Local elections are generally easy for me. This one wasn’t. I had to do my homework before the better candidate became clear.
I’m voting for Jill Fosselman. Between the two candidates, she will be the most effective advocate for East Pasadena.
You can see some of my interests on this blog – our mountain views, East Pasadena history, city planning, local wildlife, St. Luke’s, Earthside Nature Center, and the long-planned but never built Eaton Wash trail. Like most reasonable folk, I’m frustrated by traffic, want neighborhoods protected, development limited, and our quality of life maintained.
I’m interested in other issues too. But, planning and development rises to the top of my concerns when picking between these candidates for city council. I want the person who will be the best advocate for East Pasadena on these issues.
Over the next four years a number of decisions will be made affecting the future of East Pasadena. Plans will come forward to develop the St. Luke’s property. There are a number of vacant properties that could attract attention, such as the Hastings Theater and car lots along East Colorado. And, it seems existing growth limits are up for grabs.
The city’s General Plan is being revised and city staff has put forth four alternative directions. As described in the most recent In Focus, one of the alternatives is to shift growth from downtown to East Pasadena and other business districts. Coincidentally, specific plans that govern growth in our commercial areas will soon also be revised.
Now, it would be nice if our next councilmember could simply say “no” and the move to shift development to East Pasadena would quietly disappear. But, that’s not how it works.
Our new councilmember will be one of eight votes on city council. To win on any issue, a councilmember has to be able to combine his or her vote with at least four others. That takes an advocate – someone who is well prepared, can discuss the issues from many perspectives and can articulate their position in a compelling fashion.
There’s an added challenge for the East Pasadena representative. Out here, we’re kind of the “Un-Pasadena” -- the suburban eastern flank to a historic and very urban city. Historic Pasadena sometimes just doesn’t understand us. Then, there’s the fact that East Pasadena is more spread out than the rest of the city. We have parking lots with free parking and few high rise buildings. We like the elbow room. But, to many across the city, our elbow room reads development opportunity.
I think Fosselman is East Pasadena’s best choice to send into the fray at City Hall. I’ve spent some time with her and I’m impressed. She understands the the issues in the kind of detailed way that’s needed to win arguments at City Hall. She’s articulate, energetic, and passionate about East Pasadena.
I’m also impressed with the company she keeps. Prior to serving on the General Plan coordinating committee she was part of the Coalition for a Common Vision which was a distinguished group of local citizens who took a critical look at city planning. I’ve worked alongside many in that group and they have long been in the vanguard of Pasadena movements for wise planning and open space preservation. Fosselman has run with the big dogs.
I respect how Gene Masuda has involved himself in the community over the last four years, but have trouble projecting him as an effective member of city council. I met him several years ago when both of us opposed the proposal to build storage units on the Edison right of way. While I appreciate Masuda’s community activities, I do not see in him the level of knowledge, insight and skill that I see in Fosselman.
When plans are debated at City Hall, you can be assured that a myriad of interests will be well represented by skilled advocates. As for East Pasadena, we get one person to represent us in the debate. The decision of who will represent East Pasadena is vitally important to the future of our part of the city.
I suppose you could construct a sort of acid test for deciding between the two candidates. The test would look something like this: imagine you lived in a quiet neighborhood that happened to be adjacent to a 13-acre property that is now largely vacant. The property has been sold and development plans are soon to come forward. Obviously, the development could dramatically affect your neighborhood. Between our two candidates, who would you choose to represent you at City Hall?
Well, the acid test is real. That’s exactly the situation faced by the neighborhood south of St. Luke’s. Leaders of that neighborhood have already beaten back a proposal to build hundreds of condominiums on the site. They know new proposals for the St. Luke's site are around the corner. They are supporting Fosselman.
It being the start of baseball season and given that baseball analogies are always appropriate, I close with this:
It is the bottom of the ninth inning. The East Pasadena team is on the field. It has been a hard fought game and we are ahead by just one run. The bases are loaded and the opposing team’s best hitter is coming to the plate. We have Fosselman and Masuda warming up in the bullpen. Who gets the call?
I give the ball to Fosselman.