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Panel Denies Yet Encourages Brewery Idea

The South Pasadena Planning Commission this week denied a local resident’s application to launch a microbrewery at his home, but essentially invited him to modify his business plan to assuage the concerns of neighbors and try again.
The commission agreed with most of the staff findings that would have bolstered his application for a conditional use permit, but voiced disagreement with the staff claim that the business would not have been “detrimental to the health, safety or general welfare” of the neighborhood. Additionally, panel members were split on whether an 8-foot wall dividing the proposed establishment from a neighboring property would have been an appropriate mitigation.

Virus’ New Rise Worries Officials

Though the increase pales in comparison to last year’s Fourth of July surge, Los Angeles County is experiencing a concerning spike in COVID-19 infections after recording more than 1,000 new cases for a sixth consecutive day on Wednesday.
The county Department of Public Health reported 1,315 such cases on Wednesday, and more than 99% of the recent cases have involved unvaccinated individuals. The county averaged 1,090 new cases per day from July 8-14, compared with only 496 from July 1-7.

South Pas Athletes Earn All-League Recognition

With five of its seven sports programs clinching a CIF Southern Section playoff berth and two claiming league titles, South Pasadena High School was well represented in the first All-Rio Hondo League honors list in over a year.
Dozens of SPHS’ student-athletes were saluted for their efforts in an abbreviated campaign that some have called the “COVID-19 season.”

Photo courtesy Sally Takeda
SPHS baseball standouts Noah Takeda-Teer (left in uniform), Pablo Guerrero and Nick Schroeder received All-Rio Hondo honors. They are joined by head coach Jaime Garcia and assistant coach Paul Hugasian.

Extend or End ‘Hero Pay’? Council Debates Issue

By Haley Sawyer

Local grocery and drug retail workers could see a change in pay again, depending on what decision the City Council eventually makes.
After discussing the topic at its meeting last week, the council failed to move on whether to extend or retire its “hero pay” ordinance, which mandates hourly pay raises for employees at grocery stores and drugstores as a form of restitution for working throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The council expects to arrive at a decision at a meeting next week.

School District Hires New Human Resources Leader

Linda Junge

The South Pasadena Unified School District hired a local resident to take on the role of assistant superintendent of human resources, replacing the retiring Karen Reed.
Linda Junge, a 24-year educator, will join the SPUSD. She arrives by way of the Glendale Unified School District, where she was principal of Crescenta Valley High School for the past eight years.
Superintendent Geoff Yantz said he was excited to bring Junge on board as a cabinet member.
“Dr. Junge’s extensive experience as an equity-driven leader will bring creativity and innovation to SPUSD’s Human Resources Department,” Yantz said in a statement. “With responsibility for all personnel functions including negotiations, and strategic faculty and staff recruitment and retention, Dr. Junge’s overarching goal is relevant and responsive education for our students.”

Woodland Park Has a Welcoming Nature

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review
Barbara Eisenstein, a native plants enthusiast, recently organized a volunteer cleanup at the Arroyo Seco Woodland and Wildlife Park, better known as the South Pasadena Nature Park.

By Haley Sawyer

Prior to the first volunteer day at the South Pasadena Arroyo Seco Woodland and Wildlife Park since before the COVID-19 pandemic, organizer Barbara Eisenstein had some doubts.
“I was nervous about it, that nobody would show up” to help at the oasis commonly known as the South Pasadena Nature Park, she said.
On the morning of May 15, Eisenstein’s uncertainty dissolved as roughly 10 outdoor enthusiasts appeared, gardening tools in hand. Together, the group hacked away at weeds that had grown on the walking paths and other unwanted plants intermingling with the native plants that inhabit the nature park.
When many parks and playgrounds were closed during the pandemic, the nature park, located on Pasadena Avenue, remained open for use.

Retirement of Physics Teacher, Colleagues a Quantum Loss

Photo courtesy SPUSD
Beloved physics teacher Konstantine “Dean” Papadakis is retiring after 37 years at South Pasadena High School.

