Growth Curbs May Have Flaw : Requirements in Initiative May Violate Pasadena City Charter

Times Staff Writer

The slow-growth initiative approved in the March 7 election may contain a flaw that could require a charter amendment to repair, according to a city staff report.

The possible flaw concerns a part of the initiative requiring a two-thirds “super majority” of the seven-member Board of Directors to approve a major construction project.

According to the staff report released last week, the requirement may violate the City Charter, which says that a simple majority is sufficient except in a few cases, such as enacting emergency ordinances and opening a street through parkland.

If the city’s reading of the charter is correct, the requirement would be invalid, destroying a component of the initiative that its sponsors included to ensure that only the “best projects” would be approved.


The city’s interpretation, however, is far from definitive.

No Prohibition Seen

Director Rick Cole said that while the charter does not specifically allow a two-thirds vote to approve construction projects, neither does it prohibit one.

Members of Pasadena Residents in Defense of our Environment (PRIDE), also said the requirement is valid.


The most direct approach to clearing the confusion would be a charter amendment, although that would require another citywide vote.

The question surfaced briefly at the Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, but no decision was made, and discussion was put off for a later meeting.

The board did begin implementing the initiative by directing the city staff to draft rules to govern the type of development that will be allowed under the initiative.

The PRIDE measure, approved by a vote of 7,138 to 5,336, limits the amount of construction allowed each year until 1999 but does not spell out in detail what sort of projects will be allowed.

It restricts apartment and condominium construction to a maximum of 250 units a year and commercial projects larger than 25,000 square feet to a total of 250,000 square feet a year.

A draft report on the criteria by which to choose and approve projects is expected to be completed in a few weeks.