Stop Future Monstrosities – Comments from the White Paper Coalition on the new CSD

This Thursday evening, Altadena residents will have their second of three opportunities to air feedback and recommendations on the new Community Standards District – or CSD document – that governs commercial and residential building in Altadena.  After more than three years of tireless work, a group of Altadena volunteers – the CSD committee – along with the County Regional Planning Department – anxiously await  community comments on the new draft.

The tragic monstrosity currently under construction at Lake and Calaveras certainly helps highlight the importance of the CSD that governs and regulates both commercial and residential buildings in our town.  There is no doubt that a stronger version of our current CSD could have prevented some of the unfortunate design flaws of the Lake/Calaveras building, currently under construction.

Our “White Paper” Coalition – a coalition of Altadena organizations with concerns about the Lake/Calaveras development – has put together comments and recommendations regarding the new CSD as well.  The coalition includes the Altadena Chamber of Commerce, the Altadena Historical Society, Altadena Heritage, The Altadena Children’s Center director,  the Principal, School Site Council, and PTA of Eliot Arts Magnet Academy, as well as NBBA.  Our coalition will be presenting the paper publicly at the meeting on Thursday.  You can also read our comments here:

Altadena CSD – White Paper Coalition Comments – final

Please join NBBA and other neighbors this Thursday, July 28th, at Eliot Arts Academy on Lake, to give comments and feedback to our local committee and the County Regional Planning Department.

To read the new CSD as well as other official documents related to the process, go to the County website:

For a comprehensive review of the history and importance of the CSD, Altadena Heritage’s website is supreme:

Hope to see you there!


Q: How do we stop ugly buildings from being built in our town? A: Our Community Standards District regulations

With the unfortunate design of the Lake/Calaveras development, reviewing the first draft of the new Community Standards District regulations (CSD) could not come at a better time.  A community forum where the County shares the revised version will be held at Altadena Elementary School this Saturday, June 4 at 10 a.m.

The draft – and the current version of the CSD – is available on the County website, here:

Hope to see you on Saturday!

Candidate Statements – Altadena Town Council

It’s election season – and our own Altadena Town Council is also in election mode.

In the past, Neighbors Building a Better Altadena has held candidate forums, giving the community and candidates the opportunity to talk with each other directly.  This year we were unable to do that – but are able to provide statements from candidates responding to our NBBA questionnaire.  [click here for UPDATED  2016 Town Council Candidate Questionnaire Responses- updated (apologies to John White, whose statement was left out before] Thanks to all the candidates who provided this additional information.

For those of you new to Altadena politics, our ATC is elected by Census Tracts – each CT has 2 seats on our ATC – each seat is a 2 year term – and the election for each seat is on alternate years.  To find your CT district, here is the map:

This year the election will be held on the 11th of June, with early voting at the Altadena Senior Center on the 7th.  Details of the election polling sites can be found here:

Candidates have also provided statements to the ATC Election Committee which you can read here:

Look forward to seeing you at the polls!



Charles Company Presents New Plans… Falling Short of Community Vision.

On December 15th, speaking to a full house of community members at the Altadena Town Council, Gene Detchemendy – representative for the Charles Company – made some promises for improving the Lake/Calaveras property.

Recent view of construction at Lake and Calaveras. (12/20/2015)

Improvements promised to the Lake Avenue facing wall included clear windows – to static displays, not a view into the store – and a door – an emergency exit door.  The developer representative was particularly enthusiastic about changes to the Calaveras side of the building, which will be more pedestrian friendly, he said, with an extended pergola on the building side, with planned landscaping exchanged for hard-scaping, creating more opportunities for sitting along that side of the building. Also mentioned was the addition of trellises and four benches, though it is not clear where those will be. The development company is also recommending a change in color scheme – from pale whites – to richer browns – more in line with the Aldi store color scheme.

