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Khubesrian Resigns From City Council

Marina Khubesrian

Despite her initial commitment to serve for the rest of the year, South Pasadena City Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian resigned from her post this week, days after admitting she sent a litany of emails using false personas to attack members of the public who have been critical of city actions.
The resignation, which went into effect Tuesday morning, leaves the City Council with a decision to make: whether to appoint someone to finish her term or keep the seat vacant for roughly four months. Khubesrian announced her decision in a statement emailed on Saturday that confirmed a series of recent allegations that the two-term councilwoman had surreptitiously submitted public comments at meetings that excoriated residents for their comments.
“While this happened during a time of great personal stress and when I was facing a serious health issue, there is absolutely no excuse for my conduct,” she wrote in the statement, adding that medication she was taking as well as the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated her anxiety issues. “Frankly, I am extremely remorseful, embarrassed and mortified by my actions.”
The City Council met Wednesday night, after The Review’s press deadline, in a special meeting to address the new vacancy and Khubesrian’s committee assignments.

New Athletic Facilities Rounding Into Shape

Photo courtesy South Pasadena Unified School District
The southernmost or “main” gym has been outfitted with a brand-new wood floor.

Just because it will be several weeks before they can actually use the new athletic facilities at South Pasadena High School doesn’t mean the Tigers aren’t already licking their collective chops over the opportunity.
As the completion date for the major facilities renovation project arrives — by the end of September, according to Allison Anderson, bond construction coordinator for the South Pasadena Unified School District — a new athletic landscape is beginning to take shape.
The school’s two gymnasiums have received substantial upgrades, the long-anticipated new tennis courts are on the way, and the new modern field house is rising on a spot where outdoor basketball courts once existed.
Improvements to the athletic facilities will tally more than $13 million, part of a $98 million construction bond — Measure SP — that voters passed in November 2016 by a margin of 3-1.

Businesses Show Resolve Despite Fallout From Pandemic

Photos by Mitch Lehman / The Review
Diane Aguilera gives an al fresco haircut to Mark Hess at the Square Deal Barber Shop on Mission Street, which has adapted to new regulations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The placards on the counter at Carrows Restaurant on Fremont Avenue read: “This spot reserved for memories.”
That’s how I felt wandering around town a few days ago.
That’s not to say South Pasadena is a memory. It’s alive and as unique as ever.
Our city is, however, a changed place, as we are all changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lights at Carrows are dimmed, and there doesn’t appear to be anyone home. On the door, a sign says the restaurant is temporarily closed, as is the Canoe House restaurant on Fair Oaks Boulevard.

Chamber Fights On for Local Businesses

Photo by Zane Hill / The Review
The South Pasadena Farmers’ Market, pictured at a time before the pandemic took hold, has continued on its Thursday schedule, albeit with restrictions.

Under normal circumstances, South Pasadena would be enjoying the final lazy days of summer, basking in the optimism of a new school year and bidding farewell to friends and loved ones heading off to college.
But present circumstances are anything but normal as restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic persist, the economy suffers and students return to their personal home study spaces. Even so, a prominent local booster organization continues to voice determination despite the health crisis.
“Our local businesses are not giving up,” said Laurie Wheeler, president of the 259-member South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. “Our businesses are all across the board — some are barely hanging on, some are being true entrepreneurs, and they will do whatever it takes to survive.”
Some have also closed their doors for good, the result of the economy’s unpredictability. What is Wheeler’s familiar solution to such an unprecedented condition?

Resident’s Complaint About Councilwoman Sent to District Attorney

Marina Khubesrian

City Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian last week reiterated her commitment to finishing her term this year, amid demands that she resign in light of allegations that she has used fake email personas to support her causes and attack detractors in comments sent to the council.
Those demands, which themselves came in the form of public comments at last week’s City Council meeting, preceded the South Pasadena Police Department’s announcement that it had referred a related criminal complaint to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review. The complaint filed by local resident Chris Bray claimed Khubesrian used the allegedly fictitious email addresses to repeatedly attack him through the public comment portion of meetings during controversial budget discussions earlier this year.

