710 Referendum tabled indefinitely by Pasadena City Council
By Hugo Guzman
Managing Editor, Foothill Advocate
PASADENA — For now at least, Pasadena voters won’t get a chance in November to decide whether or not they favor the 710 Freeway completion.
The Pasadena City Council tabled a referendum that would have put the issue to voters in a special election to repeal Measure A, a 2001 ordinance that put Pasadena on record as favoring the nearly 5-mile long extension.
The council voted 6-2 to table the matter. Mayor Terry Tornek, who suggested the vote, was in the minority with City Councilman Tyrone Hampton. The council ultimately decided that further study and education on the matter would be necessary before it could be brought to voters.
“I don’t sense the urgency for us to take an action in November on this project,” Councilmember for District 5 John J. Kennedy said. “I don’t sense the urgency in my district or in the city as a whole.”
Measure A was passed in 2001, with 58.3 percent of voters deciding that the official stance of Pasadena should be to favor the extension. The measure also prohibits the Pasadena government from spending money to stop the extension projects, or campaign against it.
The project, which would connect the 710 freeway to the 210, has been a topic of debate in several recent elections.
Candidates running for the Fifth District Los Angeles County Supervisor took on the topic several times. Only State Sen. Bob Huff, who finished third among eight candidates, said he fully supported the proposed . The attack on Measure A has long been in the works, but Tornek recommended in recent weeks telling city council that the item must be ready in June to qualify for the November ballot.
The Pasadena Unified School District board has already joined with four other school district boards declaring in opposition to the extension. Not all PUSD board members agreed with the decision.
“I don’t see this is an area of governance that we should be weighing in on as a school board,” Board Member Patrick Cahalan told Pasadena Now. “I also don’t think there’s a clear impact here that has to do with education.”
Debate among City Councilmembers revolved around whether or not voters — and the City Council — had enough information about the original Measure A to make a call in November. Although Tornek was initially confident that the council would vote in favor of a special election necessary to repeal Measure A, reservations ran deep.
“In my view, there’s not a rush,” Kennedy said. “We have an opportunity to have a city-wide dialog.”
City Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said she supported an education campaign to explain the issue to voters.
“I very much think that we have the obligation to go back to the voters on Measure A,” McAustin said.
Tornek said he knew the matter would be brought back to council.