By Nick Kipley
Item 18 of this week’s Pasadena City Council Agenda read in its entirety: “Consideration of a Future Agenda Item Regarding Potential City Action to Establish a Local Minimum Wage Formula in the City of Pasadena.”
Mayor Tornek read out the one-line proposal and said, “The reason that this item is appearing—as all of you know—is that the city of Los Angeles in June, and the County of Los Angeles in July, have taken action with regard to adopting minimum wage ordinances in areas of their jurisdiction.
“There has really been a great deal of interest in the community to have Pasadena follow suit; before we can do that and begin to create an ordinance and model it and debate the specific features of such an ordinance, it seemed appropriate to bring the council for some preliminary discussion.”
The members of council were pleased with the idea of the Mayor opening the debate up by essentially sitting everyone down and laying some ground rules for the room full of politicians (no ear-biting, no rabbit-punching, eye-gouging, etc.).
Councilmembers Andy Wilson and John J. Kennedy began the debate. Councilmember Wilson adamantly supported the idea. “The sooner the better,” said Councilman Wilson, who said that raising the minimum wage was one debate that really captures the ethos of what Pasadena stands for, adding, “What I like about this issue, is that it’s complex. … It requires a lot of different opinions.”
The Independent vows to keep track of this debate as it moves towards drafting of an official city ordinance.
One reason for this talk, to begin with, could be the fact that the apartments near the Gold Line, on Fair Oaks between Colorado and Walnut (for instance) are quite pricey.
According to the real estate website Trulia, renting a one-bedroom apartment in that specific region just north of Old Pasadena shopping district averages something like $2,225 a month. And those aren’t even the apartments lining Colorado Boulevard.
This is odd, because if you drive just 0.8 miles away north across the 210 and look for apartments in the Orange Grove/Marengo area, the price of rent drops 242.30%, to an average of $650, according to the same site. What’s even stranger about the high price of rent in Old Pasadena is the fact that it is so high.
Trulia lists the average price of a rental Downtown, between Spring and Broadway (the site of the L.A. Artwalk and walking distance to the Gold and Red Lines) at $1,895 a month.
Be that as it may, it still doesn’t explain why the price of renting a one-bedroom apartment three blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Venice’s “Silicon Beach” costs the same as renting a one-bedroom apartment one block from the 210/134 Interchange.
Also startlingly—according to Trulia—it’s apparently cheaper to rent a room just a block off of Golden Gate Park’s Panhandle in San Francisco than it is to live a block from the P.F. Chang’s on Colorado Boulevard.
But all that said, at least the current ruling administration knows about the weirdly inflated rents in the heart of the city, and they also know that as rent rises in one area, the corresponding areas go up in value as well (which seems like Tornek’s “plan,” if he has one). And when property value increases—as is has in the past seven consistent years in Pasadena—the cost of living rises with it.
Thus, hopefully, the council will meet in the future to begin the discussion about why raising the minimum wage could be quite good or quite bad. Then, hopefully, at a further point in the future, they can debate the cost of living in Old Town Pasadena.