Members of the Planning Commission on Wednesday agreed to recommend the City Council eliminate ‘planned development’ regulations from Pasadena’s General Plan and the Zoning Code based on their belief the policy is unnecessary and will undermine the specific plans which were created through the help of members of the community.
A Planned Development, known as a PD, is a regulatory process that permits a developer to meet overall community density and land use goals without being bound by existing zoning requirements.
“When we finish the specific plan, they are in concert with the general plan, then why do we need PDs? I’m at a loss as to why it’s necessary,” Commissioner Mic Hansen said. “Developers will always reach for the maximum. We know this and we have learned this and PDs encourage this bypassing of zoning [requirements] and I don’t know how that benefits neighborhoods in our city.”
Commissioner Julianna Delgado said that PDs could lead to a lack of trust in the public participation process. She pointed out that members of the community spent a lot of time working on the city’s specific plans.
“The community has spent an inordinate amount of voluntary time working on specific plans and what the PD process has done is to essentially eliminate all that work and say that it doesn’t really matter and someone who has the wherewithal can come in and do a huge project that disregards the fine-grained planning that happens at the specific plan level.”
“I would be in favor of eliminating them entirely.”
Commissioner Carol Hunt Hernandez joined the two other commissioners in speaking for the elimination of PD regulations.
She said the move will be beneficial not just to the members of the community but also to developers.
“Developers need a certain amount of certainty when they are approaching a project. As it is now with the PD, they are pushing something they really don’t know is going to turn out to be certain. They think it is but they don’t realize there is a certain amount of opposition in some cases and it’s costly to them.”
Commissioner Lambert Giessinger, agreeing with the majority of the commissioners, said that PDs may have been a useful planning tool but only in the past and there is no need for it now that specific plans are in place.
Planning and Community Development Department Director David Reyes said staff will return to the commission in the future for a more concrete proposal taking into consideration the Planning Commission’s direction. The Commission’s final decision on PD regulations will later be submitted to the City Council for decision.