Message from Dan Beal, WPRA President, Winter 2020
In Praise of Activism and Civil Civic Engagement
I am not sure we designed it this way, but this edition of The News turns out to be a tribute to community activism. For that reason, I’d like to use these articles to highlight how a well-informed and engaged citizenry makes a difference.
The shining example — setting the bar for the ages — is the 710 Freeway battle. Starting in the era in which bulldozers carved up whole communities, residents, led at first by South Pasadenans and joined later by many others, fought back. More than six decades later (think about that for a minute!): The communities won. In this issue, we feature:
- A historical perspective from Claire Bogaard, who has been engaged in this fight seemingly forever, and the latest information from WPRA’s 710 project lead Sarah Gavit, who refused to pronounce the 710 dead until it is actually…well…dead. And then looking forward, District 6 Councilmember Steve Madison characterizes the best thinking, at this point, about the future of the 710 stub.
- Tom Seifert and Bill Christian, former and current WPRA board members, respectively, who bring us their well-informed opinions on the long-simmering, now heated, issues of the Civic Center and the Arroyo Seco.
- Planning savant and WPRA board member Mic Hansen, who describes how yet more state laws — this time related to accessory dwelling units — illustrate how even a well-crafted local consensus can be undermined from above. (We don’t always win, as the Ambassador East housing mega-development and the overbuilt, confounding Desiderio superpark and rest rooms illustrate.)
- A subset of the 710 fight: the plight of the tenants of Caltrans-owned houses. Without pushing back, hard, they would have been treated even worse than they have been.
WPRA’s mission can be summarized as informing and influencing. We’re not, of course, the activist arena, but we stay engaged and keep our community up to date on important issues. We also partner with other neighborhood associations and interest groups when it’s appropriate.
Effective community activism influences public policy and gets information out. Elected officials understand and (generally) appreciate this, though it may also be aggravating from time to time.
Community activism reinforces what we keep referring to as “The Pasadena Way” — you know, civil civic engagement, inclusiveness, respect, focus on the well-being of the city and its people, and so on.
You’re not sure that “The Pasadena Way” is a thing? Try substituting other city names and see how that sounds.