City Council Pores Over Proposed Budget, Appoints Commissioners, Confronts Development Issue in Monday Night's Meeting

Published : Monday, June 11, 2018 | 5:42 AM

Pasadena City Council

Pasadena’s City Council on Monday is scheduled to continue to pore over the proposed $815.1 million budget for next fiscal year due for final passage later this month, as well as appoint and re-appoint a number of City Commissioners, and tackle a thorny development issue by considering an interim ordinance.

The Council continues its public hearing on the recommended operating budget which was opened last week.

Along with appropriations for the different City departments and offices, the budget includes funding requirements for the fiscal year 2019-2023 Capital Improvement Program and those for the City’s affiliated agencies such as the Rose Bowl Operating Company, the Pasadena Center Operating Company, and the Pasadena Community Access Corporation.

Public hearings on the 2019 budget are expected to end by next week before the City Council decides to adopt the operating budget, which by law should be submitted before the end of the month.

With the City expecting a $3.5 million budget gap by fiscal year 2020, ballooning to about $32 million in the next five years, the 2019 budget is barely balanced. Over the past ten years, the City has made $19 million in preemptive cost reductions including the elimination of 123 full-time equivalent staff positions.

For next year, City Manager Steve Mermell recommended departmental budget reductions totaling $2,349,000 that include the elimination of about 14.8 full-time equivalent positions in various City departments, all of which are currently vacant. The positions include five police officers and three park officers, as well as positions in the Fire Department, the City Attorney’s office, in business development, and in the Human Services and Recreation Department.

The City Council will also formalize on Monday the appointments of two new City commissioners: Patrick Cabral has been appointed to the Code Enforcement Commission, and Treasure Sheppard to the Recreation and Parks Commission.

Three other commissioners have been reappointed: William R. Francis to the Code Enforcement Commission, Dr. Sonia Singla to the Human Relations Commission, and Ali Babar to the Planning Commission.

All of these appointments and reappointments are effective July 1.

Another public hearing included in Monday’s agenda pertains to a proposal to approve terms of agreement on transferring housing successor funds, not exceeding $472,399, to the housing authority of Los Angeles County to assist permanent supportive housing. The hearing could lead to a City Council vote approving the terms.

The state earlier dissolved Pasadena’s former Redevelopment Agency. Currently, the City is now asking state approval to take unencumbered, excess housing funds from the Agency’s funds, and turn them over to the county for use in paying for permanent supportive housing.

The City Council is also moving to implement policies that would address concerns about too many recent high-density development projects in the City, including those that received affordable housing concession permits for additional height and/or density in exchange for providing affordable housing units.

This Monday, the City’s Department of Planning and Community Development will present a proposal for the Council to adopt an interim ordinance that would reduce allowable building capacity, while increasing the production of affordable housing.

The proposal is in response to City Council directions to come up with possible solutions addressing the overall sentiment that recent higher-density developments “are not consistent with the character of the City.”

Recent state housing legislation provides a density bonus to developers, allowing them additional height or additional floor space or units, in exchange for providing affordable housing units.

“The feeling is that some of these developments are really getting too big out of scale with the neighborhood and an excess of frankly what we ever anticipated,” Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek recently said about the density bonus program, which he explained allows developers to ignore building height limitations set by cities.

“We never contemplated having these 90-foot tall buildings and 100 units per acre,” Tornek said. “I mean it’s just more than what we bargained for.”

The City Council meeting itself begins with a closed session at 5:30 p.m. and proceeds to the open meeting at about 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chamber, Room S249 at City Hall.

Public hearings usually start at about 7 p.m.

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