With Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo calling it a “moment in time,” the City Council Monday unanimously passed a historic motion to form the Reconnecting Communities Task Force. The task force will serve as an official advisory board for the Council to decide the future undeveloped acreage the size of 40 football fields in West Pasadena, all that remains of a once-proposed 710 Freeway extension.
The land was, until three years ago, slated to be the pathway of an extension of the ‘Long Beach’ Freeway, pushing from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra north to Pasadena. The 40-acre swath once held hundreds of homes and businesses which were demolished in the early ‘60s to make way. The land was ceded by Caltrans to the city to develop.
“This is 40 acres of buildable land,” said an ebullient Gordo. “After all the displacement, we are planning for the future.”
The task force, said Gordo, will be a Brown Act-regulated official advisor to the council and will have a diverse membership makeup.
According to a City Planning Department staff report, one of the General Plan’s eight Guiding Vision Statements for the 710 Working Group was that, “Community participation will be a permanent part of achieving a greater city. Citizens will be provided with timely and understandable information on planning issues and projects; citizens will directly participate in shaping plans and policies for Pasadena’s future.
“The size of the working group is important,” the staff report continued, “in that it needs to be large enough to include a diverse representation of community members with relevant expertise, but small enough to avoid potential impediments to having productive and meaningful (results).”
The report recommended that the working group be composed of 11 members from a wide range of areas, from Urban Design/Planning/Architecture to historic preservation, landscape architecture, and transportation planning, among numerous other fields of expertise.
Councilmembers may submit candidate names to the City Manager’s Office to assist in the coordination of the group’s composition, said the recommendation, and that each Councilmember should nominate one individual with the balance to be nominated by the Mayor.
The Council also amended the original motion to include at-large task force members who live within City boundaries.
“I am elated to be moving forward with this,” said Councilmenber Tyron Hampton. ‘People were displaced, and there has been a loss of generational wealth for them. This is some of the most valuable land in the city.”
Hampton also moved that the Council seek task force involvement from families who had been directly affected by the original demolition of homes and displacement of local families.
Councilmember Steve Madison also stressed that those homes should also include Caltrans properties.
Hampton additionally emphasized that the task force should include a historian as part of its makeup to provide a “historical context” for the planning project.