Last May, the MTA board voted unanimously to withdraw its support and funding for the 6.3-mile tunnel through El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena connecting the 710 and 210 freeways. Photo by Kevork Kurdoghlian

On the heels of the 710 Freeway extension being scuttled for all intents and purposes, South Pasadena’s City Council Wednesday night is going to look at the possibility of merging two commissions into one.

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 has diminished, according to City Manager Stephanie De Wolfe. Moreover, the Public Works Commission (PWC) is close to its completion date anyway, known as sunsetting.

City officials say a merger of the two entities into one commission, which would be called the Mobility and Infrastructure Policy Commission (MIPC), would eliminate confusion and streamline the bureaucracy.

“This is a better way of doing business now since the 710 is pretty much over,” De Wolfe said Saturday during the Graves Reservoir groundbreaking. “There was an overlap before and it did cause confusion as to what commission would take up what. This is much more efficient.”

Wednesday’s City Council meeting was the first reading of the proposal, which will have to go through a public hearing process before adoption.

“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 a 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 and infrastructure projects and an opportunity to create a new focus on mobility planning. The MIPC would be a new commission comprised of five members. The existing members of the FTC and PWC would be eligible to apply for the MIPC and are eligible for two full terms.”

The term lengths will be staggered with two members serving one year with eligibility for two consecutive three-year terms and three members serving two years with eligibility for two consecutive three-year terms, according to city officials.

There has already been some criticism lodged by residents against the proposal with a citizens contingent prepared to address the City Council at its meeting Wednesday night.
“I believe that’s because there is some confusion about this,” De Wolfe said. “We are not eliminating anything. We are combining the two to make it more efficient, less confusing. And this is the best way to do that.”

Steve Whitmore
Author

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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