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City Councilmembers Question General Plan

Officials received an update on city’s blueprint’ Monday

Published on Monday, February 22, 2021 | 4:34 pm

The Pasadena City Council on Monday received an overview and implementation update on the city’s General Plan, described on the city’s website as “a blueprint to guide the future.”

The plan is made up of six elements: land use, mobility, housing, open space and conservation, noise, and safety.

But some council members questioned that blueprint on Monday.

“I don’t know if our General Plan is still a vision for the community,” said District 2 Councilmember Felicia Williams, a former member of the city Planning Commission.

Williams called on the city to study the city’s transit-oriented developments, mixed-use developments and consider things in a post-COVID-19 environment.

“In a post-pandemic world, do we really want people stacked on top of each other?” Williams said.

All California cities and counties are mandated to develop and adopt a General Plan. The city’s General Plan serves as a comprehensive set of policy documents that provide the overall framework for translating broad community values and expectations into specific strategies for how a city or county should evolve.

In 2015, the city updated its General Plan’s land use and mobility elements.

“We need to rethink how we are doing this,” said Councilmember Andy Wilson.

Councilmember Tyron Hampton cautioned that the end of single-family neighborhoods could have an impact on the city.

Planning Director David Reyes agreed that the General Plan needed to be amended to match the community vision.

“I think we are going to have to look at space in general differently in Pasadena and this may provide us a chance to do that,” said Mayor Victor Gordo.

The General Plan “establishes land use designations and policies that inform future land-use decisions and assist decision-makers as they review planning approvals for a new project or consider a proposed ordinance or policy.

“The problem is nothing stands still,” said City Manager Steve Mermell.

Reyes said some of the challenges are the ranges in the General Plan. In part, the plan is a map that explains land use and the ranges for development. However, pending state laws may expand those ranges allowing housing in commercial areas.

The land use element is focused on new housing and employment opportunities with a mix of uses in the city’s specific plan areas and former redevelopment areas.

It further supports development within these focused areas by continuing to protect single-family residential neighborhoods and historic districts.

The mobility element is focused on enhancing livability, encouraging alternatives to motor vehicles, including biking, and creating a supportive climate for economic viability. The city lists several active programs the Planning Department is working on in this area.

“The further we get away from not having a General Plan the greater the chances a developer will come in and take advantage of all the state laws,” Reyes said. “That should provide concern for the community.”

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