Pasadena InSight

February 9, 2009

Welcome Pasadenans…

Filed under: Uncategorized — pasadenainsight @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , ,

There is a great deal going on in Pasadena at the moment: development, trees, art, changes to design guidelines, and updates to the General Plan.  This site is more about your comments than our posts so check out the Projects and Issues and leave your comments and keep the discussion going.

How the site is set up.

Projects and Issues are listed over on the right.  Click on a specific project to read about it and leave comments on its own page.  If you have general comments on Pasadena InSight as a whole, or know of a project not listed, let us know in the comment section below.

Use any name but ‘Anonymous’ so that the conversations make sense.  Don’t worry about the ‘website’ box (unless you happen to have one and would like to see it listed with your name).  Please be civil, kind and truthful.

Also, we’re newbies at this and the site is very much a work in progress.  We welcome your suggestions and contributions!  Some of the project pages have little or no information on them as yet.  We’re working… we’re working…



  1. Thanks so much for putting this blog together! It was great to get the basics on All Saints and St. Lukes’ projects. Regardless of one’s postition it is important that we all stay aware and start asking questions like “where’s the solar?”; will there be a community garden for the St. Lukes seniors?,etc. The time has come to “Do unto the Earth….”; and check out the coming Jan 31, 2009

    Comment by Nancy Busacca — December 7, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  2. Nancy’s right. Where’s the rainwater harvesting, the porous pavements, green roofs, rain gardens? Pasadena sits at the headwaters of a number of urban creeks–they shouldn’t be ignored.

    Comment by Bill DePoto — December 8, 2008 @ 9:31 am

  3. Would anyone be interested in starting discussions on how to make Pasadena bicycle friendly?

    Comment by ridget — December 9, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

  4. I like the new orange building at Cal Tech. I expect cutting edge architecture at a University campus. On the other hand, I hate much of the residential housing they plop on top of our local foothills. Ordinary, dull and unimpressive. This is the stuff you’re forced to look at.

    Comment by Pasadena Adjacent — December 10, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

  5. Welcome Pasadena In Sight

    Comment by Cafe Observer — December 11, 2008 @ 11:47 pm

  6. Thanks for setting up a forum where we can have useful, constructive community discussion.
    You are doing a profound public service. Thank you. Lo

    Comment by Lo — December 15, 2008 @ 9:25 am

  7. I hope Pasadena InSight provides a place for various city constituencies to join in constructive discussions regarding development and projects in Pasadena. The city is filled with reasoned and informed voices, but lacks a forum for them to come together to guide development efforts.

    PI could also be a voice encouraging the city to separate the currently combined city staff roles of development and planning. These two roles should exist in tension, the first seeking out good opportunities while the second ensures the community’s needs are met when those opportunities are fulfilled. Today’s approach results in goals and metrics based on development, while informed and careful planning is short-changed or ignored.

    Comment by Blaine Cavena — December 15, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

  8. Thanks for your comments, Blaine.
    We’re hoping to provide just such a place for those reasoned voices!
    Would you like to suggest a discussion on the pros and cons of separating, (as they used to be) or keeping joined under one department, (as they are now) ‘development’ and ‘planning’ departments in the Pasadena?

    Comment by pasadenainsight — December 16, 2008 @ 12:57 am

  9. Each of us who have found this forum for constructive dialogue–let’s spread the word so that we may hear other voices from around our city.

    Comment by James — December 18, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

  10. Could we all keep an eye open on Dorn & Platz?

    Comment by Brian — January 3, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

  11. Your site is a great forum for discussion – we need it!
    Anyone interested in the controversy over the public art chosen for the Convention Center site should be sure to check out the Pasadena Sub Rosa blog which has been covering it:

    Comment by Susan — January 4, 2009 @ 10:37 am

  12. Something interesting happened at the Council Strategic Planning Session yesterday. There was big talk about including the word “transparency” in the city’s mission statement but somehow when the dust settled it was left out. didn’t seem to make any of the goals and objectives either, I don’t believe, altho I will doublecheck on that.

