Wind Leaves LCF Residents Without Power

First published in the Oct. 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

Gusty winds early this week left thousands of Californians temporarily without power, and some of them were La Cañada Flintridge residents.
A wind advisory that went into effect Monday afternoon lasted through Tuesday morning amid gusts surpassing 20 mph in the area, according to the National Weather Service.
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Driver Evades Law Enforcement in Early Morning Pursuit

First published in the Oct. 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

A driver whom authorities suspect was under the influence ran red lights and sped across local freeways last week as deputies followed, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Ultimately, deputies did not detain the driver of the black Audi, which on Saturday reached speeds of more than 100 mph while on the 2 Freeway, an incident report from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station said. However, deputies managed to read the vehicle’s temporary license plate and identify the registered owner.
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City, LCUSD Meet Oct. 14 Over Sports Fields’ Use

First published in the Oct. 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

La Cañada Flintridge and school district officials were scheduled to meet on Oct. 14 to resume the discussion surrounding the joint use agreement between the community and sports leagues.
The local joint use committee — which includes La Cañada Unified School District leaders and members of the LCF City Council, municipal commissions and staff — will hold an in-person meeting at City Hall at 2:30 p.m. to discuss possible amendments to the agreement, most notably the time when youth sports teams can begin using local facilities.
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Don’t Let Bears Be Bad News — Deny Them Food

First published in the Oct. 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

Signs displaying the simple message “Do not feed the animals” are prominent in zoos, aquariums and national parks, and for good reason. First and foremost, feeding wildlife is against the law, and second, following such directions can help keep animals away from urban areas.
With an uptick in bear sightings and encounters in La Cañada Flintridge, city staff members welcomed Rebecca Barbosa — a wildlife biologist who has worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for 20 years — and hosted a virtual presentation Tuesday to inform residents about the furry visitors and how to minimize the chances of interacting with them.
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Sheriff’s Crime Report

First published in the Oct. 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

A residence in the 1000 block of Green Lane was reportedly burglarized on Friday, Oct. 8, between 1:23 and 3 p.m. The resident returned to her house to find it had been ransacked, with the sliding door to her living room open despite being locked before she left. She was not immediately aware of anything missing. Surveillance footage showed a man walking up to the front door and ringing the doorbell before walking around the driveway and out of view.

A locked vehicle parked in the 5800 block of Gould Mesa Road was reportedly burglarized Sunday, Oct. 10, between 12:16 and 2:40 p.m. A tablet was taken from a backpack left inside the vehicle while the owner was away. The driver-side door keyhole had been punched in.

Editor’s note: Details included in the Sheriff’s Crime Report are taken directly from individual deputies’ reports on file at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station. The Outlook Valley Sun is not responsible for incompleteness or inaccuracies in the original reports.

If Cupboard’s Bare, You Might Blame the Bear

First published in the Oct. 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun. By Camila Castellanos and Oscar Areliz.

A La Cañada Flintridge resident of the 500 block in Paulette Place experienced a break-in by an unusual visitor on Monday.
After hearing dishes fall in the kitchen, the homeowner went downstairs and discovered a bear there. The resident immediately left the house with a dog and called the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station at approximately 1:17 p.m.
According to Sgt. John Gilbert, the bear entered the home by clawing through a window screen, knocked over some small dishes and accessed the pantry to eat sugar. Deputies who arrived at the scene were able to scare the bear out of the house and it returned to the forest.
The bear sighting (and then some, in this case) is one of several that have occurred in LCF recently. Though the sheriff’s station did not specify how many have occurred, Gilbert told the Outlook Valley Sun that there have been numerous calls recently about bears here and in surrounding cities.
Local residents, meanwhile, have been tracking the active bears and posting photos to social media throughout the year. Particular concern was expressed over the summer when a bear was hit by a car on Haskell Street, leaving it with an injured back leg. Some speculated that the incident was an intentional hit and run.
After calling the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, one resident was told that the agency does not rehabilitate adult bears but that it will come out to euthanize the animal if it is in obvious physical distress.
“Apparently the bear was hit by a truck that people said aimed right for it and never slowed down,” said Mack Dugger, an avid supporter of Big Bear Alpine Zoo, to which he reached out about a potential rescue. “For someone to hit a bear, maybe on purpose … one can only hope they damaged their truck.”
The bear was seen hiding under cars and in bushes, and hobbling on three legs for several weeks: “He can’t do much on three legs, especially if he has to hunt and grouse,” Dugger added. “All the neighbors have called but the Forest Service has said the only thing they will do is come out and put him down. And we don’t want that.”
While the bears are typically frequent visitors to the homes bordering the Los Angeles Forest, the animals have begun frequenting more residential neighborhoods as they widen their search for food and water.
Carrie Smith, who lives on Daleridge Road, had never heard of one in her neighborhood before a large black bear climbed the tall pine outside her balcony. It stayed there the entire day, prompting Smith and a few neighbors to become concerned that it might be stuck.
“That was a weird, interesting day,” Smith laughed. “It kept going higher and higher and made no signs of coming down. There was quite a big response from the fire and police department.”
One bear that has a green tag with the number 162 has been repeatedly witnessed bathing in local pools and fountains, as well as tipping over trash cans, prompting some residents to reflect with concern on the old adage “a fed bear is a dead bear.”
Kathryn Leonard, who lives off of Alta Canyada, has repeatedly seen bear 162, including twice at her screen door.
“I tried to shoo him away, but he didn’t seem too concerned about me. … Next time I’m told to bang some pots and pans,” she said, noting that at least three bears have visited her cul-de-sac since summer.
Most recently, the bears have been stealing pumpkins off porches, including Leonard’s, which she found torn into pieces since they only eat the inside.
“I’m changing my way of life and being more cautious to live with the bears,” she said, explaining that she was keeping her trash containers in her garage and completely closing her door, although she prefers to let in the fresh air through the screen.
Officials have recommended that residents request bear-proof trash containers via their waste collection company.
The city recently announced that Fish and Wildlife will give a presentation on human-bear interactions on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The presentation will be simulcast by Spectrum on Channel 3 (East) and Channel 16 (West) and will include topics such as how to respond and prevent human-bear conflicts.
For more information about the online event, visit cityoflcf.org or contact Christina Nguyen at cnguyen@lcf.ca.gov.

