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Election Aftermath : How the Primary Shaped Up : Pasadena : Slow-Growth Initiative 'Snowed Out' at Polls

June 09, 1988|ASHLEY DUNN | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — The wave of slow-growth sentiment sweeping the state appears to have stopped short of the dusty arroyos of this city as Proposition G, the city's first slow-growth initiative, was defeated in Tuesday's election.

But despite the initiative's overwhelming rejection, slow-growth advocates promise the issue will rise again before the end of the year, when a new set of sponsors plans to propose a new initiative.

From the first tally of absentee ballots shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. to the announcement of the final results at 4:14 a.m., the measure trailed badly. The final vote was 19,807 or 69% of the vote, to 8,699, or 31%. About 45% of the city's 62,675 registered voters turned out.

No Elected Mayor

The other city initiative on the ballot, Proposition F, which would have established a system under which the mayor would have been elected rather than appointed and would have created an eighth city district, also was defeated. The final tally was 15,826, or 57% of the vote, against the proposition, to 12,135, or 43%.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 12, 1988 Home Edition San Gabriel Valley Part 9 Page 3 Column 4 Zones Desk 2 inches; 54 words Type of Material: Correction
A story in the Thursday San Gabriel Valley Edition of The Times incorrectly stated that the Pasadena Charter Study Committee, which drafted Proposition F, the elected-mayor initiative, could have a role in revising the measure for a possible future vote. The committee was disbanded in February and a new Charter Study Committee would have to be appointed by the Board of Directors.

Sponsors of Proposition G, the Northeast Pasadena Residents Assn., said the group expected a tight battle against the well-financed campaign of the opposition, which spent an estimated $130,000, compared to the $7,000 spent by the residents' group.

But no one was prepared for the magnitude of Tuesday's defeat, the first for a slow-growth measure in the San Gabriel Valley.

"We were snowed out," said Amos Hoagland, a leader of the group. "We made an all-out effort, but we were just overwhelmed by the money they raised. There was no way for our small group to combat them."

'Common Sense Prevailed'

Opponents, who included Directors John Crowley and William Thomson and school board President Noel Hatch, were elated by the victory.

"I thought it would be 50-50," Crowley said. "I'm frankly impressed. Common sense prevailed."

Despite the loss, members of another slow-growth group, Pasadena Residents in Defense of Their Environment (PRIDE), say they are preparing their own initiative for the fall.

"We already have an initial draft," said Kit-Bacon Gressitt, a member of PRIDE. "It's painful to watch this defeat, but it has been an incredibly educational campaign for us."

Gressitt said PRIDE's initiative is simpler than Proposition G and avoids some its most controversial aspects, such as a proposed moratorium on major construction projects.

The new proposal also avoids the complex restrictions and fee proposals of the failed initiative that even slow-growth advocates conceded confused voters.

"We're trying to make it as palatable to as many people as possible," she said. "It's got to be simple, clear and direct."

Development Opposed

Proposition G grew out of a battle last year by the Northeast Pasadena Residents Assn. against the proposed Rose Townhomes, a 184-unit housing development on a 16.4-acre parcel on Washington Boulevard north of Pasadena High School. The Pasadena Unified School district sold the site to Calmark Development Corp. of Los Angeles for $9.3 million.

The residents group 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 Tuesday's ballot.

The initiative would have stopped the Rose Townhomes as well as other major projects. It called for a moratorium until July 1, 1990, or until the city finishes rewriting its general plan to include stricter development standards.

Some Exemptions

Projects smaller than 25,000 square feet would have been exempted, as well as any large projects that won the unanimous approval of the Board of Directors.

The initiative would have also required 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 benefits businesses.

The proposition was long, detailed and open to a wide range of interpretations.

Hoagland said the complexity of the measure played a major role in its defeat.

"It was difficult to explain, but easy to attack," he said.

Opponents, who banded together in a group called the Committee for Common Sense in Pasadena, focused much of their campaign on one clause that would have allowed any member of the Board of Directors to veto a major project.

"The initiative itself was so poorly constructed," Crowley said. "We need to move with the tide, but move carefully."

The committee, which was financed primarily by developers and business people, also attacked the moratorium, and said it would have stopped such politically popular projects as the Huntington Hotel, the joint YMCA and YWCA expansion and the city's new police station.

Before the election, those projects had been granted exemptions from the restrictions of the initiative because of a state law that protects developments from major changes in a city's land-use policies.

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