• This is the second piece in a series to highlight real life issues for renters in Pasadena. This series is presented in association with Pasadena Tenants Union.


      Krystal Lopez Padley and family (Photo collage - Coloradoblvd.net).

      Krystal Lopez Padley and family (Photo collage – Coloradoblvd.net).

      Pasadena is displacing many of its most vulnerable populations — the working class, young families, those on a fixed income, and older retirees with dwindling funds.

      By Krystal Lopez Padley

      Krystal Lopez Padley

      Krystal Lopez Padley

      My husband and I came of age during the worst recession since the Great Depression. It isn’t unusual for people in our generation to move every few years in search of job opportunities and affordable housing. But when we moved to Pasadena after I completed my MFA in New York, it wasn’t by mischance.

      Pasadena is where we dated, got engaged and were married.  Pasadena is where my father-in-law grew up along with his four brothers. His parents settled in a shotgun house on Catalina after both fought in WWII, his mother going on to work for Parsons and his father for the State Department. Pasadena is where my husband’s grandfather lived and died while he worked as the director of the Huntington Library, where my husband lived, attending Willard Elementary while his mother worked as a librarian at Caltech, and where his grandparents continue to live. Most importantly, it is where we decided to raise our three young children, near dozens of our extended relatives.

      After four months of searching and being rejected for the number of children we had, we finally found a corner two-bedroom apartment on North El Molino with a yard. We were excited to settle down with our boys. However, after a shooting behind our home, we became frustrated.

      …rents went
      from $900
      to $1500

      I looked at the situation of my neighbors, many of them being priced out of the city they loved — many of them living in fear of violence from their own community, in fear of law enforcement, and in fear of deportation. Many of them were afraid being hit by cars while crossing the street or biking down the road. And I looked at the complacency of city hall, which wasn’t providing any tangible answers. I quickly realized how divided Pasadena was between the haves and the have-nots. And in November 2016, a year after returning to this city we love, I decided to run for city council.

      Still, for every household wanting to get “the riff-raff” out of Pasadena, there were five more who were struggling with an ever-increasing rent. In January, I spoke with voters whose rents went from $900 to $1500 overnight, and come February, they were gone. I spoke with renters who brought home a baby from the hospital and were welcomed with an eviction notice. And I spoke with renters whose landlords refused to do the bare minimum in repairs to ensure their properties were safe. As difficult as the experience proved to be, I held my youngest child in a carrier with me as a reminder of what I was fighting for, and I acquired courage.

      Pasadena is displacing many of its most vulnerable populations — the working class, young families, those on a fixed income, and older retirees with dwindling funds. This displacement has a ripple effect in the community, which creates instability and unrest. Our community needs an advocate who will fight for the city’s most basic housing needs. When we have a council composed of homeowners and landlords, who is speaking up for the tenants? When we call for diversity in representation, there is also a socioeconomic call for diversity.

      …renters who
      brought home
      a baby
      from the hospital
      …were welcomed
      with an eviction

      In the end, our elected positions do not belong to any one person, but to the community. It’s important to choose an advocate who is ready to reach back and engage the residents — young and old, new and long-established — as one voice. I’m just one person, but my campaign managed to energize the neighborhood and double the usual election turnout.

      And then I lost. And for our family, that loss meant that we wouldn’t be able to change the city from the inside. It meant that we needed to look for other solutions. We decided to make a move to the Midwest in order to save on housing so that we could come back to California with better financial standing.

      For all the members of the Pasadena Tenants Union, I can’t predict what kind of avalanche of money in opposition to your work is coming your way. My hope is that each of you recognizes your own power and that at least one of you is inspired to put your name on the ballot, because by engaging our neighbors, we can be powerful in affecting change.

      Copyright © Pasadena Tenants Union. All rights reserved.

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      1. Strupolovic says:

        While I have sympathy for the Padleys, this raises a couple of issues for me. First according to the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 it’s illegal for landlords to discriminate against prospective tenants with children under the age of 18. So here my question is was that the reason given, or was it a perceived reason. And if it was the reason, why not sue? It’s seem to me that Krystal Padley is fighter, so she gave up?
        Secondly because I grew up, went to university, got married, my hometown is not expect to provide housing for me should I decide to go back, much less any private landlord.
        Reading this again I see statements like “..baby from the hospital and were welcomed with an eviction notice.” But as harsh as it seems, we don’t know all the facts of the situation. Had they paid their rent on time? As a renter myself I would like to see a few renters around here move. I see mere renters not paying rents claiming, oh I need money for this. Or the best: “Oh, I have some credit card debt. When I have paid of my high interest credit card I’ll pay rent again”. The landlord has been so lenient, that he now is in a situation where she does not have enough money to cover property taxes – which eventually can affect me and my wife’s housing situation. So I’d like a little more facts and less emotional comments before I make up my mind.

      2. Kelly Jackson says:

        I’m VERY disappointed to see that Krystal and her family are moving to the midwest. It would seem for Altadenans and Pasadenans the only worthwhile citizen is one who can afford to purchase a home here. That’s incredibly disheartening.

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