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Freeway Would Cut Tax Revenues for South Pasadena

August 27, 1989

I was particularly disturbed with a letter by George Ristic (Times, Aug. 10) in which he characterizes South Pasadena as "holier-than-thou" in refusing to allow completion of the 710 Freeway through the city. He mentions the lack of reciprocation by South Pasadena with its neighbors, who have "committed portions within their boundaries to provide freeways to all travelers."

I feel that Mr. Ristic and those who share his views have not been made aware of all the facts and of exactly what is at stake in our freeway fight.

South Pasadena is a primarily residential town of only 3.4 square miles. A freeway of the magnitude of the 710, in addition to reconstruction of the Pasadena Freeway (which already goes through our city), will result in the loss of over 20% of our property tax revenues as well as a corresponding loss of average daily attendance revenue for our school district. These financial blows would spell an end to the kind of school district and city services which have always been the primary strengths of our community.

In a town with a limited business district, South Pasadena relies on property taxes as a major source of revenue. In post-Prop. 13 California, cities such as South Pasadena have already been hit hard, and without the retail sales tax to compensate, the 710 Freeway will be far more than the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. It will probably be the death of a very fine community, already listed on the Nation's Most Endangered List by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Mr. Ristic mentions that "65% of the traffic on Atlantic Boulevard would be eliminated" with construction of the 710, and that "other north-south streets would be equally relieved." What he doesn't say is that Valley Boulevard (an east-west street paralleling the 10 Freeway, is 65% more crowded than when the San Bernardino Freeway was constructed. Mission, another surface street parallel to Interstate 10, has experienced a 50% increase in the same period. With continued development, freeways provide only temporary relief. South Pasadena cannot afford to be a sacrificial lamb for only a temporary fix.

It is not a matter of snobbishness; it is a matter of survival.

JAMES C. HODGE JR.

South Pasadena councilman

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