Resident Spotlights Concerns With General Plan Updates

A map of land usage in South Pasadena in shown in the South Pasadena General Plan draft, released Nov. 4, 2019.

With many eyes currently looking toward the future of South Pasadena and its development, more residents are voicing their thoughts about updates for the General Plan and Downtown Specific Plan that will affect the city over the next 20 years.

At the Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA) meeting Saturday, Jan. 11, resident Delaine Shane leveraged her background in environmental planning and extra time in retirement to delve into the General Plan and share her takeaways from it. As the document is dense and nuanced, she told the Review she wanted to highlight points she felt were important for residents to be aware of.

The deadline for public input on the plans was originally Wednesday, but City Council members have since said that the deadline will be extended to at least February.

The South Pasadena General Plan consists of 152 pages in three parts: (1) introduction, (2) eight plan elements and (3) implementation.

In the introduction, the plan outlines the history of the city and the context in which it was developed.

The eight plan elements summarizes how future growth and conservation are planned to occur by pointing out physical, economic and social ends the city wants to achieve. The chapters include “Our Natural Community” with a focus on conservation and open space, “Our Prosperous Community” (economic development), “Our Well Planned Community (land use/design, housing, parks and recreation), “Our Accessible Community (traffic circulation), “Our Healthy Community” (public health, noise and land use), “Our Safe Community” (public safety), “Our Active Community” (land use, open space, parks and recreation) and “Our Creative Community” (culture and schools).

The implementation section identifies actions with detail on timing, approximate cost, potential funding sources and status.

The Downtown Specific Plan (DTSP) is a draft document of 154 pages published Nov. 4, 2019. It includes five chapters on introduction, vision, policies, code and implementation.

Shane made clear that although she supports the city’s initiatives to grow the city and is not anti-development, she felt the document was very dense and hasn’t had much community input in its development over the last year and a half. The update began in 2016 with Rangwala Associates, where community input was taken in, and was transferred to Placeworks by the City Council in April 2019.

A resident since 2008, Shane said she views South Pasadena as her “forever home” and she’s concerned that the city is rushing too quickly toward development without taking into consideration the existing issues with aging infrastructure, housing needs and traffic.
“My husband and I love the Mayberry RFD (aspect of South Pas),’’ Shane said in an interview. “It has to grow, but we don’t want it overwhelmed to such an extent that it becomes like downtown Pasadena or downtown West Hollywood or downtown Glendale. It’s too much then. You lose that small-town spirit.”

She said that, out of 274 action items in the General Plan, there are 15 immediate actions that look as if they’re the first to be acted upon. Of the 15, one is to implement the DTSP, and she said she was concerned that there weren’t points included to deal with traffic issues.

“We seem to be all for the development,” said Shane. “It’s very focused on outside creatives and we’re not looking at affordable housing, the homeless, our transportation and our aging infrastructure woes in the same balanced manner. It seems it’s tilted toward the development more. How can we welcome more people in if things aren’t getting done?”

She also noted a citation in the General Plan that outlined advice from marketing consultants to developers in 2010. It stated that residents place a great deal of importance on traffic and safety, so developers should be careful to engage with the city and residents with the delicacy of the issues.

“It just seems to me that changed within our city officials’ mentality, and I want to know why because our most precious asset is our Mayberry RFD,’’ she said. “That’s what we have to sell to most others and [we shouldn’t] let it get degraded or destroyed through too much development.”

Comments on the General Plan and Downtown Specific Plan can be sent to the city by emailing PlanSouthPasadena@southpasadenaca.gov.

To view the proposed 2020 General Plan and Downtown Specific Plan Update, visit: https://www.southpasadenaca.gov/government/departments/planning-and-building/general-plan/proposed-2019-general-plan-downtown-specific-plan-update