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South Pas Hopes to Sweep Boys, Girls Championships

Photo by Zane Hill / The Review This year’s cross-country team, bolstered by a trove of young new runners, aims to make a mark this season.

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Year three into his tenure as cross-country head coach looks as promising as ever for Mike Parkinson and his squad of South Pasadena High School runners.
This season kicked off months after the 2020-21 season wrapped up in the spring, when it was lumped into essentially one big high school sports season thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. After Parkinson coached that squad to a Rio Hondo League sweep, he said he’s aiming for the real deal after an admittedly “asterisk” season.

Bill to Push Caltrans Home Sales Awaits Signing

Photo courtesy Anthony Portantino’s office State Sen. Anthony Portantino, shown here at a prior rally against the 710 Freeway tunnel, authored recently passed legislation regarding the sale of Caltrans-owned properties in South Pasadena along the formerly proposed dig site.

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Senate Bill 381, a measure authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino to move along Caltrans’ sale of its properties linked the now-defunct 710 Freeway tunnel project, was approved by the Legislature last week and now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.
According to Portantino’s office, SB 381 provides protections for existing tenants, includes a strategy to protect historic homes and gives flexibility to the city of South Pasadena to create more affordable housing.
“SB 381 is an innovative way to protect tenants and maintains historic properties while giving the city and the local community a stake in developing a viable and sustainable affordable housing program,” Portantino said in a statement.

SPUSD to Require Vaccines for Employees

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of a vaccine requirement for employees, bringing its mitigation strategies against COVID-19 to a more stringent level.
The mandate requires all SPUSD employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 14. Employees may request an accommodation and district administrators will have to determine whether the accommodation is valid and can be met.
“As I think about the employees that we are responsible to and the students to whom we are also responsible,” board member Patricia Martinez-Miller said, “not having people employed by us vaccinated to keep them safe would really violate our purpose.”
Superintendent Geoff Yantz said at Tuesday’s meeting that the district was going to email out correspondence on Wednesday with details on the mandate and information on accommodation.

South Pasadena Falls to Heritage Christian, 28-20

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The South Pasadena High School football team looked to have turned a new leaf with their dominating performance over Marshall High in Los Angeles.
But the Tigers were dealt a 28-20 loss at Heritage Christian in Northridge last week.
South Pas (1-3 record) had a chance to tie the game late with the ball near the Warriors’ 15-yard line but could not convert on fourth down, essentially ending the contest.

Police to Kick Off Citizen Academy

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The South Pasadena Police Department is taking applications for its annual Citizen Police Academy, which will begin meetings on Oct. 11 and continue every Monday evening through Nov. 22.
The program is designed to educate interested residents on the role police officers have within the community and help officers learn more about the people of South Pasadena. Detective Tyler Borello, a co-coordinator of the program, said the academy serves as a great bridge between the department and the community it serves.

Talented Tigers Have Lofty Goals

Photos by Eric Danielson / The Review Senior captains Abby Garner (18), attempting a spike against La Salle, along with Kennedy Taylor (10) and Ally Sokolow (5) are four-year varsity players who have led the Tigers to dominating girls’ volleyball in the Rio Hondo League.

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The change first started four years ago. Ivy Chew took over the South Pasadena High School girls’ volleyball program and inherited a group of players whose skills would grow exponentially.
This season, with Chew’s original freshmen now seniors, the Tigers have developed a winning culture and set a new standard. In her first season as head coach, Chew and South Pas were Rio Hondo League runners-up. The following year, they went undefeated en route to the league championship.

City’s Population Grew 5% Over 10 Years, Census Shows

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

South Pasadena’s population grew by more than 5% from 2010-2020, a rate nearly one percentage point higher than Los Angeles County as a whole.
According to the U.S. Census results from data collected last year, the city’s population rose from a reported 25,619 residents in 2010 to 26,943 in 2020, representing a gain of 5.17%. The city’s population density posted a fairly similar gain, rising 5.06% from having 7,523 people per square mile in 2010 to 7,904 people per square mile as of last year.
The U.S. Census Bureau has not made its full results widely available yet, but has released the raw data to certain firms and outlets. The Associated Press has compiled this data and released it to media outlets through its Big Local News platform. Data was collected in April 2020, meaning it does not reflect that more than 660,000 Americans have died due to complications from the coronavirus.

