In February, John Srebalus presented the City of South Pasadena with a draft ordinance to raise the city’s minimum wage to the same level as Los Angeles, Pasadena and other cities in the region.
Strebalus, representing a group of concerned citizens in the effort, was back at it again last week, pushing the concept before the City Council in a second attempt. He says the higher wage increase would be applicable only to larger businesses with 26 or more employees.
The South Pasadena resident wasn’t alone in advocating for the city to increase the minimum wage as he was joined by others in the community addressing his same concern, including Sadie Metcalfe, Amber Chen, Thea McCallie, Anne Bagasuo, Allan Spring, Annika Busman, Raquel Chatfield-Taylor and Jake Manzo.
Speaking during public comment, Srebalus reached out to the council for support, saying, “The public wants this. The public wants more income equality and an economically diverse city. They see that our proposal seeks to right a wrong. Our canvassing efforts leave no doubt about this. You’ve seen the postcards come in. The majority of this council is refusing to debate our ordinance in a public forum, some members not wanting to go on record for or against it. But this is a democracy, and in democracies we vote. In democracies, constituents get to see where their representatives stand, and cast their next vote accordingly.”
On giant screens inside the City Council Chambers, Srebalus showed an image of a block in Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian’s voting district, along Diamond Avenue between Monterey Road and El Centro Street, with red pins indicating homes where individuals reportedly are in support of the higher minimum wage. He said many residents are thanking the group for their efforts in canvassing the area.
“You say you want to prioritize policy according to the concerns of residents. Well, here they are” Srebalus told council members, pointing to the screen. “Our ordinance can be studied and agendized by the time of the next council meeting, and ultimately administered with a bare minimum of staff resources. It’s doing the right thing of the most convenient and cost-neutral kind.”
In February, the Pasadena City Council voted 7-1 to continue on a path to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour on July 1, 2020. The approved resolution calls for the hourly rate of $14.25 or $13.25 for small employers with fewer than 25 workers on July 1, 2019. On July 1, 2020, the wage climbs to $15 or $14.25 for smaller employers.
During a public Strategic Planning Session on March 1, the City Council and the city’s executive team met and discussed priorities for the coming year.
“An 18-month acceleration of the state’s fairly progressive minimum wage laws and city enforcement of such an ordinance would drain our limited staff resources and did not rise enough in priority in the discussion to bump off other strategic goals and make it to the work plan list for the coming year,” explained Khubesrian of the minimum wage issue increase. “At this time there are no plans for a public forum on the issue sponsored by the city.”
Kubesrian said the City Council and the public will be presented with the outcome of the city’s Strategic Planning Session along with a list of the many critical priorities it needs to tackle next year during the April 17 council meeting.