Embracing the Future

State of the City Address
January 20, 2000

As we stand at the beginning of the year 2000, Pasadena is in the midst of an era of exciting prosperity and great potential. But that is not to say there are no challenges.

I am here this evening to report on our economy, on our schools and our young people, and on our neighborhoods, and to suggest certain priorities for the coming year in building a greater Pasadena.

I am fascinated by the impact technology has had in truly changing our lives in a way that makes it hard to imagine where we will be even five years from today. Technology has created the greatest generation gap in the history of mankind. Parents who do not have a clue about technology are raising children who do not know anything else.

We can be proud of our growing status as a city that welcomes technology businesses, and we are working hard to enhance Pasadena’s reputation as a high-technology center.

Technology in Pasadena is not something new. Scientists at Caltech challenge traditional thinking every day and advance human knowledge. Several international engineering firms have been headquartered here for many years, including Jacob’s Engineering, Parsons Corporation and Tetratech. And Huntington Medical Research Institutes is one of the most respected private research facilities in Southern California. All of these are positive forces in creating Pasadena’s technology enterprise.

In recent years, Pasadena-based companies such as Earthlink, Gemstar and Idealab have emerged as national technology leaders, and very young companies with names like Xencor and Nanostream are conducting research ranging from DNA diagnostics to cameras that fit on computer chips.

We’re looking forward to these and other Pasadena companies experiencing continued growth in software development, bio-medical research and environmental technology.

In that regard, I am pleased to say that Pasadena is on the verge of formally announcing the first major building in the technology corridor on south Raymond Avenue, and we expect other projects will be announced soon.

The availability of high-speed telecommunications is critical to the future success of scientific and technology firms.

Pasadena is one of only a handful of cities in the nation to complete a network of fiber optic cable. This 25-mile system was completed in July to attract and retain scientific and technology firms. A lease of a portion of the network has already assured recovery of the city’s original investment, and it is expected that this system will provide a substantial new source of revenue.

We also have the opportunity to shape the role of technology in our lives as the city considers the renewal of the cable television franchise. More than just TV, cable can bring high-speed access to the Internet for every home, school and business. As the community deliberates on a new franchise agreement, we must assure opportunity for all to connect to this vital information tool.

Our economic development strategy must extend beyond a focus on technology. A full range of job opportunities are needed by Pasadena’s, and they contribute to a balanced, stable and prosperous community.

It is reassuring to me that Southern California has the nation’s largest share of new "diversified manufacturing" jobs, including toys, apparel, textiles, furniture, bicycle parts, industrial machinery, and bio-medical devices. Between 1995 and 1998, Los Angeles gained over 25,000 of these jobs.

What is happening eight miles down the freeway affects Pasadena as well. Our city can accommodate new businesses of this kind and we are working hard to attract them to our city. My commitment is to balanced economic development that meets the needs of the entire community.

Let us turn then to our young people and the public schools.

We all share a vision of a better Pasadena where every high school graduate is prepared to seize the opportunities of this technology age.

We recognize that to achieve our goals as a community, we must focus on the quality of public education.

And as everyone knows, a major effort is underway to examine ways to help our schools succeed and to prepare our children for productive lives.

A task force made up of a cross-section of the communities served by Pasadena Unified School District is examining the structure and the performance of P.U.S.D.

The task force has completed a series of community forums with specific themes and topics, and will soon formulate draft recommendations which will be presented to the public at a town hall meeting in late march.

A major renovation program is underway for the public schools, and plans are being made for building new schools needed to accommodate students coming into the system.

More and more new, community-based programs provide after- school support for youngsters, including mentoring, supervised recreation, cultural opportunities, and help with homework.

Pasadena simply cannot succeed if our public school system does not. We cannot retain and attract businesses and families, and we cannot fulfill our responsibilities to young people.

One final note regarding our schools: I want to say that I believe good things are happening in the public schools and want to salute the members of the board of education and superintendent Vera Vignes.

Basic to Pasadena’s quality of life are its neighborhoods.

In recent days, the print media have spotlighted three of Pasadena’s many wonderful neighborhoods – Garfield Heights, Prospect Park and Linda Vista – pointing out for the world to see that our community offers a quality of life and a commitment to neighborhood enhancement that is unparalleled in Southern California.

I am convinced that we must continue our commitment to building our neighborhoods.

The city’s neighborhood revitalization program has in the past beautified and safeguarded neighborhoods in the Lincoln Triangle, Villa Parke and North Madison.

Over the next two years, a similar neighborhood revitalization project will take place in the area of Washington Boulevard.