Riffle, Aragon Help Tigers to 42-0 Victory

Photo by Eric Danielson / The Review Senior quarterback Noah Aragon (3), aided by the blocking of Thomas Carter (61) and Matthew Takasugi (54), completed seven of nine passes to help South Pasadena High School to its first victory of the season, 42-0, over Marshall High of Los Angeles on Sept. 2.

It was a memorable night for South Pasadena High School’s varsity football team, which earned its first shutout victory since the 2019 season by throttling host Marshall High in Los Angeles, 42-0, on Sept. 2.
Marshall couldn’t contain the South Pasadena’s offense, as the Tigers (1-2 record) scored at least one touchdown during each quarter en route to their first win of the season.

Her Talent for Baking Cobblers Bears Fruit

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review Elizabeth Walker hand-delivers cobblers made from scratch in flavors that include peach, peach mango, blackberry and strawberry.

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

When Elizabeth Walker inhales the warm sweetness of a freshly baked peach cobbler, her unborn baby stirs. When she turns on the mixer, the baby’s legs get moving.
“She starts kicking like she’s interested already,” Walker said. “So, we’ll see. Maybe she’ll be a little baker.”
Since Walker often bakes peach cobblers, the baby is very active. Walker plans to slow down for a few months after the birth of her daughter in October, but after that, the baked good that has consumed her life will be a part of the child’s, too.

Columnist Reflects on Jewish High Holidays

Photo courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers Legendary Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, who is Jewish, skipped a game during the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur.

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

I spent the Jewish High Holidays last year in Dearborn, Michigan.
I don’t have family in Michigan nor do I know anyone in Dearborn. I don’t even remember the name of the synagogue.
I remember going to YouTube and finding a service that felt comfortable.
Many people last year Zoomed their services — and some are doing so again this year. What I remember and liked most about last year’s service was that the melodies brought back memories of the way they were sung in the synagogue I attended while I was growing up. That — in turn — brought back memories of family and friends I have shared the Jewish High Holidays with in the past.

Recalling Threat of Shooting, Group Prays for Schools

Photos by Natalie Miranda / The Review Lydia Banales (left) prays for the South Pasadena schools community with her husband Joseph in the prayer circle.

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The prayer circle that forms each year at the steps of South Pasadena High School carries on a tradition steeped in love, faith and resilience — a response to a near-tragic incident eight years earlier.
The “Pray for Schools” event, which returned last week, was originally set in motion after SPHS faced a mass shooting threat in 2014. The news jolted the school’s sense of security and sent shock waves through the whole community. Although tragedy was ultimately prevented, the scare was interpreted by some residents as a wake-up call to stay connected through support and prayer.
Karen Kano, who coordinated the Sept. 1 prayer gathering of about 40 people, recalls feeling the danger of the situation sink in; two teenagers were arrested after police learned of what they called a “very viable” plan to kill school staff members and other students. The suspects later admitted to a felony count of making criminal threats and were sentenced to probation by a Juvenile Court judge.

City Aims to Slow Traffic for Walkers’ Sake

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

South Pasadena will be moving forward quickly with plans that officials hope will make streets safer for foot traffic after the City Council voted last week to appropriate grant money to the Slow Streets Program.
Grant money originally received through L.A. Metro’s Open Street Grant Program will go toward the project.
The goal of the Slow Streets program is to decrease speeding by motorists and increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists on select streets in South Pasadena. Various demonstration projects will be conducted to determine the best way to make busy streets safer.

What 9/11 Survivor Saw: ‘Incredible Heroism and Kindness’

Photo courtesy Danni family Kevin Danni, a South Pasadena native, visits the national 9/11 Memorial & Museum in 2017. He was paying tribute to former Morgan Stanley head of security Rick Rescorla, who evacuated about 2,700 employees that day and died when the South Tower collapsed.

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Two decades on, South Pasadena native Kevin Danni is still helping to make good on the collective promise to “never forget.”
Danni will be speaking this week, as he does every year, about having survived the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was a fledgling financial adviser at Morgan Stanley. He recounts his memories of the tragic events to students who weren’t even born yet. He’ll visit his alma mater, St. Francis High School, and a group in Glendale, translating the fateful day into a lived history, not just a historical event, to help younger people grasp its meaning.

