Message from Dan Beal, WPRA President, Fall 2020
Working on your behalf in a time of pandemic
We can fairly compliment city leaders and staff for doing their best to run a complicated organization under difficult circumstances – even before COVID-19 upped the ante exponentially. Perhaps one of the reasons for that is diligent scrutiny by a number of dedicated individuals and groups, and, yes, neighborhood associations like WPRA. Some of the issues we’ve been representing you on include:
Regional Housing Needs Allocation commonly called “RHNA”
This mind-numbingly complicated state requirement formulaically assigns new housing quotas to cities, which are then required to adjust their zoning to reach these impossible goals. Pasadena’s RHNA numbers went up from 1,332 units in the last round of allocations (2,589 total units were actually built) to an estimated 9,409 in the next round. We support affordable housing, one of RHNA’s goals, but we believe that’s an unrealistic and unachievable number, and joined with other neighborhood associations to urge the city to appeal it. Council voted to appeal, but there are additional approvals needed. We’ll stay on it.
As explained by Mic Hansen on page 7, the city has been considering regulating oversize, out-of-character, intrusive, and sometimes downright ugly residential construction, known as “mansionization,” which can be destructive to the character of neighborhoods. We recognize the need for architectural innovation, but without some control, get ready to welcome an architectural nightmare to your block. You think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at the “concrete battleship” on South Los Robles. While we have a few reservations, the city Planning and Development Department’s draft regulations are heading in the right way.
Lower Arroyo Habitat Restoration
As Bill Christian notes on page 10, the city Public Works Department proposes to remove 106 non-native trees, as well as shrubs and weeds near the John K. Van de Kamp (La Loma) bridge and replace them with 42 native species trees and 2,000 seedling shrubs. The city gave only a handful of organizations a mere five days to comment. [The WPRA was not one of them, but sharp-eyed board member Linda Zinn let us know.] Reasonable people can differ on removing non-native trees, but the Arroyo Seco is near-sacred to Pasadenans, and dropping a significant project into it with little or no public consultation almost guarantees dissent. Hopefully the sad lesson of the Desiderio Park restrooms will be internalized. Thanks to District 6 Councilmember Steve Madison for opening up the process.