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Opinion: As Yujean Kang’s Rice Bowl Closes, City’s Rose Bowl Wants a Bail Out

Published on Monday, July 23, 2012 | 5:21 am

After twenty years in business, Yujean Kang’s Gourmet Chinese restaurant at 67 North Raymond Avenue in Old Town Pasadena reportedly closed Sunday July 22. However, this type of bad news has not deterred the wealthy City of Pasadena to renew efforts to pass a quarter percent (0.25%) sales tax increase to pay for Rose Bowl upgrades and issue a $70 million bond for unneeded earthquake safety upgrades to fire stations that could be covered by earthquake insurance.

Kang’s Closing

Yujean Kang is quoted at that his present lease was signed in 2006 “before everything went bad.”  He has been stuck with a very high lease since 2009.  Kang said the landlord was finally willing to work with him on a rent reduction. But Kang decided that due to the continuing forecasted slow economy that it would be best to close and not sign another lease.
Kang’s was mostly a dinner restaurant that depended on parking on the street or in the city’s parking structures dotted around Old Town. Kang’s was known for modest priced, high quality food. indicates the Shanghai Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings (4) with baby bok choy and lack mushrooms went for $6.25; the Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce went for $11.95. Kang’s was rated a Four-Star restaurant on a scale of 5.
City Wants Taxes for Roses
The Pasadena Rose Bowl Operating Company is supposed to be a self-sufficient public corporation that does not tap the City operating budget.  But City officials remain resolved to put a quarter percent sales tax increase on the November ballot to raise $7 million annually to help pay off a $37.5 million shortfall on the renovations to the Rose Bowl.
City Wants You to Fund a Local Stimulus Program
Additionally, Pasadena wants to issue a $70 million bond for a local economic stimulus program.  Four fire stations would be demolished and new stations would be built and other fire stations would receive earthquake safety upgrades. There is no independent engineering analysis that has concluded that the proposed fire station improvements are necessary.
By this writer’s rough estimate, each private wage earner in Pasadena pays about $500 per year for all the long term debts owed by the City (pension bonds, pension obligations, retiree health care obligations, public works bonds, etc.  The City’s proposed new $70 million bond would add about another $100 per year to the total long-term debt per private wage earner.  That would reflect a 20 percent increase in debt per private sector wage earner in Pasadena in the midst of a managed Depression.
As of 2011, Pasadena had about $285 million in cash and investments on hand. This did not include budget reserves for the city’s operating budget.  Total cash, investments, reserves, receivables owed the city, and surplus real estate was roughly $450 million.
Pasadena is a wealthy city that seems oblivious to the loss of jobs and businesses in the private sector.  The proposed $70 million bond and quarter percent sales tax increase would mainly go to unions and not the most vulnerable small businesses.

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