Controversial South Los Robles Project, Blocked by Council’s Tie Votes After Hours-Long July Hearing, Back for Reconsideration

Published : Monday, August 26, 2019 | 5:51 AM

In an unusual move, the Pasadena City Council will be asked Monday to consider reconsidering a controversial development it did not approve during a five-and-a-half hour-long public hearing July 22.

The Councilmembers failed to reach a consensus after two tie votes, which effectively blocked the six-story, 92-unit, multi-family residential building planned for 253 South Los Robles Avenue from moving forward.

An attorney for developers Zhuang & Zhong Los Robles LLC told the Council at the time he would head to court to fight the denial because the project complied with state law, and “state law is a mandate.”

But since that public hearing closed, developer attorney Richard McDonald said, City planning officials approached him and asked if the developer would “be willing to work with them” to alter the development’s plans to be more conducive to winning Council approval.

Pasadena Director of the Planning and Community Development David Reyes said in an email the most likely “concept would be to reduce the project’s mass and bulk through the elimination of some square footage and some of the top floor units.”

“We said we are always willing to work with [City] staff,” McDonald explained, setting the stage for Monday’s exploratory request by City staff to the Council, to determine if the Council would consider a revised project plan.

According to City Attorney Michelle Bagneris, the Council could take the action under “a narrow set of circumstances,” namely a Motion to Review.

In a report to the Council, Bagneris wrote that under Robert’s Rules of Order—which governs City Council meetings—”renewal of a motion” means proposing substantially the same motion after it has been disposed of in some way without having been adopted.

“In other words,” wrote Bagneris, “if a motion has been approved, it may not be the subject of a motion to renew. In addition, renewal of a motion is not permitted at the same session in which the motion is still under consideration, since there are other procedures to be used in that situation (i.e., a motion for reconsideration).

Bagneris also explained that a renewal motion that would “undo” a final decision that has been acted or relied upon, would not be appropriate.

In the July 22 Los Robles decision, no motion of the Council was adopted.

“As a result, no permits were issued and there has not been any reliance on any approvals, and the matter may thus be considered in a Motion to Renew,” wrote Bagneris.

Here’s how it would work: Council would consider placing on a future agenda a renewal of the July 22, 2019 motion, Affordable Housing Concession Permit No. 11869, without considering the merits of the project modifications.

If Council votes to place the Motion for Renewal on a future agenda, the matter—including consideration of the project modifications—would be re-noticed as a public hearing, since affordable housing concession permits are conducted as public hearings.

If the Council votes not to place the Motion for Renewal on a future agenda, then the Council’s previous failure to adopt any motion stands, and is in effect a denial of the environmental review and permit.

The last Motion for Review consideration was in 2009, when the City Council conducted a public hearing on a call for review of a decision for the Raymond Renaissance Project. A motion was made to approve the City Manager’s recommendation to approve the applicant’s request for changes.