Local Elections : Cityhood, Council Seats, Growth at Stake in Elections : Pasadena Voters to Decide Fate of Development Curbs

Times Staff Writer

Voters Tuesday will decide whether to keep a cap on growth, and, if so, whether to adopt the plan offered by City Hall or one created by a citizens group.

The best-financed campaign is the one urging voters to reject both Proposition 1, the city’s Interim Growth Management Ordinance, and Proposition 2, an initiative sponsored by Pasadena Residents in Defense of our Environment (PRIDE).

Rick Phelps, chairman of the ABC Committee, which is fighting the two propositions, said his group has raised about $75,000. The contributions include $15,000 each from the California Assn. of Realtors and hotel developer Larry J. Mielke, and $10,000 from a Los Angeles property management group, Topa-Palisades Assn. and Topa Management Co.

Michael Salazar, PRIDE co-chairman, complained that much of the ABC Committee’s financial support is coming from development interests outside Pasadena. “This is not a Pasadena effort,” Salazar said. “People are appalled by this.”


But Phelps said that at least 60% of his group’s money is coming from individuals who either live in Pasadena or have business interests here. The other contributors, he said, are worried about the impact that Pasadena’s passage of the slow-growth measure would have on the region.

Salazar said PRIDE has raised $8,500 in small donations to get its message to voters, and is relying entirely on a volunteer campaign.

The Yes on 1/No on 2 Committee, which was organized to promote the city proposition, reported last week that it had raised only $200. The committee’s chairman, Mayor William E. Thomson Jr. said the group is collecting enough money to send out two mailers, but its expenditures 2003397740well below those of both PRIDE and the ABC Committee.

What makes the election unusual, and perhaps confusing to some, is that the Board of Directors has already adopted by ordinance the growth caps it is submitting to voters. Even if both propositions are defeated, the board’s growth limits will remain in effect, although Phelps said he will urge the board to repeal them.


Both the PRIDE initiative and the city measure set the number of multifamily housing units that can be constructed in Pasadena at 250 a year, but exempt affordable housing. The PRIDE initiative also would exempt housing built in redevelopment areas.

City planning figures show that nearly 1,000 multifamily housing units were built in 1988, but it was an unusual year. The city added fewer than 400 units in 1987 and under 200 in each of the three previous years.

On commercial construction, the city proposition would ban mini-malls and limit major office buildings to 175,000 square feet a year, with 50,000 of that reserved for northwest Pasadena. (City Planning Director Anne O’Dell said a typical four-story office building is about 100,000 square feet).

The PRIDE initiative would limit construction of major office buildings, commercial and industrial projects to a total of 250,000 square feet a year, but would exempt projects in economically depressed northwest Pasadena.

Salazar said the city measure is a “copy-cat” ordinance that draws its inspiration from the PRIDE initiative, but is riddled with loopholes, putting no limits on commercial projects or hotels anywhere in the city, or on the number of mixed-use projects that can be built on Colorado Boulevard.

Both propositions require the Board of Directors to approve major projects, but the PRIDE initiative requires a two-thirds majority, meaning that five of the seven directors would have to give their approval.

The PRIDE initiative would be in place through the end of 1999. The city proposition is an interim ordinance to be in place while the city develops a growth management element for its General Plan.

Mayor Thomson said the 10-year length and the required two-thirds vote on major projects are serious flaws in the PRIDE initiative. He said the two-thirds vote would give a minority on the board veto power over projects, and it is unwise to lock the city into an untried planning measure for a decade.


Salazar said the two-thirds vote is not unreasonable in a state that requires two-thirds majorities for tax increases. “We don’t see that as a major stumbling block,” he said. In addition, he said, the initiative has flexibility, specifically authorizing the board to add growth management policies and programs as needed. And, if changes become necessary, he said, the city could always submit amendments to voters.

Salazar said that the city has mismanaged growth, and failed to deal adequately with traffic congestion and other problems that have been building for a decade.

