In the face of an impending deadline for the city of South Pasadena’s General and Specific Plans, a small but passionate group of 15 turned out to the fourth and penultimate public forum discussing the immense list of goals and changes the city hopes to implement in the coming years.
In the Council Chambers of City Hall, Staff Liaison Margaret Lin, Manager of Long Range Planning and Economic Developmet; Joanna Hankamer, Planning and Building Director; and Woody Tescher, a Principal Planner with the firm Placeworks, guided citizens through a slightly altered presentation than that of those given last fall – in order to reflect the public input already given.
It was noted that these plans were drafted largely in part with the information given by the constituency over the past several years, with Lin stating, “I wanted to emphasize that these are not the city staff’s plans, these are your plans. We want these plans to accurately reflect your visions for the community.” However many took issue with what they perceived as a rushed deadline, with a hope to push it back as far as June.
On January 15 – the original deadline for public input on the General Plan – several people made public comment during a City Council meeting, requesting the extension. Perhaps by coincidence, Stephanie DeWofle, the City Manager, announced that the deadline would be postponed until February 12. Concurrently, there would be two more meetings on the matter to accommodate the uninitiated on the matter.
Guiding those in attendance on Tuesday, Tescher explained the purpose of the meetings, ” is to provide an opportunity for efficient discussion.” The overview for the over two-hour long forum consisted of a presentation running through what was described as “specific portions of the plan that should be focused on” and a Q&A session in which the trio would answer any questions or comment cards submitted.
In order to economize the time spent, Tescher recognized the incredible length of the General and Specific plans, each exceeding several hundred pages, calling the session, ” like a user’s guide to the content of the plan. (We) will talk a little bit about the 2017 draft plan and highlight what the changes were, focus on the key policies.”
Though not as many were in attendance as initially expected, the Q&A session ran well into the night. Those who had made appearances at the last City Council and WISPPA meetings were present to discuss various topics that were of concern, including the Mission Bell Project, affordable housing, cycling safety issues, preservation of trees and historical edifices, and the wording of specific passages in the plans.
Incidentally, in their most recent weekly newsletter, WISPPA stated, “PLEASE NOTE: SINCE WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT AS MANY WISPPA MEMBERS AS POSSIBLE ATTEND THE CITY’S GENERAL PLAN & DOWNTOWN SPECIFIC PLAN FORUM this Saturday. our WISPPA meeting has been cancelled. Looking forward to seeing you there! Be sure to let your friends and neighbors know about this important forum.”
While there is still much to discuss the date has been set, and citizens have but one more day to attend one of these meetings on Saturday, February 1, 10:00 a.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Though the public comment period will end February 12, Lin also reiterated that there will still be regular updates during the planning commission meetings which take place every second Tuesday of each month.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth look on the General and Specific Plans and its relationship with the citizens of South Pasadena.