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Local Elections : Big Donors Fuel Fight Against Growth Limits

June 02, 1988|ASHLEY DUNN | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — Opponents of Proposition G, the city's first slow-growth initiative, have far outspent their rivals and may make the initiative campaign one of the most expensive in the city's history.

As of May 21, the Committee for Common Sense in Pasadena, the group fighting the initiative on Tuesday's ballot, had raised $107,000, far outstripping the record for a pre-election reporting period.

By contrast, the Northeast Pasadena Residents Assn., which is sponsoring Proposition G, had raised only $4,039, most of which has come in the form of donations from private citizens.

The previous record for fund raising was set last year during a campaign tostop the proposed demolition of the historic main building of the Huntington Hotel. Opponents of that measure raised $74,729 during the pre-election reporting period, which grew to $135,645 by the end of their successful campaign.

At least $59,800 of the funds raised by the Committee for Common Sense in Pasadena came from developers, businesses and private citizens from outside the city, according to campaign finance reports filed last week.

The largest contributions include $16,000 from the Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee of Los Angeles, which is affiliated with the California Assn. of Realtors; $10,000 from Huntington Hotel Associates, the developers of the hotel, and $9,000 from the Operating Engineers Pension Trust, Local 12, which is constructing an 11-story office building on Lake Avenue.

So far, the Committee for Common Sense in Pasadena has spent $85,273, including $20,488 paid to Read Communications, a Pasadena public relations firm, and $28,173 to Cerrell Associates, a Los Angeles political consulting firm.

The residents' group has spent $1,919, most of which went for printing.

The final report on fund raising and expenditures is expected in July.

Nat Read, head of Read Communications and a coordinator of the campaign against Proposition G, said the expenditures are necessary to combat widespread support for slow-growth movements throughout the area.

Amos Hoagland, a leader of the residents' group, said he expected the opposition to outspend his organization.

He said the association has depended on a grass-roots door-to-door campaign to get its message out.

"Big bucks would make things more comfortable, but we've depended on volunteers walking the streets and still depend on that the most," Hoagland said.

Proposition G grew out of a battle by residents who banded together last year to fight the Rose Townhomes, a 184-unit housing development proposed by Calmark Development Corp. of Los Angeles.

The project would be on a 16.4-acre lot on Washington Boulevard north of Pasadena High School. The site was purchased from the Pasadena Unified School District for $9.3 million.


The association tried to defeat the project through a referendum, but failed to gather enough signatures to force a citywide vote.

It was successful, however, in a petition drive to place its broader slow-growth initiative on the June ballot.

The initiative would kill the Rose Townhomes project by changing the zoning of the property and would institute a number of restrictions on development throughout the city.

The initiative calls for a moratorium on the construction of large projects until July 1, 1990, or until the city completes rewriting its general plan to include stricter development standards. The revised general plan would have to be approved by the voters in a citywide election.

The moratorium would stop major residential and commercial projects more than 32 feet tall and larger than 25,000 square feet. Projects with 25 or more housing units would also be included.

Projects that conform with existing zoning and those that do not require a conditional use permit, redevelopment plan or lot re-subdivision would be exempted from the moratorium.

Projects that receive the unanimous approval of the Board of Directors would also be exempt.

The initiative also would require developers to pay a number of new fees aimed at discouraging development and ensuring that the city would be repaid for street, utility and sewage improvements that largely benefit businesses.

In addition, developers would have to replace any housing demolished because of a construction project.

Opponents of the initiative, primarily developers and business people, say it would cause an economic disaster.

Former Mayor John Crowley, a co-chairman of the Committee for Common Sense, called it "a meat ax with a low IQ"

Its restrictions, Crowley said, would wipe out major projects now on the drawing boards, depriving the city of tax revenue it needs to grow.

Apparent Exemptions

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