District 3 candidates John Kennedy, incumbent council member, and Brandon Lamar, Human Relations Commission chairman, shared their views on the issues of importance to the local business sector and community in a forum Thursday, May 19.
Jason Lyon, commissioner from the Planning Commission, and Allen Shay, a Northeast commissioner, who are both vying to replace outgoing council member Andy Wilson also participated in the said forum organized by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, the Junior League of Pasadena, and other nonprofit organization.
Pasadena Chamber Board Chair Raphael Henderson of Wells Fargo served as the moderator who threw questions to the candidates. The discussion revolved around their plans for the local business sector and how they would address the present issues in the Pasadena community.
Henderson asked Kennedy, Lamar, Lyon, and Shay how the million dollars in federal funding the city would get through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) should be used to benefit businesses, especially those struggling because of the COVID-19.
“We could use those funds to subsidize rents both on the residential side and the commercial side. We have housing providers in the city who have been suffering under our eviction moratorium.”
He added that a part of the funding should be used to fill up vacant retain locations along South Lake Avenue, saying:
“It is one of our signature retail districts in the city, and it is hurting right now. I would like to see a program to help small locally-owned businesses get into those locations and bring back walkers to South Lake.”
Shay expressed the same notion. He said:
“I believe we can certainly take those funds and jumpstart South Lake Business District. There would be a great opportunity for the City of Pasadena to use that as a starting point and then spread that over to the East boundary lines of District 7 off of Colorado and the Allen area to make sure that those small businesses are stabilized.”
Kennedy, for his part, stated he wants a portion of the funding to be used for rental assistance. He also said another part of the funding must be used for a microloan program that would provide loans to small businesses and start-ups.
Lamar, on the other hand, wants the founding to help create small homes to address homelessness in the city. He also wants a portion of the funding to be used to assist landlords as well as tenants impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some of these funds should go to small businesses — to help them to brand and market their businesses, to help them fund and get on the ground.”
Lyon, Shay, Kennedy, and Lamar also shared their ideas on how the Rose Bowl, which is staring at millions in outstanding debt, could remain viable and become self-sufficient in the years to come.
Lyon, who considers the Rose Bowl an asset of the city and the jewel of Pasadena, said:
“I don’t think it is reasonable to get rid of it – to close it down. I don’t think anyone in the city would want that, but we do have to figure out a way to make it economically viable. Whether that’s going to be more events that are smaller or whether it’s going to be longer-term contracts with other sporting outlets.”
Shay stated that Rose Bowl is, indeed, a treasure of Pasadena, and it is important for the city to look for more options to eliminate its debts.
Kennedy, on the other hand, suggested that one way to deal with Rose Bowl’s debt is allowing more displacement events that would generate millions in revenue. He added:
“Everything has to be on the table now — including the opportunity to build a world-class hotel in an area that is not excluded by the charter in state law. There are a lot of options and we have to pursue them all for the health of our community.”
Lamar, for his part, shared it is the best time for the city to make “hard decisions,” especially when it comes to the Rose Bowl to sustain and maximize its use. He commented:
“We could have sustained it (Rose Bowl) if we walked in with the NFL when they wanted to work with us but we did not take to heart and now we’re paying for that.”
Kennedy, Lamar, Lyon, and Shay also shared their thoughts on how the 710 “stub” should be utilized. The forum also covered their ideas on how to address the housing crisis in the city and the possible initiative the local government should undertake to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.