A variety of key issues facing the City of South Pasadena, many of which new mayor Robert Joe and the City Council hope to tackle over the next year, will be addressed Wednesday night.
Three general categories – development, fiscal sustainability and accessibility – are areas Mayor Bob Joe and company will focus on during the 12 months he holds the city’s top seat.
Community members will have an opportunity to meet and talk to Joe about his vision on Wednesday, December 18, at 6:30 p.m. in the South Pasadena City Hall lobby. A special reception, including food and beverages, will take place one-hour hour ahead of the regularly scheduled 7:30 p.m. council meeting.
City department directors along with police and fire department chiefs will be on hand to address concerns from residents.
Food is generously being donated by Jones Coffee, Mike & Anne’s, Berry Opera, KJ Tofu, TeaMorrow, Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza, and the Munch Company.
With the city’s new General Plan community outreach wrapping up on a two-year effort, Joe says it is important “that we incorporate appropriate feedback into the document and move toward council approval. The General Plan is a critical document to guide development in our city over the next decade and beyond,” he said, noting several major development projects are in the works.”
On of the biggest undertakings will be the Mission Bell residential project at the intersection of Fairview and Mission Street where the Fiesta Grande restaurants currently sits, the mayor saying it “will be a strong addition to our downtown and will generate a lot of excitement in our historic business district.”
Joe is also looking forward to a groundbreaking next year for the Citizens’ Bank building project, “which will bring much-needed energy to the southwest corner of Mission and Fair Oaks.”
The effort calls for the move of the bank going to 625 Fair Oaks Avenue, and in its place a restaurant and other retail, including Starbucks moving from the Wells Fargo Bank building on Fair Oaks Avenue, relocating to the site.
Joe said there will be “considerable action” on the housing front in the coming year. “In particular, I want to see contracts move forward on the affordable housing agreements for the Caltrans properties,” he said, explaining that the 710 Freeway extension is all but dead and homes along its proposed path are desired by families. “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.”
The city, explained Joe, has a “tremendous opportunity to utilize the regional transportation funding available from Metro,” he said. “If possible, I would like to see construction contracts for major transportation projects in place by next year.”
Joe thanked elected officials, State Senator Anthony Portantino and Assemblymember Chris Holden for their efforts in successfully fighting the 710.
“We’ve turned a corner with the 710, and we now have a tremendous opportunity to improve transportation and mobility in South Pasadena and throughout the region,” said Joe.
A three-quarter of a cent sales tax increase passed by South Pasadena voters in November should put the city on better financial footing, noted the mayor. “We are in a much better position thanks to Measure A,” he said. “We will start to see revenue from Measure A later in the year. I’m very pleased that Measure A passed. Now it is up to the Council and staff to be good stewards of the funding and ensure that it is spend in the public’s best interest.”
Joe said Measure A is just one step in our long-term financial strategy, adding: “We must continue to pursue strategies that support our existing businesses and attract new businesses. There are many exciting discussions already underway. New businesses in our city will improve the quality of life for our residents while generating additional revenue for vital services.”
Joe stressed the city will 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-term revenue source.
As a small city, Joe says local government is already more accessible than many larger cities. “But I believe we can do better,” he said. “I want to ensure that our residents feel engaged and welcome in the governing process.”
One of the ways the city engages residents, said Joe, is through participation in city commissions.
“I want to encourage stronger dialogue between our commissions and our city departments,” he explained. “There has been progress this past year, and I want to see that continue to improve. I believe we can enhance customer service by breaking down the silos between city departments and taking a more collaborative approach. By working together more effectively, we will see benefits to our residents as well as the morale of our employees. And in that spirit of collaboration, I will be asking our staff to jointly review key policies and procedures and bring them back to the council for updates.”
Already a fixture at many events around town, as mayor, Joe will continue to be a champion for the city. “We have a great city here in South Pasadena,” he stressed. “We have a wonderful senior center, excellent youth programs, and public safety that is second to none. And we have much more. Of course, we can and will make it better.”
Not lost on Joe is what makes “this place special,” recognizing it’s the people – “our residents, our business owners, our city employees,” he said.
He thanked his fellow councilmembers for voting him in as mayor, saying: “It is an honor and a privilege to serve the great city of South Pasadena in this capacity.”
For his success, Joe thanks his family, who will be at Wednesday’s council meeting showing their support. Los Angeles County Supervisor Katherine Barger will swear him into office, while members of the city staff will also be on hand for the brief ceremony. “I look forward to building on the strong relationships I have with many of you.,” Joe said.
Over the next year, the mayor knows disagreements will sometimes arise on how to achieve goals, but “let’s remember that we all want the same outcome – and that is a high quality of life, now and in the future,” he said. “I look forward to serving as your mayor in 2020.”