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Pasadena real estate broker Eva Lin hosted a “Charity Bike Build” to benefit the children in transitional foster care at Hillsides Pasadena. Past clients, friends and family gathered at Brookside Park to donate their time to build 50 bikes. This is the fourth time Lin and her team held such an event. They were thrilled to resume their twice-yearly efforts, which were placed on hold during 2020. Although bicycle shortages prevented the team from sourcing as many bikes as they had hoped, they are optimistic that their December event will serve more than 100 local children.

July 4 typically is the most festive day in San Marino, replete with flags, a parade and a first-class fireworks show, but as with many aspects of life in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put a different slant on the holiday this year. The streets on Saturday more resembled the scene on a midweek workday than the party most anticipate all year. Even the J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Run went virtual, though many participants showed up to complete the real course even though any chosen route was deemed sufficient. The event typically features as many as 10,000 revelers, but no more than a usual Saturday crowd materialized on July 4, to the surprise of city officials who expected more to attend, if only out of habit. In the party’s place, the city of San Marino offered a home decoration contest that allowed residents to celebrate Independence Day in an alternative fashion. The Recreation Department offered residents free kits that included five American flags, red, white and blue sidewalk chalk, a patriotic pennant banner, a roll of patriotic crepe paper and a yard sign. According to city Recreation Supervisor Eddie Covarrubias, 167 homes took part in the contest. “We thought it was great,” said Covarrubias, who credited Councilwoman Susan Jakubowski with developing the idea. “The response was a lot bigger than we had anticipated. When we started getting phone calls we were really excited that people were responding.” The San Marino City Council’s five members served as judges for the contest, which…

The San Marino Design Review Committee unanimously continued an application for a proposed one-and-a-half story colonial house with a one car attached garage and two-car detached garage at 1541 Euston Rd. Carol and Frank Huang own the property. They’ve hired architect Alex Chang to design their new home. “We really wanted to have a true two-story but I know that a true two-story would be massive for the area, especially since the majority [of houses] on the east and the west are single story,” explained Chang at the committee’s Mar. 1 meeting. Chang defended a proposed front porch, which did not have the support of the committee and city staff. “We really wanted to articulate the front façade rather than just a flat surface with a story-and-a-half design,” he said, describing the porch, at five feet deep, as “minimal.” “The porch really creates a ‘welcome home’ effect,” Chang added, noting that the house would be 10 feet closer to the street once built. Alternate Committee Member Judy Johnson-Brody agreed that the proposed porch—along with most of the house—appeared tastefully designed, but objected to its location on the lot and incompatibility with neighboring houses. She said the porch “protrudes significantly into what is now the front yard. It is much farther in front than any other house to either side.” “It’s not the massing of the house. It’s not the square footage. It’s none of the thing you’ve already heard. For me, it really is the porch,” said Johnson-Brody, stating that…

The audience of approximately 30 neighbors, which included residents from Lorain Rd., Sherwood Rd., and other locations, could barely hold their applause when San Marino Design Review Committee Vice Chairperson William Dietrick stated his motion to deny the application for a new two-story home with basement and two-car garage at 2159 Lorain Rd. The DRC unanimously denied the proposed 3,030 square foot Colonial-Revival house after two hours of debate on Wednesday, Feb. 1, which started with a discussion followed by a decision to continue a plan to build a new house at 2151 Lorain Rd. “We do have a responsibility to the community to make sure the house is compatible, consistent with itself and with its neighbors and privacy protection of the neighbors. And this project does not address that,” Design Review Committee Chairperson Frank Hsu said of 2159 Lorain Rd. Committee Member Kevin Cheng was a vocal opponent of both proposals. “It would have to be completely overhauled and fine tuned even from there before I would even be able to consider approving it,” Cheng said of 2159 Lorain. Cheng also wanted to deny the proposal for a new house at 2151 Lorain based on a procedural issue that prohibited consideration of the home’s design by the committee at that meeting. “I think there’s a lot of community concern of this project in particular. My review of the design is it’s not an acceptable design because it’s an exact copy of what’s being proposed. And San Marino is made…

The San Marino Design Review Committee continued an application for after-the-fact approval of a side yard wooden lattice fence with green mesh at 2260 Lorain Rd., located at the corner of Lorain Rd. and San Marino Ave., to its Feb. 1 meeting. As part of the application, a proposal for a new steel sliding gate at the side yard was also continued. The new gate would, if approved, replace an existing gate. “The fence that’s there was installed without permits and now the applicant is here to request permission to keep them and to also change the gate design on the house,” said Associate Planner Amanda Merlo at the committee’s Jan. 4 meeting. “The design is not compatible with the house and the wood fence location would not be consistent with others on the block.” The property owner, Rita Yang, explained that the fence she installed re placed a wooden picket fence that was falling apart. Her grandchildren’s security, she added, was her primary motivation. However, committee members commented that the lattice fence wouldn’t best serve that purpose. “I’m confused as to why you chose a lattice as your design, because that provides very little privacy, where you have to put up a green [mesh] material that is, at this point, because [the hedges are] not solid, seen,” said Alternate Committee Member Judy Johnson-Brody. She recommended that Yang should instead install a solid barrier without any material adhered to it. DRC Chairperson Frank Hsu agreed. “A more solid material would…

