After hearing strong and conflicting arguments from residents and business interests Monday night, the Pasadena City Council voted 7 to 1 to draft an ordinance that would temporarily ban housing construction in the city's Central district.
The emergency ordinance is expected to return for a final vote May 3.
The 45-day moratorium would give the city time to further study building plans for residential-retail developments, or so-called mixed-use projects.
During the last four years, more than 1,300 residential units have been built, mainly along major thoroughfares. Another 1,100 are under construction. The total surpasses the number of dwellings built during the 1990s.
"All over town, people are saying they're shocked but not awed by how big development is, how fast it is and how much traffic it is generating," Bob Kneisel, chairman of the Pasadena Neighborhood Coalition, told the council. "We've got to do something about it."
But Ron Penner, the chief executive of a website development firm, said he "brought my business to this town because it was a city of progress. I believe any moratorium will stop that progress. It will turn us into a shrinking city."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday April 21, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Pasadena moratorium -- An article in Tuesday's California section about the Pasadena City Council giving initial approval for a 45-day building moratorium identified Joyce Streator as a councilman. She is a councilwoman.
Councilman Joyce Streator, who cast the dissenting vote, said, "We are fortunate that we have developers and other businesses wanting to locate here. And they have pushed our plan that concentrates density and mixed-use along major thoroughfares. Now, all of a sudden we're saying wait -- we really don't want this."
The moratorium was proposed because city officials are developing guidelines to balance Central district development with historic preservation.
It would apply to construction projects of 10 or more units or housing developments larger than 10,000 square feet. The city would continue to accept and review applications for development, but would not issue any building permits.
In recent months, the city has received numerous proposals from developers seeking building approval before summer, when Pasadena is expected to pass a formal plan outlining regulations for development.
Already, half-constructed buildings and signs promising future residential and retail units dot the streets in Pasadena's central area, which includes Old Pasadena, the Pasadena Playhouse and South Lake Avenue, where a number of shops and restaurants have opened in the last year.
Because there is little open space left for new multi-unit housing in Pasadena, developers have sought to build multi-story residential projects around the city's core. City officials hope to attract moderate- to upper-income residents to so-called urban villages, where apartments or condos sit atop restaurants, shops and entertainment complexes.
Paseo Colorado, for example, includes European-style apartments and courtyards with boutiques, movie theaters and a supermarket.
Apartment rents range from $1,300 a month for a studio to $3,295 for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit.
City officials hope mixed-use developments encourage people to come to downtown Pasadena.