West Pasadena Residents Will Meet Wednesday, Drill Down on Homelessness at Annual Meeting

Published : Wednesday, May 8, 2019 | 4:49 AM

[The West Pasadena Resident's Association's Annual Meeting tonight will focus on homelessness in Pasadena. Our story earlier today mentioned a number of other topics that are of concern to WPRA, but those are not on the agenda as subjects of tonight's Annual Meeting.]

Among a number of neighborhood concerns, the growing problem of homelessness will be the top discussion point during the West Pasadena Residents’ Association 57th annual meeting Wednesday.

The influential neighborhood advocacy group has about 1,000 members and since 1962 has focused on issues affecting the area of Pasadena bounded by Colorado Boulevard on the north, Fair Oaks Avenue on the east, and the city limits on the west and south.

The group has repeatedly proven itself to be a vehicle for change in city affairs over the decades.

Tonight’s meeting is expected to draw a range of concerned citizens, politicians and city officials.

A panel drilling down on homelessness will feature Pasadena Department of Housing Director William Huang, leaders of the Pasadena Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Psychiatric Evaluation (HOPE) team, and Union Station Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement Shawn Morrissey.

“This is a relatively new topic for us,” said Dan Beal, president of West Pasadena Residents’ Association. “We hope to learn more and provide some useful information to our members.”

While there is much debate about the causes of and solutions for homelessness, the annual meeting’s panel of authorities will focus on basic questions, Beal said.

In an interview ahead of the meeting, panelist William Huang said, “We’re seeing, even just from last year’s count, that our largest segment of the homeless population is older seniors.”

“Many of them are homeless for the first time in their lives,” Huang said. “More people are getting pushed into homelessness. The problem hasn’t gone away.”

Beal said the group’s members are following a number of issues, some of which, although not on the agenda, may come up at the meeting.

One of those is California Senate Bill 50.

“We have all sorts of land use related issues. One of the topics we’re watching pretty closely is state efforts to influence local land use, like Senate Bill 50,” Beal said. “In a nutshell, SB50 overrides local zoning within certain areas of cities like the radius around rail transit stations or along high-density bus routes. Essentially, much more dense development could be built than you might otherwise allow.”

Another issue of interest to the group is Senate Bill 7, a bill by Pasadena-area representative State Senator Anthony Portantino, which passed a state Senate committee in April and would allow nonprofits located in the area of the 710 freeway stub to purchase the properties they are leasing from Caltrans for below market rate, and continue in place.

“We’re also very interested in Hahamongna and the excavation going on there,” Beal said. “We’ve heard some very interesting information about the number of truck routes and whether or not the trucks are meeting emission standards.”

Beal said the group is also interested in air quality issues and the burnoff of methane gas by the City of Glendale at nearby Scholl Canyon Landfill, which affects WPRA members.

Additionally, the group is involved in discussing the Pasadena Civic Center and the YWCA building there. Beal said that the group does not support any particular restoration project for the Julia Morgan-designed YWCA, but it believes in preserving the historic building and enabling an appropriate public use.

Beal said education is also a priority.

“We’re involved in education at San Rafael [Elementary] School, the only public school in our territory,” he said. “It’s important to keep it open, keep it healthy and it seems to have been doing quite well for the last few years.”

The group will also elect 2019-2020 officers.

Mayor Tornek is expected to attend the meeting, along with representatives from the offices of elected officials including Sen. Anthony Portantino, Assemblyman Chris Holden and Congressman Adam Schiff.

The WPRA annual meeting will be held May 8, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mayfield Senior School, 500 Bellefontaine Street.