Council’s Monday Meeting May Be a Bumpy Ride as Summer Hiatus Ends, Controversies Boil

Community battle lines gel on several issues—inclusionary zoning, a toxic waste cleanup, cannabis and rent control likely to draw a number of critics

Published : Monday, August 19, 2019 | 5:30 AM

Following a three-week summer hiatus during which community battle lines have hardened on several contentious issues, Pasadena’s City Council may hear an outpouring of public reactions during their meeting Monday.

In no particular order, the Council could likely hear comments from a number of neighborhood groups over the state-ordered cleanup of the toxic Space Bank site; housing advocates demanding changes in city ordinances to require more affordable units in new housing developments, as well as a host of cannabis retailers and their representatives, pointing fingers at the city’s cannabis licensing process and at each other.

One focal point will be the Council’s vote on a recommendation from the Planning Commission to amend the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to raise the base requirement from 15% affordable units to 20% affordable units, on new housing projects

Pasadenans Organizing for Progress and the Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group are calling the adjustment “too low.”

In a joint announcement from both groups Sunday, they said, “We have done an extensive economic analysis using the same information from the City’s consultant, AECOM, to prove that new developments should include 25% affordable units.”

Exhorting their supporters to come to the meeting, the announcement added, “Our study shows that developers will still get a fair return on the costs. This policy has not been changed since 2001 and we can’t afford to wait another 18 years to speak truth to power on this issue.”

According to a staff report, the Planning Commission also recommended that the City Council approve amendments that provide a 25 percent inclusionary housing component, making such projects exempt from the requirement to obtain an Affordable Housing Concession Permit.

On the cannabis front, Sweetflower LLC recently lost its appeal of its cannabis license disqualification, but like other cannabis finalists and also-rans, its legal representatives pointed the finger at other applicants, claiming that the City’s licensing and selection process is flawed and unfair in various ways.

Monday may also see more cannabis representatives pleading their various cases to the Council.

An application from cannabis retailer Atrium Group was also ruled “complete” but because an application from the Harvest company application was reportedly submitted before theirs, the City removed Atrium from contention. Only one cannabis retail shop is allowed in each Council District, and the Planning Department ruled that the first complete application would take precedence.

Atrium attorney Chris Sutton, who filed a 291-page complaint against the decision, may also make his case before the council, following the exclusion of Sweetflower.

It is also likely that representatives of the Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition, who are said to be preparing to place a rent control and eviction protection measure on the 2020 municipal ballot, may appear before the council Monday.

The City Council will meet Monday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m. in City Council chambers, Room s249, 100 Garfield Avenue, Pasadena.