Raymond Theatre In Jeopardy (Update)

posted by Ross Melnick on June 28, 2004 at 11:30 pm

PASADENA, CA — The following email was sent to us by the Friends of the Raymond Theatre:

“Dear Friends of the Raymond Theatre:

It has been a month since the last Raymond Theatre hearing was held and we have a lot of news for our supporters. The Pasadena City Council granted the developer the approvals they required to advance forward to final design review.

During the time that has ensued, we’ve been working closely with our Attorney and with the City of Pasadena to determine whether or not the decisions made by Council can be appealed. We have also reviewed the proceedings of the last City Council meeting and discussed options with our attorney.

As such, we found it necessary to delay sending an update in order to bring you the most timely and accurate information about what has transpired to date.


The developers needed four items approved to move forward with redevelopment of the Raymond Theatre. The Pasadena City Council voted to support the recommendations made by City staff on four areas.

  • Allow the developer to install skylights in the theatre’s historic ceiling to provide air and light for the living spaces he proposes to build in the space.

  • Not require the restoration of the building’s exterior brickwork if it’s found to be financially unfeasible.

  • Not require Pasadena Heritage to sign off on the development application, though they hold a historic preservation easement on the building’s exterior and also an open space easement on the parking lot.

  • The City Council’s determined that the project is consistent with prior approvals and stipulated the 39 conditions of approval set by the Design Commission would be corrected and evaluated at 50%, or final design review.


The City Council also voted the project was consistent with the Council approved project which was given approval in 2002. We have outlined the inconsistencies between the 2002 Council-Approved project vs. the New Project for our supporters review:

*Number of Residential Units:
Council-Approved Project: 61 units. New Project: 36 units.
The City Council approved redevelopment of the theatre to provide more housing for Pasadena. Reduction of housing units negates the reasoning to grant variances to build a 65 foot building to allow for 61 units of housing.

*Number of Stories in Theatre:
Council-Approved Project: 6 floors. New Project: 7 floors.

*Commercial Square Footage:
Council-Approved Project 28,566 sq. ft. New Project 32,500 sq. ft.

*Retail Along Holly Street:
Council-Approved Project: 2,089 sq. ft. New Project: 5,193 sq. ft.

*Residential Square Footage:
Council-Approved Project: 49,232 sq. ft. New Project: 50,031, sq. ft.

*Total Square Footage: Council:
Council-Approved Project: 77,798 sq. ft. New Project: 82,531 sq. ft.

*Number of Parking Spaces Required:
Council-Approved Project: 157 Parking Spaces. New Project: 102 parking spaces. The reduction in parking negates the need for a parking variance.

*Condition of Approval – Inclusionary (“affordable”) Housing:
Council-Approved Project: 6 percent and above (to be negotiated with City Council). New Project: 6% will be included (above 6% has not negotiated).

*Condition of Approval – Marketing Theatre for sale for 4 months:
Council-Approved Project: Developer is to legitimately market the theatre space between the front of stage and front of balcony for sale for four months for use as a theatre. New Project: Developer has shown no proof of marketing the theatre for sale as a theatre.

*Areas to be Retained:
Council-Approved Project: Developer is to retain half of downstairs lobby and upstairs mezzanine. Auditorium to be retained between front of stage and front of balcony for use as a small theatre or unique retail space which would be open to the public. New Project: Half of lobby retained and upstairs mezzanine turned into a live/work space. Theatre between front of stage and front of balcony to become an atrium for condos, which would be utilized by tenants only.

*Additions of Skylights and Windows to Auditorium Space: Council-Approved Project: The walls and ceilings between the front of stage and front of balcony are to be preserved. New Project: City Council allowed opening of 12 large ventilated ceiling skylights in theatre ceiling and windows in walls which negates the Condition of Approval to allow theatre to be used for live entertainment or unique retail space. Skylights also introduce new environmental factors to the protected theatre space which have not been evaluated.

*Subdivision: Council-Approved Project: To build the proposed project, the Raymond Theatre and parking lot must be subdivided. Condos and commercial space require subdivision of the property. New Project: No subdivision hearings have been held to date. Pasadena Heritage’s easement stated “the property will not be subdivided.” Pasadena Heritage’s easement is in direct conflict with subdivision that must be required by the City.


As most of our supporters know, the reason the Raymond Theatre is in the position is today is because time and time again, the City Council seems intent on violating its own laws and approvals to assist the developer to getting their project approved. Pasadena Heritage also has rights to protect the theatre and have chosen to not adhere to their preservation easement which is in place to protect the theatre.

The City Attorney informed our Attorney that the Council’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.

However this does not preclude us from filing a new lawsuit.


For 16 years, together we have successfully protected the Raymond Theatre and worked hard allow this theatre a fair and honest trial.

We have come to a point where we must make a critical decision together. We either need to take immediate action to protect the Raymond Theatre or allow redevelopment to move forth.

We always request our supporters inform us of what they would like us to do, because we do this work on behalf of the public.

If our supporters want us to continue to protect the Raymond Theatre, then we must raise money to take action immediately.

We have time limitations to raise the money needed. We need $10,000 as a down-payment to legally defend the theatre. We have raised $5,000. To move forward, we will need to raise the final $5,000 in the next two weeks.

We will take donations from June 28, 2004 – July 15, 2004. If together we raise enough money, we will legally defend the Raymond Theatre. If not, then we will send everyone back you donations on July 16, 2004.

If you would like us to continue defending the Raymond Theatre…


By Mail:

Friends of the Raymond Theatre
P.O. Box 91189
Pasadena, CA 91109-1189


or click on the PayPal donation link on our website.

Donations to Friends of the Raymond are tax deductible, as allowed by law. We are a project of Spirit of the Sage, under Social & Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), a California 501 ©(3) tax exempt organization.


Last, but not least, we wish to thank the following for their support and participation:

  • Our incredible committee members who worked till the wee hours of the morning for weeks to help organize and publicize the city council hearing.

  • Johnny “Vatos'‘ Hernandez, drummer, Oingo Boingo for attending the City Council hearing.

  • The media who sent news crews to cover the proceedings and all the newspapers who attended to report on the hearing.

  • The battery of speakers and supporters who sat through not one but two agenda items on the Raymond Theatre. All of you spoke with passion and eloquence, we appreciate your continued support and dedication.

  • We thank Hollywood Heritage and the Los Angeles Conservancy for speaking at the hearing and for their support.

  • We also thank Mayor Bill Bogaard, Councilman Paul Little and Councilman Sidney Tyler for having the integrity to evaluate the issues with the new project and vote against approval. We appreciate your vote!

Thank you for helping us preserve Pasadena’s Historic Raymond Theatre.

Gina Zamparelli
Director, Friends of the Raymond Theatre

Office: (818) 541-9522
Fax: (818) 541-9523
Website: www.raymondtheatre.com

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