The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposed East Colorado Specific Plan (ECSP) update during its meeting on Wednesday, but not before implementing key amendments to allow for drive-through restaurants, the reduction of required parking spaces in select areas around Pasadena City College, and a three-foot setback along Colorado Boulevard.
The ECSP, which would replace the current 2003 specific plan, is the second specific plan updated as part of the city’s General Plan Implementation Program.
With the commission’s blessing, the ECSP will now be elevated to the City Council for consideration.
The Commission implemented several amendments in response to public comments as well as commissioners’ feedback on the draft plan.
The majority of the stakeholders who submitted a comment opposed the proposal to not allow the establishment of new drive-through uses anywhere in the specific plan area, which encompasses the 1.4 mile section of Colorado Boulevard between Wilson Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue.
In-N-Out Burger, which plans to build a new restaurant with a drive-through service along East Colorado Boulevard, said the blanket prohibition reflects pre-COVID-19 thinking.
Company representative Scott Jenkins pointed out that many restaurants survived the pandemic only because they offered drive-through service.
Jim Lockington, In-N-Out Burger Manager, asked that the Commission reconsider the prohibition and direct staff to revise the ECSP to allow drive-throughs with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) before passing the draft ECSP to the City Council for its consideration.
“Allowing drive-throughs with a CUP allows the City to properly evaluate any development proposal on its merits, and allows the public to weigh in as well,” said Lockington.
The Board of Directors of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce also asked the commission to refer the ECSP back to city staff for reconsideration as it also expressed concern about the prohibition on drive-through uses.
Chamber President and CEO Paul Little said making the drive-through uses non-conforming could lead to more stringent restrictions in the future.
“Making any new drive-through uses in the area illegal may further impact the economic vitality of the area and is antithetical to the history and established use of the area,” he said.
After hearing public comments, the Commission, voting unanimously, amended the draft plan to allow the establishment of new drive-throughs with a CUP in the plan area.
In the meeting, the Commission also voted unanimously to approve the reduction of required parking spaces in select areas around the Pasadena City College to 2 spaces per 1,000 square foot after Pasadena Heritage Preservation Director Andrew Salimian asked the Commission to consider reducing parking spaces in these areas, considering that most students go to the school by bus.
The Commission also voted unanimously to approve an amendment that will require a zero- to three-foot landscape setback throughout Colorado Boulevard. It made the move after hearing Pasadena Heritage’s concern on the non-uniformity of the required setback with the historic storefronts in the area which have small or zero landscape setback.
The proposed ECSP envisions to make East Colorado “a community for shopping, dining, learning and living within a vibrant and well connected mixed-use district that provides multi-family housing and neighborhood businesses accessible to transit.”