January 24, 2013
Beckman Auditorium, Caltech
Good evening, and thank you for attending our annual State of the City event. I am honored by your presence here tonight, and hope that this report provides a good basis for our working together in the coming year.
I want to start with a word of thanks to Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which provided such an interesting and valuable presentation this evening regarding the Mars rover, Curiosity. The success of this project has inspired the world and has made Pasadena once again the center of attention. We all stand proud of JPL’s success. Please join me in expressing thanks again to JPL’s Deputy Director, General Eugene L. Tattini.
I also want to express gratitude for the hospitality provided tonight at beautiful Beckman Auditorium, and to congratulate Caltech’s success in being ranked as the Number One university in the world for the second straight year by the Times of London in its global higher education ratings. We are delighted in Caltech’s continuing accomplishments. Please join with me in congratulating and recognizing the President of Caltech, Jean-Lou Chameau.
SELECTION OF APPOINTED COUNCILMEMBER, DISTRICT 3
Two nights ago, the Council convened a special meeting to fill the vacancy in Council District 3 created by Chris Holden’s election in November to the California Assembly. As you know, Chris is now taking his commitment and expertise in public service to Sacramento after faithfully serving on the Council for nearly 24 years. We wish Chris the best of luck and success as he represents Pasadena and the other cities of the 41st Assembly District.
The Council was impressed with the quality of each of the five applicants seeking to fill the Council seat, and it is my pleasure to announce that the Council, after interviews of each of the applicants, selected Joel Bryant. Joel is here tonight, and I would ask that you extend a cordial Pasadena welcome to your City’s newest Councilmember who will serve until a new Council representative takes office later this year.
Speaking of the election: on Tuesday, March 5, the voters in City Council Districts 3, 5 and 7, and PUSD Board of Education Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7 will be electing representatives to serve four-year terms. This is the opportunity for constituents to select leaders of our City and School District.
SPOTLIGHT JOE BROWN
Pasadena is a special community for many reasons, but in large part due to the talented and dedicated people who offer leadership and hard work. There are two pillars of our community who have recently completed service in significant organizations, and whose outstanding accomplishments deserve special attention.
Joe Brown has headed the Pasadena Chapter NAACP during the last 12 years, and time and again has played an important role in avoiding conflict, in communicating clearly, and in bringing together the community to resolve disputes. He has offered a balanced perspective, and I consider his community service to be a distinguished and lasting contribution.
Joe is with us tonight, and I would ask that you join me in expressing thanks to him.
SPOTLIGHT TIM BRICK
Nearly 28 years ago, the Council submitted the name of Tim Brick as the City’s nominee to the Board of the Metropolitan Water District. At the time, he was known primarily as an environmentalist, and MWD was not perceived as friendly to such views. Over the years, Tim proceeded to bring his environmental values to the policies of MWD, gaining the respect of his Board colleagues, and serving for several years as MWD Board Chair. Tim is the most knowledgeable person I know on water issues in Southern California and the entire state.
He is with us tonight; please join with me in offering a salute to his accomplishments and his success.
OVERALL CITY CONDITION
As I now touch upon a variety of topics, I stand before you to report that the State of the City is very positive. Pasadena is on track and we are taking affirmative steps to move forward in 2013 and beyond, on many important issues and projects. At a time when many cities in California and the nation continue to struggle, Pasadena stands firm as a national role model of excellence.
Last June, the City adopted its first balanced budget since the recession of 2008, and during the year also completed pension reform covering about 70 percent of City staff who now pay the total 8 percent of their annual pension contributions. This fundamental change in Pasadena’s public employee pension has an immediate positive fiscal impact and will continue to save the City millions of dollars over the years that can be redirected into programs, services and civic improvements.
While other cities across the nation continue to struggle financially, we can take pride in these fiscal accomplishments that are helping to lay a new foundation upon which Pasadena can continue investing in its future.
Speaking of future investment, it is important to me, and to the City Council, that I emphasize our firm commitment to continue to invest in the infrastructure of our community.
During the fiscal year ending June 30, our capital investment program totals more than $88 million. This will be spent on many things, including about $40 million on our electric and water systems; and more than $10 million on streets and transit. Overall, the capital budget for the next five years is about $560 million, an investment for the future that will maintain Pasadena’s high quality of municipal services.
