Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Gold Line Rider's Guide to South Pasadena

Last night we went with a friend to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the AMC Theatres in Arcadia. That's the first time I've been to Arcadia since moving to the greater LA metropolitan area two years ago. (I moved here from Houston in August 2003; although, I may be able to consider myself a native Californian because I was born in Pasadena and lived my first three years here.) I know the LA County Arboretum is in Arcadia. My mom has told me that when I was a youngster she would take me there--why, I don't know, because apparently I was terrified by the peacocks and the shrieking sound they make.

I digress. The question I wanted to put forward is this: do you think South Pasadena needs another movie theater? Do you think it would be a good thing if, say, a three screen movie theater went up? Or do you think the Rialto should expand and add another few screens? Not that anything like that is going to happen--just curious.

I guess that makes me think of another question: with the completion of the Meridian Village lofts and the plans to redevelop the Mission West district, how long do you think it is going to take for South Pas to become crazy busy? Do you think lots of people are going to discover the town and make it a specific destination from places like Highland Park or Hollywood or Culver City? I seem to be full of questions. One more: do you think the city should do anything in particular to manage a new influx of people and nighttime activity? I am interested to hear what you think.


Blogger marielle said...

Funny, I just had a conversation this past week about what should be done with the Rialto.

Which would be worse, for it to remain as it is, or for it to become a multiplex showing first-run films? Ideally neither would happen, but it would be transformed a la the Vista in Silver Lake - new seats and a single large screen showing first-run flicks.

South Pas will probably never become crazy busy like Old Town, IMO, because *there aren't any bars.* Moreover, I don't think the residents would approve of Gaps and Cheesecake Factories opening up, and that's what the masses seem to want - predictability.

So for now we're safe. At least that's my hope - revitalization yes, frat boys no.

Yeah, I sound like an elitist. I know!

8:31 AM  
Blogger South Pas Blogs said...

I think it would be nice if there were one--or maybe even two--additional screens at the Rialto. That way you could always have one art film and one or two first-run films showing at the same time.

Elitist or not--there is something to be said for offering an alternative to the Cheesecake Factory. I can definitely see how new attractions in South Pas will draw people from Pasadena, San Marino, San Gabriel, and Alhambra. I wonder, though, if it will become a destination for more far-flung people. I know there are already people who hop on the Gold Line to come hang out and Buster's and Kaldi; it will be interesting to see if people will drive from Santa Monica or Sherman Oaks to spend an evening in South Pas. With the right restaurants, I think this will happen.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Rialto is the BEST building in SP! It should not be cut up into a multi-plex as there are already plenty of these nearby. The best bet is to a)Renovate and restore the building. And b)Turn it into a multi-purpose arts complex like the Alex Theater in Glendale. Movies, revivals, live performances, etc. This would be really cool and would not affect the already bad congestion on Fair Oaks Avenue.

Speaking of traffic and congestion, I think at least 51% of the congestion on Fair Oaks is due to people from Pasadena, Eagle Rock and the 110 freeway on their way to Alhambra, San Marino, etc. I don't think there is anything that can be done about this short of Caltrans building that tunnel down to the 710.

12:27 PM  
Blogger South Pas Blogs said...

I definitely agree; I don't think the Rialto should be altered in any way that damages the original structure. And there are certainly enough multi-plexes in the area. I was surprised by the fact that we were able to get to the AMC Theatres in Arcadia in ten minutes flat. I do like the idea of being able to walk to a theater that has a number of movies playing, though.

Being a musician, a possibility that definitely interests me is having one or two venues (or multi-purpose arts facilities) that offer live music on a regular basis. I appreciate the jazz band that plays at Buster's, but Buster's doesn't offer too much variety when it comes to their live music--and they only have it twice a week.

I live on Orange Grove so I don't experience too much of the Fair Oaks congestion. I suppose there have been a couple of times when I've been on Fair Oaks and it's been like a parking lot, but this was on the Pasadena side so that doesn't really count, anyway. When do you experience the most congestion on Fair Oaks?

