Mayor Terry Tornek will give his annual State of the City speech at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at Pasadena High School.
The occasion will mark Tornek’s fourth speech as mayor since taking office in 2016.
The last two speeches dealt largely with staving off fiscal crisis. Last year Tornek called on voters to approve a three-quarter cent sales tax increase, which passed overwhelmingly in the form of Measures I and J in November.
The success of the two measures at the polls provides Tornek with an opportunity to give an update on how that money can be spent.
“I’m going to talk about money again,” Tornek told the Pasadena Weekly. “This time I am going to remind people of where we are with availability of Measure I and J funds. I am going to make some suggestions on where we can go. It will be a very different speech than if Measure I had failed.”
The City Charter mandates that the mayor present a message to the people in January of each year for the purpose of receiving and considering public suggestions and comments on the city budget prior to its preparation and approval by the council.
“I want to make suggestions,” Tornek said. “It’s up to the council to pass things. Once I meet the charter responsibilities of talking about the budget, I will speak to other issues.”
Tornek will also talk about state legislation that overrides local ordinances and takes decision-making power away from cities, including Senate Bill 35.
SB 35 requires California cities that lack “adequate housing” to streamline their permitting processes. Those cities must approve apartment and condo developments, provided that they comply with zoning laws and 10 percent of the units are affordable, among other requirements.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in 2017 and it took effect in 2018. But the bill was opposed by Pasadena, primarily because it allows developers of projects that meet the guidelines to skip review processes, and advance without public hearings. It also takes away a city’s authority to demand some alterations during the design review process.
No housing projects have been submitted to the city that would qualify for the process allowed under SB 35, according to City Manager Steve Mermell.