SPUSD Reports Few Cases of Virus

First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

A handful of coronavirus cases have been identified at local public school campuses since the start of the academic year, the South Pasadena Unified School District said earlier this week.
Two cases were identified at both Marengo Elementary School and South Pasadena High in August, and a case at Arroyo Vista Elementary School was reported on Wednesday. All five people were quarantined.
The district is logging and publishing data on positive coronavirus cases among students and staff that have been detected since the start of the school year on Aug. 12, though it does not disclose whether a case involves a student or staff member. This year, 4,660 students are enrolled at SPUSD schools and there are 425 employees.

Carjacking Leads to Two Arrests, Police Say

First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Two suspects were arrested hours after a woman’s car was stolen at knifepoint in South Pasadena last week and she was left stranded in town, local police said.
A 73-year-old Alhambra woman told South Pasadena officers that two men accosted her and stole her car at 1:11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, while she was parked in the 1900 block of Huntington Drive and using her cellphone. One of the men opened her unlocked driver side door and, brandishing a knife, forced her out of the Lexus IS250 sedan, police said. They added that the second man entered the vehicle on the passenger side and both men drove off with the victim’s cellphone and purse in the car.

Teen Creates Camp to Honor Brother

Photo courtesy Luke Nelson Camper Darren T., counselor Alexis K. and camper Patrick N. share a group hug in Garfield Park.

First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

A few years ago, local teenage volunteer Luke Aloe noticed that many youth with special needs within his community felt isolated.
Inspired by Dominic, his older brother who has autism, Luke created a social group which meets monthly for teenagers with disabilities in the South Pasadena area.
“The name Moai comes from the moai social groups in Okinawa, Japan, where residents have some of the longest lifespans in the world,” explained Aloe, a junior at Loyola High in Los Angeles. “Their long lives have been credited to these social groups, where they keep in touch with their friends throughout their lifetimes.”

Tigers Beaten by Boron, 33-14, in Home Opener

Photo by Eric Danielson / The Review South Pasadena High sophomore Lionelle Limqueco (11) tries to maneuver past Boron High players while returning a kickoff in last week’s Tigers home opener. Despite a staunch effort, South Pasadena (0-2) fell 33-14 to the Bobcats and lost one of its team captains to injury for several weeks.

First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The South Pasadena High School varsity football team dropped its home opener, a 33-14 loss to visiting Boron of the High Desert Friday night.
Tigers head coach Jeff Chi emphasized his team’s mental mistakes early on this season and knows there is still plenty of time to improve mentally and physically moving forward.
“It’s a process and we have to keep working toward it,” Chi said. “Our ultimate goal is to get better each week and get ready for league, so we’re going to use this time to gear up for that. Even if we go 0-5 in [non-league] but do well in league, we’ll be pleased with the season there.”

Indicators Suggest Coronavirus Slowdown

First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Before July, the coronavirus appeared to have all but stalled in South Pasadena.
That relief did not last, however, as daily new case rates took off again that month throughout all of Los Angeles County, driven primarily by the spread of the Delta variant of the virus and concentrated largely among the unvaccinated. In South Pasadena, nearly 1% of the population was reported to have contracted the disease between July 1 and Aug. 31, according to testing data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Local Unemployment Declines as County Rate Remains Flat

Data: California Employment Development Department

South Pasadena’s unemployment rate saw a slight decrease from June to July, according to state data, though the rates in Los Angeles County and California stayed obstinate.
The local rate fell from a revised 8.2% in June to 7.6% in July, the California Employment Development Department reported in a preliminary estimate. The drop represented a decrease in the number of the city’s unemployed residents from about 1,200 to 1,100; the estimate for employed residents increased from 13,300 to 13,400.
South Pasadena’s unemployment rate, which historically has been lower than the county’s, has improved sharply since its pandemic-era high of 16.5% in May 2020. It has fluctuated somewhat this year, however, usually hovering between 7% and 8%. The city’s pre-pandemic joblessness rate was 3.7%.

Testing Finds 3 SPUSD Virus Cases

After a little more than a week of screening for COVID-19, the local school system said that three of its students have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the academic year.
All three cases were listed this week on the dashboard maintained by the South Pasadena Unified School District. One of the students is enrolled at Marengo Elementary School, the other two at South Pasadena High School.