No two school years are really ever alike, not least because there is always a swath of teachers leaving for other jobs or retirement and a wave of new instructors as well.
When South Pasadena High School’s students return to their classrooms this fall, those in science courses may feel a particularly notable void. After 37 years at the school, Konstantine “Dean” Papadakis is joining at least a half-dozen of his colleagues in retirement. He and other retirees — some of whom also have put in 30-plus years with the South Pasadena Unified School District — were honored in a video ceremony on May 19, in lieu of the usual in-person farewell.

Arroyo Vista Parents Create Colorful Ending to School Year

This week, as Arroyo Vista Elementary School students wrapped up a strange school year, some of their parents banded together to create a fun send-off for them as they kick off summer vacation.
As the students approached the school on Tuesday and Wednesday, they were treated to a facade of surfboards, beach accessories and other related props. In recent weeks, parents volunteered to put together the art installation to give their students an enjoyable last day of school after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from coming back to classrooms until March.

Photos courtesy Anna Festa
Arroyo Vista Elementary School students this week enjoy a beach-themed send-off into summer vacation, thanks to the creative work of the school’s PTA volunteers.

Middle School Arts Building Unveiled, Receives Praise

Photo by Christian Leonard / The Review
Among those who introduced the new South Pasadena Middle School arts building on Tuesday were Dave Lubs, the school district’s assistant superintendent of business services; Board of Education members Zahir Robb and Patricia Martinez-Miller; board President Ruby Kalra; SPMS Principal Cheryl Busick; board members Michelle Kipke and Suzie Abajian; Superintendent Geoff Yantz; and Robert Simons, president of SVA Architects.

With students graduating on the field just feet away, school administrators presented South Pasadena Middle School’s new Arts Building to a small crowd of staff members and families on Tuesday.
The building, which used to host SPMS’ gymnasium, has undergone renovation for more than two years, school representatives said. It now sports a theater for drama and dance lessons, a visual arts classroom and a flex lab for science and engineering activities. The theater also boasts an accompanying control booth and dressing room.

Long the Top Tiger, SPHS Principal to Retire

Review photo
Janet Anderson, the veteran principal at South Pasadena High School, greets students during a previous school year. She announced this week that she is retiring after 41 years with South Pasadena Unified School District, the past 21 at SPHS.

After guiding decades of students, South Pasadena High School Principal Janet Anderson announced this week she is wrapping up her career and bidding a bittersweet farewell to the local school system.
Anderson plans to retire in August, capping a 41-year education career that took place entirely in her hometown. She has spent the last 21 years of that journey as the principal of SPHS, from which she graduated in the 1970s. She also served as principal of Marengo Elementary School for three years, earning that position after working as a teacher and assistant administrator at every other school in SPUSD.
“It’s not the average length of tenure for a high school principal,” Anderson quipped in a phone interview on Tuesday.

City to Use Grant to Bolster Traffic Safety

By Haley Sawyer

The South Pasadena City Council took a step last week in deciding how to repurpose the grant that was to have paid for the Arroyo Fest, voting to issue three requests for traffic-related proposals.
Proposals are being sought for development of a Slow Streets program, for a traffic study to analyze travel lane closure options and for the design and installation of removable bollards — posts used as a traffic-safety measure — on Meridian Avenue.

Track Competitors Leave Pandemic in the Dust

By Nathan Cambridge

Photo by Susan Bradforth / The Review
Jane Kistner, Monty Bonz, Taelyn Adams, Brooke Zeisler, Lucia Mahler and Addison Jara with Lexi Mayne (front) joined in the All City Track Meet this past weekend.

