Reaction to Mayor’s Address Varies

Published : Friday, January 24, 2014 | 7:17 AM

Reaction varied to Mayor Bogaard’s 2014 State of the City speech Thursday night.

The annual event draws a “Who’s Who” of officials and city leaders, activists and residents by laying out the Mayor’s vision of Pasadena as it is – its strength, its weaknesses.

Bogaard’s theme for the event was “Arts + Innovation = Pasadena,” and although his speech touched on over a dozen other vital topics of importance he sees for the city it was that theme he chose to emphasize.

The central thread to the city’s well being,  including its economic health and a vibrant  future, should be a focus on evolving Pasadena’s rich mixture of the arts and innovation, Bogaard said.

“During the coming year,” the Mayor concluded, “I encourage everyone here tonight to appreciate and participate in the arts and the innovation that stimulate our economy.”

For some, the speech seemed out of touch with day-to-day realities. Councilmember John Kennedy said he had hopes for more.

“I would have hoped we could have had some discussion about affordable housing – but maybe that’s for another date,” Kennedy said after the speech.

City Manager Michael Beck thought the speech’s vision was right on target .

“We have to decide what our new economy is going to look like and fortunately for Pasadena our new economy has a basis of our old economy centered around Caltech, Art Center, JPL and the other intellectual and innovative institutions we have within the city,” Beck said.

Bogaard highlighted technology in the speech. One of the industries that Beck said is sometimes is left out of the conversation is the health industry, which is an “anchor” piece of the Pasadena economy that is expanding.

The South Fair Oaks Avenue corridor, Beck noted, has created a significant health presence. In addition, Pasadena is home to the Southern California headquarters for Kaiser Permanente, which has created more than 4,000 jobs.

Reflecting on the City’s diverse economic base boosting Pasadena, Bogaard reported that he anticipates Pasadena’s third balanced budget in a row when City Manager Michael Beck proposes the 2015 budget to the City Council in upcoming weeks. He also said private investment interest in Pasadena has rebounded.

Part of the diversified economic activity depends on the new start-up business encouraged by Innovate Pasadena and The Design Accelerator, which has already produced seven new start-up companies since it began in June, 2013.

One of the founding members of Innovate Pasadena, Mike Giardello, was pleased to receive the extensive recognition in being a part of bringing together the city’s innovative forces.

“We got a mention last year because we had just started and obviously this year we were discussed quite a bit so we think its making quite an impact. It’s a great grassroots organization, it can’t be lead by government, it has to be lead by the entrepreneurs and the stakeholders in the community,” Giardello said.

Claire Bogaard, who was recognized by the Mayor from the podium at the beginning of the address, said she especially liked the setting of the recital hall and the informative video that was shorter than usual.

The video created by KPAS, the City’s cable TV station, introduced the idea of Pasadena being a true center of science and art with events and institutions that go beyond the Rose Bowl, although that’s a nice part too. The video called Pasadena “imaginative,” “discovery,” cutting edge,” and having a “special kind of innovative flavor.”

In that video Art Center for Design President Lorne Buchman drew laughter and applause when he exclaimed “Forget Santa Monica, come to Pasadena.”

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