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HomeCity GovernmentCouncil OKs Revised Strategic Plan, Eyes Golf Course Fees

Council OKs Revised Strategic Plan, Eyes Golf Course Fees

By Vincent Nguyen and Jessica Doherty
The Review

The South Pasadena City Council unanimously voted recently in favor of adopting the 2021-26 Strategic Plan Revise, which expands on the original plan and includes alternatives to the sidewalk repair program, economic development, fleet management/vehicle replacement program and a technology replacement program.
The Strategic Plan — adopted in Dec. 2021 — provides a framework of citywide priorities set by the Council, which ensures alignment between city resources and activities, policy direction, community interest and customer service expectations, explained Tamara Binns, assistant to the city manager.
Among the items outlined in the 2021-26 Strategic Plan is a fiscal policy, infrastructure projects, emergency preparedness, public safety, housing, and an environmental and climate action plan.
Patrick Ibarra, co-founder and partner of Mejorando Group, is the consultant on the Strategic Plan Revise.
During the last City Council meeting of the year on Dec. 20, Binns presented proposed updated priorities previously identified by the Council and shaped by community feedback, to which city leaders responded favorably.
Councilwoman Janet Braun advocated for passing the alternatives.
“These four, I think, should be included as well. In terms of the plan, I think, conceptually, it’s all there if we add those four,” Braun said.
Councilman Jon Primuth highlighted the sidewalk repair program, pointing out that, “it’s not just on-call services for city improvements.
“It’s actually involving property owners in the solution, and I think if we can explore creative ways to do that, we should,” Primuth said. “People are fed up with the decay of infrastructure. We have to find all the ways in which we can make advancements. I think it’s a great idea.”
City manager Arminé Chaparyan encouraged Council to adopt all four alternatives into the Strategic Plan, and said it’s “really good timing” to consider additional measures with the city’s ongoing and future street repair projects on tap.
On that matter, Public Works Director Ted Gerber also emphasized that staff recommended the city to address urban forestry, an idea presented by Mayor Evelyn Zneimer.
“There is really an opportunity, as the city manager mentioned, to bring a multi-pronged approach to addressing all these things together,” Gerber said.
Zneimer also suggested city staff conduct public outreach with potential projects stemming from the Strategic Plan. Binns said the city’s website will provide updated information on future projects and will have an online portal for residents to provide feedback as well.

During the discussion, Cacciotti also suggested a change in the policy on how community groups use the Arroyo Seco Golf Course facility and urged staff to explore recovering costs for the usage.
With facility repairs expected, Cacciotti highlighted the number of community groups that use the debilitating course for free and said the city is losing thousands of dollars because of it.
“We can’t keep that up, even if it’s a great community group,” Cacciotti said. “Otherwise, it’s a gift to public funds. We just can’t keep funding other groups. Our streets are falling apart, our buildings are apart, the golf course hasn’t been touched since it was built – we can’t keep doing that.”
Cacciotti stressed that he did not intend to target any specific organization.
“This is not a fee, this is a cost-recovery situation,” Cacciotti added. “… It’s not fiscally responsible or prudent for the city to do this anymore, especially when the community group makes $330,000 at the last event and not offer the city’s loss compensation for just $20,000 for three days of using our resources and at a facility that is falling apart and has $10 million of expenses needed to bring it up. So, if the fence falls down, are we going to take the money from the street budget? From the police force? From the fire department?”
Cacciotti recommended the city charge groups for using the course in the meantime, while staff develops a fee to compensate the city for any losses.
Primuth and Braun voiced their support for an interim fee, and Chaparyan said staff will look into the process and bring it back to the Council for feedback.

During discussion on the Strategic Plan Revise, Cacciotti urged his colleagues to further explore the initiative created from the San Gabriel Valley Council of Government Crisis Assistance and Response Engagement Program.
The SGVCOG provides aid to individuals experiencing mental health crises and/or homelessness, and offers the proper tools for health care professionals and authorities to answer such calls.
Cacciotti believes the program is “underutilized,” and requested city leaders to encourage other municipalities in the San Gabriel Valley to use the program, which is part of the city’s Strategic Plan.
“I have concerns,” Cacciotti said. “I know how much we’re spending. The money’s not going to be there for much longer. With the state budget, there’s not going to be money in the next couple of years for anything. I just want to make sure we’re utilizing them properly and we make some changes, but I can’t do it myself. There’s one member of a council out of 34 cities. If you all have a similar assessment, maybe we can renew it in a couple of months.”
Cacciotti suggested inviting the SGVCOG and the CARE team to the Council to present data following a year of work in the area, as well as an in-depth rundown of the current contract terms and agreements.
The team was set up as a pilot project in South Pasadena and in a one-year span, from August 2022 to August 2023, Cacciotti said about 220 calls went out to the service, or roughly 20 calls per month. The service provides on-call assistance like ambulance services. There is also an outreach group that offers aid once a week in town. State grants currently fund the program.
“It has to be reassessed,” Cacciotti said.
Though the program isn’t being used to its fullest throughout the San Gabriel Valley, according to Cacciotti, the Councilman said the South Pasadena Police Department is utilizing the program the most out of the neighboring cities.
“They do a fantastic job, but I think so many of our calls every day are related to mental health and homelessness that we can certainly use the extra help by having them on a roving and active patrol,” SPPD Chief Brian Solinsky said.
Chaparyan said staff will bring an item back to the City Council agenda providing recommendation and feedback on the program’s effectiveness.

First published in the January 12 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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