Some called it a beneficial ordinance needed to boost the slipping appearance of Pasadena's once-pristine neighborhoods. Others dubbed it an invasion of personal property rights.
The city's proposed property maintenance ordinance--with its list of 31 aesthetic taboos--received mixed reviews at Tuesday's Board of Directors meeting.
Undaunted by contradictory signals from the citizenry, the four directors present fine-tuned the wording of the ordinance and signaled that they are likely to approve it. But they put off a final vote for a week because Directors William Paparian, Chris Holden and John Crowley were absent.
The ordinance originated two years ago when the board became concerned over the annual number of complaints lodged with the city by residents disgruntled by their neighbors' shabby front yards.
City staff members met with neighborhood groups to devise a list of objectionable conditions.
Among the front yard conditions prohibited would be the storage of trash cans and the discarding of lumber, junk, trash and other salvage materials. Broken furniture would be outlawed, as well as graffiti left on buildings for longer than 72 hours. Peeling paint, broken windows, damaged porches and cars on blocks would also be prohibited.
On Tuesday, Audrey Brantley, who represents the W. D. Edson Neighborhood Assn. in Northwest Pasadena, urged the board to pass the ordinance without modifications.
"We're real pleased with the property ordinance," Brantley said. "We were promised this over two years ago. Our neighborhood has all the problems listed in here."
Art Bean, a longtime Pasadena resident, also urged the board to pass the law, saying that although Pasadena is a relatively small city, it receives international attention because of the Tournament of Roses Parade.
"There are millions of eyes upon Pasadena throughout the world," Bean said.
But Sue Glassco, a resident of the city's Linda Vista neighborhood, objected.
"The Pasadena Board of Directors has absolutely no business considering such an ordinance," Glassco said. "It's an arrogant, socialistic kind of idea."
Ted Brown, a condominium owner with the Allen Avenue Square Neighborhood Homeowners Assn., agreed with Glassco. The proposed property ordinance may prohibit cars on blocks, but "some people like to live like that," Brown said.
"There really is no right to look out your window and see something pretty," Brown said, adding that such rules violate private property rights.
The elderly and poor could be the hardest hit by the ordinance, Brown said, because they may lack the money to make the necessary property improvements.
The proposed ordinance incorporates many features already in the city's health, fire and safety codes. But by placing them in one new ordinance, the board hopes to focus attention on property conditions and improve them.
However, some directors believe the ordinance is too broad in some areas. Director Rick Cole objected to a section prohibiting clotheslines or clothes from hanging in front yards, side yards, porches or balconies.
"I think we have some cultural issues here," Cole said. "A lot of people come from countries where this is no big deal."
Cole also said a few sections pertaining to weeds were unrealistic because they appear to outlaw even the existence of weeds, an unobtainable goal. He proposed a language change banning overgrown weeds.
Those and other proposed changes will be considered next week. Meanwhile, the city will hold an Oct. 30 public hearing to discuss a controversial provision, being considered separately from the rest of the ordinance, that would ban the parking of recreational vehicles in front yards.