WPRA President’s Message from the Spring 2019 Newsletter
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose is one of my favorite French phrases (out of the five I know). That is to say, ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same.” To see if that maxim holds true, I took a 10-year look back into our newsletter archives (available on our website, by the way). Here’s what I found.
Back then, we were raising the alarm about over-reaching state legislative mandates that dictated the character and development of our community. “Sustainable community” goals were emerging to enable residents to rely less on individual cars and provide greater opportunities for walking, biking and mass transit. Not necessarily bad things. Now, the state is poised to require super-dense development with no parking near transit hubs, requires us to permit additional units on single-family properties (indeed, singlefamily zoning doesn’t really exist anymore) and tells us we should rely on nineteenth century technologies — bicycles and light rail — to solve twenty-first century mobility problems.
Then, we were beginning to see projects that were spatially and architecturally out of sync with Pasadena. The Westgate apartments complex (east of the 710 stub) is an egregious example of that. And let’s not forget that the Ambassador West campus (west of the 710 stub) originally called for development of 2,000 units. Now, multi-story projects pop up in our neighborhoods so often that we just sigh and move on. However, it’s not all bad news: The Ambassador Gardens development, as it is called now and is nearly complete, will end up with about 10% of what the original plan requested, a reduction in which the WPRA played a key role.
Then, we were revising the General Plan. Now, we’re revising Specific Plans … all in the hope that we’ll be able to control our own development destiny. Bonne chance! (Another of my five phrases.) Then, we were worried about our wonderful trees. We are, after all, known as a City of Trees. Now, we’re even more worried about trees … but there are fewer of them.
Then, crime, congestion and traffic safety were prime issues. Also, the city was struggling with serious budget problems, and Caltrans had begun to develop the environmental impact statements and reports that it hoped would justify closing the 710 gap with tunnels. Now, here’s another bit of good news: We are very close to winning the 60-year fight over the 710. This was no easy feat, but, crime and traffic issues continue to dog us and the city is still wrestling with serious budget challenges.
Then, Desiderio was going to be an extension of our beautiful Arroyo. Now, Desiderio will be blighted by an over-built park and unwanted restroom. The restroom alone will sop up $750,000 in scarce park funds that surely would have been better spent elsewhere… for example, for a restroom in the Linda Vista park. Or much-needed improvements to Memorial and Central parks, for which there is no funding.
Then, we were planning trails for Hahamongna. Now, we mourn a huge scar carved in it. All of this to say that the WPRA will continue to fight for our community’s best interests, and you can help! Let us know what you care about and support. Volunteer to assist our committees and advocacy efforts.
And come to our annual meeting on May 8 at the Mayfield Senior School. I hope to see you there.
And finally, back then, WPRA President Audrey O’Kelley began a similar look-back in the Winter 2009 issue with … wait for it … “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Indeed.