UPDATE | City Council Wrestles with Homeless Concerns

The following is how the City Council voted and addressed a number of key issues from homelessness to establishing a 710 ad hoc committee during its most recent meeting

PHOTO: South Pasadena City Council | SouthPasadenan.com

South Pasadena City Council members addressed the issue of homelessness in the city during last week’s regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall.

The council received and filed the report.

Over the past few years the population of the homeless has increased and, according to city officials, has become more visible within the community.

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The South Pasadena Police Department estimate a homeless population of approximately 15 people in the city. The number does not include homeless individuals who are transients using City services, passing through the city, or obtaining meals, clothing or other items from local resources.

South Pasadena Police are working with local businesses to assist them with homeless persons who are using their establishments to sleep. Police officials say about 15 percent of all calls coming into the department are related to homeless individuals. Most of the calls they say are for loitering where the person has the legal right to be and are not violating any loitering ordinance.

The police department conducts extra patrols in parks, nature trails, the public library, as well as public and private properties where homeless may camp. If the homeless person is willing to give their name, date of birth, next of kin and possible medical condition, the officer will add the information to a binder kept within the department. Police officials say the information is used if someone is found ill or injured so a family member can be notified.

Shannon Robledo, a sergeant with the South Pasadena Police Department, says most of the homeless in South Pasadena have built a trust with officers knowing they will not be removed from the city and will receive assistance by officers. Robledo has attended the annual Homeless Initiative Conference to end homelessness, Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority meetings and regularly attends the San Gabriel Valley Council of Government Regional Homeless Meetings.

The local police department recently took a proactive approach regarding homelessness along the nature trail in the Arroyo by making contact with the Arroyo Seco Stable horse owners who frequently use it. Officers provided the horse owners with information to report homeless encampments Once reported, a Homeless Outreach Team attempts to make contact with the individual and provide resources.

The city’s Community Services Department provides a social worker to assist homeless obtain a California identification card, Medical or Medicare card, resources for shelters, housing and or medical services.

Further providing support, the South Pasadena Fire Department, and MOMS for Community have provided lunch for homeless at the local fire station. The most recent lunch drew about 25 people who, along a meal, were offered blankets, clothes, shoes and care/hygiene packages.

The City of South Pasadena has participated in the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority “point-in-time” count for the past three years. The visual, point-in-time count means that officers must visually see the homeless individual to be counted. The number of homeless individuals officers are aware of may not be 100% reflected in the count as some homeless individuals may not be found during the count. The count takes place one night each year during a 3-hour period from 8 p.m. through 11 p.m. and is conducted simultaneously throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

In addition to counting the homeless, Holy Family Church has donated cold weather packages along with a laminated homeless resources card for each person who would accept it.

In an effort to address the increase of homeless with mental health issues, South Pasadena along with the Arcadia and the Monrovia Police Department’s teamed up with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to create a specialized response team to assist with people suffering from mental health crises.

The newly formed West San Gabriel Valley Mental Evaluation Team (WSGV MET) provides mental health intervention services 40 hours a week in the three cities it serves. A Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Clinician averages four shifts per month and is teamed up with a South Pasadena Police Officer to provide homeless
outreach. The Police Department is working with other local agencies including the Pasadena and the Los Angeles Police Departments to obtain resources and knowledge to work with homeless persons.

This month, members of the South Pasadena Police Department will be trained and begin working with the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department, Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association, and the Pomona Police Department. The Homeless Outreach Service Team (H.O.S.T.), program is funded through Measure H funds and concentrates on outreach centered on referrals to housing, rehabilitation and support. The mission of the H.O.S.T. program is to address homeless issues with regional partnerships. The police department will be reimbursed for their participation in the program through grant funding.


City Claims Wrongful UUT Statements

South Pasadena city officials fought back last week, claiming there is incorrect information and misleading statements contained in the ballot arguments for the “Yes on N” campaign that seeks to repeal the existing utility users tax (UUT) in November.

Measure N on the November 6, ballot will ask voters in South Pasadena to repeal the City’s
Utility Users Tax.

A “yes” vote on Measure N is to eliminate the tax and a “no” vote will retain it.

According to the City of South Pasadena, a repeal of the tax would cut $3.4 million from the city budget and force significant service cuts and layoffs in nearly all departments. Proponents of Measure N recently filed ballot arguments in support of the repeal.

During the October 3 City Council meeting at City Hall, City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, addressed what she believes is false information and misleading statements appearing in the ballot argument.

The City Council directed staff to publicize what they believe is the correct information through the news media and on the City of South Pasadena’s website.


Council Supports Public Arts Initiative

The City Council has given preliminary approval to an initiative that would set fees on development for the creation of public art, establish a five-member Public Arts Commission, and declare South Pasadena a “creative and innovative City.”

At its Oct. 3 meeting, council members unanimously supported a plan that will require developers to devote 1% of a project’s value for public art within that development, or pay 1.5% of the value to a fund that would be used for public art projects citywide. The fees would apply to new construction of residential (four units or greater) and commercial projects valued at $500,000 or more, or remodeling projects valued at $250,000 or more.

