City Council Considers Widening Opinion Poll

The South Pasadena City Council will discuss whether to expand the range of topics in a public opinion survey aimed at getting voters’ ideas on renewing the user utility tax later this year.
The decision emerged from a second “consent item” discussion on the matter last week that initially was meant for council members to commit some of the panel’s discretionary funds to the contract for the survey. Councilman Richard Schneider said it would be more proper if the public had a formal chance to add topics to the survey, as it initially concerned only the tax renewal.
Schneider’s peers agreed.
After the council began discussing the item at its previous meeting, some officials wanted to include questions regarding a potential tax on Airbnb rentals — called transient occupancy taxes in other jurisdictions — as well as potentially increasing the height limit for residential construction in the building code, which is currently limited by voter initiative.
The new tax is being considered to improve revenue streams during unstable periods, and the height limit may be necessary to help the city achieve its housing element mandates from the state.
Though the user utility tax, or UUT, currently runs through 2022, city officials aim to avoid paying for an expensive special election to consider its renewal and also to take advantage of a likely high turnout this November, during the presidential election. Schneider and Councilman Michael Cacciotti previously opposed conducting new polling, but do want to have the item on this year’s ballot.
In other business, the City Council unanimously rejected an appeal of the city’s approval of the Mission Bell mixed-use development project, cementing the path to its construction after the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters objected to aspects of the project.
The Council of Carpenters unsuccessfully argued that the project was incorrectly determined to have no significant impact on historical resources by its California Environmental Quality Act review. The project will remove a portion of a warehouse attached to the existing storefront at the location, but will preserve the storefront and apartment above it.
The Mission Bell project will install several commercial storefronts at the corner of Mission Street and Fairview Avenue along with 36 residential lofts and apartments and a subterranean parking garage.