Sunday, October 4, 2009

Updating Pasadena's General Plan -- October 6 Meeting

The city is updating its General Plan. There are a lot of ways folks can get involved and have their voices heard. A whole list of meetings and surveys is here. For those in East Pas, there is a meeting this Tuesday, October 6 at 6:30 pm at the Stuart Pharmaceutical Building (now apartments) at 3660 E. Foothill. City representatives will talk about emerging themes for future planning of the city and receive input from those who attend.

What's so important about a General Plan? Well, a city's General Plan guides how a city develops -- where growth is allowed and how much. For instance, the city's 1994 General Plan called for development in the city's downtown and at metro stations. For better or for worse, that is what has happened. The General Plan called for protection of existing residential neighborhoods. For the most part, that has happened as well.

Imagine a Great City

The story of the city's current General Plan is a good one. It is told in the preface to the Land Use Element adopted in 1994. The story has all the elements of a good land use dispute -- a voter approved initiative to slow growth, lawsuits filed to challenge the initiative and a city leaders grappling with what to do. The city had to appease a citizenry that voted to limit growth and legal arguments of those who wanted growth.

The result was a campaign to "Imagine a Great City" and create a new General Plan. Pasadenans responded in droves. Charged to imagine a great city, 3,000 people attended more than 50 workshops to work out the city's future. When a consensus emerged, a handful of farsighted residents oversaw the wordsmithing. A General Plan emerged that has guided the city's development ever since (and served as a model for other cities).

Though we lived well west of Allen, I took part in the workshops, meetings, hearings and such that led to the new Plan. It was pretty exciting stuff -- deciding a city's future. One way or another, I've since tried to stay in touch with city planning efforts.

Public interest in city planning is not at the fever pitch it was 20 years ago. But, it probably should be, at least on the east side of town. The plan to drive growth downtown and near metro stations has played itself out over much of the central and western parts of the city. East Pas, with metro stations at Allen and Sierra Madre Villa, has seen some "transit oriented development," but could be in for a lot more. There are other issues out here too -- development of open space, use of the Eaton Wash, plans for St. Lukes and more.

Before Tuesday's meeting, I'll try to list some of the planning issues I see affecting East Pasadena.


altadenahiker said...

I know you and MEOA will call me nothing but Sloth's ugly sister, but I have a hard time interpreting plans. If anything affects open space or our foothills in general, please post. I know how to get riled up.

Mrs. EastofAllen said...

Oh, Altadena Hiker. You give me way too much credit when it comes to the endlessly fascinating topic of city planning. Having listened to my man dissect this drivel, I mean, wonderful information, for more than 20 years, I can honestly say that I've heard enough to make an expert. Or maybe an expert's wife. ;)
You'll seldom see me at these meetings, however. I know I can count on a play-by-play both before and after the big day!
You wanna talk chickens, kids or canning tomatoes, I'm your girl. Planning and politics? Not so much.

pasadenapio said...

Thanks for helping to spread the word about this, Mike.

Eric E said...

OK, so the last time it was a voter approved slow growth and the ensuing legal battles. What was the trigger this time? Are we just tired of the '94 plan? Why is it outdated? Why not let it ride? I agree with you that there isn't a lot of public interest in this. That's not good, because the private money interests will make sure their needs are addressed, regardless of public input.

Michael Coppess said...

Eric: Thanks for the comment. Every five years the city is supposed to update its general plan. So this is update is the five year review. Agree that these are the occasions when big changes can be made that later come as a surprise to many.