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Welcome to Hotel California


This massive development at 1769 Walnut St., near Allen Avenue in Pasadena, blocks views of the mountains for many area residents and is known as the LUXE – where studios (517 square feet) start at $1,830 a month and two-bedroom units at $2,835. - Photo by Terry Miller

This massive development at 1769 Walnut St., near Allen Avenue in Pasadena, blocks views of the mountains for many area residents and is known as the LUXE – where studios (517 square feet) start at $1,830 a month and two-bedroom units at $2,835. – Photo by Terry Miller


Hotels and New Construction in Pasadena Pose Questions for Affordable Housing

By Terry Miller

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here …

… We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave!

In case you’ve not been to Pasadena lately, there has been a huge uptick in the construction of mixed use buildings, as well as a whole lot of hotel construction going on in the Crown City.

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get quite a mixed bag of reactions on both sides of the developer’s coin when it comes to hotels – especially the so-called “boutique” variety, which is a cleverly-disguised term bankrolled by developers who want to paint a prettier picture of any given development.

We asked several people in Pasadena what they think of this general and rapid increase of building in Pasadena.

Referring to last week’s surprising council decision on the Kimpton “boutique hotel,” for Christle Balvin, the irony of the vote was clear … “As you may know, Claire and Bill Bogaard joined Sue Mossman in speaking for the YW project. When they went to sit down, no one applauded. They returned to their seats in a room that was dead silent. All others received applause.” She continued, “ … the city is developing all these hotels and ‘luxury’ condo projects with little thought to the poor and lower middle [class]. When leaving the council chambers on Monday night, I walked past the superior court building where about 20 people were trying to sleep under its sheltered portico. And in the council chambers they are giving away land valued at millions to a developer interested in housing upscale tourists.”

“The Chamber supported the approval of the Kimpton Hotel in the Civic Center. We feel that is the best option for preserving the Julia Morgan YWCA building and enhancing the economic viability of our downtown,” said Paul Little, executive director of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.

According to Little, Pasadena has six full-service hotels (Langham, Westin, Sheraton, Hilton, Courtyard, and Constance). The Residence Inn is close to that, but not full-service.

There are about eight or nine motels in the city limits and another three or four just east of us in the unincorporated area.

A quick Google search located at least 30 places in or very near the City of Pasadena where one can rest and recuperate after a long day at the convention center.

According to Little, there are currently about 2,650 rooms, including the new Residence Inn that just opened.

Another question pops into the equation, that of unionization. Only one hotel, The Hilton, is unionized. The developers of the Kimpton Hotel feel it’s not in their best interest for them to accept unions.

By the numbers, here’s a list of properties under construction (this is for new housing being built in Pasadena, “affordable units” listed in parenthesis):


– 3330 Foothill Blvd. – 212 units (25).

– 1765 E. Walnut St. – 18 units; 1769 E. Walnut – 113 units (10).

– 75 W. Walnut St. – 201 units (30).

– 678 E. Walnut St. – 82 units; 177 N. Hudson – 91 units (23 off-site at 168 N. Wilson Ave.).

– 686 E. Union St. – 118 units (11).

– 218 S. Oakland Ave. – 21 units (2).

– 205–209 S. El Molino Ave. – 6 units (0).

– 60 S. Vinedo Ave. – 26 units (3).

– 762 N. Fair Oaks Ave. – 70 units (69).

– 143 Mar Vista Ave. – 20 units (19).

Also, the rehabilitation of The Groves is in progress, which is expected to be completed later this year. The Groves is a 44-unit, all-affordable rental housing project on two sites (700 E. Mountain St. and 695 N. Raymond Ave.). This is a rehabilitation project, however, not “new” construction.


– 2428 Del Mar Blvd. – 17 units (1).

– 106 E. Orange Grove Blvd. – 21 units (21).

– 125 Hurlbut St. – 25 units (2).

– 177 E. Del Mar Blvd. – 17 units (2).

– 288 S. Oakland Ave. – 28 units (2).

– 383 S. Marengo Ave. – 23 units (2).

– 158 S. Sierra Madre Blvd. – 15 units (0).

– 168 S. Sierra Madre Blvd. – 32 units (0).

– 188 S. Sierra Madre Blvd. – 13 units (0).

– 328–382 W. Green St. – 78 units; 192 S. Orange Grove Blvd. – 6 units; 196 S. Orange Grove Blvd. – 9 units; and 108–112 S. Orange Grove Blvd. – 19 units (12 off-site at 104 E. Orange Grove Blvd.).

– 281 Mar Vista Ave. – 27 units; 275 N. Wilson – 6 units (5).

– 2476 Oswego St. – 32 units (0).

– 67 S. Craig Ave. – 5 units (0).

– 730 S. Marengo Ave. – 8 units (0)

– 239 S. Marengo Ave. – 21 units (0)

– 137 S. Wilson Ave. – 30 units (2)

– 1046 E. Villa St. – 4 units (0)

– 536 S. El Molino Ave. – 12 units (0)

– 605-695 Westminster Drive – 9 units (9). This is the project being built by San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity on the Desiderio site.

According to Pasadena Public Information Officer William Boyer, “ … as for affordable, we have our own requirements, mostly based on what state housing mandates … plus local requirements … these generally have nothing to do with [the] Fed’s HOME or other programs … just because the Feds have a program, does not automatically mean we can use it … many times there are so many hoops to jump through and qualifying criteria, etc., that does not always mean we use them.”

According to the United States Department Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost-burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.”

Within the Office of Community Planning and Development, the Office of Affordable Housing Programs (OAHP) administers the following grant programs designed to increase the stock of housing affordable to low-income households:

– The HOME Investments Partnerships Program (HOME) provides grants to states and local governments to fund a wide range of activities, including: building, buying, and/or rehabilitating housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income families. It is the largest Federal Block Grant Program for state and local governments, designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.

– The National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) supports the acquisition, new construction, or reconstruction of rental units for extremely low-income families or families with incomes below the poverty line, whichever is greater.

August 24, 2016

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Welcome to Hotel California”

  1. Quito Hernandez says:

    Great article! Much appreciated.

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