Pasadena City Planning Priorities: An Examination of the Past and Recommendations for the Future


Julia Granholm

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The redevelopment of Old Pasadena in the late 1970?s and early 1980?s was a catalyst for altering the way the city of Pasadena operates. The need for economic and retail growth was challenged by historic preservationists, dedicated to preserving the existing aesthetic values of old architecture. Old Town became a regional model for economic development in the context of historic preservation because the booming walkable shopping area increased sales tax revenue while providing a strong base for tourism. While supporters of economic development and historic preservation expanded their influence in city planning during this period, it came at a price. The need for affordable housing has been largely pushed aside because it cannot compete with growing city initiatives geared towards economic growth and historic preservation. This paper examines the history of Old Pasadena?s redevelopment as a case study for city planning priorities citywide. By analyzing how economic development, historic preservation and affordable housing conflict with, compete with and compliment each other in Pasadena, the reasons why affordable housing has struggled to keep up with economic and historic initiatives becomes clear. Faced with intense competition for land and neighborhood opposition to high density developments, affordable housing developers often cannot follow through with their plans. This paper will offer recommendations of how the city of Pasadena can create more proactive and realistic affordable housing policies that will promote positive and successful city growth.


Peter Dreier




Ford Research Endowment

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