Neighborhood associations have traditionally played an integral role in effecting positive changes in traffic and zoning issues, in devising solutions on public safety issues, and in improving parks and public areas. They contribute directly to the quality of life.

Pasadena is unique, I believe, in the number of neighborhood associations per capita. At last count, there were about 90 associations and we know that number will increase.

Many neighborhood leaders work actively with Brian Biery of our Neighborhood Connections Office to obtain support and meeting space.

And now technology is available to neighborhood associations through Neighborhood Link, an Internet-based communication system that provides free interactive web sites to neighborhood associations in Pasadena and throughout the nation.

Through Neighborhood Link, a neighborhood association can offer important information such as its goals and accomplishments, and it enables members to dialog on issues facing their areas.

We live in a great city and region rich in resources and in diversity. There are men and women from all walks of life who, regardless of differences, are intertwined in both our history and our future.

I believe that our diversity represents a competitive, cultural and economic advantage, one that will make us even better prepared to address and to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead.

Our challenge is to put aside artificial boundaries and barriers that separate us and concentrate on our common goals and needs. I believe we have the capacity to do just that in this great city.

In my role as citywide elected mayor, I view leadership as a shared responsibility. The city council and I can be effective only if the people of Pasadena feel a powerful sense of belonging, of pride, of inclusiveness, of ownership and shared responsibility.

And we can be even more effective if we have institutions and organizations that bring citizens together across economic, social and geographic barriers.

There is no doubt in my mind that Pasadena is that kind of city. It is a long way from perfect, but we have a tradition of citizen participation that fosters a sense of community, and breaks down barriers.

That is why, when I think about the challenges that lie ahead, I believe that this community will meet those challenges through collaboration and shared problem-solving, to build a greater city. Pasadena has a unique capacity to embrace the future.

During 1999 we experienced a good example of this potential. One of the larger projects ever in Pasadena’s history, Paseo Colorado, was approved with surprisingly little controversy, and the approval was achieved quickly.

Some might ask, "Was the public review process cut short?" The answer is absolutely not. But prior to seeking formal approvals from the city, the developer of the project included a critical element in any successful community planning process: the community itself.

A committed city staff, working under the leadership of Marsha Rood, worked with the developer to evaluate the proposal for Paseo Colorado.

They were joined from the beginning by the city center task force, a citizens advisory group chaired by former Mayor Katie Nack. Numerous public meetings were conducted, where difficult issues were debated and ultimately resolved, and we now have a project ready for construction.

David Malmuth of Trizec-Hahn, the developer, supported this process and responded fully to the direction from the task force.

I want to thank former Mayor Holden and the other members of the council who appointed the task force that worked so hard to make this project succeed.

I look forward to substantial progress this year in the building of our mid-city commercial and civic district, and in developing the project to upgrade City Hall.

The most important challenge for us at City Hall -- the elected leadership and the city staff -- is to make sure that all views in the community be heard, respected and fully considered, even if they are minority or controversial views. In a democracy, the minority must have its say.

We may not agree on how to achieve needed solutions, but we must start in good faith by acknowledging the problems and searching for answers that we can all support. For example, we know that our schools cannot succeed on their own. It will take a collaborative, community effort to achieve our goals.

Finally, I want to offer the following specific concerns for the year 2000:

That city funding for parks and street trees be increased, with a vigorous search for additional sources outside of the general fund, and continued assistance from community-based organizations that make that possible.

We should all remember the importance of voting "yes" on Proposition 12, the park bond that will appear on the ballot on March 7.

That the council’s commitment to improve traffic management throughout the city be implemented effectively. We especially must address the impacts of the Blue Line extension and the realities of the 710 freeway.

That we carry out our general plan revision process with a commitment to community outreach and public participation.

That we proceed with the project of refurbishing and retrofitting City Hall so that it remains one of this region’s most distinctive landmarks. We must address special funding obligations associated with this project.

And that projected library budgets be examined to ensure that an increasing need for library services and the requirements of technology-based information continue to be met by available resources from the general fund and the special tax.

When I declared for the office of mayor more than a year ago, I had a fundamental commitment to make a difference in the lives of the people of this city.

I am truly honored by the opportunity to serve as mayor and excited by this great challenge.

But I seek your help, your ideas and your energy, your cooperation and your prayers, so that Pasadena in this new century will continue to thrive and to fulfill its destiny as a world-class city, a place of opportunity, and of comfort and hope for all our people. I renew my commitment tonight to join with you in embracing a great, great future. 

Posted: 1/20/2000 02:45:00 PM
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