In 2013, the City will move forward with other important investments, including the renovation and seismic upgrade of Fire Station 39; acceptance of the Desiderio property from the Federal government for new City parkland; rehabilitation of La Loma Bridge; and construction of new power generation equipment at the Glenarm Power Plant.
ROSE BOWL RENOVATION
Recently, the Council gave unanimous approval to a revised financing plan for renovation of the Rose Bowl, America’s Stadium. The renovation, at $181 million, is the biggest capital improvement project in the City’s history and is being financed through bonds, RBOC revenues and donations, not the City’s General Fund.
Before year end, the stadium will be ready for the 100th Rose Bowl Game on January 1, and a week later, the BCS Game will occur at this national historic landmark that will showcase Pasadena coast to coast and around the world as one of the finest college football venues in the US. Without a doubt, the Rose Bowl is an icon of our community, and one of our most important economic generators.
I am pleased to report that Legacy Partners, a philanthropic organization, has now raised more than $9 million in pledges and contributions as part of its $20 million fundraising goal for the Rose Bowl renovation. The foundation will be working hard this year to secure additional donations.
NFL TEMPORARY USE
We cannot talk about the Rose Bowl without a few words about the possible temporary use of the stadium by an NFL team. If an NFL team does come to Los Angeles, it is very likely it will need temporary facilities while a new stadium is built.
We have placed Pasadena in a position to have conversations with NFL representatives if a temporary stadium is needed, although no such request has been made.
I recognize that Rose Bowl events impose burdens on stadium neighbors, and I am grateful to them for their cooperation and forbearance regarding UCLA, the Rose Bowl Game, and other activities in the Central Arroyo Seco. The community debate about the NFL has helped identify neighbors’ issues and concerns, and this will assure such issues will receive special attention should conversations with the NFL ever occur.
GOLD LINE UPDATE
We continue to see important success in public transportation, locally and in the region. About a month ago, public officials from throughout the San Gabriel Valley came together to celebrate the new Gold Line bridge in Arcadia. The project was extremely well received not only because it came in on time and on budget, but because it incorporates public art features encouraged by the Gold Line Construction Authority.
Just last week, construction began on a new maintenance and operations facility in Monrovia to support the Gold Line and other light rail systems in Southern California. It will be built, at a cost of $160 million, on 24-acres in the southeastern portion of Monrovia.
The third important element of the Foothill Extension is the track itself, which will extend another 12 miles from east Pasadena to Azusa. The design work has been completed, and construction begins later this year, with completion scheduled in 2015.
The Gold Line is of vital importance to Pasadena’s economy and quality of life, and ridership has now reached more than 42,000 passengers per day.
PRIVATE INVESTMENT ACTIVITIES
I am able to report that the business community is also expressing confidence in Pasadena by investing in our City. This momentum in the business sector is reflected by Jacobs Engineering, OpenX, and Guidance Software all shifting during 2012 to new headquarters in Pasadena. These companies represent hundreds of high paying jobs with new capacity for more growth. A few months ago, the Green Dot Corporation completed its relocation into Pasadena, bringing more than 500 new jobs to its Foothill Boulevard headquarters that, in turn, supports a wide range of other business activities in Pasadena.
In new construction, Dr. Armand Baroonian is building a facility along North Fair Oaks to house his engineering firm, and the Singpoli Group is busy finishing an extensive historic rehabilitation of the Constance Hotel on Colorado Boulevard.
In Old Pasadena, “West Gate” is adding some 400 residential units for completion in 2014. The property surrounding Parsons headquarters at Walnut and Fair Oaks is being revitalized under a new Master Plan proposal calling for over one million square feet of new development, including 630,000 square feet of commercial and retail development, and 475 new residential units.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIC PLAN TASK FORCE
Bolstering the local economy in 2013 and beyond has been the focus of the City’s Economic Development Task Force. Last month, the Council received recommendations from the Task Force that capped several months of work. The Task Force—including representatives of the City’s banking, investment, real estate, health care, technology, and academic sectors—presented its report through its Chair, James Rothenberg, Chairman of the Capital Research and Management Company.
Task Force members concluded that real economic development at the local level requires more than City Hall. It must include collaboration by business associations, non-profit organizations, workforce development agencies, business and civic leaders, schools, and community colleges and universities.
The report identified major themes for Pasadena’s economic future, including:
- Building Pasadena as an innovation hub to attract growth businesses with quality jobs;
- Our neighborhoods, cultural amenities and distinct commercial districts are vital if we want to attract and retain a talented workforce;
- A growing business community is essential to maintaining Pasadena’s quality of life;
- PUSD and colleges must prepare students for the innovation economy;
- Our youth and lower income neighborhoods must share in the benefits of a successful economy.