Multi-City Board Outlines New Vision on Transportation

A board made up of officials from South Pasadena and nearby cities is crafting a new strategic plan, potentially expanding its role in coordinating transportation initiatives in the area.
Members of the governing board for the Arroyo Verdugo Communities Joint Powers Authority expressed interest Aug. 6 in moving beyond traffic and infrastructure concerns to consider other types of transportation, such as light rail and bicycles, for local development, as well as environment-related projects.
The joint powers authority was formed in 2017 and includes officials from South Pasadena, Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, Burbank and the Los Angeles County Fifth Supervisorial District. South Pasadena Councilwoman Marina Khubesrian serves as the local representative on the authority’s board, but announced during the Aug. 6 meeting that this would be her final term on the panel, as she is not running for reelection to City Council.

UUT Renewal on Ballot, Building-Height Measure Isn’t

South Pasadena voters will decide whether to renew the user utility tax in November, but will have to wait until a different election to possibly create an entirely new tax and consider raising the height limit for local buildings.
Putting the renewal for the user utility tax, or UUT, on the fall ballot was a unanimous City Council decision last week. Residents also will be casting votes for candidates for three City Council seats, the U.S. House and, of course, president.
The UUT, slated to expire at the beginning of the 2022-23 fiscal year, generates about $3.4 million annually and is the city’s second-largest revenue source, after property taxes. It raises money from a charge on utilities like water, cellphone plans and cable TV.

Locals Join in Virtual 5K to Raise Funds

Schwartz and Gardner family

South Pasadena residents, students and families pitched in $1,425 to participate in a virtual 5K run last week, a fundraising effort that will help purchase personal protective equipment for schools to use once they reopen doors. Participants had from Aug. 6-8 to complete their run and submit logged results, and they didn’t just stay in town: the fundraiser sent South Pasadenans to Big Bear, Mammoth, Pismo Beach, Minneapolis and Boise, Idaho. The fundraiser was organized by South Pasadena High School cross-country runners Lindsay Michels and Sydney Morrow and sponsored by the South Pasadena PTA Council.

Elyse Mauer and Raden Estridge

Friends In Deed Hosts ‘Jazz on the Screen’ Fundraiser

Carol and Kevin Bourland

Friends In Deed’s annual fundraiser, Jazz on the Green, is going virtual to “Jazz on the Screen.” The weeklong event begins on Tuesday, Aug. 25, and will include an online auction, playlist from local jazz artists, mystery wine pull and honoree spotlight videos. It will close with a live video event on Saturday, Aug. 29, at 7:30 p.m.
While a social gathering is not possible this year, Friends In Deed has planned the celebration to be interactive and the event will continue to support those who can’t be “safe at home” — the homeless and disadvantaged of our community, an event spokesperson said.

Girl Scouts Partner With South Pasadena Nature Park

By Twyla Metcalfe
Special to The Review

Photo courtesy Twyla Metcalfe
Girl Scouts Twyla Metcalfe and Keira Grace partner with Barbara Eisenstein and the South Pasadena Nature Park to complete their Silver Award.

Near the Arroyo Seco golf course, there is a beautiful and hidden park, the South Pasadena Nature Park. You can notice its entrance on Pasadena Avenue by the green sign recently refurbished by Girl Scout Troop 47111’s Twyla Metcalfe and Keira Grace.
The park, located along the Arroyo Seco, has a beautiful butterfly garden with milkweed that attracts the butterflies. There are native plants such as the golden currant and fiddleneck and trees such as western sycamores and southern walnuts. The park is also home to lots of species of birds, and there is access to the bike trails and the L.A. River. You can come anytime to look at the view, take a walk on the paths, admire the plants, volunteer or pick weeds.
The park is also a great place to complete service projects. That is what 9th-graders Metcalfe and Grace did this year at the park. They partnered with the park to complete their Silver Award, the second highest award in Girl Scouts. The Silver Award is designed to make a positive, sustainable change in the community. Twyla and Keira redid the outdoor sign at 100 Pasadena Avenue by sanding, painting and refinishing it.