Debi Howell-Ardila honored by City Council

Outgoing Cultural Heritage Commissioner receives Certificate of Appreciation

PHOTO: | Debi Howell-Ardila, center, with l-r council members Marina Khubesrian, Diana Mahmud, Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Schneider, Mayor Michael Cacciotti and council member Bob Joe.

Debi Howell-Ardila was honored at the recent City Council meeting and given a Certificate of Appreciation by Mayor Cacciotti and the entire council. Howell-Ardila is stepping down as Chair of the Cultural Heritage Commission. Cacciotti called the commission “the vanguard for our public buildings and spaces and we want to thank Debi for preserving and protecting those spaces for South Pasadena for the past 5 years.” The Mayor continued, “this commission works hard, their meetings are long, they have incredible dedication and we value that they identify and protect the city’s landmarks, enriching our entire community.”

Debi Howell-Ardila served on the Cultural Heritage Commission from 2012 through June 2017, serving as Vice Chair in 2015 and 2016 and Chair in 2017. During her tenure, Debi contributed to many historic preservation initiatives and projects in South Pasadena, including our City’s new Historic Context Statement, Historic Resources Survey, and updated Cultural Heritage Ordinance. As a board member of the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation, Debi hopes to continue contributing to historic preservation in our city.

“It was an honor to serve on the CHC, with such a talented and dedicated group of commissioners,” says Howell-Ardila, “we’re fortunate to have so many intact historic neighborhoods and landmarks in South Pasadena. This historic character is one of the qualities that makes it so inviting to live here. To help maintain that character, the City also has a strong but reasonable Cultural Heritage Ordinance. The ordinance is an important tool, because it establishes what sort of projects the CHC is required to review, what the CHC should be looking for, while also striking a balance between preservation and owners’ rights.”

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PHOTO: | Debi Howell-Ardila with South Pasadena City Council

Howell-Ardila says if there’s one thing she wants people to know about the CHC–one thing they might not realize–is that historic preservation doesn’t mean freezing a property in time, it means managing change. “This idea was key for all my fellow commissioners through the years,” she says, “and it allowed us to work with homeowners to get their projects through while also following our City’s policies and laws.”

As for the future, she says “going forward, I believe the CHC is in a good position to continue building a strong preservation program for South Pasadena and to continue encouraging more communication and participation among all City commissions, as well as the City Council and staff.”

All council members came down to thank Debi and posed for a photo with her. Howell-Ardila was moved by the gesture and comments and said, “It was a pleasure and an honor to serve on the cultural heritage commission and it was wonderful to work with such an active and dedicated city council, so thank you.”

Council member Bob Joe thanked Debi, “for your passion and commitment,” and went on to inquire, “what school did your son end up going to?” Howell-Ardila explained that her son has graciously allowed her to be the project manager for his 17 applications to art schools around the country as he pursues a degree in Theatre arts and directing.

Diana Mahmud echoed Joe’s comment saying, “the commission is better for your leadership.”