PASADENA — Opponents of the Rose Townhomes, reeling from their failure to gather enough signatures to force a citywide referendum on the project, fear that an initiative that could be used to halt the development might also lack the required number of signatures.
The Northeast Pasadena Residents Assn. had circulated a referendum petition aimed specifically at halting the 184-unit project. But City Clerk Pamela Swift announced last week that it fell 686 valid signatures short of the 6,312, or 10% of the city's registered voters, required to put the issue on the June 7 ballot.
The companion initiative, which would impose a two-year moratorium on all major construction in the city unless approved by voters, was submitted for validation on Feb. 8. It had 7,847 signatures. Results of the signature verification are expected to be announced Monday.
"If the ratio of invalid signatures for the initiative is the same as for the referendum, it (the initiative) will not" get on the ballot, said Amos Hoagland, vice president of the association.
Although proponents of the initiative say it would impose reasonable controls on growth in the city, opponents maintain that it would halt all development in Pasadena.
Hoagland said that if the initiative petition fails, his group does not plan to circulate another one to get the issue on the June ballot. Developers hope to start construction on the Rose Townhomes as early as June.
"There's just no way to get enough signatures in time," he said.
Short of the initiative, Hoagland said, "I can't think of anything we can do," except to "band with other neighborhood associations so that it doesn't happen again somewhere else."
Developer Going Ahead
H. Scott Howell, vice president of Calmark Development Corp., the project's developer, said he is acting on the assumption that the initiative will be on the ballot. But, he said, his firm is going ahead with plans for the Rose Townhomes, presuming that if construction starts before the initiative is approved, his project will not be affected.
Hoagland said the failure of the referendum was a major blow to the residents' group.
"This has knocked out a major prop in our fight," he said. "We don't feel too happy about it."
However, Hoagland said he had "halfway anticipated it would happen," explaining that the petitions for both the referendum and the initiative were circulated during the holiday season and that bad weather kept the organization from acquiring enough valid signatures.
Despite the setback, opponents say they have not abandoned their fight.
At Monday's Board of Directors meeting, Director William Paparian, whose district includes the Rose project site, said he might try to persuade the board to put the referendum on the June 7 ballot despite the lack of valid signatures.
Paparian noted that "5,626 citizens have indicated they want to put this issue on the ballot. I was wondering if my colleagues would put this on the ballot in June."
But Director Rick Cole, the only other director who opposes the project, said that although he was sympathetic to Paparian's request, he opposed it.
"If we put this on the ballot because they came close (to gathering the required amount of signatures), it would be setting a hard precedent for us to follow," Cole said.
City Atty. Victor Kaleta said the board could put the issue on the ballot without the required number of signatures, but he added: "I think I should not even delve into something I haven't sat down and thought about."
The board decided to table the issue until the outcome of the signature verification is announced.
The town homes would be built on a 16.4-acre site on Washington Boulevard just north of Pasadena High School. The land is owned by Pasadena Unified School District.
The development would include 20 detached single-family homes and 164 attached duplex homes, ranging in price from $160,000 to $215,000.
According to Calmark, the design of the two- to four-bedroom homes would be reminiscent of the Craftsman-style homes common in Pasadena.
Opponents contend that there would be too many homes on too little land.
The school district, which sold the site to Calmark contingent upon city approval, was happy with the turn of events.
"The district is very pleased and excited," board President Noel Hatch said.
Hatch said the district plans to keep the $9.3 million Calmark has agreed to pay for the land and use the more than $800,000 a year in interest for capital improvements.