Recall campaign officially begins against Pasadena City councilman over NFL

Rose Bowl Renovation

Andres Aguila/KPCC

A proposal to talk with NFL about using the Rose Bowl as a temporary home for a pro football team has sparked a recall campaign against a Pasadena city councilman.

Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison has been officially served notice this week that a campaign to recall him from office is now underway.

Madison represents neighborhoods near the Rose Bowl. At least 30 of his constituents are angry at him for voting to support a plan to negotiate with a National Football League team that might need a temporary home at the historic stadium.

Recall campaign leader Michael Vogler issued a statement announcing the recall:

“Mr. Madison disqualified himself from office as the representative for District 6 when he betrayed his constituent’s interests by voting to approve a plan to bring the NFL to the Rose Bowl, and by voting to remove the historical neighborhood and environmental protections of The Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance. In doing so, Mr. Madison put his own interests above the people he was elected to serve and must now be replaced in order to protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods."

At a marathon meeting before last Thanksgiving, Madison voted with an overwhelming majority of the Pasadena City Council to approve the plan, which involves doubling the number of major events allowed at the Rose Bowl each year from 12 to 25.

Six years ago, Madison cast the swing vote against a plan to bring an NFL team to the Rose Bowl permanently. But that was before the great recession, and before the major renovation project at the 90-year-old Rose Bowl faced a funding gap of $30 million.

“This is different," Madison explained before the recent vote. "This is a temporary matter where we have dire financial needs and an opportunity to address those."  

Madison and his colleagues who supported doubling Rose Bowl events insisted the vote was not for a deal with an NFL team, but to give Pasadena a chance to negotiate one if a team comes to L.A. 

The recall campaign against Madison is the second action against the idea of the NFL playing temporarily at the Rose Bowl to launch in the New Year. Last week, another group of opponents and Rose Bowl neighbors filed a lawsuit against the city’s NFL plan.

The Coalition for Preservation of the Arroyo, a group of neighborhood associations in West Pasadena, sued the city in Los Angeles Superior Court on environmental grounds. The lawsuit contends that Pasadena violated the California Environmental Quality Act in amending its Municipal Code to allow expanded use of the historic Rose Bowl Stadium by the NFL while construction of a permanent NFL stadium is pending in Los Angeles. 

In a statement about the lawsuit, Jonas Peters, chair of the East Arroyo Neighborhood Preservation Committee said the negative impacts of the NFL project on the quality of life of in his area "are simply too much to ignore."

Peters listed among them excessive traffic, noise, trash, crime, and severe limits to weekend recreational access within the Central Arroyo parkland.

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