For a few hours on one morning next month, South Pasadena will become the political hub of Los Angeles County — a veritable mecca of mayors, with all 88 of the region’s municipal heads invited here for one of their semiannual “convenings.”
South Pas Mayor Marina Khubesrian is set to host this convention of A-listers, which twice a year is run by city of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, and is rotated to different municipalities around the county.
It’s a chance for mayors to mingle, make connections, compare notes, share ideas and discuss relevant issues, as well as listen to a featured speaker – in this case, famed Caltech seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, discussing earthquake preparedness for cities.
While the date has not been publicly released – because of security reasons, Khubesrian told the Review – it will be held at the South Pas Library’s Community Room. The event will not be open to the public, though media will be invited.
While the event is first and foremost a business-and-learning session for the gathered politicos, it is also, Khubesrian stressed, a chance for South Pas to shine a spotlight on itself – and she is thrilled at the prospect.
“It’s very exciting news for South Pas,’’ Khubesrian said. “We’ve never done that before, and it’s exciting to be a regional partner with all these other cities and highlight our city.’’
Khubesrian said she decided to pitch South Pas to Garcetti’s office after the last such convening, which was held in El Monte.
“They usually send out a form (asking) if you would be willing to present,’’ Khubesrian said. “And I thought South Pas should do it, because we’re central, we’re kind of like in the middle of the entire valley … so I thought, location-wise, it would be a good location for everybody to come, and I offered to host, or at least be considered.
“They make the final decision – they look at the feasibility, they look at the parking, all that kind of stuff.’’
Once South Pas was deemed to have checked all the appropriate boxes, it got the go-ahead from Garcetti’s office, and Khubesrian began taking planning to the next steps.
As host mayor, she will make a presentation, with Garcetti, on issues of regional interest, the points of which she is still fine-tuning, she said. As host city, South Pas also gets to invite all members of the City Council and select staff. Non-host cities can bring only the mayors themselves, or a delegate if the mayor himself or herself cannot attend.
“It’s great – all the ones I’ve been to have been very well organized,’’ Khubesrian said. “It’s a chance to see what’s worked in other cities, what’s not worked, so you don’t repeat the same mistakes and all that kind of stuff.’’
The inclusion of Jones – a fixture on Los Angeles TV and radio whenever the earth shakes – is particularly timely for South Pas, Khubesrian said.
“We’re considering some policies right now that have to do with some of our structures and how to make everything safer – there’s a lot to attack with earthquake preparedness,’’ she said.
Khubesrian said she likely will highlight South Pasadena’s membership in the Clean Power Alliance – “If other cities are thinking about doing that, what to look for, maybe what they can learn from the way we did things’’ – as well as the city’s recently successful labor negotiations with the police, fire and municipal employees unions.
She touted how the city, in the midst of a budget shortfall, was able to navigate new contracts by using such non-monetary perks as the new four-day, 40-hour work week soon to kick in at City Hall.
“We can’t really compete with salaries necessarily with the bigger cities, but we’ve been able to implement some creative scheduling, and (there are) a few other things that I would like us to present,’’ Khubesrian said.
She’s sure mayors of other cities of similar size and budget constraints will be willing listeners – just as, she said, she wants to hear from other mayors on all manner of issues and strategies.
To covers costs for breakfast and promotional materials for the gathered honchos, Khubesrian will tap up to $5,000 of the mayor’s discretionary fund – a matter that was on the City Council agenda this past Wednesday, and was expected to pass.
Khubesrian said that while there might be some grumbling during public comments about her use of the money, “It’s a really good use of my discretionary fund, to promote a really great event.’’
“It’s basically good diplomacy, good education,’’ she said. “I can’t think of any better way to use my discretionary fund than for something like this, especially when it’s a unique opportunity that we’re not going to do very often. It’s once in a lifetime.’’
What’s more, she said, “We still take it to Council, so we’re fully transparent about it, so people know exactly where the money goes.’’
And, she added, “I think it will be a good idea to report back after the event” on the specifics of the costs.
“We said $5,000 – it’s up to $5,000. I don’t necessarily anticipate it being that much.
“It’s basically providing breakfast, and it will be all local caterers. South Pasadena businesses will be involved, and we’re going to get three bids and take the best one.
“I’m also excited about this opportunity to make it, as close as possible, a zero-waste event – to avoid single-use plastics.”