Tigers’ Loss Features Strong Performances

Photo courtesy Jon Takasugi Senior Grant Huntley sprints downfield during South Pasadena High’s season-opening game Aug. 20 at Los Angeles Lincoln. Huntley caught six passes for 121 yards and a 65-yard touchdown, but it wasn’t enough as Lincoln prevailed, 37-20.

The South Pasadena High School varsity football team showed last week that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2021 season, despite the outcome of its season-opening contest.
The Tigers dropped a 37-20 decision on Aug. 20 to Los Angeles’ Lincoln High School — which also was playing its first game, and is also called the Tigers. Fans at the game would be excused if they did a double-take upon arriving at the field, as both squads sported a black-and orange color scheme. The similarity of uniforms notwithstanding, Lincoln had a little more bite than its counterpart.

Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers to Be Banned

After weeks of soliciting feedback from the community and information from municipal commissions, the South Pasadena City Council voted unanimously last week to prohibit the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in town.
“We’re going to be a model for the nation,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti, a longtime supporter of banning gas-powered leaf blowers and of electrification in general. “This council, the commissioners, the community, I’m just so impressed.”

Recalling Actress’ Death, Group Calls for Police Reform

Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review Albert Corado, an activist who is running for a Los Angeles City Council seat, speaks Sunday at the third “angelversary” for Vanessa Marquez in South Pasadena.

A group coalesced outside of the Metro Gold Line Station on Sunday to observe the third anniversary of the fatal shooting of actress Vanessa Marquez by South Pasadena police officers who were responding to a mental health crisis at her apartment in 2018.
Thirty to 40 observers gathered at the so-called “angelversary” on Sunday at the downtown location, where speakers and friends of Marquez memorialized the actress and called on supporters to push for law enforcement reform and stronger accountability practices. The group also recognized others who have been killed during police responses, evoking a feature of protests that followed the murder of George Floyd by an officer in Minneapolis last year.
Participating organizations included the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles, Say Their Names L.A., Centro CSO, American Indian Movement and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

SPHS Students Help Kids Become Rooted in STEM

Photo courtesy Xiyu Wang Kids raise their hands to answer a question as Aaron Quan and Xiyu Wang (top right) give a presentation on the biology of bacteria.

Xiyu Wang and Aaron Quan were introduced to science early in life — if they hadn’t, they might have missed out on the experiences that helped spark their passion for that branch of knowledge.

For Wang, her childhood bedtime stories were tales from her cardiothoracic surgeon father’s operations. He would explain and share the procedures he performed, giving her a glimpse into the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Quan also developed a tradition with his father involving nature, through fishing, that ignited his interest in life sciences and plants.

These moments of discovery spurred Wang and Quan’s gravitation to STEM, and ultimately set them on the path that led them to form the nonprofit STEMspiration L.A. through the chemistry club at South Pasadena High School, where they are rising juniors.

Back to School: Students’ Resocialization and Psychology

Annette Ermshar, CEO of Dr. Ermshar & Associates

While we find ourselves grappling with the new norms of our changing world, a return to a regular school year for our students is imminent. Youth are transitioning back to a traditional classroom-based academic year with regular school-based and extra-curricular activities. This transition is certain to have implications for resocialization and for the ever-shifting identity development that naturally occurs in childhood and adolescence.
School provides important opportunities for critical development, not only for academic advancement, but also for socializing, peer support, experiencing memorable events and moments, and self-expression. Certainly the increased isolation and removal from typical socialization that has resulted from the pandemic may have short- and long-term consequences that we still cannot fully know.

Museum of Free Art Inspires Creations

Photos by Haley Sawyer / The Review South Pasadena artist Jessika Fairbanks, pictured here with her daughter Dahlia, and her husband created the Museum of Free Art after being inspired by the similar Little Free Library concept.

Every morning, Rilla Alexander goes on a run through South Pasadena that takes her down Mission Street. One day, a wooden box with a glass pane broke up the usual scenery.
The display, roughly the size of a breadbox, housed miniature artwork. Looking at the artwork were figurines of people, scattered about. Alexander was looking at the Museum of Free Art, a miniature museum conceived by South Pasadena resident Jessika Fairbanks.
Since then, Alexander has contributed countless drawings — all of frogs — and taken a few pieces of art from the miniature museum, as well.
“It’s something I want to do for fun, but I also just love the idea of putting that there and somebody discovering it,” Alexander said. “I think that’s quite magical.”

