Pasadena behind in infrastructure upgrades

Pasadena behind in
infrastructure upgrades
Brian Charles, Staff Writer

Posted: 07/09/2011 07:12:18 AM PDT

Beyond the parades, pageantry and ornate
buildings that serve as Pasadena's calling card,
lies crumbling infrastructure that weighs heavy
on the minds of city officials.

Seven of Pasadena's eight fire stations don't
meet current state earthquake code, which
contrasts sharply with the smaller cities in the
area, many of which have invested in much
newer fire stations.

Estimates to fix Pasadena's aging fire stations
have come in at $59 million. The problem was
among the first major issues Pasadena City
Manager Michael Beck identified when he
became city manager two years ago.

"It was in the fire department strategic plan and
when I first toured the facility (in 2009) that I had
concerns," Beck said. "I recognized the age of
the facilities."

Pasadena's oldest fire station - Station 39 - was
built in the 1949, with construction methods no
longer in practice, according to experts in the

In stark contrast, Arcadia, San Marino, South
Pasadena and Sierra Madre's fire stations were
all built after the 1971 Sylmar quake. And each
of those was built to earthquake codes more in
line with current standards. In some cases, those
buildings were constructed in the last decade or
have received recent structural upgrades,
officials said.

Pasadena's Station 39, which serves the San
Rafael and Linda Vista neighborhoods, was

closed in April following a report by the city,
which showed the building would collapse under
severe shaking.

"There's been a recognition for years there are
many concrete frame buildings built in the `50s,
`60s and early `70s that if they are shaken
moderate to strongly they would collapse into a
pile of rubble," said Tom Heaton, Caltech

And the seven Pasadena fire stations in need of
repair were built between the 1950s and 1970s,
prior to more modern building techniques and
construction codes, according to a city report.

The report also called for emergency repairs on
Fire Station 32 on East Villa Street. Those repairs
are underway.

The staggering depth of Pasadena's fire station
infrastructure problem has driven Beck to call for
a voter-approved capital improvement bond to
fix the fire stations.

"One of the things we will be looking at is a
public safety facilities bond that is supported by
the property owners," Beck said. "That's why we
need to move forward. We do need to upgrade
all seven of the structures."
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