New parks need to be planned for the future growth and development of Pasadena’s downtown, Council instructs staff

“Pasadena’s General Plan directs where growth & development will occur…

New parks need to be planned in anticipation.”

Good News! In October 2015, City Council agreed with the DPNA and gave direction to staff to create a plan to build new parks where they are needed most.

Recap of the Oct 27th, 2015 meeting of the Pasadena City Council.

 

PARKS AND RESIDENTIAL IMPACT FEES

Residential Impact Fees (RIFs) are assessed for the specific purpose of satisfying the additional demands on parks that new residents create.

New residents = additional impacts on parks.

We asked the Council to “Please reject the staff proposal before you and direct staff to analyze the General Plan in relationship to where the park needs are expected to arise, to develop and identify specific park locations and projects to meet those needs, and to amend the ordinance to specifically implement that plan, eliminating the 3 “Park Zones.”

The council agreed with us, did not pass the staff recommendation, and gave direction to staff to to analyze the General Plan in relationship to where the park needs are expected to arise, to develop and identify specific park locations and projects to meet those needs.

READ OUR FULL LETTER TO CITY COUNCIL.

https://downtownpasadena.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/rif-nexus-ordinance-oct-2015.pdf

Here are some quotes we captured “on-the-fly” during the meeting:

THANK YOU

TO EVERYONE WHO ATTENDED THE MEETING, MADE PUBLIC COMMENT, OR SENT AN EMAIL PRIOR TO THE MEETING.

Read all the public comments made at this link.

Is your HOA involved?

Spread the word!

What’s Next?

Staff has been directed to develop a plan.   A citizen’s Task Force may be an effective way forward.

The DPNA will continue to make suggestions, but we need your help and involvement to reach out and spread the word.  Please forward this message to a neighbor that you think might be interested, or perhaps you’d like to attend our monthly meetings on the Third Thursday.  Details below.

Let’s build a Pasadena that will continue to be great!

 

 

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Below is a summary of the issues as we outlined prior to the meeting:

“Playhouse Park” design by Korn Randolph, for corner of El Molino & Union St. When this park was being proposed, the Residential Impact Fees fund (in the “Central” park district) was empty. “Park Now” proponents of the Playhouse District park had to seek funding elsewhere, by applying for a state grant, which was unsuccessful.

Current law:

As it stands, the city is divided into 3 “park districts”, pictured below.  Park fees have to be spent in the district in which they are collected.  This 3-district division does nothing to insure that the fees are spent close to the apartments & condos building from which they are collected.  In addition, the 3 districts are a clunky, arbitrary division that has resulted in lots of funds in the West District (because of the Westgate project, etc), and fewer funds in the Central and East District.

The 3 “Park Districts”.  A new apartment building built in the “West” district would be taxed the Park Fee, and those fees have to be spent in the “West” district, for example.  Ideally, a resident should be able to WALK to a nearby park. However, the districts are so large that there is only a driving relationship (or “nexus”) between where the funds come from and where the funds are spent.

 

The Council is considering changes that would add “Flexibility” to allow the funds to be spent anywhere in the city, under certain conditions.  That added “flexibility” does nothing to establish a relationship between the residents who pay the fees and where those fees are spent.  There needs to be a Proximity Nexusresidents should be able to walk to the parks that they paid for. The proposed changes do not guarantee or even mention a proximity nexus.

See the council agenda here, (and the Finance Committee agenda here) scroll down to read the staff report (item #15).

These proposed changes are aggravating to the DPNA, since we’ve been sounding the walkable nexus issue since 2012, and in light of our recent (hard fought) expansion of how these funds can be used – expanding application to plazas, pocket parks and other urban amenities.

How much did you pay in Park Fees?
How much is built into your rent?
Look it up!

*Projects built before about 2005 were not assessed a fee.  Fees are paid upfront by developers when they pull a building permit and trickle down to unit owners and renters indirectly.  The actual economic consequences to unit owners and renters is complex and is dependent on how developers respond to increased costs (which effects the supply of housing and therefore the overall price of housing), whether or not fees are actually used to improve parks nearby, and how the market responds to such park improvements, among other factors.

The majority of Park Fees are collected from new apartment & condo buildings that are built in Downtown—the Central District.

 

 

Major development projects from 2007-2011 in the Central District raised $Millions in Residential Impact Fees. Those funds were mis-spent to purchase open space far, far away from Downtown Pasadena

Major development projects from 2007-2011 in the Central District raised $$Million$$ in Residential Impact Fees

Residential Impact Fees have come mostly from new development in the Central District

Residential Impact Fees have come mostly from new development in the Central District. (Red & orange dots show fees collected from $100,000 to $1,200,000; green, blue, and purple dots show fees collected from $10,000 to $53,000.)

There is a large “gap” in Downtown with no park.

Green Space “Gaps,” where parks are more than 1/2 mile away (grey areas). The Downtown Gap (#1) has the highest population.

There are about 20,000 residents in Downtown Pasadena.
1/7 of the city’s population.

The majority of Downtown residents (12,000 – 16,000 residents estimated) live more than 1/4-mile from a park, and many of those (probably 8,000-12,000) live more than a 1/2 mile from the closest park.

So… where have new parks been built from the $19 Million raised in Park Fees?

 

ANSWER:   Not in Downtown Pasadena.

 

In fact, the city is proposing to reduce or eliminate the Civic Gardens in front of City Hall, by building the YWCA-Kimpton Hotel project, further reducing park space in Downtown.

The "YWCA-Kimpton Hotel" proposed project that directly faces Pasadena City Hall. in the 1920s, the voters of Pasadena purchased the land on which City Hall sits, and surrounding parcels for the purpose of creating a "City Beautiful"-style City Hall surrounded by Public Gardens. The current proposal will destroy the gardens and place the rear-end of a hotel facing City Hall, with private hotel rooms on the ground floor.

The “YWCA-Kimpton Hotel” proposed project that directly faces Pasadena City Hall. In the 1920s, the voters of Pasadena purchased the land on which City Hall sits, and surrounding parcels for the purpose of creating a “City Beautiful”-style City Hall surrounded by Public Gardens.
The current proposal will destroy the gardens and place the rear-end of a hotel facing City Hall, with private hotel rooms on the ground floor.

 

However, some of the funds were spent to improve existing parks, including a new playground in Central Park.

 

Steve Madison and Bill Bogaard at the dedication of Central Park’s new playground.

MESSAGE TO COUNCIL:

The DPNA believes that the Residential Impact Fees need to be spent close to where they are raised.

Downtown Pasadena has a shortage of parks.

  • The “nexus” between new buildings and new residents and the fees that are charged to them needs to be at least partially based on proximity.  At least some of the money needs to be spent on parks that are within walking distance of the people that are paying the fees.
  • The current 3-District scheme does not serve as an equitable nexus and needs to be completely abandoned, not reformed. (The proposal on the table simply layers on some additional “flexibility” onto the 3-district scheme, but does not solve the inequitable lack of a Walkable Proximity Nexus.)
  • Thanks to your action last year, at our urging, fees can now be spent on small plazas, pocket parks, and other amenities where land acquisition costs are high.  Please reject the ordinance and direct staff to find locations and develop an implementation schedule to build small walkable parks near to the projects that were assessed the fees.  Look to the General Plan to place parks where future development is expected to occur.

 

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