    There were 8 Council members participating and 14 or so dept heads and the new City Manager. I wonder how many of the public, had they been participating, would have left that word out of the mission statement……

    And shouldn’t it be the Council with the advice of citizen Commissions and the community as a whole setting the city’s goals???? I thought the staff was supposed to implement policy set by the Council not set their own goals???? Help me out guys – I seem to be missing something as usual.

    Comment by Miss Pit — January 9, 2009 @ 8:54 am


    I would like to introduce a useful term for those in the community development fraternity: “Santamonicazation.” It signifies modern, dense development of a primarily urban residential style.

    I lived for about 10 years on the Westside and moved to Pasadena in 1989. Sometime in the early 1990s I talked with an individual who was associated with the local government and active in guiding development in the community. I observed that if things keep going as they are, Pasadena will end up looking like Santa Monica. The other person looked aghast and exclaimed, “Santa Monica? Oh, no! It’s going to look like Portland.” I assumed the reference was a compliment about Portland, Oregon. With the passage of the last 17 years, I have not heard anyone mention that Pasadena is getting closer to looking like another Portland, Oregon. Instead, we are looking more and more like Santa Monica – hence the term “Santamonicazation.”

    In the mid-90s a General Plan was developed after many public hearings, much community and professional input, and a host of revisions and re-draftings. But only a short time afterward, some were expressing great dissatisfaction with the development occurring in Pasadena’s central district. I asked a member of the community development fraternity why so much dissatisfaction after so much public input? The answer was: “We knew this development was going to happen but we never thought it would happen so fast.”

    In other words, the development fraternity had made a “deal with the devil” – agreeing to something unpleasant – Santamonicazation – but believing it would be tolerable because the process would happen gradually, and no one would feel hurt or injured. As we all should know, the devil wants it all and deals with the devil never turn out the way you want. You always wind up hurt and injured.

    Fast forward to the present day and the pace of Santamonicazation in Pasadena has suddenly slowed due to the reality of other “deals with the devil” made by people in the financial services industries. But Santamonicazation continues. At the southeast corner of Walnut and El Molino, a multi-level, high density, mixed-use building is proposed to replace one story buildings and small parking lots.

    The proposed building is huge facade: two-thirds of a block long on Walnut Avenue and six stories tall. (The prospectus says five stories plus a mezzanine, but when you stand at ground level and look up, your view of the sky, clouds, moon, stars, etc. is block by 6 levels of construction.). Moreover, it has no set-back from the curb. As such it fits in perfectly with other recently constructed projects on Walnut Ave. in the immediate neighborhood: the five-story City Place, the six-story office complex at one corner of Walnut and Lake, and the six-story, block-long residential building at the opposite corner of that intersection. Immediately west of the proposed building is a four-story townhouse building and immediate to the east is a five-story apartment building.

    Several aspects of the presentation of the proposed new building to the Design Commission obscured the reality of Santamonicazation by highlighting how humane the development supposedly will be. For one example, graphic depictions of the Walnut façade show residents lounging on balconies. No one lounges on a balcony overlooking busy Walnut Avenue. Check the other high-rise developments on that street. Balconies are used for storage and for satellite dishes. Second, the depiction shows many pedestrians strolling past the façade, some interacting with each other. Again, the reality of Santamonicazation is quite different. In fact, the presentation at the Design Commission unwittingly showed the reality by including a photograph of the high-rise immediately east on Walnut Avenue – no pedestrians stroll in front of the building and greeting others, and no one relaxes on any balcony.

    Santamonicazation inevitably leads to a solid line of large residential and mixed-use buildings marching solidly down both sides of Walnut Avenue and discouraging the presence of humans. Some years ago I pointed this possibility out to a member of the development fraternity and I was told, “Oh, that won’t happen. We have a Design Commission in this City that will insure a welcoming humanscape and variety in the feel and appearance of the Avenue.”

    According to the discussion at a recent meeting of the Design Commission, there will be six feet of open space between the proposed 6-story development at Walnut and El Molino and the adjacent 5-story high-rise. Between now and actual construction, I won’t be surprised if the devil finds a way to take that small concession away.


    Comment by Robert Gorski — January 28, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

  14. Is water conversation a preservation and cultural issue in Pasadena?
    I thought you might be interested in the article below:

    Comment by Susan — February 9, 2009 @ 12:47 am

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