It was time for the 5th-graders of South Pasadena to get things back on track, and in this case that literally meant getting back on the track.
After the 2020 version was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 All City Track Meet was back up and running at South Pasadena High School’s Ray Solari Stadium on Sunday morning.
“I’m thrilled that these 5th-graders get to have an event to kind of mark their end-of-elementary-school experience,” co-chair Eryn Kalavsky of Arroyo Vista Elementary School said. “It’s a rite of passage for them to get to have this opportunity.”
To maintain protocols aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the organizers altered the format. This included limiting the number of attendees to the event, which in years past has attracted upward of about 700 students and their family members, resulting in an event just for the 5th-graders.
The All City Track Meet included competitors from four elementary schools: Arroyo Vista, Marengo, Monterey Hills and Holy Family. Throughout the day, participants arrived in three separate shifts with about 40 kids in each wave; they would finish their competition and exit with their supporters just as the next group rolled in. Participants ran the 100-meter run, then the long jump and high jump. The next event included the 400-meter run. Finally, the four fastest kids in the 100 meters from each school raced in a 4×100 relay race, co-chair Gina Loyonnet of Monterey Hills explained.
“Just to make sure we were able to keep distance and we’re able to monitor the kids, we split it into sessions,” co-chair Noel Garcia of Marengo said.
South Pasadena’s three public elementary schools had students in each session, while Holy Family Catholic School joined them exclusively in the second group.
“I’m pretty excited,” Holy Family 5th-grader Ella Igtanloc said in the stands awaiting her turn. “I haven’t run for a tournament in track in a really long time because of the pandemic, so, yeah, I’m pretty excited.”
After a group warmup and jog, boys’ and girls’ 100-meter dashes kicked things off.
“The most fun one in my opinion was the 100-meter,” Arroyo Vista Wildcat Yannick Colin said, “because I can go fast and I still won’t be tired at the end.”
The relay, which was coed for the first time, finished each session.
“I think I liked the relay the most,” Monterey Hills Roadrunner Ramona Nichols said. “We exchanged batons and there were lots of kinds of people, girls and boys.”
Each of the top three finishers in every heat in all three sessions was awarded a medal, got their names read over the loudspeaker and stood atop a podium.
“I was so proud [seeing her on the podium],” Monica Munoz, an alumna of South Pasadena High School, said of her daughter, Juliana Hernandez. “It’s been a couple years she has been running for Arroyo Vista and she always does a great job and we’re always very proud of her.”
Although the live event was limited to the 5th-graders, the rest of the elementary school grades were able to take part in a virtual manner in the days leading up to the meet.
“We were just so excited to do this for the 5th-graders who missed out last year and were probably looking at missing out this year on all of the best in-person events of the year,” co-chair Megan Gardner of Arroyo Vista said. “We wanted to offer an in-person event as it became more obvious that we were going to be allowed to do outside events.”

Tigers Edged in CIF Semifinals


By Haley Sawyer

When San Marcos High School of Santa Barbara netted a goal in double-overtime to win the CIF Southern Section semifinals, the South Pasadena girls’ soccer team was sad, but only momentarily.
The negative emotions were quickly overshadowed by pride.

Little Change in Local Unemployment

Data Source: California Employment Development Department

Though Los Angeles County reduced coronavirus restrictions last month, South Pasadena’s unemployment rate moved little, increasing slightly to 7.6%.
About 1,100 city residents remained unemployed in April, according to preliminary data from the California Employment Development Department. Though the local joblessness rate rose from 7.4% in March, the number of unemployed residents was essentially unchanged in April compared with the month prior; a more specific count was not immediately available.
South Pasadena’s estimated labor force and number of working residents also remained steady in the two months, at 14,400 and 13,300, respectively.

Club Pools Its Skills for Robotics Event

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review
Ryan Arlett, Victor Chen and Sebastian Liebe pull SPARK’s ROV out of a pool last Friday during a test-run. The team is preparing for the Marine Advanced Technology Education Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition world championships.

