PASADENA — An expansion of Jurgensen's Market, two office buildings and a 44-room hotel are the first construction projects to pass muster under the city's strict Growth Management Initiative, which voters approved in March.
The four commercial projects survived an elaborate screening process and secured unanimous approval during a fast and smoothly run meeting of the Pasadena Board of Directors on Tuesday.
The board heard from developers, architects and owners for seven commercial and 45 residential projects, all of which were halted when the initiative was passed.
Dispute Over Pledge
The projects approved were: the expansion of Jurgensen's Market to a three-story shopping and office complex, a 44-unit Travelodge Suites hotel at 1599 E. Colorado Blvd., a three-story office and restaurant building to be called Franklin Court at 2700 E. Foothill Blvd., and a 10-story office and residential complex at 200 N. Euclid Avenue, on land owned by All Saints Church next to Plaza Las Fuentes.
Three commercial projects not approved will be considered again by the board in a few weeks after they have been examined by the city's Design Review Committee. Decisions on the residential projects will be made at the Oct. 10 board meeting.
The only hitch in Tuesday's proceedings was a dispute over the city's First Source Agreement, a pledge developers are required to sign stating that they will interview Pasadena residents first for construction and other jobs.
"The fact is, having this requirement in place leaves us open to lawsuits," said Tom Muller, an attorney for Jurgensen's. "Anyone who feels they were discriminated against would have a wonderful piece of evidence."
Muller called the language of the agreement unclear and said it would be impossible to enforce. He also argued that the initiative devised by Pasadena Residents in Defense of our Environment (PRIDE) did not specifically call for the First Source Agreement.
The agreement was devised by city staff before the initiative was passed for use in the approval process for major city projects. It was adopted by the board in November and then applied to the growth initiative after its passage.
The board, which appeared at first reluctant to approve the Jurgensen's project unless the job agreement was signed, decided instead to direct the city attorney to clarify the language in the agreement.
The building projects were evaluated Tuesday as required by the city's Growth Management Initiative. It places annual limits on construction of 250 units for residential building and 250,000 square feet for commercial projects larger than 25,000 square feet each.
Although the Chamber of Commerce, the Pasadena-Foothill Branch of the Urban League and other groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the initiative, the city has proceeded with its provisions nonetheless.
After its passage, the city stopped accepting applications for development. City planning staff members and the board then devised a system for analyzing and approving projects already in progress.
Projects on which developers had made substantial progress were allowed to continue under a category dubbed "Phase I." Sixteen residential units and 54,341 square feet of commercial construction were approved under Phase 1.
That left 234 units and 195,659 square feet still to be allocated to the 52 projects grouped under Phase II and considered by the board Tuesday.
An eight-point list of criteria was devised for evaluation that included an assessment of the project's impact on the neighborhood. But at Tuesday's hearing, residents objected to only one residential and two commercial projects.
The Jurgensen's Market expansion appeared to draw the most criticism by residents. Under a project called South Lake Market, the two-story Jurgensen's Market and office building at 842 E. California Blvd., will be replaced by a three-story building that includes a grocery store, office building, shops and a restaurant.
But resident Glen Cass said he and others object to the project because nearby streets would be choked with traffic and neighbors would be troubled by noise and light from the restaurant. He also brought up environmental concerns, saying that underground parking was slated for "gasoline-soaked soil" on a spot formerly occupied by a gas station.
The developers argued, however, that the Chevron Oil Co. has agreed to remove the soil. They also presented petitions with 400 signatures of residents favoring the project.
The board also approved setting aside a 5% "buffer" from the 250,000 square feet of commercial space approved yearly to allow for small additions to projects because of minor design changes. That would mean almost 10,000 square feet would be subtracted from the 250,000 when projects are considered.
Because the buffer, if applied to this year's total, would have put the city over the 1989 limit, the board approved "borrowing" the excess square footage from the 1990 total.
The board also listened to a parade of developers and building owners Tuesday seeking approval for housing projects that range from construction of a home on vacant land to the building of a 28-unit apartment complex. But they put off deciding on the residential projects until next week.
After the board decides next Tuesday which residential projects can proceed, city staff members will begin working on Phase III of the initiative, which calls for developers to secure permits before new projects can proceed. A number of other procedures are also required by the measure before it automatically expires on Dec. 31, 1999.