Previously Defeated South Los Robles Development Getting Another Vote Before Pasadena City Council

Councilman John Kennedy addresses the Pasadena City Council over South Robles vote renewal. Photo by Evan V. Symon/Beacon Media News.

By Evan V. Symon

The development at 253 S. Los Robles, previously voted down by the Pasadena City Council in July, will be coming up for a vote again with a revised project.

The argument over the renewal of the July 22 decision started off over questions on whether a renewal would set future precedent on development votes in Pasadena.

Some members of the council were for the new vote.

“It’s incumbent upon this council to give the developer an opportunity to revise the project,” argued Councilman John Kennedy. “Let’s see what they bring back to see if it’s acceptable to the council. I think that’s the fair thing to do. The vote previously demonstrated that we were divided but we were close to allowing a project to go forward. There was some objection, obviously, from our residents, but we want to get a good project. So I’m certainly in favor of giving them another bite at the apple to get it right.”

Others were against.

“We’re limited by rules,” said Councilman Victor Gordo. “We have limited jurisdiction. I don’t see a specific rule that allows us to take this matter up again. Are we setting a precedent where we allow a developer to come here, argue their case, not gain the desired outcome knowing that later on they can ask for a renewal. Knowing that option is available to them changes the dynamic. To now insert a renewal as a second bite of the apple is unfair to the community.”

After the city attorney Michele Beal Bagneris clarified the procedures of a vote and other council members voiced their concerns over matters such as what paths there are for development, questioning went to the attorney for the developer, Richard McDonald.

McDonald stated that after the July 22 meeting, “Other clients reached out to myself and to staff to make adjustments to their projects.”

“We’re always happy to study and take a look at.” McDonald continued. “Tonight I can’t tell you what that means. Building buildings isn’t something you just lop off certain sections of. It’s more like a Rubik’s Cube. You start to take units off, you start to look at parking ratios, then you look at open space requirements, then you look at landscaping requirements.

“You can’t just say ‘We’ll do X’, because X ripples through the whole project. But we spoke to the architect, and said is it possible to take a look at all this and come up with something that may address all the cities concerns, and they said yes. They’ll take a look at it.”

The Pasadena City Council votes on the 253 Los Robles Ave. renewal. – Photo by Evan V. Symon/Beacon Media News.

After questioning, some council members reaffirmed their positions.

“The objective is to have quality development in Pasadena,” stated Councilman Kennedy. “If the developer is willing to revamp the project, or at least consider revamping the project, I think we need to give them the opportunity to do that, because I think it would be hypocritical not to do that. They’ve gone through the process for a number of years, and there’s no guarantee that whatever they present will garner the majority of support of the council. 

“I hope tonight the council will be big and give them that opportunity. I know that some of us are standing for election and are hoping for support, but we need to be bigger than that.”

Others, like Councilman Andy Wilson, stressed the possible legal situation.

“I think we are acting in the best interests of the residents to allow the applicant to come up with something that is more accommodating to the issues of the local community,” said Councilman Wilson. “I’m concerned what the outcome would be under alternate legal action. We could end up with a project that is less compatible with the city. I would be supportive of the renewal.”

Mayor Terry Tornek had a similar view.

“Part of the reason I voted for the project initially was because I felt it did comply with the state concession requirement,” voiced Mayor Tornek. “And I didn’t want to put Pasadena in the category of ‘the bad communities’ that the Governor and others are flailing away at in terms of not doing our part. I don’t want to be in the company of Huntington Beach.    

“I will support the motion.”

The motion to renew the appeal and to hear a revised development plan was passed five to two, with Councilmen Gene Masuda and Gordo voting against. No date has been set for the new vote.

Artist’s rendering of the Keith Jackson statue at the Rose Bowl. – Courtesy photo / City of Pasadena

An informational presentation by the Rose Bowl Operating Company came after the  renewal vote. A statue of longtime Rose Bowl sportscaster Keith Jackson was announced, with an installation being planned for between December and April of next year. The statue is to be located in the Gate A Plaza. Ron Okum, treasurer and VP of Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, also told the Independent that a fourth statue is in the works, with the person being honored to be announced soon. 

In other council news, the police introduced a dozen of their newest officers to the council, and promoted three others, including Cheryl Moody being promoted to Acting Deputy Chief. The Pasadena Public Health’s Report on Water Quality and a change on excess Municipal Liability Insurance were also discussed and approved.

August 28, 2019

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Evan Symon

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