Feb. 27, 2017: What drove the Council’s decision to approve without a thorough study?

On Feb. 27, Alhambra citizens appealed the Planning Commission’s Jan 17 vote to approve the Lowe’s planned development on Fremont @ Mission, and took it to the City Council. Residents called for the City to ensure a comprehensive environmental and traffic study before developers build on contaminated land, at the crux of Fremont traffic, without a full Environmental Impact Report.    (Find out more about the project.)


the projected site is on Fremont, between Mission Road and Concord Ave.

There was 1 hour of public testimony. Those 9 members of the public that spoke in favor of pushing through with the project without a more thorough and valid study included:

  • the son of former Councilmember Yamauchi
  • the owner of the existing land tract
  • two board members from the Chamber of Commerce
  • a Las Vegas developer

The meeting was videotaped by the city and is available to the public. 

Did you know? Councilmembers Maloney and Mejilla both received $5000 from the developer who is developing this project.  Their opponents did not take campaign money from developers who have their sights set on Alhambra.

Councilmember Ayala, who lives in the Emery Park neighborhood behind the project, believes Lowe’s won’t bring more traffic because there is already an Albertsons and Kohls nearby (logic???)  and assured the residents in the packed room that the contamination on the site will be cleaned up and there will be nothing to worry about. He also cited the history of the project where previously a Walmart was being considered; in his mind, the multi-million dollar Lowe’s would be an improvement, because according to him, it’s a “mom and pop store”.  Ayala complained that he hadn’t heard from residents about what other projects they would like there.  That’s probably because residents are under the impression that he is one of the leaders of the City and would investigate other options that fall within the industrial zoning ordinance — the Lowe’s does not– before voting for its construction as is.

Councilmember Messina stood by her decision and told the residents that that the Council only has the city’s best interest at heart — perhaps she meant the business community’s. She believed the initial report was “well over the basics.”

Councilmember Maloney acknowledged that building a Lowe’s would “have some impact” on the traffic, but assured the community that that can be mitigated, and he reminded the community that the City is planning on having a shuttle to and from the Gold Line station in South Pasadena, which obviously would only be feasible, should they wish to use it, for the employees in the office buildings (approx. 2,600).  Maloney’s assurance is based 100% on anecdotal and personal rationale as no study or survey has been conducted about how many vehicles the shuttle to the site alleviate from the street.  

Councilmember Sham had no problem with project’s study as is and repeated what Councilmember Maloney mentioned as the “solution”:  the shuttle to the Gold Line.

Councilmember Mejilla shared no rationale for his vote and asked no questions to the developer, thus his constituents have no idea what influenced his vote.  Several members of the audience, however, did have an idea what could have influenced his vote: $5000 from the developer directly to his, as well as Councilmember Maloney’s, election campaign 3.5 months prior.

The citizens that challenged the Planning Commission decision to the City Council are evaluating all options after this ill-informed decision.

Did you know? Neither Alhambra Planning Commission nor the City planners have answered the question “how many cars will be on Fremont throughout the day in the area of the planned development?” The City’s initial study indicates that 4000-8000+ cars per day may shop at Lowe’s, but the City has used a Lowe’s in Poway, CA–in  the middle-of-nowhere in rural San Diego–  to get those statistics! At 5pm on a weekday, approximately how many cars will be on Fremont along the route? How long will it take to drive 2 blocks? No one knows!


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