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Despite Opposition, Pasadena to Study Site for Skill Center


PASADENA — City directors ordered an environmental impact report on an East Pasadena site's suitability for an adult vocational school, despite opposition from homeowners and a citizens advisory committee.

The 8.5-acre site at 3000 E. Orange Grove Blvd. could become the permanent location of the Pasadena City College Community Skills Center, which has operated in temporary quarters for 22 years, the past 10 at McKinley Junior High School.

Tuesday's vote was 5 to 1, with Mayor Jess Hughston opposed and Director William Paparian absent.

The Community Skills Center Citizens Committee saw the vote as an indication that the directors have already made up their minds to put the adult school on the site. Some of the 12 committee members indicated that they might resign.

"I see that right now the Community Skills Center is a done deal," said member Kenneth Moye.

The advisory group wanted the city to prepare three separate environmental impact reports on the vacant site--to evaluate its suitability for housing and for open space as well as for the center.

The group also disagreed with the city's legal opinion that the property deeds, which date to 1932, no longer restrict use of the land to county flood control projects, city streets or parks. Ted Reynolds, the city's assistant general counsel, said the land-use promises were made solely to the property owners who gave the land to the city. Those promises ended when the donors died, Reynolds said.

The committee was created in June after the center proposal sparked strong opposition. Much of it came from the Daisy Villa Homeowners Assn., which had twice blocked the city's plans for an auto mall and a retail store on the narrow city-owned parcel next to Southern California Edison power lines.

The proposed skills center--a joint project of the city, the Pasadena Unified School District and the college--would consist of two 25,000-square-foot buildings, a parking lot for 600 cars and a child development center.

Opponents argued in June that the 7,000-student center would bring traffic and noise to a quiet residential neighborhood. Some of those opponents were named to the advisory committee.

The issue came to a head when the city planning staff, faced with spending up to $140,000 to prepare a three-part environmental report, asked the board to focus the study on the center alone.

The narrower report will cost $100,000, and the city may have to pay only $33,000 if the cost is shared with the school district and the college.

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