Posted in Around Town, Let's Get Visual

L.A. Headache (Or, Why We (Mostly) Love Pasadena)

We in Pasadena like to think we’re not like the rest of Los Angeles. The truth is, we aren’t and we are. I offer two examples:

1) How we’re not like L.A. – We may think our mayor is boring, so middle-of-the-road as to appear spineless, and overly placating (read: avoiding conflict as a leadership style).*

Still, we have comfort, because we’ll never see him in a sake-fueled frenzy like this (lifted from L.A. Observed):

Not Bill Bogaard

2) How we are like L.A. – The brilliant Steven Leigh Morris did a fine piece in L.A. Weekly entitled, “Bitter Homes and Gardens.

Density is a nice idea…for Manhattan. Development in Southern California has to take seriously how difficult it is to get people out of their cars.** Since it is a state law, SB 1818 can be misused in Pasadena as it has been in L.A. (Perhaps it already has been?)

The analogous story about Pasadena’s development is begging to be written (anyone? anyone?). Though some of the details may differ, the general impetus to build “taller, fatter buildings” is here.

UPDATE: Commenter Howey points out that density can be a good thing for affordable housing. In a place like Pasadena, where developers have been allowed to do the buy-out to avoid having to allot a portion of units to affordable housing, it’s not working. Yet. Maybe it will someday. Right now, residential development in Pasadena favors those with upper incomes.

Worse, it favors renters, not buyers. Who wants to plunk down $2,300 per month for rent (when one could be building equity, not to mention the write-off?). I am no expert on these matters, I’m just stating the obvious.


* Mayor Bill on Habitat for Humanity’s San Gabriel Valley branch looking for new office space (as quoted in the 6 March 2008 Pasadena Star-News) – The city will offer ‘moral support, at least, to help keep them in Pasadena.’ Bill also suggests that the current economic slowdown might help them find affordable office space. (See? There’s an up side to everything.)

**Note to Pasadena residents/visitors: If you driving, avoid Fair Oaks Avenue around California Blvd. from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Especially avoid at 5:00 p.m., and do not make the mistake of going over to Raymond Avenue for respite.


This is a personal blog. Expect a potpourri of stuff.

10 thoughts on “L.A. Headache (Or, Why We (Mostly) Love Pasadena)

  1. Another density advantage is that it’s greener. Counterintuitive, that. But given enough density — with most everything in walking distance, there’s less of a need to use a car. Doc M. heard this discussed on the radio and told me about it; not long afterwards, I found a fascinating article on the issue and blogged it.

    I joined a gym within a 30 minutes walk from home (7 mins drive), have been working toward getting up early enough to walk to the 7am yoga class. Slow progress: This week on Tues and Thurs, I’ve driven to the class. Found out this morning that the Thursday class is being cancelled. So today was first and last time I went to that class. Ah well.

  2. What Susan said. Dense is good; sprawl is bad. Attractive housing near good jobs, with more public transport; it’s not just for New York anymore! 🙂

  3. The problem with increasing density is the drain on our already stretched resources. Water is the first big one, can we afford to increase our population by increasing density when we don’t have the most basic of resources to sustain what we have? Electricity is another basic that is severly overdrawn and will dwindle along with our CO river resources.

    The other problem with density is increases in crime, managing crime that again we don’t have the resources to control what we have.

    Parks, Pasadena fairs marginally better, but LA Metro as a hole doesn’t come close to its basic green space (parks) standard. What we run into is lack of recreation which hads to the frustrations of being packed in like rats.

    High density is the current darling of the developers and realtors within SCAG and Sac as they stand to make a buck off it. It does nothing to further our quality of life or improving our environment.

  4. Just keep it west of Lincoln, Thanx. My acknowledgement of the density = Affordable model is in no way an endorsement. Let’s keep the price of single families homes exorbitantly high so I won’t have to eat cat food in 25 years.

  5. Why wait 25 years? Fancy Feast is delicious.

    I agree with both sides. Sprawl is bad, but too dense in the density stretches resource/service limits. You can’t make HD too econo streamline either (no frills/no aesthic)—then there is a quality of life issue.

    Density would use less resources than would the same amount of dwellings on separate lots with lawns/etc.—but then—gardens make a happy populace.

    Can we just fix up what we have? And don’t block the views of the beautiful mountains? Can we all hike around and get horses? I like the train, but do I have to sleep on top of it?

  6. Yes, cussing is outlawed around here for the moment.

    And yes, my comments are sprinkled liberally with the insanity and toxins that holding in the F bomb for too long can rot.


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