Following the reported approval of a motion by the Los Angeles City Council earlier this month to create two temporary housing sites made up of hundreds of small, so-called “pallet housing” units along Pasadena’s border near Eagle Rock and Highland Park, Pasadena residents and officials are expressing concerns over how the plan may affect their neighborhoods.
The motion called for city officials to begin the design process for temporary homeless housing sites at 7570 N. Figueroa St., as well as on an unused section of Arroyo Drive near Avenue 64.
A spokesman for the office of L.A. City Councilman Kevin De León told the Boulevard Sentinel that the Eagle Rock site was intended to house up to 134 people, while the Highland Park site was expected to be able to support 224 people.
Mayor Victor Gordo said he is in the process of coordinating a meeting with De León.
“We all support affordable housing,” Gordo told Pasadena Now. “We all support helping people who find themselves in a position of homelessness. Having said that there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed and clarified as it relates to these efforts on the part of the city of Los Angeles.”
Gordo said the conversation would happen in the next 48 hours.
Pasadena City Councilmember John Kennedy said he recognized the need to address the homeless issue, but would have liked to see more conversation about the projects with neighboring cities, such as Pasadena.
“The prudent and wise thing to have been done in terms of comity between neighboring jurisdictions was to have a conversation with the mayor of Pasadena and the council members representing the areas that abut the areas in which he is offering for this purpose before any announcement was made. We are neighboring cities and we need to talk more before we act when there are issues that affect each city,” Kennedy said.
“I am 100%-plus in support of building housing for the extremely low-, very low- and low-income neighbors and residents to maintain the rich diversity that exists in Pasadena and quite naturally that exists in Los Angeles,” Kennedy added. “I have the utmost respect for the councilmember in Los Angeles. His heart is obviously in the right place. Just more dialogue needs to take place.”
San Rafael Neighborhoods Association President Robin Salzer said he had concerns about the plan.
“The L.A. proposal to build 200-plus permanent units of pallet housing in the parking lots below the 134 at Figueroa exit on the Pasadena-Eagle Rock border will be rife with crime and health-related problems that will easily permeate into the western residential area of Pasadena. The same quandary is likely to occur at the Pasadena-Highland Park border,” Salzer said.
“We have a growing homelessness problem in our very own Arroyo and beneath the 210 and 134 freeway overpasses,” according to Salzer. “I’m not sure what our city leadership can do about these two L.A. projects, but I am hoping that L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and our city leaders can strongly suggest to L.A. Councilmember Kevin de Leon that slapping a band-aid on the hemorrhaging homelessness problem doesn’t solve it for the long term.”
Salzer, too, said action must be taken to deal with the homelessness crisis, but he did not approve of the proposed developments.
“The public safety of every resident, family and neighborhood in District 6 and our entire city that will be impacted by these city of Los Angeles proposed projects is in jeopardy and these concerns are real,” he said.
Nearby resident Negin Nazemi also expressed concerns.
“As a homeowner in southwest Pasadena, I’m super concerned about the potentially dramatic increase in crime and drug use that this concentration of poverty will introduce,” Nazemi said. “We have already had repeated and escalating home and car burglaries in our neighborhood over the past year.”