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Residents Give Board Earful Over Growth

July 21, 1988|ASHLEY DUNN | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — The Board of Directors got a loud and angry message from residents Tuesday that development has gotten out of hand and the board is to blame.

Nearly 150 people attended the first of a series of community meetings on growth, with the majority saying the board has dragged its feet and lost the public's confidence.

"We feel we have been absolutely pushed down a river and wiped out," resident Evelyn West said. "I think we have representatives who don't represent us at all."

Added Mack Robinson: "I've listened to your bull for so many years it's unbelievable. I don't know what you're doing and I don't think you do either."

Although the hearing at Victory Park was suggested by Mayor William Thomson to head off the threat of a new slow-growth initiative, many residents said the effort came too late to do any good.

"I wish you well and I hope you come up with something, but I don't believe it," resident Curtis Tucker said. "I'm going to support another growth initiative."

Director Rick Cole urged the board to take immediate action by passing a resolution stating the board's opposition to increased growth and instructing the staff to draft measures to accomplish that goal.

'A First Step'

But many residents said they favored an immediate moratorium on construction.

Despite the outcry, Thomson said he was pleased that the board has begun a dialogue with residents to forge a consensus on how to control growth. "This is only a first step," he said.

The hearings are scheduled to continue in different parts of the city over the next two to three months.

When the hearings end, Thomson said the board will decide on a growth-management plan that will blend ideas from all factions.

Vigorous Growth

Thomson's call for unity, his first major act since becoming mayor in May, comes at a time of unprecedented development.

According to city records, proposals for residential and commercial projects reached a record $256 million during the last fiscal year, which ended in June. The previous record was $190 million, set during the 1986-87 fiscal year.

But public anger over growth has also increased. In the last year the most controversial political fights have been over development issues such as the Rose Townhomes, a 184-unit residential project on Washington Boulevard; the Pasadena Marketplace, a 350,000-square-foot shopping mall in Old Pasadena, and Proposition G, a slow-growth initiative that was defeated in the June election.

General Plan

Proposition G called for a moratorium on major construction projects until July 1, 1990, or until the city completed rewriting its General Plan to include stricter development standards.

The initiative also called for several new development fees to discourage building and ensure that the city was repaid for any street, utility or sewer improvements.

The initiative, which was sponsored by the Northeast Pasadena Residents Assn., was defeated by a vote of 20,411 to 8,971.

Thomson said the divisive and confusing campaign over Proposition G, and the expected unveiling of another initiative later this year, was the main reason he called for the community hearings on development.

List of Options

Thomson said the complex issue can be better worked out in a careful and deliberate planning process instead of in the heated environment of an initiative campaign.

He has pinned his hopes on a city report presented to the board Monday that outlines a series of options to limit growth.

The ideas include:

* Placing restrictions on the number of residential and commercial building permits to limit new commuters and residents.

* Establishing a rating system that would allow beneficial neighborhood businesses while restricting development of office towers.

* Requiring environmental impact reports on projects larger than 25,000 square feet and conditional-use permits, which give the city expanded powers to set development conditions, on projects larger than 70,000 square feet.

* Banning mini-malls near congested intersections.

* Restricting developments based on the amount of traffic they generate.

Thomson said public discussion on the alternatives during the hearings will help the board decide which of the proposals should be adopted.

But residents seemed more interested during the hearing at Victory Park in the slow-growth initiative proposed by the community group Pasadena Residents in Defense of their Environment.

PRIDE expects to complete their yearlong work on an initiative in the next month and begin circulating petitions in the fall. The group is hoping to place the initiative on the March, 1989, ballot.

While PRIDE has released no details of its initiative, it has attracted broad interest, largely because of the wide perception that the board has moved too slowly in grappling with the growth issue.

Kit-Bacon Gressitt, a PRIDE member, said the group has no intention of dropping its initiative plans because of the city's renewed efforts to deal with growth.

Gressitt said a residents initiative, stating a clear policy on controlling growth, would be more permanent and protected from board politics. She called on the board to endorse the initiative.

Some board members said there is the possibility that the board could place the measure on the March ballot, bypassing the need for petitions. But the board decided to take no action until it could see the completed PRIDE proposal.

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