Pasadena OKs Plan to Improve Arroyo Area

Times Staff Writer

A wish list of improvements to a major portion of Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco parklands has been approved by the Pasadena City Council, but the projects could cost $14 million or more, and no one knows when there will be money to pay for them all.

Martin Pastucha, the city’s public works director, said the Central Arroyo Master Plan adopted last week identifies about $7 million in restoration and rehabilitation work, with perhaps an equal amount yet to be detailed.

Right now, the city has about $2.8 million for all that work. Officials say the rest probably would have to come from grants and residential impact fees levied on developers.


“This is really a multiyear plan, 10 to 15 years, with no assurances that all of [the money] will be there,” Pastucha said. “But if the money’s there, it will all get done.”

The Central Arroyo plan covers 550 acres stretching from Devil’s Gate Dam to the Colorado Boulevard bridge.

That acreage is the most intensely developed portion of the parklands, which run more than eight miles through the western part of the city from the San Gabriel Mountains on the north to South Pasadena on the south.

The central section includes the Rose Bowl, the Brookside golf courses and clubhouse, the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, the Jackie Robinson baseball stadium and Rosemont Pavilion, where many of the floats for the New Year’s Day Rose Parade are assembled.

“The plan is the city’s process for identifying what it wanted to do with this tremendous resource, one with a lot of historical significance,” Pastucha said.

The master plan’s goals, drawn up by a committee that included representatives from the stadiums, the golf courses, the aquatics center, the Tournament of Roses, the Recreation and Parks Commission, neighborhood homeowner associations and the city at large, are to enhance the natural features of the parklands, protect historic features, increase safety and security, and minimize the effect of special events at the Rose Bowl.

The work would include creation of a ceremonial main entry, improvement of picnic areas and landscaping around paved parking lots near the Rose Bowl.

Picnic shelters would be replaced, barbecues would be rebuilt, trees would be planted, restrooms would be improved, obsolete playground equipment would be removed and a new children’s play area would be constructed.

Several new pedestrian pathways would be built on the floor of the arroyo and along the hillsides flanking it. A buffer would be constructed along the three-mile pedestrian loop around the Rose Bowl to separate joggers from vehicular traffic, and stricter speed limits would be imposed on motorists. An equestrian path would be defined through the parking areas.

A new traffic-management plan would be developed for Rose Bowl events, with shuttle buses used to reduce the need for on-site parking.

Signs throughout the parklands would be improved and minimized.

The Arroyo Seco -- “dry gulch” in Spanish -- carries runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Los Angeles River. The Native Americans who were Pasadena’s first residents lived largely in the arroyo.

Pasadenans began enjoying the Arroyo Seco as a recreational area in the 19th century, when it served largely as the gateway to popular mountain resorts such as Switzer’s Camp.

The city began acquisition of the property for parklands in 1913, and the Rose Bowl was built by the Tournament of Roses in 1921-22.