president, said the units would sell for $275,000 to $400,000.

Opponents of the plan have claimed it violates the Altadena Community Plan approved in 1986. That plan stresses retention of the quality of the semi-rural foothill community.

Among speakers at the meeting opposing the development were representatives from the Sierra Club and Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles) who voiced concern about the impact on the natural environment.

Westside Residents’ Assn. has submitted a 30-page critique of the draft environmental impact report questioning its completeness, citing the omission of air quality and hydrology studies.

Despite the vocal opposition, Rutherford hopes that the plan will eventually be approved. “We’re trying to get both sides to come together,” he said after the hearing.


“(The development) is going to improve the community . . . It’s going to be good for businesses.”