Aldi representative, Paul Cornejo, was also in attendance, the strongest guarantee that Aldi will be the store occupying the space – though it sounded as if all terms of Aldi’s lease were not fully decided as of 12/15. Mr. Cornejo also addressed the Council, and talked about jobs in the store: there will be around 20 new jobs, with starting pay at $13/h
our, with earning potential up to $21/hour, with employees guaranteed 35-40 hours week, and guaranteed health benefits.

Mr. Cornejo
also mentioned that Aldi will only occupy around 20,000 square feet in the building, that another 7,000 square feet will be open for another business.  Mr. Detchemendy said they would be seeking a “synergistic” store – such as a pharmacy or bank.  The ad for the commercial space can be seen here:

Altadenans attending seemed glad changes were being considered, but were disappointed that there was no real attempt to create an opening in the building to foot traffic on Lake.  Lin Griffith, NBBA member, addressed the Council and Mr. Detchemendy, saying there were options to create pedestrian-friendly openings without creating a back and front entrance.

“We hope the County and the developer will continue to work with us to find a better solution for Altadena,” Lin said. “We will have to live with this building for decades to come,” she added.

We’re making a difference – let’s keep the heat on!

Members of the White Paper Coalition address the Altadena Town Council, encouraging changes needed to the Lake/Calaveras development.

Last month a broad coalition of Altadenans filled the room of the Altadena Town Council and presented a White Paper, arguing that the Charles Company’s building plans for our historic Lake and Calaveras corner did not meet our community standards (CSD).  We stood together and insisted changes
needed to be made – and quickly – before substantial work on the construction site took place.

We were well organized and well received – and the ATC took swift action to forward our deep concerns to the County Supervisor’s office.

On Tuesday, December 15th, Gene Detchemendy – a representative of the Charles Company developer – will present to the ATC again on the development.  We hope we will hear them commit to substantive changes to the Lake/Calaveras building site that will come in alignment with our Community Standards.

We know that being there will help ensure our message is well received, once again.

Please come out to the meeting Tuesday evening to show your support for an Altadena-friendly smart building design.  Wear Altadena Green!  The ATC meets at 7 PM on Tuesday the 15th, in the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive.  

NBBA Releases White Paper Exposing Community Standard Violations in Lake/Calaveras Development

Historic Corner : Historic Choices – A Critical Analysis of Current Plans and Recommendations for Changes to The Charles Company Retail Project at Lake/Calaveras, Altadena, CA. [click here to download]

Today NBBA – along with other signatories to our report – will address the Altadena Town Council (ATC) about the building plan for the Lake/Calaveras development.  Our paper – Historic Corner : Historic Choices – downloadable above – shows the building plan is in clear violation to our CSD – Community Standards – and we hope that the ATC will join us in recommending that the County review the plans to ensure compliance with Altadena rules.

Altadena Chamber of Commerce, Altadena Heritage, Altadena Historical Society,  Eliot Arts Magnet Middle School PTA and School Site Council, along with Eliot’s principal, Lori Touloumian, have co-signed the paper in support of improvements in the building plan.

Join us tonight at the ATC meeting, held at 7 PM at the Altadena Community Center – 730 East Altadena Drive.  Wear Altadena Green to support improvements!

Article regarding the building:


Altadena Community Joins Together to Insist on Improved Building Design at Lake/Calaveras

NBBA has joined with Altadena Heritage, Altadena Historical Society, the Altadena Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Eliot Arts Magnet Middle School PTA and Principal Lori Touloumian, to insist that the Aldi building design at Lake and Calaveras be improved to meet our Community Standards – CSD.  The historic cooperation between the five Altadena groups comes as a result of outrage and dismay over a poor building plan that works against the Altadena community’s efforts to improve the walkability of our town, and maintain a “village-like atmosphere” in our commercial districts.

On Tuesday at the Altadena Town Council meeting, we will release a White Paper detailing the specific areas in our CSD that the building plan violates our CSD.  Join us – and wear Altadena green to show your solidarity.

If you would like to be part of planning our approach for Tuesday evening’s meeting, join us for our Saturday morning Work Group meeting, at 9:30 AM.  Email us for details –

Stay tuned – we will post the White Paper here in advance of the ATC meeting.