Caltech is a community dedicated to scientific and engineering exploration and to academic excellence.
At the heart of this mission are unwavering commitments to honor, integrity, equity, and diversity in all areas of work and campus life, which includes the Catalina Apartments and off-campus Caltech-owned properties.
The Catalina Apartments, or the "Cats," are at the center of Caltech's graduate community and provide housing for up to 450 graduate students. Many graduate students also live in Caltech-owned lease properties, which are in close proximity to campus.
The graduate residential community is home to a residential life team, which includes 1 Residential Life Coordinator that oversees the wider graduate residential community, 3 Resident Associates that support Catalina residents, and 1 Resident Associate that supports off-campus residents. Together they enhance the living experience of graduate residents by serving as a resource on personal or academic matters, as well as providing opportunities for social interactions between residents through hosting programs that enhance the multifaceted aspects of graduate life.
For information on common resident policies and how they may apply to you, please view the Catalinas FAQ at the bottom of this page. For additional policy information, please refer to your Housing Contract or the Caltech Resident Guide.
Each of the three Catalina properties (North, Central, and South) has a recreation center for residents' enjoyment. Your Caltech ID will provide you access to the buildings. The recreation centers are equipped with outdoor barbecues, patio furniture, foosball and pool tables, large-screen cable TV, DVD/Blu-ray players, stereo equipment, a kitchenette, and fireplace. They also house the Catalinas' washers and dryers, all of which are card-operated.
To reserve a Catalina Recreation Room, you must create an account on our reservation system, accessible only to residents through invitation. If you need access to the site, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Catalina Recreation Room Policies
- Current residents of the Catalina Apartments may reserve the recreation rooms for campus or residential community events.
- Only 2 of the 3 recreation rooms are available for reservation at any given time. One recreation room must be left open for general use at all times.
- All reservations must be approved. You will be notified via email if your reservation is approved.
- Please submit requests at least 2 business days in advance for approval. Reservations requested 2 months or more in advance will not be approved.
- Events must conclude no later than 10PM on weekdays and 12AM on weekends.
- Please respect your neighbors when using these facilities by being mindful of noise level.
- Event Registration: Please check the Event Registration Guidelines or consult with the Catalina Residential Life Coordinator to determine if your event needs to be registered.
- Cleaning: The Recreation Rooms should be cleaned after scheduled events. Large or excessive amounts of trash and recycling must be taken to bins located in the Cats along S. Catalina Blvd. Failure to clean up after events will lead to disciplinary actions which may include the loss of reservation privileges and/or cleaning fees billed to the resident's Bursar account.
The Catalina Community Garden project began in response to the demand for more space by members of the Avery Community Garden. The Sustainability Office responded by opening up a green space at 391 Wilson Avenue between the parking structures. Included in the development were a small grove of citrus and avocado trees, an area for vines along the wall with grapes started, plots for a community garden, and a gazebo.
However, despite the work put into the development, the plots sat empty for over a year. Finally, in 2013, a group of resident volunteers in the Catalina Apartments applied for and received a grant from the Moore-Hufstedler Fund, providing funding to start the gardening project. The Catalina Community Associates took a leadership role in promoting the project, organizing the plots, and managing the community maintenance of the garden. The funds from the MHF grant were used to purchase plants, seeds, tools, and a garden shed and the barren area was transformed to a green oasis.
The garden plots are all well maintained, the benches are a nice spot to relax, and the gazebo has transformed into a prime location for lunch, dinner, and evening drinks.
Future development projects include planting more vines (perhaps the Strong Ale Club will plant hops), finding some covering for the gazebo (a native or adapted vine would be quite nice), and signs. A mural or sign on the Wilson parking structure is an option, as well as informational signs in the front area, where native and adapted plants are thriving and demonstrating how to make a beautiful landscape without needing extra sources of water.
If you would like to join the garden, please email the Residential Life Coordinator (Isabel Peng) to inquire if a plot is currently available, or to be added to the waitlist.