12:49 PM  
Blogger marielle said...

I live right off of Fair Oaks, and it's a nightmare when I'm getting off the 110 during the week around 5-6pm. Gridlock city!

But it's also unpredictable. It was bumper to bumper either Saturday or Sunday afternoon, can't remember which. And I've given up on the straight shot up Fair Oaks to Old Town - Pasadena Avenue or Orange Grove are consistently less congested.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Princessa said...

I don't see South Pasadena becoming a destination-city to hang out in any time soon. Honestly, even if we had the right restaurants/venues/shops to draw in more crowds of people, I think that the majority of SoPas' residents like the small town feel that exists today. Come to think of it, that's one of the main reasons that I really like living here (though I could really go for a better selection of restaurants).

While I hear a lot of rumbling about revitalizing South Pasadena, I really believe that in the end the community leaders are really all about "slow-growth." Preserving the area and its quaint charm (AND stopping the 110/710 connection) is probably top-of-mind.

What do I know? I've only lived here for four years.

2:11 PM  
Blogger asymmetrical head said...

i usually experience traffic in between mission and the 110... but i know my way around it... i'm hardly there though unless i go to fair oaks cigar or something... but i usually walk there anyway...

as far as the rialto goes... a lot of you had great ideas about live shows and art exhibits and what not... right now, angie at bent is doing a good job at providing that for us here...

i've been wanting to talk to busters about playing live... but i don't know how most would react to experimental electronic music... although i've met quite a bit of people in south pas that dig it.

2:16 PM  
Blogger South Pas Blogs said...

Marielle, at least rush hour traffic here is nothing like it is in many other pockets of LA.

Princessa, I appreciate the intentionality of the community leaders in taking time to plan the development of the downtown area. I'm sure there may always a certain amount of resistance to change at work, but overall I think they do want to preserve what is unique about the town.

AH, maybe if things start picking up on Mission, Buster's will be open to having more music and different types of music. I've listened to your music and enjoyed it; I think it would work well at a coffee house. Angie is doing a great job @ bent; hopefully she's setting a pattern for other businesses that will open up on Mission to use their space as a place for the community to intersect.

3:05 PM  
Blogger marielle said...

Re: the traffic - you said it. The Fair Oaks traffic is a picnic compared to, say Wilshire between Western and La Brea. An experience that, I might add, I'll never have to experience again after tomorrow. Phew!

3:18 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


Mark my words - there is only a 10% chance that any significant, economically viable, and attractive redevelopment will occur in downtown South Pasadena. Here is the list of developments that the vocal no-growth advocates will allow in South Pas:

1) Nothing
2) Less than that.

Why do you think the two corners of Fremont and Mission have remained vacant and unsightly for years? Because (and I know from personal professional experience) that developers take one look and those corners, check in on the political climate in town, and then - quietly leave.

Its as simple as that. Commercial real estate development is not evil, per se. However, the prevailing mood in our Mayberry like town is anything but pro-development. So, everyone, enjoy things just as they are, old, tired, and inefficient. Nothing is likely to change for some time.

9:36 PM  
Blogger South Pas Blogs said...

Steve, I understand residents who are comfortable with their town wanting to keep it the way it is; but I can also see ways that Mission St. could be developed without taking anything away from the charm and spirit of the place. I don't think Mission St. would ever become another Colorado.

What do you think it would take to convince no-growth advocates to not fight against development?

11:15 AM  
Blogger Steve said...


I shall response with a humorous definition I heard years ago. What is the definition of an environmentalist? It is the fellow who built his mountain cabin LAST YEAR.

Substitute no-growth advocates for environmentalist in South Pas.

I agree, charm and spirit can be retained. Good point. However, please do not hold your breath waiting for any significant redevelopment to occur.

9:12 PM  

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