January 15, 2004
South Campus of
Art Center College of Design
After viewing the 2004 video which portrays such a dynamic City, I want to start by saying it is a great honor for me to serve as Mayor of Pasadena, and a privilege to work with you and the many others who are involved in building and improving our City. I want to thank particularly the persons with whom I work most closely: Vice Mayor Tyler, the other members of the City Council, and City Manager Cynthia Kurtz. Each is a talented, dedicated and effective leader.
I want to thank someone without whose support and patience I could not begin to succeed in my work: my wife, Claire Bogaard.
Next, I want to thank Dr. Richard Koshalek and many others at Art Center College of Design for the opportunity to hold this State of the City event here. You are aware that this building, which was constructed by Douglas Aircraft in the 1940s as an aircraft design and testing facility, is being adapted for use by Art Center as the first element of its new South Campus. The building will be used for many activities that reach out to our community and to Southern California, including enrichment classes for young people, training of high school teachers in the principles of design, continuing education for design professionals, and other conferences and exhibitions.
If you hear this space referred to in the future as the “wind tunnel,” I want you to know this name comes from its original purpose and not from the event taking place tonight!
The formal opening of the building will occur in March, and the programming is scheduled to begin in May. Dr. Koshalek intends that this space be used regularly for public events, and I am confident that it will shortly be recognized as a significant community resource.
In addition, it is clear to me that Art Center’s new South Campus will have a positive effect on the development of this area of our City.
I am honored that Richard and Betty Koshalek are present this evening, and ask you to join me in recognizing Richard Koshalek for his leadership and commitment to Pasadena.
As we gather here tonight, the Tournament of Roses Association is holding its annual directors meeting to install its new President, Dave Davis. With the great success of this year’s Tournament of Roses in mind, it seems appropriate for me to extend congratulations to Dave and his wife, Holly, and to wish them well as they begin a busy year of service in support of this rich Pasadena tradition.
As Dave accepts the office of President this evening, he will announce one of the world’s most carefully guarded secrets – the theme for the 2005 Tournament of Roses. Earlier, he said he would be pleased if I used this occasion to inform everyone here of the choice he and Holly have made, and so I am able to announce that the theme of next year’s Rose Parade is “Celebrate Family.” Everyone here—you—are among the first to know!
There is another recent development that I want to mention because it reflects uniquely and significantly on our City. On January third, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is associated with Caltech, successfully completed the historic voyage to Mars of the rover, Spirit, and began an exploration of that planet which will provide important information never before available.
Spirit’s companion, Opportunity, will land on the other side of Mars on January 24. The mission of this magnificent voyage is to determine once and for all whether the conditions necessary to sustain human life exist or have existed on Mars.
In a statement a few days ago, JPL’s Director, Dr. Charles Elachi, emphasized that what has happened so far is just a first step. He said, “We are also laying plans to cast our gaze far beyond the confines of our solar system.” In fact, it is in the search for life beyond that JPL makes its mark most acutely. I recognize, as we all do, that this is an accomplishment of truly major proportions, and I am honored that Charles and Valerie Elachi are present tonight, and I ask you to join me in paying tribute to Charles Elachi and JPL.
Let me now offer a report on where Pasadena finds itself in January of 2004.
I am able to say that the State of this City is extremely positive. The local economy is strong, continuing its gradual growth in terms of jobs and retail transactions. Significant private investment currently taking place is being matched by significant public investment to assure a strong community for the decades ahead. The City’s fiscal situation is solid, in part because of regular and special reserves that have been developed over recent years. Pasadena is dynamic and diverse, with rich resources in arts and culture, science and engineering, education, and medical, professional and business services.
Many of Pasadena’s institutions and corporations have international reputations. From Greece to Bangkok, our engineering firms are active throughout the world. They are cleaning drinking water, restoring ecosystems, dismantling and destroying nuclear weapons, and building infrastructure for developing nations. Pasadena’s money management and investment firms track, trade, buy, and invest in securities around the world, in places such as Singapore, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Many of us have favorite cities in the U.S. and throughout the world – cities where the excitement of urban vitality has made them popular tourist destinations. These may include Paris, London and New York. In Pasadena, increasingly our downtown area combines retail and commercial uses with high-quality, urban residential opportunities. The City is creating its own brand of urban vitality, while preserving its architectural resources and its distinctive neighborhoods.
The completion last summer of the Gold Line adds significantly to the strength of our community. Pasadena will benefit even more at such time as the extension to the San Bernardino County line is achieved. We intend to work hard during 2004 to pursue the Phase II extension.
During the last year, the City of Pasadena has made significant investment in our community’s future. City Hall and the power plant are examples of major renovation projects that will prepare the City to serve the needs of future generations. As to City Hall, good progress is being made in this project, which involves seismic retrofit, restoration, systems upgrade and a technology network. The team, which consists of staff, consultants and a citizen’s task force, is highly regarded and is pursuing the successful completion of the project.
