Monday, April 16, 2012

City staff to recommend no driving range expansion!

Wanted to update everyone on the golf course lease and the driving range expansion. The Draft of the Initial Study for the Golf Course Lease recommended a Mitigated Negative Declaration. This means that as long as the study is not contested and they answer everyone's questions and comments satisfactorily, they could go ahead with the lease and the expansion.

Now for the good news. City staff is recommending (p. 229, the following:
Instead, it is recommended that the City Council:
1) Direct staff to modifY the existing management agreement with Donovan to delete references about a proposed lease agreement; and
 2) Direct staff to revise the MND to reflect that the City would implement the capital improvement program for the golf course instead of Donovan; and
3) Provide direction whether to delete or leave in place the option to expand the driving range expansion
The analysis below (p. 231) indicates that the city is going to try to continue having the golf course managed by Donovan rather than entering into a long term lease agreement. Furthermore, they are recommending that the driving range expansion not be part of the capital improvements, but rather to use money for needed improvements to kitchen, rest rooms, etc.
Staff recommends that the City continue with a Management Agreement with Donovan because it is advantageous for the City from a financial standpoint. Although the driving range expansion was expected to "enhance" the golf experience, staff recommends that this component be eliminated. Shifting the funds from the driving range expansion to other improvements, such as the kitchen and restroom upgrades, would result in greater value to the golf course operations. If the City Council is inclined to remain in the management agreement, staff will request that the City Council approve a 5-year capital improvement program for the golf course at a future meeting. It would include all of the items listed above (under "lease agreement") except for the driving range expansion. At that time, the City Council will have a revised Initial Study IMND that has removed all references to a lease agreement and eliminates the driving range expansion from the capital improvements list. Once this CEQA document is revised and made available, there will be a new 3D-day review period prior to the City Council meeting.
To be on the safe side, I sent my concerns about the MND, Initial Study. This will put it on record, just in case something changes. I will also be going to the city council meeting and will make comment as such. Others who feel strongly may want to attend the city council meeting, though I think the only important comment, other than - THANK YOU! - is to bring up any objection to the Initial Study, in the unlikely event that the city staff recommendation is not followed. If we do not have our objections to the study as part of the public record by the date of the public hearing (this Wed.) then we cannot bring them up later.

Enjoy South Pasadena's only habitat park!
So now we can turn our attention to the weeds. With all of these late rains they are thriving. It is very therapeutic to pull weeds, so once the rain stops, mozie on down and give a pull or two.

PARK CLEANUP - Saturday, April 21, 9 am - noon

This Saturday we will be pulling, pulling, pulling. The weeds are all over but we will win the "War on Weeds." If you can't come on Saturday, stop by any time and pull, pull, pull. For pictures of the weeds we are concentrating on see the previous post.

View Larger Map

Meet at the park info sign on Pasadena Ave and then head down into the park. The group will pull weeds, pick up litter, and enjoy the park. Come for the whole time, for an hour, or just stop by to say hello.

Nature Park entrance on Pasadena Ave., east of the York St. Bridge
Remember to:
- wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
- bring water
- bring gardening gloves and tools (weeders, trowels, whatever you use in your own garden)
- comfortable work clothes, including work shoes (sneakers or boots)
- binoculars for bird watching (optional)

Children must be under adult supervision at all times. There is poison oak in the park, which we will point out before we start.

Please pass this info along to anyone else you think might be interested in the park. If you know of anyone who doesn't use the internet, let me know so we can be sure they are kept in the loop.

"Most Wanted" (to be rid of) Weeds

Late rains are good for the new natives that we planted in January, but they are also good for the weeds. Mustard (several different kinds), Maltese star thistle (also called tocalote), horehound, and weedy annual grasses are all thriving. So this Saturday (April 21, 9 - noon) at the park cleanup we will focus on pulling. Fortunately the soil is moist and they come out pretty easily. If you cannot make it on Saturday, stop down at the park at any old time and pull a few. If we all keep at it we will get there. The natives will take hold, and though we will always have to keep after the weeds, it should become more manageable over time (so says the optimist in me).

The protocol for weed control is to 'pull and leave' plants that do not have flowers and seeds. It is more important to get rid of these young plants than to keep everything neat and tidy. Just leave their roots exposed so they will dry out. The most important places to weed are around existing native plants and in the newly planted area in the center of the park, the mounds. Once we have made progress in these areas we can move to other heavily infested areas. And finally, do take care to avoid poison oak.

Poison oak. Do not pull, do not touch! Do not get into thicket unless you know this plant well and are sure you are not in it. If you do suspect that you touched it, wash immediately with cold water and soap.(I use Tecnu, a detergent, to remove the irritating oils. Available at most drugstores.)
Here are pictures of the “Most Wanted.” If you are unsure, don’t pull.

Tocalote or Maltese star thistle (Centaurea melitensis) is having a bumper year this year. As it matures the center stem elongates and yellow flowers with sharp thorns appear. Get rid of this wherever you see it!! (4/16/2012)
Tocalote infestation in nature park near the Arroyo Seco channel. (6/2011)
Tocalote flower (June 2003)
Weed friends: mustard on left, tocalote on right. If you don't think you can tell them apart, don't worry. Get rid of all plants that have toothed leaves in rosette shape. There are no natives in the park like them.
Young horehound (Marrubium vulgare). These are growing all over the mounds. Their seeds stick to clothing, shoes and dog fur. Pull them before they get a chance to make more seeds.
Mostly horehound and mustard on the mounds. Be careful not to pull the newly planted natives. 
This pretty little non-native, scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), is quite common but not as problematic as many other non-native weeds. Better to spend your time pulling tocalote, mustard and horehound!
Scarlet pimpernel before going into bloom.
Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum)
Wild radish flower, kind of pretty, but pull it anyway.