September 1, 2020

SMART Families Letter to the City, September 1, 2020

Dear Mayor and City Council Members:

I join with other residents in District No. 2 to ask that you make your questions for the September 2nd interview of an Interim City Council member for this District public at this time.  The fact that the five candidates would know what will be asked of them prior to September 2nd should not be an issue.

Since the City Council adopted the redistricting in 2017, which really was a gerrymandered result to allow existing City Council members to retain their positions until they left office, District 2, south of Monterey Road, has been woefully under represented.  When the previous District 2 Council Member was asked by residents at a recent meeting (before her resignation) whether she had been on our part of the street in recent history, her response was no.

When I personally wrote her asking why as our representative she did not seem to support the many comments received about the concerns of residents for the pedestrian and traffic safety issues at a City Council meeting, her response was this:  "The district voting was forced upon our city via a loophole in the California Voting Rights Act that allows for what amounts to legal extortion by opportunistic individuals who are allowed to collect $30,000 for threatening to sue us if we did not change to district voting."  While that may have been the case, the reality is I can no longer vote for other individuals running in South Pasadena City Council elections, and I want to know that the person I vote for will stand up for the needs of this District.

Similarly, I want to know that the person you will appoint to represent District 2, albeit for an interim period, has a modicum of understanding, especially in the southern end, of the issues that impact our lives.  These include:

  • Has some of the worse street pavements in the City that are below the State standards.
  • Continues to have Meridian Avenue bear the burden of being the unofficial 710 speedway with more than 53 known collisions in the past five years and putting our residents at risk by simply crossing the street.  My own car was totaled in January while attempting to make a left turn from Bonita onto Meridian. The 3rd accident in just as many months.
  • Supports a disproportionately large number of Caltrans housing, some vacant and dilapidated in condition, forcing individual residents to deal with various State agencies because we cannot rely on city staff or representatives to reach out to their counterparts in the State to facilitate assistance.
  • Experiences highly selective code enforcement even when our residents complain of longstanding problems.
  • Contains a promised pocket park on Berkshire Avenue that remains a vacant lot, neglected and at times weedy.
  • Allows construction in parts of Bonita and Oneonta “ridge” or “crest” often by contractors whose licenses have expired, and without sufficient safeguarding/mitigating the impacts and in turn, forcing the neighbors to abandon their use of windows and porches due to poor air quality and noise.

Please provide your questions now on the City website.  Residents have a right to know that these questions adequately meet the concerns we have, and that they are relevant to District 2.

Thank you.