Garden members must commit to taking care of their plot for at least one term. Members may choose to keep or give up their plot at the end of the term.
Catalina Community Associates (CCAs) are a group of graduate students who volunteer to plan and implement community-wide events that enhance the social engagement and experience of graduate students. While many CCAs are Catalina residents, there are also CCAs who live off-campus. CCAs attend and engage in monthly meetings with the Graduate Residential Life Coordinator and RA team. They receive training from different offices on campus to better support and interact with diverse groups of students. CCAs develop event planning and programming skills and have the opportunity to connect socially with the greater graduate student community.
Examples of past CCA events:
- Game Nights (Among Us, Jackbox Party, board games, etc.)
- Movie and Documentary Nights
- Tea Ceremony
- DIY Crafts
- Photography Workshops
- Fitness Tournament
- Sci-fi Book Club
- Running Club
Catalina Apartments FAQ
Here you can find information on more of the common resident policies and how they may apply to you. For additional information, please refer to your Housing Contract or the Caltech Resident Guide.
Quiet hours for resident apartments and recreation rooms in the Catalina Apartments are:
- 10PM-7AM Sunday through Thursday
- 12AM-7AM Friday and Saturday
Courtesy hours are in effect 24/7. Sound travels easily throughout the buildings, so please be considerate of your neighbors, especially during times such as midterms or final exam weeks.
Here are some things you can do to be considerate of your neighbors:
- Use headphones when listening to music
- Be aware of your foot traffic/door slamming, etc.
- Utilize the Music House practice rooms for rehearsals
If you are having noise issues with a neighbor, make the first attempt to politely let your neighbor know that you can hear them audibly. If the issue persists, contact the Residential Life Coordinator, or a Resident Associate for assistance. If the noise is excessive (blasting music past quiet hours) call Security at: (626)-395-4701.
Repeated complaints against tenants may result in termination of the Housing contract.
The previous Guest Policy is rescinded due to safety guidelines around COVID-19. No guests are allowed to enter any indoor Caltech Housing units (i.e., apartments, studios, etc.) at this time. If a resident is found to not comply with this policy, initial reports will take an educational approach. However, if there is an ongoing disregard for the policy, the Graduate Dean will determine the appropriate sanctions. We will notify residents when local public health changes the guidelines.
Per Pasadena municipal code, smoking is prohibited:
- Inside individual rooms and apartments,
- In all common areas including, without limitation: courtyards, walkways, stairs, balconies and patios, parking garages and parking lots, laundry facilities, community garden, and recreation rooms.
No smoking is permitted within 20 feet of any doorway or window.
Smoking means the combustion of any cigar, cigarette, or any similar article, using any form of tobacco or other combustible substance in any form. his policy includes electronic or e-cigarettes. Per Caltech's Substance Abuse Policy: "Marijuana still is a controlled substance under federal law, and therefore the use, manufacture, distribution, cultivation, dispensation, possession, sale, purchase of or offer to sell or purchase marijuana on the Caltech campus or its off-site locations, including JPL, or as any part of its activities, continues to be prohibited."
- Please remove clothes promptly from washer and dryer after use. Set a timer!
- Please take your detergent and laundry with you - nothing may be stored in the laundry rooms. Any items left out for more than 48 hours will be discarded.
- Please leave the laundry room as clean as, or cleaner than you found it. This means wiping up spills, removing lint from dryers, and disposing of it properly.
- Be careful not to overload the machines - this may cause them to break!
- To report a problem with the machines, please log into your access.caltech.edu account and click on "AiM Customer Portal." Select the "Housing" icon, and submit a service request. Be sure to include both the location (recreation room building number) and the machine number.
Both mail and packages are delivered to the mailboxes and lockers located outside the appropriate Catalina Recreation Rooms.
