PASADENA — A slow-growth initiative sponsored by Pasadena Residents in Defense of their Environment (PRIDE) has qualified for the March 7 ballot, setting up a showdown with a rival measure sponsored by the Board of Directors.
City Clerk Pamela Swift announced Wednesday that PRIDE's initiative petition has more than the required 6,903 valid signatures, representing 10% of the city's registered voters. PRIDE obtained more than 10,000 signatures.
On a split vote, the Board of Directors decided Monday to place its own growth-limit measure on the March 7 ballot as an alternative.
Prevail Over PRIDE
In addition, directors have instructed the city attorney to draft their measure so that it will prevail over the PRIDE initiative if voters approve both.
Mayor William Thomson, who has pushed for the city's slow-growth alternative, said directors also are planning to adopt their measure by ordinance so that it can go into effect well in advance of the election. As a result, he said, the election will become a referendum on the city ordinance. If voters disapprove of the measure, he said, the ordinance will be repealed.
Both the initiative and the city measure would impose limits on residential and commercial development. One major difference is that the city measure is an interim growth-control plan, intended to be in effect for up to two years while the city sets permanent growth limits through its General Plan. The PRIDE initiative would be in effect through 1999.
The city's measure is still being drafted. Directors will resume their discussion of it on Monday.
Directors Rick Cole and William Paparian voted against putting the city issue on the ballot, arguing that it would confuse voters and undermine support for the PRIDE initiative, which was created before the city began working on its slow-growth alternative.
Cole said that placing two similar measures on the ballot "is going to be endlessly confusing to voters." But Thomson said that if voters were able to sort out the state insurance propositions on the November ballot, they should be able to differentiate between the growth-limit measures.
Both measures would put a limit of 250 units a year on multifamily residential construction. The PRIDE initiative would limit construction of offices and stores to 250,000 square feet a year, but exempt projects smaller than 25,000 square feet.
The initiative also would require that at least five of the seven members of the Board of Directors approve all major projects.
The city measure, in its tentative form, would ban development of mini-malls and establish a limit of 50,000 square feet a year on new discount stores, but would not regulate other retail construction.
There would be no restriction on development of office buildings under 25,000 square feet. Larger office buildings could be constructed in redevelopment areas, but their total space would be limited to 150,000 square feet a year. The proposal would allow construction each year of 100,000 square feet of buildings with mixed commercial, office and residential uses. Mixed-use developments on Colorado Boulevard would be exempt from the limit. There would be no limits on hotels or industrial buildings.
Thomson said the city measure is superior to the PRIDE initiative because it prohibits mini-malls, and would confine large-scale office construction to redevelopment areas.
In addition, he said, the PRIDE initiative would lock the city into standards that would remain until the next century. The city measure is merely an interim plan to guide the city until a long-range plan can be hammered out.
But it is the interim nature of the city measure that troubles some PRIDE officials.
Stan Taylor, a founder of PRIDE and a member of its steering committee, said he is "glad that the majority of the board is finally recognizing that growth has not been properly managed in the past." But, he said, he is not certain that the city's interim measure will lead to effective, long-term controls on growth.
Cole said the city began developing an alternative to the PRIDE initiative out of concern over the dangers of planning by ballot box. But by putting its own measure on the ballot, Cole said, the city has undercut its argument.
He said the city's alternative will be "perceived as an attempt to diffuse and deflect the PRIDE effort."
Already, he said, there is "a tremendous distrust of the city's ability to stand up to developers." And, he said, the city "is going to be plunged into a bitter, divisive battle."
But Thomson said that in developing its interim measure, the city has been able to create a consensus on the need for growth limits. In addition, he said, "the reaction has been very approving of our decision to place our measure on the ballot."
The March 7 election would be the second election within a year on the growth issue.
In June, Proposition G, sponsored by a group of residents in northeast Pasadena, was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 20,411 to 8,971. That measure would have put a moratorium on major projects for two years or until the city rewrote its General Plan to impose stricter development rules.
After the defeat of Proposition G, PRIDE began developing its initiative, taking the unusual step of circulating a draft, holding a public hearing and revising the proposal before circulating a petition to put it on the ballot.
Both the PRIDE initiative and the city measure would exempt a number of projects, such as Plaza Las Fuentes, the Pasadena Marketplace and the Huntington Hotel.