State of the city

Pasadena recently had primary elections and re-elected Mayor Victor Gordo. Not long before, he gave the State of the City address on February 29th at the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics here at Caltech. The State of the City speech highlighted many of the city’s accomplishments and victories over the past year.

The theme of the talk was “Leaping into the future”, and to this end the city is on track to be carbon free by 2030. The city is also reclaiming the 710 highway stub between Union Street and Columbia Street, turning it into a blended space, a step away from car-centric infrastructure.

Pasadena has also come out of the recession fairly well off, with profits from the Transient Occupancy Tax (a tax on hotel stays and short term rentals) returning to pre-pandemic levels. In addition there has been a shift on people primarily staying during the weekdays, such as for work travel, to mainly staying during the weekends, evidence of a booming tourism industry, highlighted by Pasadena being included in the New York Times’ list of 52 places to visit during 2024.

The City Attorney/City Prosecutor’s office staffed the community police oversight commission and managed the release of the independent police auditors first public report on use of force investigations. In addition, they helped defend the Charter H amendment establishing rent control. They also conducted community training on trauma informed care.

The Fire department responded to over 21,000 calls for service, the majority of which were medical. They implemented an additional 6th rescue ambulance and purchased 4 new electric bicycles.

Mayor Gordo emphasized the city’s dedication to housing, stating “1,701 of the 1,986 units built in the City during the last four years—over 85%—have been affordable housing units.” 10% of Pasadena city residents now live in affordable housing. The Housing department permanently housed 148 households and opened Pasadena Studios, a 180 unit micro-unit project that is 100% affordable for extremely low and low income persons.

34% of hires to the city government were Pasadena area residents and 15% of all Pasadena City website traffic was from Pasadena. The library system added over 225,000 items to their collection, both physical and digital. They are also working on seismic retrofitting for the Central Library and aim to be complete by 2025. The library helped support the community in various ways including providing passes to state parks that could be checked out and having free vaccine clinics.

The Parks, Recreation, and Community Services department opened a new pool, the John J. Kennedy pool which will provide year-round aquatics programming. The public works department removed over 11,500 incidents of graffiti, around 2,000 of which were proactive incidents. They were also awarded the Tree City USA award and Tree City Growth award.

The police department received over 91,000 calls for service and used de-escalation techniques in 463 incidents. The police department faced some recruitment challenges and intensified their hiring efforts. They are acquiring THC detectors as well as a new DUI trailer. With a budget of 99 million it has the second highest budget of all the city departments, with Water and Power beating them with a budget of 333.5 million.

The public health department investigated over 3,000 cases of COVID-19 and distributed over 3,000 tests. They helped administer covid and flu and mpox vaccines. They also provided meals, showers, and laundry services to people experiencing homelessness. The public health department played a crucial role in the response to Tropical Storm Hillary, providing emergency shelter for many experiencing homelessness. In October, the PPHD reported the first locally-acquired case of dengue virus in California. In response they conducted door to door outreach about reducing mosquito populations and preventing mosquito bites.

The Transportation department resumed pre pandemic service levels for Pasadena Transit and Dial-A-Ride, serving over 1.1 million customers. They also made several key steps to zero-emission transportation.