City Councilmember Diana Mahmud, left, restated her belief green is the color for the city at a library lunch honoring volunteers while Debra Beadle listened. Photo by Steve Whitmore

South Pasadena City Councilmember Diana Mahmud is holding her ground on pushing for the city to stay with the color green as the main branding palette while most others are gushing over the color blue.

Just recently the debate over blue or green came to the forefront during a City Council meeting when city staff rolled out blue as the new color for the city logo as well as other marketing materials along with a new website design.

Officials say the city logos and marketing materials are not consistent and don’t have a common set of colors, typography and design.

“Over the past of couple of months, I’ve done an audit of city logos and marketing materials and I’ve found a lot of inconsistencies,” John pope, So Pas public information officer, told the City Council at its Feb. 20 meeting. “The various logos and materials were developed by different designers over time and they are not very consistent. We don’t have an established color palette or typography. It kind of goes project by project.”

Moreover, the city’s seal was in need of an overhaul as well, according to Pope. He said the web designers suggested the seal be modified because when you shrink it, it becomes nearly unrecognizable. 

Also, Pope said the consensus with web designers and others was to change the city’s traditional color green to a newer blue palette.

A debate over city colors is underway between blue and green. Photo by Steve Whitmore

“There were multiple drivers for this project,” Pope said. “The primary goal is to support the economic development initiatives. Establish more consistency. This is where we get into striking a balance between a brand that can reflect the city’s heritage and traditions and also move the city forward with a more modern and contemporary feel. One thing I want to emphasize is that this does not replace the city seal.”

That’s when Mahmud said, “not so fast.” She wants the city to stay with the color green and is now waiting for city staff to come back with follow-up report that incorporates green because it symbolizes the city’s move toward clean energy. Mahmud is the chairwoman of the new board for the Clean Power Alliance, which is the South Pasadena’s new power supplier as of February.

“It’s important for two reasons,” Mahmud said just last week during the library’s volunteer recognition luncheon. “First, green has been a long-standing part of our identity and its branding. So, that’s what people associate with South Pasadena is orange and green. But definitely green is for the city. But more importantly, I think, at this point in the history of our city, we are strongly embracing sustainability and people associate really no other color than green with sustainability. And sustainability, I think, is so important not only now but in the future as we have to address and adapt to climate change. I just think it’s important to not let go of green.”

Mahmud wants green also because it represents the city’s move toward 100 percent renewable at this juncture in the city’s history and its aggressive commitment to preserve the urban forest.

“We’ve done a couple of things,” Mahmud has said during earlier interviews. “We’ve adopted a 100 percent renewable energy as the default for our residents. We have just appropriated money from our general fund so that the city can become 100 percent renewable. To me green is really important. One, because we are a tree city and tree is in our symbol and we’ve been associated as a tree city for decades. And I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we really are trying very hard to be as  sustainable as we can be. And I think that is best communicated by a darker green, not a bright green, but a tasteful darker green…. To me it expresses South Pasadena. To me it has a stronger connotation not only with who we are, but who we strive to be, which is very renewable, very sustainable, very environmentally minded.”

However, Mahmud may be alone on this quest as she faces opposition from other members on the council. Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, for one, said she supported the blue color for the city’s branding and wanted to defer to the web designer as to their best choice.

The council opted to bring both colors for comparison along with recommendations from the web designers before making a final decision. 

“I’m still waiting,” Mahmud said. “They have not brought anything back yet.”

Mahmud also said if the council does eventually vote for the new color blue, she will find a way to get around it.

“I’ll have to figure out other ways to sneak green in,” Mahmud said.  “It’s branding. It’s identity. It’s who we are and we’re green and I want to stay green.”

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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