- North Cats mailboxes: outside the North Cats Rec Room
- Central Cats mailboxes: outside the Central Cats Rec Room
- South Cats mailboxes: outside the South Cats Rec Room
To pick up mail in the Cats, you will need your mail key. Packages are left in the storage lockers underneath the mailboxes. Keys to unlock these storage lockers will be left in your mailbox when you receive a package. Please retrieve packages from these lockers in a timely manner.
If there isn't room in the storage lockers or your package is delivered through a service other than USPS, packages may be left outside your door or in front of the parcel system.
If residents are unable to receive a package during regular business hours, packages should be sent to Shipping and Receiving with the mail code of their respective academic departments. Packages should be addressed as follows:
391 S HOLLISTON AVE
ATTN: YOUR NAME, MAIL CODE XXX-YYY
PASADENA, CA 91125
Sending Mail and Packages to the Catalina Apartments
To send mail or packages to the Catalina Apartments, you will need to know your full address in the Cats, which you should have received during move-in. An example address is shown below:
200 S. Catalina Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91106
If you would like to send mail to your apartment before you arrive, you should send mail to your campus address instead. Generally, you will send it to campus (1200 E. California Blvd.), and then it will be directed to the right place via a mail code (MC) specific to your department or division. An example address is shown below:
1200 E. California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
With the number of residents moving in and out of the Catalinas apartments throughout the year, you're bound to get some mail that was incorrectly delivered or belongs to the previous resident.
Here are some tips for what to do in a few common scenarios:
Changing Your Address When You Move
When you move, make sure you file change-of-address forms with the following groups:
- US Postal Service
- California DMV
- California Elections Office
- Any bank accounts, credit cards, or other financial institutions
- Cable, phone providers
- Doctor, dentist, other medical professionals
- Insurance companies (rental, car, health)
- Magazines, newspapers, other subscription services
Mail for a Previous Resident
- Most importantly, don't open the mail or throw it out! Opening or throwing away mail that isn't yours is against federal law.
- Check to make sure the mail hasn't been delivered to the wrong mailbox. If this is the case, see the next section below!
- Scratch out the address block and bar codes and write "No Longer at This Address" on the envelope.
- Drop the mail in outgoing mail.
Mail Delivered to the Wrong Apartment Mailbox
- Return it to the outgoing mailbox. As long as the mail has not been opened, it should be re-delivered to the correct person.
- If the mail looks important, consider being neighborly and dropping it off at your fellow resident's apartment!
Forwarding Mail to a Previous Resident
If you have the new address for the previous resident, you can forward any mail you get to them directly.
- Cross out your address, leaving the addressee's name untouched. A bold, diagonal slash over the address with a pen is sufficient.
- On the front of the envelope in a blank area, clearly write "Forward to ___________" writing in the new address.
- Since the forwarded letter will NOT need a new stamp, it can be dropped directly in a mailbox for pickup and redelivery.
For use of the Caltech parking garages or lots, please contact the Caltech Parking Office during business hours to obtain a permit. The office is in the back of the building that houses the Caltech Credit Union (515 S. Wilson). They can also be reached at 626-395-8877 (x8877 from a campus phone).
Parking in the Caltech lots is free over the weekend, although residents are not permitted to park in designated spots (spots with names or signs specifying use). Temporary daytime parking can be found on the street on S. Catalina Ave and the surrounding streets (check street signs for more details).
Parking on the street is not allowed at night between 2am and 6am (Pasadena Municipal Code 10.44.010). Temporary overnight parking permits are available through the City of Pasadena at select locations or online.
More information about parking is available online at the Caltech Parking Office.
- Reservations may only be made by current residents of the Catalina Apartments.
- To reserve a Catalina Recreation Room, you must create an account on our reservation system, accessible only to residents through an invite. If you need access to the site, email the RLC, Isabel Peng, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Only 2 of the 3 Recreation Rooms may be reserved at any given time. One must be left open for general use.
- Reservations must be submitted at least 48 hours in advance.
