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Pasadena Design Commission Considers Stipend for Members, Cites Quasi-Judicial Role

Commission oversees projects as mandated by zoning code, Commissioners say they incur expenses without compensation

Published on Thursday, June 13, 2024 | 5:28 am

In a June 11 meeting, the Pasadena Design Commission discussed the possibility of its members receiving a stipend for their work. 

Chair Julianna Delgado argued that the Design Commission, unlike other advisory Commissions, performs a “quasi judiciary” role prescribed by the city’s zoning code.

“Development projects have to come through the Design Commission,” said Delgado. “It’s not purely advisory. We don’t just purely do advisory work on legislative issues for the Council, it is quasi-judiciary.”

Delgado emphasized the extensive time commitment and out-of-pocket expenses Commissioners incur for site visits, printing materials, and conducting research.

“We volunteer an enormous amount of time,” Delgado said. “We have subcommittees, and our meetings, but we also incur expenses. We shouldn’t be operating in the red to be volunteers.”

The Commissioner said that Police Oversight Committee members receive $100 per meeting, the Planning Commission earns $50 per meeting and there frequently are two or three meetings per month, and Rent Stabilization Board Members are paid $40,000 annually (in fact, Pasadena Rental Housing Board members receive $12,000 per year).

Delgado proposed a $50 to $100 stipend per Design Commission meeting.

“We can’t just go on strike right now and say we’re not going to meet until our expenses are covered. And we sign on I guess to be volunteers. We’re appointed officials, although other appointed officials in the city do get stipends.”

Delgado suggested the Design Commissioners should advocate  for the Historic Preservation Commission as well because “they have to go out and do the same work.”

Kevin Johnson, a City Planner, explained to the Commissioners that such a request would need to be brought before the City Council for consideration. He suggested forming a subcommittee to prepare written documentation justifying the stipend and mentioned he would raise the issue with Tina Miller, the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, to see if they would be interested in joining the effort.

Commissioner Yolanda Sepulveda moved to form a subcommittee and proceed with the request for a stipend.

Commissioner Litwin seconded the motion.

“I agree. All that… Getting some form of that is I think a great idea,  considering…” Litwin said. “What is [the City’s] budget? A billion dollars. So it’s not like you’re asking for much here.” 

The Design Commission unanimously voted to establish a subcommittee to pursue the matter further. 

Commissioners Delgado, Sepulveda, and Alva volunteered to serve on the subcommittee, which will draft a proposal and prepare the necessary documentation for the City Council’s review.

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