Get to Know the 2017 Pasadena City Council Candidates

– Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News


Part Two

By Gus Herrera

In preparation for the upcoming Pasadena City Council elections, to be held March 7, Pasadena Independent reached out to this year’s candidates and asked them to complete a five-part questionnaire. Each candidate received the same five questions. This is part two in an ongoing series.

District 7

Phil Hosp, District 7 candidate. – Courtesy photo

Candidate: Phil Hosp

Education: I graduated from Loyola High School and obtained a business degree from Boston University. While in college, I worked three years for the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the Massachusetts State Senate (Mark Montigny – D), who had the duty of overseeing “all matters relating to the finances of the Commonwealth.” After college, I served four years as a tank officer in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of Captain. I served two combat tours in Iraq, where I was awarded the Bronze Star. After serving in the military, I obtained a law degree from Loyola Law School.

1. Please describe your relationship/history with the City of Pasadena:

I grew up in the Pasadena area and my earliest childhood memories were formed in this town. I played AYSO at the Rose Bowl, built forts in Hahamongna, collected frogs in the creek beds near Devil’s Gate Dam, sat on top of the family van at Brookside watching fireworks on July Fourth, indulged in hot chocolate at the Elks Club before climbing into the cold bleachers to watch the Rose Parade, had my first job washing cars behind my dad’s office on Green Street, and joined my parents on special occasions for dinner at The Chronicle on South Lake.

Pasadena is special. There is no place like it. My wife, Vivian, and I have two daughters and currently reside in Madison Heights. I want to ensure that my children grow up in the same special community and are able to enjoy the same childhood experiences that I had.

2. In your opinion, what is the most significant issue in your district?

After listening to residents during the last six months, the most important issue for residents in District 7 is development – how the city will grow and what it will look like years from now. Our district needs a leader who is reliable, steady, and focused on controlling development. Beautiful architecture and thoughtful development are hallmarks of Pasadena. Those who wish to build in our city are welcome, but they need to respect our heritage and work with residents to ensure that projects being built here improve the residents’ quality of life.

3. What are the City of Pasadena’s greatest strengths?

Pasadena’s greatest strength lies in its neighborhoods. I am running for city council to maintain and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and ensure that Pasadena residents have a bigger say in decisions being made at city hall. Right now, city hall isn’t listening to residents and too often our interests are put aside for those with the deepest pockets. I am running to represent the people who live in Pasadena, not to impose a misguided urban planning scheme designed to attract more development, more people, and more traffic.

4. What qualities distinguish you from the other candidates?

I know overdevelopment will ruin the quality of life in Pasadena. I will bring resident-focused, non-conflicted leadership to the city. My plan will include:

– Working to implement a moratorium on replacing single family homes with condos and apartment buildings until the city studies the cumulative traffic gridlock caused by development underway;

– Requiring that residential impact fees be spent on parks and open space that is close to the project generating the fees;

– Working towards stricter parking requirements to reduce “spillover” parking in neighborhoods; and

– Banning council members from controlling non-profits that receive funding from developers with projects requiring city approval.

5. If elected, how will your presence contribute to the dynamic of the council?

I take seriously that I will be there to represent residents of District 7, their needs, and their concerns. I will bring healthy, intelligent, and substantive debate to the council about issues that matter to residents and will work towards making the city more efficient, transparent, and accountable. As part of this, I will make meetings about current development projects open to the public. I will also eliminate loopholes in the city’s anti-corruption ordinance.

Bryan Witt, District 7 candidate. – Courtesy Photo

Candidate: Bryan Witt

1. Please describe your relationship/history with the City of Pasadena:

I have lived and worked in Pasadena for over 45 years and although I was born here, like many of you, I am from a family of immigrants. My grandparents came here from Holland in the early 20th century and just like many of our friends and neighbors, they were simply seeking a better life.

Grandpa sold produce from a specially modified truck, which was common in that era. As kids, my dad and uncles delivered newspapers on South Orange Grove Boulevard and later, proudly served in WWII and Korea during our nation’s darkest hours.

I served four years in the United States Marine Corps and volunteered for two years as a reserve police officer with the City of South Pasadena. I am deeply rooted in Pasadena and firmly committed to listening to the people of District 7, so that your voices will be heard at city hall.