- Recreation rooms may not be reserved for groups larger than 35 individuals, as this is the maximum capacity.
- Cleaning: Recreation Rooms should be cleaned after scheduled events: floors cleared of debris and all spills mopped up; furniture returned to original configuration; trash emptied into large area dumpsters; recyclables should be taken to recycling area; lights and air conditioning turned off. Failure to do so will result in cleaning charges billed to the party host (the person who made the reservation).
- Noise: Events must align with the Quiet Hour policy. 24/7 courtesy hours are in effect with the Recreation Room as well. If a resident asks individuals of a Recreation Room event to close the doors, reduce conversational noise, or reduce the noise of music/activities, users are expected to honor these requests.
- Personal garbage bags should NOT be placed in or left out by the community trashcans; they must be taken to the dumpsters located by buildings 1036, 1028, 450, and 434 (see map). When possible, please use plastic garbage bags and tie them up before throwing them in the dumpster to prevent pests and keep odor as contained as possible. And as much fun as it is to throw your trash off balconies into the dumpsters, DON'T – the bags will break open, and create a bigger mess.
- Recycling is highly encouraged. You can take your pre-sorted recyclables (cardboard boxes, plastic and glass bottles with Cash Redemption Value, etc.) to recycling centers located adjacent to the dumpsters (see map).
Safety and Security
Below are practical and helpful tips from Caltech Security regarding protecting your bike from theft. If you own a bike, you may find these tips useful.
Register Your Bike with Security
Register your bike at the Caltech Parking Office (x8877) and the Pasadena Police Department. If you are unlucky enough to have your bike stolen, having your bike registered will help you get it back. We recommend that you take a photo of your bike and record any details like the model and color, as well as the frame number. Most importantly, make sure you label your bike in multiple places indicating where the bike is registered. If stolen, the thief will likely strip off what labels he/she easily sees, but the one label he/she misses could help you get your bike back!
- Consider using the bike cage (managed by Campus Security) located in the Holliston structure. This cage is accessed by your Caltech ID. It is on a monitored camera 24/7. There has never been a bike theft from this secured location. The cost is $50.00 a year! That comes to less than $5.00 a month!
Use Good Locks
No lock is totally thief-proof but the more you spend, the better the lock will be. As a rough guideline, look to spend 20% of the value of the bike on locks. There are several types:
- D or U locks are rigid steel locks that separate into two pieces. Get a lock that physically locks both ends of the U to the cross-bar. If you are going to get a cable lock for the front wheel, get the smallest lock possible, and lock it through the rim of the rear wheel.
- Cable locks can be looped around the bike and around larger objects. Go for a thick one with interwoven threads, which will take a thief longer to cut through. However, any cable can be cut through in seconds with a good set of bolt cutters. In high-theft areas, they are only good for securing the front wheel to the frame.
- There are also hardened bike chains, which are the best option for securing your bike. If you have quick-release mechanisms on your seat or wheels, you can buy locking nuts and bolts. These can be undone with a uniquely shaped key-so passing thieves can't steal them.
Lock Your Bike Correctly
Make sure your D-lock is tight so that the lock is not hanging loose and there's no space between the bike and the object to which it is locked. This will make it difficult to lever the lock open. Make sure the keyhole is pointing down so the thieves can't fill it with corrosive fluid, or with glue, which means you can't move it, but they can come back and steal it later. When you lock your bike somewhere, remember to remove accessories like lights or the seat if you haven't fitted locking nuts.
Lock Your Bike Somewhere Sensible
Always lock your bike, even if you're only leaving it for a minute. Leave it in as public a place as possible. Ideally, lock it where you can see it -- or where lots of other people can see it. If you're just taking a break, lock it up nearby where you're sitting down.
Lock Your Bike to Something Solid
Make sure your bike is secured to an immovable object like a cycle anchor. Some things that look solid are not so check before you lock your bike somewhere. If you are locking it to a post, make sure the post is at least 12 feet (4 meters) high so thieves can't lift it over the top.
