For the past five years I have heard and seen much of the ‘changing face’ of Eagle Rock. More and more our town is described as a desirable place to be. Featured in New York Times, LA Times, Pasadena Star, other newspapers, local news stations, radio, online news sites like Huffington Post… certainly a wide spectrum of publicity. One cannot explain how or why Eagle Rock is what it is today without mention 1992′s Colorado Specific Plan, a document which attempts to revitalize the community while preserving some of its more quaint qualities.
Today, Colorado Boulevard is our lifeline for activities and community gatherings. However, as many residents may already know, in the days of Route 66, Eagle Rock’s main street became just a cut-through for travelers going elsewhere and much of the frontages on our Boulevard reflected this. Auto repairs, service stations, and generally auto oriented businesses thrived in the neighborhood. 1992 saw Eagle Rock’s progressive specific plan for Colorado, set on changing the neighborhood from a cut-through to a rather livable town. Provisions in the CSP that make this possible are –
Subarea I from Eagledale Avenue to Windermere Avenue
Subarea II from Windermere Avenue to Loleta Avenue
Subarea III From Loleta Avenue to Hollbrook Street/ Eagle Vista Drive
Section 3: PURPOSES
Colorado Boulevard within the Specific Plan area is a significant commercial area, particularly Subareas I and III. It is the purpose of this Specific Plan to insure that future development in the Specific Plan area occurs in a manner which is compatible with the surrounding residential community and with the capacity of the circulation system. The following general policies shall guide development within the Specific Plan area:
(3.B) Subarea II shall have a pedestrian orientation. In this subarea, low intensity development shall be encouraged to take place as well as the preservation of cultural resources.
(3.C) Pedestrian-oriented design and development shall be encouraged and the adverse environmental effects of development within the Specific Plan area shall be minimized
(3.L) This Specific Plan area is designed to address the problems in this Colorado Boulevard commercial strip, which is characterized by the concentration of auto-related businesses with no rear alleys in commercial zones, and with considerable traffic
Section 6: USES
1. The following uses shall not be permitted in Subarea II and III and shall be permitted within Subarea I only after the Area Planning Commission has approved the use as set forth in Paragraph 2 below.
a. Automobile service station and other automobile-related retail use.
b. Automobile repairing and painting
c. Storage yard (automobile, machinery, construction material)
d. Hospital and convalescent home
e. Fast food drive-through restaurant
f. Rental equipment center
g. Mini-shopping center
h. Any business which operate between the hours of 9pm and 7am
i. Motel and hotel and
j. Rescue mission
2. The above-listed uses may be permitted in Subarea 1 pursuant to be approval by the Area Planning Commission The Area Planning Commission shall have authority to approve any such use. The Area Planning Commission, in approving any of these uses, shall make the finding contained in L.A.M.C. Section 12.24E. Approval of uses through this procedure shall not be construed as exempting the Project from other applicable provisions of this Specific Plan
Today, many auto oriented shops still exist though as gas becomes more expensive and the city is recognizing a need to focus on alternatives, auto shops may not be as ubiquitous in the future as they are now. While some may argue Eagle Rock is vibrant I can only agree to a certain extent. I would argue the town has so much more potential! Despite changes that have resulted from the CSP, we still dedicate much space to automobiles. I can only imagine what Eagle Rock looked like at its most Route 66 like state…
One area of Colorado has me particularly interested, the stretch between Shearin Avenue and Hermosa Avenue. Four auto-oriented businesses here, in prime location with The Oinkster, Coffee Table, Taco Spot, Jose Vera Fine Arts Antiques, Eagle Rock City Hall, Woman’s Twentieth Century Club, Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse all within close proximity. Actually, Shearin is where the popular portion of Colorado (it, of course, starts at Eagle Rock Boulevard) ends.
Lately I have been thinking “what if one, two three, or even all four of these auto businesses left and had to be converted under the CSP provisions?” If just one of these auto businesses left and turned into a place welcoming of all ages the overall area would look so much nicer and be more pedestrian friendly. One thing that has hurt the communities of Glassell Park and Cypress Park is the large amount of auto shops that prevent a community from coming to life, that make sidewalks less attractive to use for a variety of reasons ( too many driveways, destinations only used for people with car troubles, loud noise).
Naturally, auto-oriented businesses are necessary but what should be emphasized is that we shouldn’t dedicate so much of our most precious commerce space for cars. What do you like about traveling to towns and cities in Italy, Spain, Sweden, or France? What makes a desirable location? My personal answer is a community that places the highest importance on people, and the quality of life of the residents and I find this a difficult answer to argue against. Increasingly cities around the US and other parts of the world are seeing the light which makes Northern European countries the happiest countries in the world. In countries where people are giving way to cars the results haven’t been pretty.
So I write this post, in appreciation of Eagle Rock’s progressive planning decision in 1992. Eagle Rock has made strides on its way towards becoming a more livable place, but more can be done. Cars just aren’t the end all, be all that they used to be and Eagle Rock does not need to devote excessive space to cars in its downtown.