In mid-June, City Hall will close for a three-year construction period. You will be invited to a series of events leading up to June 15, marking the big move out. Our interim headquarters will be in the former Chamber of Commerce building in Old Pasadena.
The interim Council Chambers will be at the Pasadena Senior Center, where I hope to see many of you on Monday nights over the next three years. But please remember, you must keep your remarks to less than three minutes!
Pasadena Water and Power completed construction this year of two new, natural gas turbines for power generation. This represents a critical investment in the future of Pasadena that will help assure businesses and residents of a reliable supply of electricity at stable rates. Electricity is now being produced with greater efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and a 90 percent reduction in pollution.
In the private sector, the most dramatic area of economic investment in recent years has been the construction of new housing units, primarily in commercial areas of the City where there is ample access to public transportation, and to jobs, shopping, restaurants, cinemas, and arts and culture venues. This has taken the focus of new housing construction out of our residential neighborhoods. During the 1990s, the City experienced the addition of 1100 new residential units – homes, apartments and condos. By comparison, in only the first four years of this decade, 1300 new residential units have already been built, with another 1100 units currently under construction.
The Sanwa Bank block on Colorado Boulevard is an example of what’s going on. It is undergoing a combination of historic restoration and new, mixed-use development, including about 300 units of housing. This private project, called Trio, will contribute to the City’s public policy goals by designating a portion of the housing units as affordable.
During 2003, the City completed several elements of the General Plan, including plans for housing, mobility, noise and safety, and gave preliminary approval to the Central District Specific Plan and a revised zoning code. Also looking to the future, a number of Pasadena institutions are preparing master plans. These include Fuller Theological Seminary, Valley Hunt Club, Art Center College of Design, Polytechnic School and Mayfield High School. These efforts are important because they allow these institutions to plan their futures by building on their strengths and the strengths of the City.
Fuller is developing housing for students in large numbers on their campus. I applaud this initiative, which will reduce student competition for our City’s limited affordable housing supply. I appreciate the Seminary’s continued willingness to be a good community citizen in this way and in proposing community applications for major research projects conducted on campus.
I am grateful that Fuller is represented by several of its senior officers tonight, including the President of the Seminary, Richard Mouw and his wife, Phyllis. Thank you very much for being here.
The combined efforts of public and private investment that are taking place are exciting and reassuring to us in regard to the City’s future. However, they should not allow us to ignore difficult challenges that face us in 2004. There are concerns about traffic, housing affordability, the impact of growth on our quality of life, and fiscal stability.
Permit me to start with the financial situation.
The City’s fiscal management continues to be strong with the professional direction provided by our City Manager, and long hours devoted by the City Council, particularly its Finance Committee chaired by Paul Little. Nevertheless, there are significant uncertainties about the coming year, stemming from two sources: the calamitous fiscal situation in Sacramento, and dramatically rising personnel costs for pensions, health services, and premiums for workers’ compensation. Vice Mayor Tyler has spoken on more than one occasion about the growing gap between our City revenues and expenses. Sacramento will play a major role in how these issues work out.
I am cautiously hopeful about the Schwarzenegger administration, but there are many difficult questions to be answered. The debate over the Governor’s recent budget proposal for fiscal year 2005 is almost as intense as the budget debate experienced last year prior to the recall election. And a poll just announced indicates that voter support is very weak for the $15 billion financing on the ballot in March. Without voter approval of that financing proposal, or some other dramatic new solution, the state’s fiscal situation will be chaotic. If that occurs, the impact on Pasadena would be severe.
It is not easy for me to say this, but if California is going to emerge from the current situation smoothly or soon, serious consideration must be given to what Sacramento gracefully calls “revenue enhancements,” “taxes” to the rest of us. Some have proposed that new taxes be imposed for a fixed period of time to get us through the difficult period.
The League of California Cities, responding to urgent concerns of Pasadena and other Cities throughout the State, is qualifying a ballot proposition that would prevent Sacramento from taking revenues paid to local governments in order to solve State budget shortfalls. If this proposition, the Local Taxpayers and Public Safety Protection Act, is approved in November, Sacramento would not be able to raid municipal budgets without approval from California voters. The Council has expressed unanimous support for this ballot proposition, and I urge everyone to study, and then decide, whether this proposition deserves your vote.
Another challenge for the coming year relates to the pace of development. It will not surprise many of you that the dramatic increase in housing construction, combined with moderate levels of investment in retail and commercial office space, is causing many to question whether the City can maintain its quality of life. Obviously, a major goal of local government is to create and maintain quality of life for its residents.