Label Your Bike with Your Name
Make sure to label your bike with your name and registration information in multiple locations. If you have a drill, carve your name under the bike. Carving your name into your bike ensures that if someone steals the bike, they can't remove your name without breaking the bike. Even if they paint over your name, it will be rough, and your name will be visible.
Additional Caltech Resources
- Check out the Caltech Bike Lab, Person a bike cooperative run by volunteers at Caltech. Learn how to fix and maintain your bike, organize classes on how to ride safely in the streets, host rides and other club events, teach classes on bike repair, and participate in local Pasadena/Los Angeles bike community outreach. Visit the Caltech Bike Lab during Office Hours or sign up for their mailing list!
The following information is taken from the Caltech Security website. We encourage you to browse their website for additional tips and safety information. Click here to view the Grad Housing Safety Tips flyer.
General Precautions for Personal Safety
There are no guarantees of personal safety in any environment. It is incumbent upon each individual to safeguard himself or herself against becoming the victim of a crime. One of the best ways to maximize your safety and minimize your risk is to follow some very simple security rules:
- Walk with a friend whenever possible.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you, no matter whether it is day or night.
- Use well-lighted, well-traveled routes. Avoid dark, vacant, or deserted areas.
- Walk with confidence. Show that you are aware and in control. Body language works.
- Trust your instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, get out or get away.
- If you feel you are being followed, move to a well-lighted and populated area or building, such as a store or restaurant, and call for assistance.
- Know where the emergency telephones are located on campus. (Click here for a campus map.)
- If you are on campus after hours, stay alert.
- Lock office or lab doors.
- Call Security if you see or hear anything suspicious.
- Tell a friend, colleague, or Security where you are and when you plan to leave.
- Arrange to meet a friend or request an escort from Security when you leave.
- When you are out by car, park in well-lighted areas. Avoid parking in secluded parts of a parking lot. Stick to high traffic areas.
- When out shopping, don't carry large bundles or packages. It distracts you from your surroundings and makes you a potential target for a thief.
The Catalina Apartments, as well as all Caltech Housing properties, are private property so solicitors (people selling magazines, asking for donations, etc.) should NOT be approaching you or going door-to-door. If someone comes to your door without you asking them to come, you should be very cautious. While not everyone going door-to-door is a criminal, there are many types of scams that are conducted in this manner.
Here are some helpful tips and reminders from Security and Housing about solicitors in the Cats:
Solicitors asking for charitable donations are required to have a permit from the city of Pasadena. If you are not sure about their intent, ask to see their permit.
If you are approached, you do not have to engage in conversation. Some things you can say:
- No thank you, I'm not interested.
- I'm sorry, I'm busy right now.
- Do you have a business card so I can think about it and reach you later?
- Is there a way I can purchase online?
- Be firm and polite, then close the door or continue on your way. Notify Security by calling 626-395-5000.
If you are uncomfortable with someone approaching you or knocking on your door, politely decline, continue on your way, and call Security at 626-395-5000 (x5000 from a campus phone).
- Do not let any solicitor in your home.
- Do not give money before the product is delivered or service rendered.
- Do not pay with cash. Pay by check to ensure payment can be stopped or the transaction can be tracked.
- Be wary of anyone that uses high-pressure sales tactics.
- Ask lots of questions and request brochures and business cards.
Also remember these general safety tips:
- Safety in numbers: Try to walk with a friend, especially if it's late at night, and pay attention to your surroundings. You can also call Security for an escort if you feel unsafe: 626-395-4701 (x4701 from a campus phone).
- Get to know your neighbors: In addition to just being friendly, knowing your fellow students will help you recognize when there are solicitors or trespassers on the property.
- If you see something, say something: If you notice anything that seems suspicious, call Security at 626-395-5000 (x5000 from a campus phone).