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We Get Letters: Undercooked Gumbo Will Make Us Sick

Published on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | 5:49 am

Several of us who have led the Measure H campaign for the past 18 months read your most recent Political Gumbo and have serious concerns.

First, I sincerely hope that the staff at Pasadena Now have read the charter amendment you’ve been reporting on for 18 months. You may have overlooked the fact that there is a rollback of starting rent to May 2021 for tenants who have been renting their unit since at least then to prevent exactly the scenario you worry about in your column.

Secondly, according to our attorney it is legal to amend the city charter to institute an independent board or commission. The city council briefly discussed doing exactly this with the Community Police Oversight Commission to answer the community’s demand for independence of the very people charged with hiring and firing police officers. The community rightly didn’t trust the police to police the police, if you will. City council opted instead for a commission in the usual format. Surely you don’t think we would go to all this effort and expense without first checking to see that a major part of what we’re trying to do is legally permitted.

Casting this kind of uninformed doubt upon a measure that is currently winning in the polls is really not helpful for our community. Simply reach out to the Measure H campaign or lawyers who can answer your questions before writing something like this that some people might think has other nefarious motives.

I get that this is your tongue-in-cheek space to riff on local politics but it seems at least a modicum of fact checking is in order, especially when so much is at stake for so many people.

I also want to mention that the Pasadena Tenants Union and the Measure H campaign stand in solidarity with the “so called activists” who are fighting for justice for Anthony McClain. We can have an honest conversation about strategy and tactics without denigrating their commitment to justice and their motives. We reject any framing that would pit the Measure H organizers against the organizers for racial justice and police accountability. Measure H is about community safety and security. The community is united these commitments.

Twenty years ago housing justice activists began in earnest to appeal to the city council for serious tenant protections, just as activists are appealing to city council for police accountability now. Some current city council members have been in their seats that entire time. Then we went through the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008-2009 and things got worse. Appeals for help continued. Throughout this time the voices of tenants mostly fell on deaf ears in the city. The council did improve the Tenant Protection Ordinance in 2019 after a months-long campaign of public comment in the city council led by the Pasadena Tenants Union—a strategy that did bear results for us. The council relented and made some incremental improvements. 

Still, beloved members of our community continued to be preyed upon by landlords and violently displaced from their homes, either by unjust evictions or skyrocketing rents. Five years ago we started the process of taking matters into our own hands to amend the city charter. Members of city council should consider what the Measure H campaign has borne out. The community can and will take action when their pleas continue to fall on deaf ears.

Ryan Bell
Measure H Campaign Organizer

Got something to say, email Managing Editor André Coleman, at

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