Waste and Fraud: Business as usual in Pasadena

The crack reporting by K-Todd Ruiz in today’s Pasadena Star-News has got my inner curmudgeon riled up this morning. First, throwing away perfectly good furniture because it is “not up to contemporary standards in ergonomics” sounds like something the folks at Sharper Image would say. Oh, the city “tried for a while to give it away…” but now it’s going to the landfill. Sarah Reingewirtz’ photo in the print edition is priceless—a perfectly good red desk chair sailing through the air—headed for the Scholl Canyon landfill.

Imagine the scenario: The city moves out of city hall for the retrofit and puts everything in storage. Then it’s time to move back in—but can’t possibly move that horrible old furniture back into city hall’s palatial splendor. I mean, is there anything grosser than putting old furniture on new carpeting?

Besides that, what kind of long-term planning is behind buying a building for $4 million in the year 2000, using it for “storage and some office space,” then tearing it down seven years later?

Ruiz mentions in the article that the “site had been once identified as a desirable location for a new elementary school for the PUSD before declining enrollment led the district to close, not open, schools.”

I remember what a hot issue it was back then. Most of the kids who go to public school live in the Northwest area, but the elementary schools are spread all over town, so kids have to get bused out of their neighborhoods. My own kids made the 5 mile trek to Allendale Elementary (now closed) for years. When PUSD thought it might need more space, there was no question that a new elementary school had to be built in Northwest Pasadena.

That brought back memories of the elementary school that used to be at the corner of Lincoln Ave and Orange Grove Blvd. — which was torn down to build the post office.

Since 2000, schools have closed, and the city, which clearly bought the building to appease Northwest residents, will now tear down the building to expand Robinson Park.

Yes, Robinson Park is too small. It was too small back when my own kid played t-ball with West Pasadena Little League in the early 1990’s. So fine if it gets expanded.

I’m just suffering from a case of whiplash. How is it possible that we went from needing an elementary school (or the perception that we needed one) to closing five of them a few short years later?  The city plunked $4 million to solve a problem that wasn’t a problem.

Who *wasn’t* noticing the loss of Section 8 housing? Who wasn’t noticing rising rents and low-income people moving out of the city?

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3 Responses to “Waste and Fraud: Business as usual in Pasadena”

  1. howey Says:

    I think we just discovered the new location for Pleasures.

  2. Monica Hubbard Says:

    One of the primary reasons schools are closing is declining enrollment. And enrollment is declining because families at moderate, low and very low income levels cannot afford to rent or buy a home in Pasadena any more so they are leaving.

    Why was no one noticing rising rents and prices for rising rents? I don’t know. Appointees to the Planning Commission should have. City Council members should have. And certainly City staff should have. Except when you look closely at how Pasadena city government is structured you notice that there is no one entity in Pasadena that is responsible for all aspects of housing. City staffers responsible for different pieces of the “housing element” are scattered throughout departments and divisions. The housing right hand does not know what the housing left hand is doing. Information silos abound. And in some instances, no tracking of affordable homeowner and rental units has been done until very recently.

    With departures and reassignments at City Hall, now is the time that the community should insist on a change in the status quo. Pasadena has not been aggressive in building affordable housing. That has been left to individual developers to cobble together needed permits, funding, etc. The City has not seized opportunities to build affordable housing on publicly controlled land.

    Some options during this time of transition at City Hall include establishing a separate Housing Authority with both budget and enforcement authority. The City of Santa Monica has both a Housing Department and Planning Department. Another option, and perhaps the best one, is to make the Housing Division a Housing Department so that all aspects of housing are in the same department and coherent planning and oversight can take place.

    A growing coalition of individuals and organizations calling itself the Pasadena Affordable Housing Group has been attending City Council meetings and Planning Commission meetings and making recommendations for change. Working together we can help our elected officials find the political will to ensure that there is No Net Loss of affordable housing in Pasadena.

    If you’re interested in some resource materials on our local affordable housing situation e-mail monica (dot) hubbard (at) charter (dot) net. Please include your full name along with your e-mail address and I’ll be happy to send them to you.

    Monica Hubbard
    Member, Pasadena Affordable Housing Group

  3. Miss Havisham Says:

    I am depressed by the lack of recycling and the vacation of GREEN thinking when I looked at the dumpster. Trash cans often upset me these days. Oscar, where are you I’m feeling grouchy–

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