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Pasadena Group Unveils Broad Slow-Growth Ballot Measure

September 08, 1988|ASHLEY DUNN | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — The citizens group Pasadena Residents in Defense of our Environment has unveiled a sweeping slow-growth initiative that would limit construction each year and require board approval for any major development.

PRIDE's initiative also would require developers to pay the full cost of city sewer, street and utility improvements that benefit their projects and place stringent restrictions on the demolition of existing housing.

Stanford Taylor, PRIDE's chairman, said the initiative represents nearly a year of talks with other slow-growth advocates, business people, historical preservationists and city officials.

He said PRIDE has tried to draft a fair and balanced proposal that would allow development in the city, but at a reduced pace.

Circulated Draft of Measure

To create an initiative that would have wide voter support, the group last month took the unusual step of circulating a draft of the measure and holding a public hearing.

Since then, the group has made substantial changes to make the measure less restrictive and more flexible.

The biggest change was the elimination of a "development cap" that would have limited the total amount of residential units and commercial floor space in the city.

The cap would have allowed only 10% more commercial square footage and a maximum of about 1,180 additional homes, apartments or condominiums. The residential limits were based on allowing the population to rise from the current level of 131,960 to 135,000.

Taylor said residents and PRIDE members were concerned that stopping growth in the city would lead to economic stagnation.

He added that the group was worried the restrictions would have made the initiative too difficult to pass.

'Consensus Document'

"We feel it is such a consensus document now that you have to be pretty extreme to oppose it," Taylor said.

The group plans to begin circulating petitions in the next two weeks to place the measure on the March ballot. It needs signatures from 6,300 registered voters by Oct. 28 to qualify for the ballot.

"The citizens of Pasadena are fed up with traffic, poor planning and developer influence at City Hall," Taylor said. "With this initiative, the citizens will be protecting Pasadena's diversity and quality of life by controlling major developments."

The initiative is the second slow-growth measure to hit the city in the last year. The first was the unsuccessful Proposition G, sponsored by the Northeast Pasadena Residents Assn. The group was formed to fight a 184-unit housing development in its neighborhood called the Rose Townhomes.

The proposition would have placed a moratorium on all major construction until July, 1990, or until the city revised its General Plan to include stricter development standards.

It would have also required unanimous board approval for all major projects and created a number of new fees to ensure that the city was repaid for all street, sewer and utility improvements that mainly benefited businesses.

The proposition was defeated in the June election by a vote of 20,411 to 8,971.

More Simple Approach

PRIDE has taken a simpler approach in its initiative.

The measure concentrates on establishing general guidelines to regulate development each year and leaves it up to the city to decide how to implement the program.

Residential construction would be limited to 250 units a year and commercial development to no more than 250,000 square feet of floor space.

But the initiative would allow the city to go above the limits by "borrowing" square footage or housing units from the next year's allotment.

The city could also "carry forward" excess square footage or housing units that were not used in any one year.

The initiative would require that at least five of the seven members of the Board of Directors approve all apartment or condominium projects and any commercial project larger than 25,000 square feet.

Developers also could face a minimum $10,000 fine for demolishing housing without first getting city approval.

Some Projects Exempt

A wide range of projects would be exempt from the restrictions of the initiative to ensure that beneficial development could proceed unhindered.

Hospitals, public schools, redevelopment projects, remodeling, restorations, government facilities and commercial projects smaller than 25,000 square feet would be exempt from the initiative.

Several specific projects have been exempted, including the Huntington Hotel, the Pasadena Marketplace and the Plaza Las Fuentes.

PRIDE's initiative campaign comes just 1 1/2 months after the Board of Directors began its own efforts to find a way to control growth.

The board has held several public hearings around the city on the growth issue. The board is not expected to have a final plan approved until the end of the year at the earliest.

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