By putting a rival measure on the ballot after more than 10,000 voters signed petitions for the PRIDE initiative, he said, the board has deliberately tried to confuse voters.

But Thomson said the city put its ordinance on the ballot to give voters the opportunity to approve or reject the course the city has taken. He said the city has enacted growth limits because “people want controls on the pace of development. We need time to catch up with what’s been happening.”

But Phelps said he doubts that the public has been clamoring for growth caps. He said a city survey last year showed strong support for development in general, and concern only about “tall buildings in the wrong place.”

He said regional problems, such as traffic, cannot be dealt with by shutting down development in Pasadena, but must be approached in concert with other communities.

He said that by limiting housing construction, the city will drive up the cost of land and make housing more expensive. He said such concerns have caused a number of minority leaders and the Pasadena-Foothill chapter of the Urban League to oppose the propositions.

Salazar said that “housing prices are driven by regional pressures” and are not likely to be affected by the housing cap. He noted that the PRIDE initiative would impose no limits on construction of affordable housing or housing in redevelopment areas, and said the cap is not far below the amount of housing constructed in Pasadena annually over the past four years. In addition, he said, new housing is only a small portion of the housing market in Pasadena.


But Thomson said growth controls do drive up the value of land.

With caps on construction, he said, “there clearly will be an incremental increase in land values and the price of housing.” And because such impacts are difficult to predict, he said, “it’s important not to be locked into a 10-year program,” such as the PRIDE initiative.


Here is a comparison of major provisions in Proposition 1, the city-sponsored Interim Growth Management Ordinance, and Proposition 2, sponsored by Pasadena Residents in Defense of our Environment (PRIDE). Length of time the measure will be in effect PROPOSITION 1: Until June 30, 1992 or voters adopt a long-range growth management plan. If voters twice reject a long-range plan, the city board must adopt one. PROPOSITION 2: Until Dec. 31, 1999 Limits on single-family homes PROPOSITION 1: None PROPOSITION 2: None Limits on multifamily housing PROPOSITION 1: 250 units per calendar year, with at least 50 set aside for northwest Pasadena. Exempts affordable housing, senior citizen housing, duplexes and second units on lots zoned for multifamily use. PROPOSITION 2: 250 units per calendar year. Exempts affordable housing, construction in redevelopment areas, and second units on lots zoned for multifamily use. Limits on commercial construction PROPOSITION 1: Bans large office buildings outside redevelopment areas. Within redevelopment areas, limits office construction to 175,000 square feet, including 50,000 reserved for northwest Pasadena. Bans mini-malls. No limits on office buildings under 25,000 square feet, retail stores, hotels or industrial buildings. Special rules apply to mixed-use projects, which are defined as those that having offices and some other use, such as retail stores on the ground floor. Mixed-use projects allowed on Colorado Boulevard or in redevelopment areas, but office space cannot exceed half the floor area. Mixed-use projects elsewhere limited to 100,000 square feet a year. Exempts a number of specific construction projects, and all those with a building permit prior to Jan. PROPOSITION 2: No restrictions on buildings that are under 25,000 square feet and up to two stories, but are not mini-malls. Limits other construction to 250,000 square feet. Exempts commercial projects in northwest Pasadena, the Huntington Hotel, the Marketplace project (now known as One Colorado) and some other projects, including thoses that have already received building permits, incurred substantial costs or liabilities and begun construction.

Permits required PROPOSITION 1: Majority of board must approve use permits for non-residential projects of 25,000 square feet or more and residential projects of seven units or more on property zoned for more than 16 units per acre. PROPOSITION 2: Major development projects must obtain conditional use permits approved by at least five of the seven board members. What happens if both measures pass

PROPOSITION 1: Declares that if both pass, the one with the most votes shall go into effect. PROPOSITION 2: Declares that if both pass, both measures will go into effect, but the measure that gets the most votes will prevail on provisions that are in conflict.