By Haley Sawyer
In his last address as a member of the South Pasadena City Council, outgoing Mayor Bob Joe highlighted the way the city rose to the occasion during the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delivering his State of the City remarks, the two-term councilman also touched on the work that his successor as mayor, Diana Mahmud, will take charge of, work that includes implementing law enforcement reform and plotting the city’s development and continued response to the pandemic.
“By remaining focused on our goals, we are making great strides toward adapting and moving forward,” Joe, who was defeated by Evelyn Zneimer in last month’s election, said at last week’s virtual council meeting.
As the pandemic took hold, the Public Works and Community Services departments cleaned playground equipment and kept public amenities like restrooms sanitized, Joe recounted. The public library offered a book pickup and checkout service. The Planning and Building Department created a virtual counter and was awarded a grant for an electronic permit system.
Later, the city implemented a program to facilitate outdoor dining and retail opportunities and helped fund decoration of such areas by the South Pasadena Arts Council.
The Planning Commission approved 182 housing units, 86 of which were for senior housing and 13 of which are classified as affordable dwellings. More of these sorts of projects are expected to come before municipal officials as the state ramps up housing mandates.
Other notable endeavors included the Alpha Avenue and Camino del Sol street improvement project as well as the Monterey Road/Orange Grove Avenue traffic signal project. Additionally, South Pasadena achieved the highest level in the San Gabriel Valley Energy Champion Awards, which recognized efforts in municipal facilities and communities to create energy efficiency.
Joe also mentioned the steps taken toward police reform in the city, as well as a commitment to equality among all residents.
A subcommittee was formed to collaborate with the Public Safety Commission and the South Pasadena Police Department to examine current training practices and department policies and explore the future of policing in South Pasadena.
“This year, we saw a call to action from our community,” he said.
The council approved a resolution this summer, as protests mounted locally following the death of George Floyd after he was arrested in Minneapolis, to show a commitment to diversity and tolerance. SPPD also suspended its use of the carotid hold by officers.
“Acts of discrimination and crime motivated by hate toward a person with affiliation with any protected classification, their viewpoints or expressions have no place in our community,” Joe said.
Although the city saw a decrease in sales tax revenue, a hiring freeze and a reduction in expenditures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new businesses like Twoheys restaurant and Grocery Outlet opened doors in town.
“As mayor, I am proud of the strength and patience of South Pasadena as we move forward in new directions,” Joe said.
In honor of Joe, who served for 10 years on the City Council, an olive tree will be planted in front of the South Pasadena Senior Center.