Letter to the Pasadena Redistricting Task Force Requesting a Consolidated City Council District for Downtown Pasadena Residents

Sent on March 7, 2012

Dear Redistricting Task Force Members and Pasadena City Council Members:

I am writing to ask you to recommend the consolidation of downtown Pasadena into one district with its own representation on the Pasadena City Council.  For reference, I have attached a map with the downtown district proposed by the Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association, which is referred to in the map as District 7.

I am one of several downtown residents who made the request for a single downtown district at the Redistricting Task Force Meeting on the evening of February 15th.  Toward the end of the meeting, the Task Force stated that it was premature for the downtown neighborhood to have its own district.  It is not premature.  Downtown Pasadena has outgrown the current district configuration, where it is fragmented into four districts.  In the proposed redistricting plan, downtown Pasadena remains in four districts.  The downtown area, which is approximately defined as the area bordered to the west by Pasadena Avenue, to the north by the 210 freeway, to the east by Catalina Avenue, and to the south by California Boulevard, is comprised of approximately 19,600 residents, which is about 14% of the Pasadena population.  The size of the population and the unique characteristics of residents in this neighborhood both make the case for a unified downtown district to serve the downtown residents.

I selected downtown Pasadena as my residential neighborhood in 1998, because I wanted to live in a neighborhood where I am able to walk to a robust variety of commercial, retail, dining and entertainment choices.  I am an urban dweller, and I have chosen this lifestyle for my entire adult life, first in Boston, then in Portland, Oregon, and now in Pasadena.  I believe that this was the type of lifestyle Pasadena leadership was promoting through the redevelopment of Old Pasadena.

Downtown Pasadena is a neighborhood of urban dwellers, and our needs are different than single family homeowners in the suburban parts of Pasadena.  The downtown area is our backyard and our front yard.  We walk, bike and take public transportation more often than other Pasadena residents, and we make fewer vehicle trips within Pasadena.  And parents have different concerns in this neighborhood for play areas and safety for their children than the single family homeowners in the suburban parts of Pasadena.  We downtown dwellers enjoy all of the amenities that the downtown – our neighborhood – has to offer.  We support this neighborhood – through our presence we make the neighborhood vital, and through our utilization of the downtown businesses we make it economically viable.  We take pride in our neighborhood as much as any other neighborhood association takes pride in their neighborhood.  We deserve to be treated as a neighborhood, which includes a seat on the City Council.

Toward the end of the February 15th meeting, one Redistricting Task Force Member commented that perhaps the residents in downtown Pasadena have better representation with four council members than if it were within one council district.  That is not the case.  My experience as a 14 year resident of District 6 is that the needs of the single family homeowners outside of downtown are given a higher priority than the needs of the downtown residents.

Another Redistricting Task Force Member suggested that our request for a single district wasn’t valid because we proposed the northern border as the 210 Freeway and a freeway should not be a district boundary.  This problem is easily resolved by moving the boundary slightly south or slightly north of the freeway.

Please do not ask the residents of downtown Pasadena to wait for 10 more years to potentially have our own district.  Downtown Pasadena has been a vibrant neighborhood for the 14 years that I have lived here.  And the Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association has been in existence for over one year.  It was formed to ensure the needs of downtown residents were being addressed in the General Plan process.  It is not premature for the downtown to have its own representation on the City Council. Now is the time for one council district for downtown Pasadena.

Respectfully,

Diane Ricard

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