The Council is scheduled to vote Oct. 17 on final approval of the arts program.


Asked to Oppose Proposition 6

The council voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution to oppose Proposition 6, the measure to repeal Senate Bill 1.

Proposition 6 would repeal SB I, the Road Repair and Accountability Act, which represents the most significant effort to fund local road and bridge repairs in years.

SB I was enacted by the legislature and approved by the Governor Brown in April 2017. It provides the first significant, stable, and on-going increase in state transportation funding in more than two decades. Proposition 6 would eliminate more than $5 billion annually in existing transportation funds and stops funding for more than 6,500 bridge and road safety, transportation and public transit improvement projects currently underway throughout California.

The City of South Pasadena anticipates receiving $431,000 in SB I funds in fiscal year 2018-19. The funds from SB I increase the amount of money dedicated to improving transportation infrastructure in South Pasadena, including the annual preventative maintenance program and city street rehabilitation projects.

If Proposition 6 is approved, city officials say California cities and counties will lose millions of dollars annually, which support local streets and roads rehabilitation. In the San Gabriel Valley alone, 101 city projects have or will be receiving SB I funding. These local projects range from new traffic signals, to phasing projects, to parkway improvements, to intersection safety enhancements, to restriping, to curb ramp upgrades, to large-scale repaving and reconstruction of roads.


Capital Improvement Plan

The City Council received and filed the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Update. The City Council approved a five-year CIP on June 6, 2018. The total CIP appropriation for fiscal year 2018-19 is $14.2 million for various improvements consisting of municipal buildings and facilities, streets and streetscapes, sewer and water, and information technologies.


Establish 710 Ad Hoc Committee

City Council members voted 5-0 to establish Ad Hoc Committee, consisting of Mayor Dr. Richard Schneider and Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Marina Khubesrian for the California Department of Transportation State Route 710 Surplus Property Sales.

The ad hoc committee will work with City staff to address issues and concerns associated with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) State Route 710 (SR-710) surplus property sales.

On September 19, the City Council received numerous public comments regarding issues and concerns regarding the sale of SR-710 surplus properties and requested that consideration of an ad hoc committee be placed on the next agenda. An ad hoc committee will be able to work with Staff to analyze concerns and develop strategies to provide support to residents in their quest for home ownership.


Support for Measure W

In a 5-0 vote, the South Pasadena City Council adopted a resolution in support of Measure W, the Los Angeles County ballot measure establishing a parcel tax for the Safe Clean Water Program.

The purpose of the special parcel tax (Measure W) is to provide funds for the Safe, Clean Water Program. The overall goals of it are to fund multi-benefit storm water and urban runoff capture programs intended to increase water supply, improve water quality and provide community investments.

Measure W proposes a parcel tax at the rate of 2.5 cents per square foot of impermeable surface within the County Flood Control District to fund infrastructure projects that would assist cities in meeting their MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer) permit obligations, create more green space neighborhoods, and generate jobs. The calculation of the tax for each parcel is based on each parcel’s impermeable area, which has been determined by a countywide survey using aerial imagery combined with other survey technology. The county estimates the average parcel tax at $83 per year.


Public Works Commission

The city council adopted an ordinance amending a section to extend the sunset of the Public Works Commission by an additional year. The vote was unanimous.

In August, city staff recommended the dissolution of both the Public Works Commission (PWC) and Freeway and Transportation Commission to create a new Mobility and Infrastructure Policy Commission (MIPC) due to the PWC’s original sunset date in November 2018 and the anticipated conclusion of the 710 North Project. In response to public comments regarding the proposed merger, city staff amended their recommendations to postpone it by one year in anticipation of Governor Brown signing legislation removing the 710 North stubs from the State Highway Code and to direct staff to introduce an ordiance extending the sunset date of the PWC by one year.

City Council members voted 5-0 to extend the PWC sunset period by one year, to extend the current terms for expiring commissioners by one year and for city staff to bring back recommendations regarding PWC and FTC overlaps.


Strategic Plan Update

The city’s Strategic Plan identifies priorities and a focus on issues that are important to improving the quality of life in South Pasadena. The plan contains citywide objectives and strategic initiatives needed to support the Strategic Goals. Although the goals of the Strategic Plan are intended to be long-term, the strategies expressed in the objectives and initiatives are intended to be accomplished within FY 2018-19. Many of the Strategic Plan initiatives are underway and have been included in this year’s city budget.

In a 5-0 vote, councilmembers received and filed a first quarter update on fiscal year 2018-19 during last week’s meeting.

The purpose of quarterly reports is to update the City Council on the status of those initiatives that are key to achievement of the strategic goals and objectives set out in the City’s Strategic Plan. The first quarter report provides updates from July through September 2018. City officials say the reports are not intended to be a complete description of the work performed by City staff during the quarter.

Commission Appointment

Councimembers voted 5-0, to appoint Amanda Estevez (12th grade student) to the Youth Commission for a full two-year school term from October 3, 2018 until June 30, 2020.


City reports contributed to this article.