I can't speak for Pasadena so I will comment on the areas of LA were I have been (my wife has family there who we visit from time to time and I passed through once on my way to Yosemtie). Sorry for the mispellings
Hollywood and West Hollywood-Getto
Santa Monica-more gap stores per sq ft than anywhere else in the US. All in nice prefab buildings
Venice beach-dirty, crowded, no place to eat-which can be said for everywhere I have been in LA. Kind of like a pre Rudy east village without the artists.
Palos Verdes-If you can afford a 2 million dollar house on the cliffs to whatch whales swim from your patio I supose it would be great. But your still going to commute 2 hrs work.
Malibu-See Palos Verdes
Bellaeare_if you can afford it and like to buy your clothes at escada wonderful enjoy.
The valley-sprawled out suburb, ie. ten lane streets and stip malls. Its fine as long as you like eating at the cheese cake factory and shopping at IKEA.
Now for broader gipes: sprawl, smog, huge highways, celebrity worship, to many fifty year old guys with pony tails and fake tans drving convertibles.