Mayor Bob Joe | A Special Presentation to the Oneonta Members

South Pasadena Mayor Robert Joe shares his priorities during his term in office with members of the Oneonta Club

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | South Pasadena Mayor Robert Joe was the keynote speaker at the Oneonta Club recently. Following his talk, he answered questions from the audience as Oneonta member Odom Stamps presided

Setting priorities as he focuses on his one-year term as South Pasadena’s mayor, Robert Joe is taking a hard look at three key areas – development, fiscal sustainability and accessibility – in his effort to make what he calls a “special place” even better.

“Let’s remember that we all want the same outcome in the end – and that is a high quality of life, now and in the future,” said Joe, speaking at a recent Oneonta Club meeting in the city.

Joe took the time to lay out his vision for the next year while talking about the city’s many strengths, but insisting there’s room for enhancements. His audience were members of an organization that dates back to 1923 when a group of community leaders began meeting monthly for dinner and programs of general interest. Today, a foundation tied to it has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to South Pasadena High School seniors while recognizing high standards in the classroom by honoring teachers of the year in the local school district.

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PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Oneonta Club member and one of the former mayors of South Pasadena, Odom Stamps, emceed the discussion with mayor Bob Joe


As the city continues to work on updating its general plan, a blueprint for that future that hasn’t been revised since 1998, Joe told the gathering in the War Memorial Building, “It is important that we incorporate appropriate feedback into this critical document which will probably require more time to complete.”

He noted: “There will be considerable action on the housing front in the coming year.”

Joe cited a number of development efforts that are being groomed for future construction, including residential units at Mission Street and Fairview Avenue in the city. Joe said he wants to “see the Mission-Bell project continue to move forward. This project will be a strong addition to our downtown.”

The mayor also said he looks forward to the completion of the Citizens’ Business Bank building project, which “will bring much-needed energy to the southwest corner of Mission and Fair Oaks.” Retail, including a restaurant, is targeted for the site.

Major development is projected behind 625 Fair Oaks Avenue, including luxury apartments, in which low income/affordable housing will be included among the 86 units.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Members of the Oneonta Club listen to Mayor Bob Joe’s address at the War Memorial

The mayor said he’s looking forward to the day when the Caltrans properties along the now defunct 710 Freeway route will become affordable housing units. “I’m very pleased with the progress so far on the Caltrans properties and we need to keep it moving so that qualified homeowners can finally take possession of those homes,” he said.

With little talk of a freeway these days, Joe noted the City of South Pasadena is working closely with Metro and Caltrans to embark on a key traffic analysis. “We also have a tremendous opportunity to utilize the regional transportation funding from Metro to improve mobility within our city and the region,” he said. “I’d like to thank our elected officials [State Senator] Anthony Portantino and [Assemblymember] Chris Holden for their efforts on the 710 and for getting us to this important point in history.”

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Members of the Oneonta Club discuss the city’s issues with Mayor Bob Joe


Joe is grateful South Pasadena residents passed Measure A last November by a wide margin, authorizing the city to levy an additional sales tax of 0.75 percent for general purposes, increasing the tax in the city from 9.5 percent to 10.75 percent. The latest numbers show 2,194 were in favor (66.38 percent) of Measure A while 1,111 (33.62 percent) were opposed.

“We are in a much better position thanks to the passage of Measure A and I want to thank all of our residents for making this happen,” Joe told the Oneonta Club gathering. “Now it is up to the Council and staff to be good stewards of the funding and ensure that it is spent in the public’s best interest.”

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Mayor Bob Joe and Odom Stamps host a Q&A at the War Memorial

Measure A, insists the mayor, is just one step in the city’s long-term financial strategy. “We must continue to pursue strategies that support our existing businesses and attract new businesses to improve the quality of life for our residents,” he said. “This means we need new investment in our community. We will also need to take a fresh look at the Utility Users Tax as it comes up for renewal, and decide whether to renew the tax or find another long-tern revenue source.”


Joe hopes to enhance customer service at City Hall for residents “by taking a more collaborative approach between city departments,” he said. “Especially with our Planning and Community Development Department which will be fully staffed in the next month.”

He insists accessibility and engagement are essential. “As a small city, our government is already more accessible than many larger cities, but I know we can do better,” he said.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Members of the Oneonta Club listen to Mayor Bob Joe’s address at the War Memorial

Ensuring that residents feel engaged and welcome in the governing process are areas Joe insists need greater attention. “One of the ways we engage our residents is through participation in city commissions,” he said. “I want to encourage better collaboration between our commissions and our city departments. There has been progress this past year, and I want to see that continue to improve.”

Joe is believes the city can enhance customer service for residents by taking a more collaborative approach between city departments, “especially with our Planning and Community Development Department, which will be fully staffed in the next month,” he stressed. “Building relationships and working together is an important aspect of the City.”

While improvements can be made, Joe pointed out, “We have a very special city here in South Pasadena. In the last decade the city focused on investing in its aging infrastructure, including roadways and our water system. Significant improvements have been made which will benefit our current community members as well as future generations.”

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Mayor Bob Joe and Odom Stamps host a Q&A at the War Memorial

Like many, the mayor has noticed a shift in “more younger families becoming part of the fabric of the community which speaks to the high quality of life South Pasadena is known for,” he said. “The next 10 years will have some challenges, specifically with the growing cost of maintaining a full service city. We also recognize the economic development opportunities that have the potential to strengthen and safeguard our financial stability.”

Not only is he a resident and the city’s mayor, but Joe is a person who cares for others, one of three principles he learned from 83-year-old Lou Holtz, the longtime football coach at Notre Dame, analyst and, well, winner. The other two? “One, Do the right thing, know what is right and wrong and two, do everything to the best of your ability.”

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | A former South Pasadena Mayor and attorney, Phil Putnam questions Mayor Bob Joe’s projected solutions for the year

Proudly, he cares, and is working to do the right thing at the best of his ability.

“South Pasadena will always be a desirable location for its great schools and small town feel, and we will work hard to preserve that,” he assured.