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So Pas City Council Delays Merging Two Commissions

Constituents Cry Fowl to Possible Merger, City Officials Stop Process for a Year
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Although initially recommending merging two commissions into one over the apparent demise of the 710 Freeway extension, So Pas city officials delayed such a merger for a year to allow further review and study of the issue.

The Freeway and Transportation Commission’s (FTC) main focus was stopping the 710 Freeway extension, among other ancillary items, but with that issue all but defeated, the need for the commission had diminished, according to City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe. Moreover, the Public Works Commission (PWC) is close to its completion date anyway, known as sunsetting, and the two commissions had overlapping issues that caused confusion.

City officials initially proposed merging the two entities into one commission, Mobility and Infrastructure Policy Commission (MIPC), to eliminate that confusion and streamline the bureaucracy.

Residents, however, criticized the idea and by the time the issue got to the City Council meeting on Aug. 15, city staff had changed its recommendation from merging the two to delaying any action for one year. The City Council unanimously voted, 5-0, for the delay after discussion about making PWC permanent.

“We need more time to study this issue and see what the best next step is to take,” DeWolfe said during a ceremony honoring the departure of Police Chief Art Miller.

Meanwhile, South Pasadena resident Pam Dong told the council at its Aug. 15 meeting that dissolving the Public Works Commission was a bad idea.

“I would hate to see (the PWC) membership reduced with a potential decline in the loss of expertise and experience with infrastructure projects currently scheduled,” Dong said. “In addition, we are concerned that potential start-up issues in creating a new organization could result in unintended problems that could further delay projects scheduled due to a lost focus from PW issues.”

The City Council meeting on Aug. 15 was a first reading of the proposal and would have had to undergo more public scrutiny and council discussion before adoption. That now will be delayed for at least a year, according to the council’s action.

Prior to the council vote that put the issue on hold, city staff prepared a report for the council’s review, in which they applauded the work of both commissions and explained why the merger would be effective.

“Both commissions have done an exceptional job studying traffic related issues, assisting with transportation planning efforts, and providing support on capital improvement projects,” according to the city staff report. “Each commissioner has dedicated numerous hours assisting staff with the development of new policies and recommendations to the City Council. Given the overlapping roles and responsibilities between the PWC and FTC, a merger of the two commissions will provide the city with a more efficient process to review mobility…”

Steve Whitmore

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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