As a result of my recent Trash-a-Dena blog series documenting pollution in the Arroyo, Pasadena Director of Public Works Siobhan Foster asked to meet with me to discuss my ideas and a possible partnership with the City to address plastic pollution in the Central Arroyo. On Tuesday, November 27, I met with Siobhan Foster, Parks and Natural Resources Administrator Charles Peretz and Parks Superintendent Ana Bailey, and shared with them my plan for the proper everyday maintenance of the Arroyo:
Role of volunteers:
- Volunteers are an effective resource for periodic, targeted cleanups. However, volunteers cannot manage day-to-day maintenance of the Arroyo and special event cleanups. More manpower and financial resources are necessary to adequately maintain the Central Arroyo.
Generate funds for regular, day-to-day and event cleanup:
- Follow the Urban Land Institute's suggestion for generating revenue through a fee-based parking program in the Central Arroyo.
- Install Kiosks which distribute day/month/yearly passes.
- Funding could be generated using a tiered pricing system--a modest fee for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, a slightly higher price for other citizens of Pasadena, and a higher, but still reasonable, price for residents of other cities.
- Parking permit would have to be priced reasonably to discourage recreational users of the Arroyo from parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.
- According to the Urban Land Institute, the 3.3-mile Rose Bowl Loop attracts 1.5 million visitors per year, and Brookside Golf Course attracts 800,000 visitors per year. If 500,000 of these visitors purchased a $10 annual parking pass, the City would generate $5,000,000 of revenue.
- Keep the proceeds in the Arroyo.
Use Funds to:
- Create a sustainable "Arroyo Seco Corps"- creating jobs for low-income youth throughout Pasadena, particularly from the Northwest. By doing so, the City could create Green Jobs for the most economically disadvantaged youth in the City.
- Offer the program through PUSD to students in good standing.
- Train Arroyo Seco Corps in best practices for trash cleanup and invasive plant removal. Training could be provided by local organizations such as the Arroyo Seco Foundation.
- Install recycling bins and additional trash cans throughout Central Arroyo.
- Install trash screens throughout Arroyo.
- Install interpretive signage to educate public about habitat and pollution issues.
"Green" the Arroyo-- Set environmental rules for events - As documented in my post regarding the latest Walk for Autism, event organizers often distribute thousands of plastic water bottles to participants, which inevitably end up polluting the Arroyo stream and trails. In addition, the recent balloon release by the Farmer's Insurance float during the Rose Parade impacted the Arroyo with litter.
A simple solution to these problems would be to require event organizers to serve water from refreshment coolers, using paper cups instead of distributing plastic bottles. Event participants could be encouraged to bring reusable bottles. Paper cups would not permanently pollute our watershed and ocean, and are easier to spot and remove during subsequent cleanup. Balloon releases, which are nothing more than acts of mass-littering, should be prohibited.
- Find alternatives to plastic zip-ties which are used to erect temporary fencing. These zip-ties are often left on the ground, polluting the Arroyo after events.
- Discontinue distribution of common Arroyo pollutants such as plastic straws and plastic beverage lids by restaurants and other food and beverage vendors in the Arroyo.
- Replace disposable, single-use plastic items with more sustainable alternatives. For example, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Huntington Library have moved away from plastic packaging in favor of glass and compostable alternatives.
The Rose Bowl Stadium is located in the bottom of a canyon in an environmentally sensitive watershed. It is a stadium with a year-long mountain stream running along side it which leads to the Pacific Ocean. Pasadena should make it the "greenest" stadium in the world. The Rose Bowl Stadium should set the standard for sustainability, and the Central Arroyo should be a model parkland.
This proposal is win-win for the City, the recreational users of the Arroyo, young people, public schools, and the Northwest Pasadena economy. It will help the City comply with it's Zero-Waste goals, create green jobs for Pasadena's young people, preserve the natural beauty of the Central Arroyo, and provide the citizens of Pasadena and all visitors to the Rose Bowl Stadium and the Central Arroyo with a world-class experience.