Large Crowds Must Mask Up

In an effort to mitigate the spread of the highly-infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, Los Angeles County announced it will update its health order and will require anyone attending a large outdoor event with more than 10,000 people to wear a face covering.
The order goes into effect late Thursday evening and arrives just before the football season, affecting UCLA’s home games at the Rose Bowl, USC’s at the Coliseum and upcoming concerts, including those at the Hollywood Bowl.
“As the highly infectious Delta variant continues to spread, wearing masks — regardless of vaccination status — indoors and in crowded settings, including at outdoor mega events, reduces the risk of being infected with and transmitting COVID-19,” the L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a statement on Tuesday.

Revered Artist Celebrated for Life’s Work, Kindness

Photos courtesy Studio of John August Swanson Painter John August Swanson, whose works grace venues ranging from the South Pasadena Public Library to the Vatican, entered hospice care this past week.

This column is a tribute to a humble man whose art and spirit has touched people like me and many of his friends and admirers in South Pasadena and around the world.
John August Swanson is 83 and is getting hospice care for final stage heart failure at St. John of God Care Center in Los Angeles, according to his assistant, Andrew Shimmin.
His paintings are on display in the Vatican, the Smithsonian, the Victoria and Albert and Tate museums in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Emory College, the Art Museum in Chicago — and at the South Pasadena Public Library.

Schools Celebrate Return Amid COVID-19 Caution

Photos courtesy SPUSD After experiencing both distance learning and modified in-person classes in the past 17 months, students and teachers across the South Pasadena Unified School District celebrated a return to school last week. Masks are required and COVID-19 testing is highly encouraged, even for the vaccinated.

As planned heading into the new school year, the South Pasadena Unified School District began offering surveillance COVID-19 testing to employees and students on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, athletes are required to be tested weekly while they are in their sports season. Optional weekly testing for employees and students will be conducted at a drive-thru site at South Pasadena High School, while PCR testing kits will be available at each school’s health office in the event of a potential exposure at the school.

Officials Dedicate Renovation at Senior Center

Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review The city of South Pasadena held a ribbon-cutting Monday to dedicate a renovated, expanded classroom at the Senior Center, which included Alexandra Levitt (front row, from left), Mayor Pro Tem Michael Cacciotti, Councilman John Donovan, Mayor Diana Mahmud, Melissa Snyder, Cindi Knight, Bill Cullinane, Liz Giffen-Glad, Mark Langill and Dave Kerr. Back row: Community Services Director Sheila Pautsch, Patrick Kirchen and Arminé Chaparyan.

Chalk up another entry into the hall of “positive things that came about as a result of COVID.”
This latest came to fruition on Monday morning and was acknowledged by several dozen members of the community at a noontime celebration for a newly renovated classroom unveiled at the South Pasadena Senior Center. Technically, it was the renovation of two classrooms, which were adjoined and enlarged to form one large space at the southeast corner of the facility.

Assemblyman Introduces Resolution With Armenian Province

Assemblyman Chris Holden, who represents South Pasadena, on Tuesday introduced a resolution that establishes a sister state relationship between California and the Armenian province of Syunik — the southernmost province in Armenia.
The measure, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 105, declares California’s solidarity with Syunik and will encourage and facilitate mutually beneficial educational, economic and cultural exchanges, according to a statement from Holden’s office. The resolution is joint authored by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, and coauthored by assemblymembers Lisa Calderon, Laura Friedman, Jesse Gabriel, Christina Garcia, Mike Gipson, Tom Lackey and Kevin Mullin, and state senators Bob Archuleta, Andreas Borgeas, Maria Elena Durazo and Anthony Portantino.

SPHS Senior Competes in Modern Pentathlon Junior World Championships

Photo courtesy St. Clair family Jake St. Clair, a South Pasadena High School senior, is pictured atop a horse during a modern pentathlon competition. He is one of the best in the nation and competed in this summer’s Junior World Championships in Egypt.

South Pasadena resident Jake St. Clair took a trip to Egypt this summer, complete with a visit to the pyramids. However, the teenager was no common tourist.
St. Clair made the journey as one of the United States’ representatives at the 2021 Modern Pentathlon Junior World Championships.
“It was pretty intense. There were a lot of different competitors from a lot of different countries,” St. Clair said. “It was definitely a lot of fun just to go and give it my best. I think outside of the competition, just seeing another part of the world was also really, really cool.”

