New Mayor | Cacciotti Takes Over as Mayor as City’s To-Do List Expands

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Mayor Michael Cacciotti

District 4 City Council Member Michael Cacciotti, the longest-serving South Pasadena City Council Member, was elected Mayor Wednesday on a unanimous vote of his Council Colleagues. The 2021-2022 mayoral term will be Cacciotti’s fifth as mayor since first being elected in 2001.

The new mayor went on to preside over a meeting that lasted five hours and 13 minutes—twice the average length of the 29 public council meetings outgoing Mayor Diana oversaw over during her year as mayor.

Among other things during this week’s meeting, the Council approved: a new 5-year strategic plan; an urgency ordinance easing applications for accessory dwelling units; another urgency ordinance implementing a new state law on the subdivision of parcels and development of new dwellings aimed at minimizing the impacts of such developments; a plan on the substantial reorganization of the Public Works Department; resolutions creating two new positions—deputy community services director and environmental services and sustainability manager; and a stop gap approach for the allocation of $300,00 in repurposed Metro Slow Street grant funds that would otherwise have expired, to obtain materials necessary to temporarily upgrade the “parklets” outside some downtown businesses erected to enable businesses to operate along sidewalks during the pandemic.

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Among the 11 recommendations for reorganization of public works that may prove controversial is to consider consolidating the Public Works Commission with the Mobility Transportation and Infrastructure Commission, both of which were reformed early last year. Also included was creating 5-year capital improvement programs in conjunction with the budget adoption process, eliminating one of the two deputy director positions, and requiring the director to attend all commission meetings.

The City also approved a $150,000 payment to Owen Cliff Snider, in what appears to be a partial payment of a settlement for the recently re-hired fire engineer and Firefighter’s Association president who was illegally terminated by the city in 2016. The City did not disclose how much if any of the partial payment was covered by the city’s liability insurance policy.

In connection with the new strategic plan, the City adopted a new vision statement: “We are a culturally and economically diverse, and fiercely independent community that cherishes creativity, education and our small-town character, committed to building a more just and environmentally and financially sustainable future.”

The plan includes five tasks aimed at implementing a strong fiscal policy and “resilient financial future” including reduction of unfunded CalPERS liability and updating the business license tax, business taxes and library parcel tax.

The economic development tasks include a technology upgrade to enable online tracking of building and planning permits and to “streamline” approvals; developing an economic development program with branding; website improvement and ombudsman services; producing a permit application guide; creating a city parking policy; and exploring development opportunities for recreational facilities in the Arroyo, on which an ad hoc committee has been working for some months.

It also sets tasks for the development of a “comprehensive emergency preparedness plan” and for the enhancement of “community sustainability” through infrastructure investments such as an electric vehicle fleet and investments in renewable energy, water resources, pocket parks, and a capital improvement plan.

The strategic plan calls for creation of a housing division to develop more housing; implementation of SB 381 that enables the city to purchase Caltrans properties at cost; implementation of the new inclusionary housing and ADU ordinances; creation of an occupancy inspection program; and more work to strengthen the organizational framework for dealing with homelessness.

The final prong looks at enhancing community services through traffic management, centralized operations, policy updates and matters pertaining to governance such as the redistricting process, another review of boards and commissions, and establishing an employee committee to assist with morale boosting efforts.

Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.