The Task Force then identified four goals for Pasadena, including:
- Create new job opportunities by supporting businesses and aligning workforce development strategies to market the City;
- Strengthen local technology and innovation sectors by creating flexible commercial and light industrial space;
- Coordinate parking improvements for shopping and dining venues; and
- Increase tourism and visitors with more hotel options, pursue more lucrative conventions, and promote local activities and events.
Building on this effort, a new and highly promising group is exploring ways to leverage Pasadena’s rich legacy of business resources and diverse base of research, design and entrepreneurship. The Pasadena Innovation Council, comprised of tech entrepreneurs, CEOs, educators and other business leaders, is moving swiftly to solidify Pasadena’s role as a leader in the new innovation economy.
This private sector group, with support from City Hall, is collaborating with other businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and other critical players to take us into the new era of the innovation economy for sustainable growth.
Two of the key leaders for the Innovation Council are with us tonight. Please join me in applauding Andy Wilson and Mike Giardello, and other Innovation Council members, who have made the commitment to this new and exciting effort.
PUSD/CITY WORK PLAN
In 2012, the City and the PUSD have been working to forge a new model of collaboration and alignment of services to support students and their families. The outgrowth of this effort is the School/City Work Plan.
The Work Plan provides a framework to improve the education of our young people, from early childhood through their mid-20’s, and will facilitate obtaining new grants from foundations and government sources that see the collaboration as assurance that their funding will be well used.
The Work Plan also provides direction for mobilizing the assets of schools, the City and the community to improve educational, health, social, family, and economic results. We look for much more discussion on the School/City Work Plan in 2013, including at next month’s annual joint meeting of the Council with the PUSD Board of Education.
My report tonight would not be complete without mentioning the proposed 710 Freeway project, a project that has been pending for nearly 60 years. There continues to be substantial uncertainty about the future of this project, and resolution does not seem likely in the short term.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority is launching Environmental Impact Report studies focusing on five alternatives for addressing this project. A draft EIR is now expected to be published in 2014 and is anticipated to include discussion of a possible tunnel commencing near Alhambra and emerging in West Pasadena. The Council has recently conveyed to Metro its strong reservations about the negative impact of such an installation on Pasadena.
In a related issue, the City continues to press for the possible sale of 150 Caltrans-owned houses in Pasadena along the one-time proposed surface corridor of the 710 freeway extension. In this effort, we are grateful for the assistance of Senator Carol Liu and former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino. Caltrans recently identified 17 such properties for sale, but has not yet established a time schedule.
I assure you that City Hall is following the 710 issue closely, and I promise that our community will be kept informed about actions and ideas that could be detrimental to our quality of life.
THANKS TO SOC TEAM
An event like this does not come together without a lot of work by dedicated and capable persons. I offer thanks to all of them, and special thanks to William Boyer, our new Public Information Officer; Lorain Nagahiro, Jana Stewart, and Rhonda Stone with the Office of Mayor and City Council; Steve Mermell, Assistant City Manager; Police Chief Phillip Sanchez and the Pasadena Police Department; Keri Stokstad, Executive Director of the Pasadena Community Access Corporation, and her entire team at KPAS-TV.
I do not want to conclude without mentioning our recent experience, as a nation and as a community, involving horrific acts of gun violence that resulted in the death of numerous innocent persons and the shattering of many lives.
There has been widespread discussion, locally and nationally, about what can be done to address the culture of violence that is so pervasive in our society. In 2013, the City seeks to provide a wide variety of programming intended to address the issues that give rise to violence, including job training, community health, recreation, and other activities for youth and young adults. The priorities for these programs are established through such efforts as the Human Services’ Needs Assessment, the Quality of Life Index by Public Health; the Policy on Children, Youth and Families; and other initiatives.
Moreover, we are fortunate to have so many non-profits and faith-based organizations in Pasadena dedicated to meeting the needs of young people. The issues are complex and the solutions are not simple, but one thing is certain—we all have a role to play.
In his second inaugural speech, President Obama offered this reminder, “You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time—not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.”
I am inspired by his words, as I hope all of us are, to help us focus on working together in the coming year to build a better—and a safe—community.
Thank you, and God bless Pasadena, the state of California and our great nation.