2021 Back to School Special Edition

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School District Reveals Anti-COVID Strategy

The 2021-22 school year got underway this week, and in preparation, the South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday unveiled the district’s COVID-19 plan for the year.
“During this time, I can’t express how proud I am of our employees,” said Superintendent Geoff Yantz. “Our community and how everyone has responded and fully committed themselves to maintaining a quality education that we all strive to achieve and provide is really why people move here in South Pas.”

Chaparyan Traveled a Long Way to Serve the City

Photo courtesy Arminé Chaparyan South Pasadena City Manager Arminé Chaparyan and her brother Aram, in Torrance, form California’s first city manager sister-brother pair, according to the City Management Foundation.

Arminé Chaparyan’s story is an immigrant’s tale that many people likely would conclude is proof that the American dream of succeeding through education, a supportive family and hard work is still alive.
Chaparyan achieved her dream of becoming a city manager in May when she was named to that position in South Pasadena.
Parents Panos and Endza brought 9-year-old Chaparyan, her 11-year-old brother Aram and 4-year-old brother Arman to the United States from Armenia in 1987 — a time of political unrest in that country, which was a republic under the Moscow-centric Soviet Union. Travel during the communist era was very restrictive, so all they could take were a few suitcases.

Chamber of Commerce Returns to In-Person Meetings

Mayor Diana Mahmud and South Pasadena City Manager Arminé Chaparyan

The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce held its first in-person meeting in 16 months on Wednesday, July 28, at a luncheon hosted by Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza and Pasta. The chamber welcomed special guest Arminé Chaparyan, the new South Pasadena city manager. Chaparyan expressed her readiness to be available to address the concerns of South Pasadena residents and businesses. In addition, she commented on plans to tackle the planning backlog as well as the desire to develop strategies for the city to partner with the Chamber of Commerce to support local commerce in a digital age.

Hundreds of Homes Lose Power After Crash

Photos courtesy city of South Pasadena A Volkswagen Jetta is towed early Friday morning last week after colliding with and dislodging a power pole on Fremont Avenue.

Almost 400 homes near Fremont Avenue lost power for more than 12 hours last week after a Southern California Edison pole was dislodged by a vehicle in an early morning collision.
South Pasadena police officers responded to the crash at 2:13 a.m. Friday, July 30, after a motorist collided so forcefully with the pole in the 400 block of Fremont that it snapped at the base and was held up only by power lines. The motorist, a 27-year-old Glendora man, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and his vehicle, a white Volkswagen Jetta, was towed after sustaining significant damage to the passenger-side front end.

Little League Concludes All-Star Competition

The Junior All-Star squad that recently claimed the District 18 title includes Harley Arrieta, Daniel Byun, Gavin Dwyer, coach Sean Dwyer, Charles Esnault, Phil Malatesta, manager Sean Malatesta, Ben Lee, Alex Michels, Nico Mostert, Konrad Neu, Silvestre Quiroz, coach Hector Rodriguez, Sam Rodriguez, Charlie Vogel, Gabe Vogel and Brandon Woo.

The South Pasadena Little League summer All-Star season was a successful one as its Juniors softball team captured the Section 3 championship and three baseball teams won district tournaments.
After claiming District 18 and Section 3 titles, the SPLL Juniors All-Star softball team competed in the California Little League Southern California Tournament. South Pasadena rallied with four runs in the sixth inning but fell short in a 10-9 loss.

Police Dog Is Off Patrol After Biting Child

One of the South Pasadena Police Department’s crime-fighting dogs has been removed from patrol rotation this week after it bit a young boy during the city’s National Night Out event on Tuesday evening at Orange Grove Park.
The child, Sebastian Forbes, 5, received several stitches at Huntington Hospital that night and was in good spirits, said his father, Josh, on Wednesday evening as the family enjoyed a stroll at the park. Besides the stitches near Sebastian’s left eye, the boy also had additional cuts and bite marks near his left ear and shoulder, the father said.
Police Chief Brian Solinsky said in an interview Wednesday that the dog would be reevaluated in the coming weeks. Solinsky also extended sympathies to the child and his family.

Tournament of Roses Golf Tournament Raises $10,000

Review photo John Vandercook and Alan Vlacich served as co-chairs of the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Golf Tournament, which was held at Arroyo Seco Golf Course last Saturday.

