On February 4th, Sequoyah students helped organize the first-ever student-led Pasadena Climate Action Forum. At the forum, mayoral and city council candidates were asked about their views and plans on various issues pertaining to climate change and how they impact Pasadena. Organizer and moderator Ozzy Simpson said the forum was “meant to bring forth ideas about climate change to the candidates and get their opinion on them as well as talking about Pasadena’s past actions on the issue.”
In attendance for the mayoral election were incumbent Mayor Terry Tornek, entrepreneur James Hardin, and Pasadena Councillor Victor Gordo. Tricia Keane (D-2), Kevin Litwin (D-2), Felicia Williams (D-2), Charlotte Bland (D-4), Kevin Wheeler (D-4), Ryan Bell (D-6), Tamerlin Godley (D-6), and Steve Madison (D-6) participated in the city council portion of the forum.
Candidate Gordo said he believes that the best way to achieve a climate resilient Pasadena is to reach out to people and work with the citizens. He would like to “inform them on what they can do personally to address climate change.” Gordo also hopes to partner with “our neighbors” because the climate crisis “is not an issue that Pasadena is going to solve by itself.” On the topic of multifamily housing, Gordo stated that Pasadena “should be smart about… expanding our city.” He also stated his support for “protecting single-family residential neighborhoods.” Gordo believes that Pasadena is growing too much and should start making smarter decisions pertaining to its development. The “smarter decisions” he is talking about is referring to making decisions that would be best for our planet and that would cause the least amount of harm. While speaking on green mobility options, Gordo mentioned that his goal is to encourage “people to get out of their cars and use public transit,” as well as to make Pasadena more walkable. He also would like to “encourage more development around transit stops.” In the end, his main goal for transportation is to “make it more convenient for people to use public transit or walk” instead of using their cars.
Candidate Hardin said his vision for a climate resilient Pasadena is bringing Pasadena’s resources and programs to the people so that they have access to them. He says that Pasadena is already doing many things well, and that “it has a lot of resources, programs and incentives to protect our planet.” When talking about promoting multifamily housing, he believes that we should pay attention to what science is showing us, meaning we should plan accordingly, based off of what is best for the environment. He states that the climate is in a crisis because “not enough people are listening to the science and responding.” On the topic of access to green and affordable transportation, he said he supports making public transportation free for students from kindergarten through college. Overall, Hardin wishes to share what Pasadena already has access to, as well as to follow through with new transit programs to help get more cars off the streets.
Candidate Tornek’s vision for a more climate forward Pasadena is to have a consensus around what the best practices are and to give the people of Pasadena the best technology along with the most robust programs to put these practices in place. Tornek also believes that Pasadena is a city of “housing choice” and that the city should not force one type of housing on its residents. However, he does agree that multi-unit housing is a more efficient use of land and energy. There are multiple programs and incentives to make single family homes more energy efficient such as a program in which single family homes would get reimbursed if they took out their lawns and replaced them with drought tolerant plants. After further research, we concluded that this is a real program. He talked about the “walkability” of Pasadena, directly pointing out Old Town and the Paseo. He also mentioned that it is the 25th anniversary of Pasadena Transit and that “transit lines are becoming more reliable and frequent.” He explained that the city is in the process of building a designated bike path through the city, in hopes that it will incentivize more people to bike rather than drive. While Tornek is skeptical of plans that may not be feasible for Pasadena, his main objective is to make sure that the people of the city have the tools they need to become more climate forward.