Leery of the hour and the ten-minute’s worth of public comments last week, which pushed the meeting until nearly one in the morning, Monday night’s meeting of the Pasadena City Council opted to split the difference, devoting the first twenty minutes of the meeting to public comment, then onto the agenda, then back to public comment.
By Garrett Rowlan
There were grumblings, as various issues to discuss—the dispute over the beating of Chris Ballew, the road diet proposed for Orange Grove, neither of which were on the Council’s agenda—had the chamber’s hall filled to capacity. Residents from Pasadena and Altadena held signs asking to keep Pasadena officers Esparza and Lujan off patrol, and in support of the Altadena Town Council’s demand to keep them out of Altadena. But when the Council’s procedure was announced, in order to allow discussion of agenda items while the council was more awake, the room drained considerably.
Those issues on the docket involved considerable discussion, including Pasadena’s leaving the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and heading west to join the Arroyo-Verdugo communities into a separate council (Arroyo Verdugo Council of Governments). Pasadena, though the “big dog” in the SGVCOG, was “not getting service from the San Gabriel Valley chapter.” Councilmember Margaret McAustin (Dist. 2) recommended maintaining the membership for the short term while evaluating what benefits, if any, the City will receive by remaining a member. In the end, the Council voted to withdraw and seek a new alliance. Mayor Tornek’s motion to leave the SGVCOG was approved with five in favor and three against.
Those who have been eager to designate the Magnolia Avenue District for a Landmark overlay were rewarded when the Council so cited the area. Many of the homes in that area were built between 1904 and 1936, and are of an architectural style worth preserving.
The next issue was the Pasadena Climate Action Plan, an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2050 to pre-millennial levels, though this plan is utopian and promising, the presentation had a droning aspect that had some in the audience grumbling, looking at phones, and otherwise dazed. At the end, the staff recommendation to follow environmental guidelines was accepted.
The Council also approved placing a ballot measure for the 2018 November elections asking voters for a 3/4 of one cent (.75 cents for every $100) additional municipal sales tax. The vote was seven in favor and one against (Councilmember Steve Madison, Dist. 6).
Toward the end of the meeting, Councilmember Tyron Hampton (Dist. 1) commented about the decision to include the officers involved in the beating of Chris Ballew in patrolling the Black History Month Parade as an outrageous poor judgement and asked the City Manager, Steve Mermell, to “make sure that bad judgements like that are not happening anymore.” Councilemember and Vice Mayor John J. Kennedy (Dist. 3) urged the City Manager’s office to release information, pending the City’s lawyers approval, regarding the ATF ongoing investigation of a city employee (Pasadena Police Department Lt. Vasken Gourdikian). By the time everyone spoke, the meeting crept toward midnight.
> Click to watch video of the Council meeting (5 hours and 5 minutes).
[This article has been updated with comments from Councilmembers Hampton and Kennedy. March 6, 2018, 12:33p.m.]
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