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Alarmed by Location of Temporary Fire Station

August 03, 1989

On July 19, the Zoning Appeals Board of Pasadena voted 3-0 to allow construction of a "temporary" fire station across the street from our 107-unit condominium in one of the planned, most-dense, residential areas in Pasadena. The temporary fire station is to be at 1136 E. Del Mar Blvd., between Wilson and Michigan avenues on Caltech property.

The residents of our condominium have attended every meeting Caltech has held on their master plan, to keep informed of developments in the neighborhood. This site isn't zoned for public use, so we had no idea it was being considered for a fire station until May 11.

Although Mayor Thomson has told us the Fire Department has been thinking of relocating the South Oak Knoll location for eight years, it was only in February that the Oak Knoll station was determined to be unsafe in an earthquake. Caltech, sympathetic with the city needs, offered the site with no notice to the "good neighbors" it has been cultivating for years. Well, thanks a lot.

There are 23,900 cars passing that site each day. Del Mar Boulevard is a raceway. The state Traffic and Safety Code requires that the fire engine driver sound the siren under certain conditions. An emergency vehicle trying to exit onto busy Del Mar would have to use the hair-raising 110-decibel siren a fire truck is required to have to stop that traffic.

The Fire Department produced data stating that the South Oak Knoll engine left the station an average of 12.59 times per 24 hours. That doesn't include the paramedic unit which is to be stationed at the temporary site and accompanied by a fire engine each time it goes out. The prospect of having a fire engine leave with siren and horn blasting away on a minimum average of three times during sleeping hours, and nine-plus times during daytime hours is enormously upsetting to people who work or are trying to keep babies asleep.

The Fire Department has rejected, out of hand, 10 alternate sites which do not affect residents, but are across from day-use facilities or commercial property. It was the Fire Department's lack of planning which made this our emergency as well as theirs. If this is truly a temporary site, why can't the Fire Department make some reasonable compromises to accommodate over 200 homeowners (ours and neighbors).

The Board of Zoning Appeals threw us a bone when they suggested that the use be restricted to 18 months. Building Department officials testified they could not build a permanent firehouse in 18 months; Caltech says they can't clear the permanent site at Holliston and Del Mar in 18 months, and the Fire Department says it isn't worth constructing a temporary location for only 18 months' occupancy. We are really looking not at a temporary station, but one which would not be ready to move for close to five years.

This is not a mere passing protest on the part of a few people. More than 35 of us attended every zoning or appeals meeting we were informed of.



Casa Pasadena Homeowners Assn.

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