2. In your opinion, what is the most significant issue in your district?

There is virtually no holistic, sustainable vision for development within our city. A great deal of the new development that is taking place in the city is residential and I wholeheartedly support that. I’m also a huge supporter of Transit-Oriented Development, but it must be sustainable. We should be preserving the Hometown/Downtown concept and not greasing the hands of reckless speculators who don’t live here.

Currently, there seems to be a disconnect between the triple bottom line of sustainability and what actually happens with new developments. That triple bottom line is:

– Economic Growth.

– Environmental Stewardship.

– Social Progress.

So, let’s peel back the layers and discuss that triple bottom line:

Our city leadership has been very shortsighted in recent years, by focusing only on economic growth. In reality, the generation of fees is the only real factor that is considered when these projects are approved.

With respect to environmental stewardship, I think our city has failed to live up to the “Green City, Think Green, Report, 2010,” which was initiated by the Environmental Advisory Commission, The Green Team, and the city council.

The City of Pasadena claims to be working on initiatives that will address goals regarding: renewable energy, waste reduction, transit-oriented, urban design, transportation, and water conservation, but the reality seems to be far different.

As it stands now, developers are simply complying with existing zoning laws that may not be consistent with those goals. They will only do what is required and this is why our city needs to demand not only “green” buildings but a “green” city. This needs to be written into our zoning ordinances and municipal code, so that the bar is raised to levels meeting or exceeding that of cities in Europe and Scandinavia, where sustainability is taken seriously.

Transportation is a huge part of that report, which also recommends further study on a Downtown Streetcar Line that will complete the last mile of public transit and link all three of our downtown shopping districts. This concept will be a be a win-win for the city’s bottom line, our commuters, the business community, and those who want to come to Pasadena to dine and shop.

Social progress is entirely absent from any conversation about development in our city and I intend to bring this important issue to the table. Thousands of our residents have been priced out of the housing market and this will change if I am elected.

I want to seriously consider co-op housing in our city and would like to propose that 50 percent of all new residential development be set aside for co-op only housing. We need to offer a third alternative from housing that is for sale and that which is available for rent. Economic inequality is a huge problem in this city and co-op housing is a way in which we can address a national issue at the local level.

Finally, many people I have spoken with believe that a small group of property speculators have gained monopoly power over our city council. My goal is to break that power and, if I am elected, these people will no longer dominate the direction of our city.

3. What are the City of Pasadena’s greatest strengths?

Pasadena is the premier city of the San Gabriel Valley and is truly the crown of the entire region. We have the Arroyo Seco, The Rose Bowl, the Jan. 1 Rose Parade, and a host of cultural amenities that no other city in the region has. Additionally, we have Caltech, PCC, Fuller Seminary, Art Center College of Design, and JPL … there is no other city like Pasadena!

4. What qualities distinguish you from the other candidates?

I am the only Progressive that is running and, so, was somewhat confused as to why the L.A. County Democratic Party Committee chose not to endorse me. My only guess is that they recognize that I am not a candidate they can control.

This refusal to support a real Progressive demonstrates their complete lack of regard for the future of Pasadena and may indicate their wish to continue the same neo-liberal policies promoted by the Democratic Leadership Council. These are the same policies that brought us NAFTA and other trade deals that have disenfranchised unions and other members of the working class, while allowing Wall Street to continue looting the public treasury.

5. If elected, how will your presence contribute to the dynamic of the council?

I am a fighter and not afraid of opposing the powerful forces seeking to undermine our city and our republic.

I will not support any project in Pasadena that does not enjoy strong community support. I cannot be bought by anyone, for any amount of money. The business community can be assured that I will always give them a full and fair hearing, but if any speculators want to do business here, they absolutely must take into account our cultural and architectural heritage and if they are unwilling to adhere to the strict zoning guidelines that I want to implement, then they can take their projects elsewhere.

February 14, 2017

About Author

Gus Gus Herrera was born in Los Angeles and raised in Pasadena. He attended Flintridge Prep in La Canada for high school and then spent four years on the East Coast at Boston University where he graduated with a bachelor's in philosophy. He first began covering the City of Pasadena for the Pasadena Independent in February 2016.

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