Effort to Block Pasadena Growth Limit Rejected


A second move to stop the Pasadena growth management initiative failed this week when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the legal attack by opponents was too broad.

“What you’re going to have to bring me is something concrete to make a ruling on,” Superior Court Judge John Zebrowski told attorney Carolyn Carlburg during a hearing Tuesday. “I can’t make a ruling on some nebulous statement that can be construed one way or the other.”

Carlburg filed a lawsuit in June asking for a preliminary injunction on behalf of a coalition consisting of the Pasadena-Foothill Branch of the Los Angeles Urban League, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Pasadena and others, who opposed the growth management initiative passed by voters March 7.

On Tuesday, Carlburg argued that the initiative could not be enforced because it conflicts with California Redevelopment Law and the California Environmental Quality Act. She asked Zebrowski to rule against the initiative solely on its legal merits before proceeding to trial.


But Zebrowski rejected Carlburg’s legal arguments and instead asked for specific examples of areas of conflict.

The decision means that Carlburg can return to court with new legal motions for Zebrowski to consider or she can proceed to trial. After the hearing on Tuesday, Carlburg said she would consult with her clients before making the next move.

The initiative, sponsored by Pasadena Residents in Defense of Our Environment (PRIDE), places yearly limits on new construction in the city. Residential construction is limited to 250 units per project. Commercial construction projects larger than 25,000-square feet each are limited to a total of 250,000-square feet.

Carlburg first sought a preliminary injunction against the initiative four months after it was passed, arguing that it would limit the amount of housing available to minorities and would cost the city $3.9 million in lost tax revenues and employee expenses to implement it.


After that legal move failed, the coalition tried again, filing motions for summary judgment that Zebrowski rejected Tuesday.

Zebrowski rejected a second argument made by Carlburg Tuesday that hinged on conflict between the initiative and the Pasadena City Charter. The initiative calls for a two-thirds vote, five of seven members, of the Pasadena Board of Directors to allow “borrowing” of units allocated from one year to another. The City Charter, however, specifies only a majority vote for most decisions.

Zebrowski ruled that the two-thirds vote provision posed no problem because it had not been enforced by the city and a public vote is scheduled in June, 1990, to amend the initiative to comply with the City Charter.

Since the measure was passed by the voters, the board has approved four commercial and 36 residential projects that were being reviewed by the Planning Department when the initiative was passed. City staff members are now working on approval procedures that comply with the initiative, which will be in effect until Dec. 31, 1999.