The Theodore Pletsch-designed English Tudor Revival home at 1470 Virginia Rd. was found to be eligible as a local historic landmark, according to an eagerly-anticipated, city-financed historic resources assessment report. The San Marino City Council commissioned the report at its Oct., 2016 meeting and received a final copy on Dec. 28. The report, which was prepared by Arroyo Resources, is intended to help the council decide if it will designate the 1938 home as a local historic landmark. The council will be faced with that decision for a third time at its Jan. 11 meeting. The report is also intended to help the council decide if it will support or reject an appeal of the San Marino Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of the demolition of the Pletsch-designed home and the construction of a Spanish Colonial Revival home in its place. According to San Marino Municipal Code, the council can designate a property a local historic landmark if it “has played a role in the formation and existence of the City.” As the home relates to the formation of San Marino, the Arroyo report concluded that “the property is one of the best examples of the early garden estate homes that defined the formation of the City of San Marino…” The report continued that the City of San Marino’s formation was “based on the founding principles of community building during City incorporation [in 1913] as set forth by George Patton, Sr., Henry E. Huntington, and other local land owners.” As…

The San Marino Design Review Committee attempted to provide more clarity to Ken Wiley, owner of a single-story home at 677 S. Santa Anita Ave., regarding design changes that would help the proposed two-story Cape Cod house receive the advisory body’s approval. The DRC unanimously continued Wiley’s case to the committee’s Feb. 1 meeting to allow him time for modifications to the proposed house’s roof, square footage, lighting and doors and windows. “This is becoming a quite costly and frustrating process,” Wiley complained to the committee at its Dec. 21 meeting, which was the third hearing for the proposed house. “I think we’ve done pretty much everything that’s been asked of us in this process…and we come back and there’s a detail that wasn’t brought up in previous meetings,” Wiley said in response to comments from DRC Vice Chair William Dietrick, Member John Dustin and Alternate Member Judy Johnson-Brody. Committee Member Corinna Wong recused herself from the hearing due to her proximity to the subject property. “When this house first started out in this committee everyone commented that it was out of place in terms of its size and massing in that location,” Dustin said. “They’ve gone very aggressively after the height of the house, but really the interior living volume has been unchanged,” he noted, giving Wiley and his architect credit for their efforts to address cosmetic issues. “Visually, this house, in that location with its neighboring homes, looks substantially bigger and just addressing that one issue of the…

The San Marino Design Review Committee unanimously declared a Wallace Neff-designed, California Ranch style home at 1040 Oak Grove Ave. to be historically significant for the City of San Marino. The committee’s action will require the homeowner, Hongbin Peng, to initiate an environmental impact review, or EIR, which will examine the impact of tearing down the home on the environment. In an hour-and-a-half long hearing on Dec. 7, committee members decided that the home was an exception to the exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. City Associate Planner Amanda Merlo explained that most homes up for demolition are exempt under CEQA, but that “the exception to an exemption is if the project would significantly impact a historical resource.” Merlo, who had spent the day speaking to the city attorney about 1040 Oak Grove Ave., continued to provide the committee with more details regarding its options. “The reports do a good job of outlining the criteria they used to come to their conclusion. You could use that as a framework to determine if you agree with their conclusions or not,” Merlo stated, referring to two consultant-prepared historic resources reports that found the home ineligible for historic designation on the national, state and local levels. The reports were paid for by two different applicants as a result of a change in ownership of the property. “Our client did pay for this. First client paid for the first report. Second client paid for the second report. They would’ve been happy…

Two applications for steel shake roofs were unanimously approved by the San Marino Design Review Committee on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Both homes currently have wood shake roofs. At least three homes with a wood shake or wood shingle roof have caught on fire in the last year. “I’m all for it being fire-proof with the recent fires in town,” noted Vice Chairperson William Dietrick. “I think wood shakes are not going to happen anymore.” Dietrick enjoyed the weathered wood color of the proposed steel roofing material. Committee Members Kevin Cheng and John Dustin felt that the material appeared artificial. “For me personally, I still think the visual look of the product on such a prominent roof…looks very artificially manufactured,” Cheng said of the house at 1804 Windsor Road. “But weighed in balance with the other considerations I would be able to support this project.” Cheng also cited considerations of cost, durability and quality. “I still am not overjoyed with the look of the product. It just doesn’t have a natural look to it,” said Dustin. “In the balance of safety and insurability and all the other factors, I think we need to give this product a try,” he added, noting that the steel material would work better with a gable roof, such as the one on the house. Committee Member Corinna Wong and Committee Chairperson Frank Hsu also opted to experiment with the product, despite earlier concerns. “I’m willing to give the product a try on a gable roof,” said…

The San Marino Design Review Committee approved a one-story addition and side yard wall at 2105 Lorain Road, located at the corner of Lorain and Westhaven Roads. “The addition would fill an existing breezeway and would appear seamless with the existing house,” said San Marino Associate Planner Amanda Merlo, noting that city code prohibits the committee from conditioning a different height and setback for the proposed wall. Merlo, who made those comments while presenting the project to the committee, noted that the location of the proposed wall would be similar to an existing wall located at the corner property just north, at the corner of Westhaven Road and Sherwood Road. “This looks more like a continuance of that wall to the north,” said Chairperson Frank Hsu at the DRC’s Oct. 19 meeting. “And as far as the aesthetic goes I think it’s compatible,” he said, noting that the proposed shrubbery would have a softening effect on the submitted 6-foot high, 75-foot long wall. The wall would be set back 18 inches from the Westhaven Road sidewalk and would stretch from the driveway—next to which an existing wall encloses the backyard—to the master bedroom at the front of the house. Raymond Cheng, a member of the San Marino Planning Commission and an architect, owns the house. Kevin Cheng, a member of the DRC and Raymond Cheng’s son, recused himself from the hearing. “We bought this home for a couple of reasons. One, the three children we have, they all live about…