The South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Golf Tournament had its participation jump by nearly 20% from its previous, pre-pandemic tournament and raised approximately $10,000 at last Saturday’s event. Alan Vlacich and John Vandercook co-chaired the tournament, which was held at Arroyo Seco Golf Course’s 18-hole, 3-par layout.
Proceeds will support building and flower costs to construct the South Pasadena float that will take part in the 2022 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. There was also an online auction which helped generate funds for SPTOR.

Preservation Group Plans Gala at Historic Home

Photo by Larissa Althouse / The Review South Pasadena Preservation Foundation executive board members, including Secretary Dan Evans, President Mark Gallatin, Treasurer Odom Stamps, Vice President of Museum Operations Tom Field and Vice President of Communication Jim Tavares, gathered last weekend for the group’s first in-person meeting since the pandemic began.

After a setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation has begun its buildup to a gala that will pay homage to the architect of a local treasure, the Miltimore House.
Hosting its first in-person meeting since the pandemic took hold, the foundation on Saturday showed a preview of a video tour of the residence designed by Irving J. Gill, considered a pioneer of the modern movement of architecture. The full version of the video, which features foundation members who help tell the history of the home, will premiere on Sunday, Sept. 19, at a location to be determined.

Drum Circle Gives Heartbeat to Community

Photos courtesy Stephanie Buffington South Pasadena resident Stephanie Buffington hosts drum circles at her home, which she describes as being a “sacred rhythm lodge.”

I’ve always wondered what that drumming was that comes from the house up the hill from my home. Someone told me it was a group of drummers, and I assumed that it might be a jazz get-together. Well, now I know. Stephanie Buffington, for the last 22 years, has been holding a drum circle at her Greene and Greene home on the corner of Buena Vista Street and Meridian Avenue. Drum circle devotees have known about it for years, and for them, Buffington’s home has become a mecca for their passion.

South Pasadena Little League’s Outstanding Postseason Ends In Sectionals

The South Pasadena Little League Major All-Stars, fresh off winning the District 18 baseball championship, earned the right to play in the Section 3 tournament.
“It was a great experience for [my] guys who worked so hard to get there,” South Pasadena coach Chris Cortinez said of playing in the sectional tournament. “I knew from the start this was a special group of young players and we just needed to put it together at the right time, and sure enough we did to get there.”
South Pasadena, comprised mostly of boys ages 11-12, played three games at sectional in Claremont, whose Little League hosted the tournament. Although South Pasadena did not advance to the next tournament, they did their best in the rare opportunity presented them by their successes this season.

SPHS Student on Target at Disc Golf Event

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review South Pasadena High School senior Violet Main, who recently placed third in the world championships, is considered among the best amateur disc golf players out there.

Although the world’s first disc golf course is nestled in the Pasadena area, it was Emporia, Kansas, that offered Violet Main an eye-opening experience when it came to the sport.
While competing in the Professional Disc Golf Association’s Junior World Championships in early July, she was surrounded by stunning courses and some of the best disc golf talent that the world has to offer.
“It was almost too over the top,” said Main, a South Pasadena resident. “Most of these girls that I played with have been home-schooled their entire lives. They have stations in their backyards where they putt for 20 minutes, drive for 20 minutes for like two hours every single day. And I realized that disc golf is their life.”
Main’s training is less regimented but proved just as effective. She took third place in the competition, showing that she’s one of the premier amateur disc golf athletes worldwide.

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.

Tiger Bingo Back at South Pasadena High School

Photos courtesy David Zeiger In 2017, a group celebrates a birthday party at a Tiger Bingo event. The popular fundraiser finally returns to South Pasadena High School on Saturday.

First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

English poet Robert Browning wrote in 1843, “Oh, to be in England, now that April’s there.”
Today, I write — with a bow to Mr. Browning and tongue firmly in cheek — “Oh, to be in South Pasadena, now that Tiger Bingo’s there, again.”
You have to be there to believe that a Bingo game has been going on in town for more than 30 years called Tiger Bingo, which really captures some of the spirit of this community.
The high school annually nets about $200,000 in profit from the games, which supports every athletic team and extracurricular activity. That includes uniforms, travel expenses for school groups going to conventions or special activities, and helping with the school newspaper and yearbook to get published.