Old Town Monrovia

Last night was another Sidewalk Astronomy Night in Old Town Monrovia:


I've posted about this in the past.  The difference this time is I got to "sidewalk astronomy" with John Dobson.  He's pretty much the father of both the Dobsonian mount and of sidewalk astronomy in general, so it was fun to be able to share a sidewalk with him:


I go to Old Town Monrovia pretty regularly and I always enjoy my visits.  They've made it very pedestrian-friendly, and it's getting more so.  The separation between the pedestrians and the moving cars is getting wider.  The corners have been reconfigured to shorten the walk necessary to go from one corner to the next.  As a result, the traffic is being "calmed."  So, even more so than when I last posted about Old Town Monrovia, this place really works as a walking town.

It's also the model for what much of southern California will need to adopt.  As land values increase and traffic builds, we're going to need more and more of these pedestrian-oriented developments.  Mixed use, in other words.

So it was nice to see that our city council organized a workshop on mixed-use development for themselves last month.  Our councilmembers brought some skepticism to the workshop, and that skepticism is not unjustified.  Because, for some developers, "mixed use" is just an excuse to pack more stores and more people into smaller spaces.  It's an excuse to provide inadequate off-street parking and to place oversized developments on undersized parcels, and to ask for reduced setbacks and increased height variances.

But Old Town Monrovia seems to be doing things right.  They've got a nice mixture of stores.  There seems to be sufficient parking located in areas adjacent to the mixed-use areas.  And they've preserved their Library Square Park as open space, so you don't wind up with too much density.  It also means that the folks living in apartments or condos near old town will still have space to recreate.

As noted at our own city council's mixed use workshop, that's important.  If people will no longer have their own private yards to kick back and/or stretch their legs, you've got to do all you can to make sure to create/preserve public open spaces adjacent to the mixed use areas.

I hope our own city council can look at a place like Old Town Monrovia and envision something similar for Rosemead.  Mixed use can work, and it's what we're going to have to make work if we're going to keep our city livable.

I see walking

I'm up near SG and Garvey, not a whole lot, but maybe once or twice a week, and there have always been a lot of people walking up there.  It's not pleasant to be a pedestrian there, because you're exposed to the fast traffic on SG, but there are places to eat and shop, so that's good.

Yeah, people think it's "ghetto", but it's only that way because of poor planning.  There are areas with lower incomes that are more walkable.  (Whittier Bl., Hollywood Bl., Echo Park, Chinatown)

Maybe that's the concern - that walkable cities are often full of poor people - but they just can't say that because it sounds classist or racist.  But, poverty has to be worked in, because it's people who don't get in the SUV to buy crap at IKEA who are going to be big customers of businesses in a walkable city.

That's unless you concoct a fake-walkable city like Alhambra.  That's just an entertainment district, and its wiping out the parts of the street that made it liveable.  They're wiping out the library and a grocery store.

Still, there are things that can be done.  For one, you could have a uniform design code, so that adjacent mini malls, when they're renovated, end up looking similar.  You can go as far as offering up generic facade plans.  You can also disallow walls between mini malls, so they combine into a long strip.

For example, on SG, at Rush, there's that corner stripmall that seems to be three separate spaces.  You can't really walk from one to the other.  That's foolish.  Maybe there are two or three property owners.  If they had to put walkways in that connected the areas in a straightforward manner, it would help pedestrians.

Anyway, point is, things can be done to improve things.