The fact is that what is taking place is consistent with Pasadena’s 1994 General Plan update, which adopted the goals of protecting single family neighborhoods, making Pasadena pedestrian-friendly, and focusing on residential development in commercial areas. These guidelines were developed 10 years ago, and it seems appropriate to me that in the coming year, the questions of what kind of community Pasadena wants to be should be pursued.
In the early 1990s, more than two thousand Pasadenans participated in the creation of the General Plan update. I believe our democratic system worked well at that time, and I want to say that each of you is invited to participate in the discussion about the City’s future, including, for example, the upcoming review of the Land Use Element of the General Plan. There will be other opportunities to consider the City’s direction in the context of individual projects that do not comply with recently adopted development guidelines. The Council’s decisions will not reflect the best result unless large numbers of concerned and committed persons participate.
There is another housing issue that should be mentioned. A growing number of developers have contributed financially to a housing fund in lieu of providing affordable units in their new projects. This is permissible under the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, but it does not create the dispersion of affordable housing throughout the community. The pace at which affordable housing is developing citywide has been slow, and this has been disappointing for me and many others.
The year 2004 offers some interesting opportunities.
Recently the City Council agreed to join with PUSD in a preliminary planning effort to assist in the District’s search for appropriate sites for one or two primary centers in Northwest Pasadena. Primary centers are small schools with enrollment of 200 to 300 students, focusing on the learning needs of children from pre-kindergarten to third grade. The benefits include engaging youngsters at a preschool age, placing schools close to neighborhoods where students live, and the likelihood of strong parental involvement. We intend to be as helpful as we can be in this school district initiative.
Another opportunity on the horizon relates to high school age young people. There is a perception among many young people that they are left out of community life, and they want to be a part. In the weeks ahead, the Council will be discussing how the community can get young people involved in community affairs – civically engaged – to help them understand civic responsibility and give them experience in community service. My hope is that the community can develop effective steps to address this interest.
The theme of this report is “A Culture of Creativity.” In this regard, it is interesting to view our City through the prism created by Dr. Richard Florida in a widely heralded book, The Rise of the Creative Class. He is persuaded that traditional methods of economic development – bringing large corporations with many jobs into a community – no longer apply. Rather than being driven exclusively by companies, Dr. Florida suggests economic growth is occurring in communities that have talent, technology and tolerance—communities that are diverse, and open to creativity.
The 2004 State of the City video demonstrates Pasadena’s rich climate of arts and culture. This is not limited to symphony orchestras and museums, although they are certainly linchpins in our cultural environment. A new vitality has been brought to Pasadena’s cultural core by the Levitt Pavilion at Memorial Park, the Pasadena Jazz Institute, the Boston Court Theater, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and other emerging organizations. We also have an abundance of great scientific and cultural institutions that stimulate and motivate and lead.
It is this combination of resources that prompted the formation two years ago of Pasadena: City of Learning. This initiative, of which I am proud to be a part, supports the belief that Pasadena can serve as a national model for leadership in education and life-long learning.
Last year, Art Center College of Design was recognized for its creative capacity. The United Nations named Art Center as the first NGO – non-governmental organization – in the field of design, thereby making it an international resource for U.N. activities and initiatives. This past fall, Dr. Koshalek and other Art Center officials led a workshop titled Humanitarian Benefits Through Design at the annual United Nations conference and an Art Center student created all of the graphics.
What Dr. Koshalek is calling upon his institution to demonstrate, is how the discipline of design offers a framework that goes beyond its traditional scope: designing cars, sculpting works of art, designing promotional packaging, and creating images through the eye of a camera. The discipline of design can make any human enterprise throughout the world—a new educational institution and even an impoverished community--more focused, more effective and more successful.
In the fall of this year, many of Pasadena’s arts and learning institutions will come together to host a three-month exploration of the relationship between humans and the environment. During this program, titled “The Tender Land,” there will be exhibitions, musical performances, lectures and other activities. Look for more information about this groundbreaking project in the near future.
Soon we will begin work on a new element of Pasadena’s General Plan, which will guide the future of arts and culture. Cultural Nexus 2004 will help us understand the public resources we have as well as private resources and donors, then we will decide how to utilize them as our tradition of arts and culture continues to grow. I want to encourage everyone to participate in a town hall meeting on February 19 that marks the beginning of work on the cultural plan. Information about it will be available shortly.
So, as we proceed into the year 2004, seeking ways to enhance quality of life in Pasadena, we all have reason to be confident of the future even with the challenges that face us. There are many creative minds here in Pasadena. They can be found in the professions of design . . . engineering . . . science . . . technology . . . development . . . finance . . . education . . . the arts . . . and government. They can be found in new efforts, new organizations, and new concerns. All we have to do is look around anywhere we go, to see Pasadena does have a culture of creativity!
Thank you for coming tonight, and let us continue working together during the new year.