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

The pool outside Jessica Arlett’s condo is filled with PVC pipes, pingpong balls and netting. A square robot putters around the pool’s floor. But with Jessica serving as the South Pasadena Aquatics Robotics Klub’s adviser, the homeowner association hasn’t given her any grief.
“I’ve been coaching these various robotics teams for years,” Jessica said, “so my neighbors are kind of used to me having weird things going on.”
This year, SPARK is using a residential pool for high-level competition. It’s preparing for the Marine Advanced Technology Education Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition world championships early in August.
This year’s regional championships, which are typically held in Long Beach, were canceled in May because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the South Pasadena group was still able to qualify for the world championships by submitting a 15-minute uncut video of its hand-built ROV completing the necessary tasks.
The world championships are being held in Tennessee, but SPARK has opted to compete remotely. It’ll send another video of the ROV finishing a series of tasks that mimic real-world robotics situations, like rebuilding a “coral reef” made of PVC pipes — which explains the items present at the condo pool.

South Pasadena Wins District Title, Advances to Sectionals

Little League Baseball Tournament

By Nathan Cambridge
The Review

Photo by Nathan Cambridge / The Review
The South Pasadena Little League All-Stars captured the District 18 championship by defeating Temple City, 12-3, this week. The players pictured are (in alphabetical order) Julian Barnes, Lucas Becerra, Chris Cortinez, Grayson Ebner, Kory How, Charlie Karr, David Kemper, Matt Nagel, Jack Olsen, EJ Pearson, Cody Robinson, Matt Rogers and Ian Wong.

After a season-long effort, the Little League District 18 Major championship was just one game away for the South Pasadena All-Stars.
Now it was time to go get it.
South Pasadena, mostly comprising 11- and 12-year-old boys, used a big first inning to propel itself to a convincing 12-3 victory over Temple City National Little League to capture the district title Monday evening at Dave Nelson Field.

Local Detective Wins Big at State’s Police and Fire Games

Photo courtesy Richard Lee
Detective Richard Lee of the South Pasadena Police Department recently earned numerous medals representing the department at the California Police and Fire Games.

Utilizing his marksmanship, Detective Richard Lee recently distinguished himself at the United States Police and Fire Games, returning home with more than half a dozen medals and some bragging rights.
Lee, who is a crime analysist and crime prevention officer with the South Pasadena Police Department, won four gold medals in individual events and also added a silver and bronze medal. He competed in Police Pistol Combat — a marksmanship challenge spanning distances from 7 meters to 50 meters. Lee competed in each category using semi-automatic and revolver pistols.

Leaf Blowers at Center of Council Debate

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

Although the South Pasadena City Council has its sights set on banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers, there’s still a way to go before an ordinance is passed.
At its July 7 meeting, after a public hearing, the council voted 4-1 to have staff members return in August with a revised ordinance proposal that addresses enforcement questions and a date when the ban should take effect. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti, who staunchly advocates the use of electric vehicles and devices, voted against this decision, claiming that it didn’t reflect the situation’s urgency.

Al Fresco Day Delights as COVID Restrictions Fade

Photos by Natalie Miranda / The Review
Jared Ramirez, an employee from the Dinosaur Farm, amuses 10-month-old Obi Murray with a puppet alongside the store’s display of toys on the sidewalk on Al Fresco Day last Saturday.

By Natalie Miranda
The Review

Walking down South Pasadena’s Mission Street on Saturday, locals might have observed a scene resembling a festive block party.

That’s because many small business owners took a breath of fresh air without their face masks to welcome customers to their establishments for Al Fresco Day for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions had largely subsided.

Al Fresco Day is hosted by South Pasadena’s Chamber of Commerce, with an aim at supporting small businesses. The event occurs on the third Saturday of every month, when local retail stores and eateries will bring their business to the sidewalks of South Pasadena or simply keep their storefront doors unlocked and ready for customers.

“This is the first one we’ve had while we’re back open again,” Chamber President/CEO Laurie Wheeler said. “Things are open and capacities are up. It’s just an exciting time. We just ask stores to be open and welcome people in.”