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Huntington Hotel Referendum

May 17, 1987

Sam Hall Kaplan's column (Real Estate, May 10) regarding the Huntington Hotel deserves an answer.

Perhaps this letter will help set the record straight for Times readers. The Huntington Hotel was closed by its Japanese owners in October, 1985, after studies by nationally known structural engineers showed the main building to be earthquake-unsafe. A group of local citizens came forward with a plan to reopen the historic Huntington Hotel, by taking down and rebuilding the flawed and dangerous main building and rebuilding it to keep its original appearance. The plan called for preserving all other historical elements of this 80-year-old Pasadena treasure.

Those plans were reviewed in perhaps 40 hours of public hearings by the Planning Commission, which approved them 7 to 0, and by the City Board of Directors (City Council), which approved the plans 4 to 1. I cannot recall a project in Pasadena that received more intense scrutiny by the city.

The matter was then qualified for a citywide referendum by the opponents of the reopening plan. In the four-month-long public debate that followed, the arguments that led to the approval have withstood the test of public examination once again. Pasadena voters will decide the fate of the Huntington Hotel on Tuesday.

The consequences of Tuesday's vote are serious for Pasadenans. A vote of "Yes" approves the plan to proceed with the reopening of the Huntington Hotel. A vote of "No" thwarts those plans and offers no alternative. The Huntington Hotel property will revert to residential zoning if the vote is "No."

Opponents of the reopening plan, including Kaplan I assume, hope that sometime in the future some plan more to their liking will beat the bulldozers, which could clear the entire plot for half-acre houses. The fact is that there is no other plan to keep the Huntington Hotel. Opponents are advocating a dangerous game of Russian roulette with our hotel. Their efforts to save one building could well lose the entire hotel.

As a city board member I voted for the reopening plan. I am urging Pasadenans to vote "Yes" on May 19 to allow that reopening plan to become a reality.


Mayor of Pasadena

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