City Reverts to Remote Meetings, for Now

First published in the Oct. 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

In response to new legislation that allows municipal officials to continue to convene remotely, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council voted to have all local government meetings held in that manner for the next month.
Council and city staff members spoke at length during Tuesday’s in-person meeting about Assembly Bill 361, an amendment to the Brown Act — a 1953 law that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in California local government agencies’ sessions. Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, AB 361 gives cities flexibility in continuing teleconferencing meetings as long as they adhere to a new set of provisions.
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Local Royalty: Tournament of Roses Chooses 2022 Court

First published in the Oct. 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

After a yearlong pandemic hiatus, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses returned to an iconic tradition to announce the seven members of the 2022 Royal Court this week, including two La Cañada Flintridge princesses.
Amid much fanfare from a masked crowd, Stephen Perry, chair of the Tournament’s Queen and Court Committee, welcomed parents and supporters as he called the 29 court finalists to the stage. Noting “what a two years it has been,” Perry gave a nod to the slew of previous cancellations, including those of the 2021 Royal Court, local Rose Bowl Game and Rose Parade, that were caused by the coronavirus and resulting public health measures.
“They will not be the first Royal Court to deal and navigate through interesting times in our history, and they won’t be the last,” he said of the girls. “But having met them, I know they will meet each and every challenge with grace and positive thinking to make their world a better place.”
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Sheriff’s Crime Report

First published in the Oct. 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

Several boxes of unknown items were taken from a house in the 2000 block of Tondolea Lane between 1:30 and 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1. During his first day on the job, a caregiver allowed a man, who identified himself as the homeowner’s son, to enter the house and take the boxes to a vehicle that was described as a silver Honda Accord. The homeowner told authorities that he is estranged from his son and has not seen him in several years. The incident was being investigated as a possible burglary
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Erskine Offers Humor as Cure for Pandemic Perplexity

First published in the Nov. 26, 2020, print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

Chris Erskine

The man, the legend, the mustache.
For those who have followed local resident Chris Erskine and his nationally known humor columns over the years, it will come as no surprise that the author has released an endearing COVID-19 diary just in time for the next Safer at Home order, with handy “Quarantini” recipes at the ready: stiff on the gin, salty on the laughs.
Erskine, who just retired from the Los Angeles Times after 30 years, has engaged loyal readers for decades by sharing his personal tales of hilarity, sorrow, sweetness and everything in between, often combined together. His fourth book, “Lavender in Your Lemonade,” will not disappoint that audience, and arrives in the nick of time, when readers are just far enough into the pandemic they can laugh over the confounding disappearance of T.P. worldwide (“the Charmin virus,” he calls it), but so deep into the solitude of separation that people are desperate for an escape.
Because, as Erskine writes, nothing is off limits to being joked about:
“To laugh at this awful pandemic, the same way we mock despots and tyrants, is to make it a little less powerful, to rob it of its muscle and ability to push us around too much.
“Laughter is like porridge. Laughter is the best revenge.”
And then, as is vintage Erskine, a punch line, kind of — one of his delectable, idiosyncratic teasers: “My buddy Tom just told me a pretty good COVID-19 joke. I’d pass it along, but it takes two weeks to get.”
Sitting down with the Outlook Valley Sun via Zoom, Erskine explained his inspiration for the book, a collection of daily Facebook posts meant for devoted adherents, dear friends, friends you can laugh at and others, he wryly added.
Ahead of his retirement, his Times column running once every two weeks, Erskine found himself with time on his hands. And in the midst of a pandemic, what else is a writer to do? He took to Facebook, a newer medium for Erskine, who wasn’t always well versed in social media.
“I’m one of those old guys who’s awake at 5 or 5:30 a.m., and I would just tap out a Facebook post. I’d never done anything like this before, but it was in the early days of COVID and we’d never seen anything like it. Writing is kind of my therapy, and I had a lot to say,” he said. “I knew that I needed to laugh a little bit, and it turned into a little bit of a morning pep rally. We all needed to know that we were going to survive this, no matter what.”
The daily posts, which garnered hundreds of responses and comments (that “oftentimes, were so much funnier and bouncier than what I had originally posted,” Erskine said, in a likely overstatement), caught the attention of publisher Mike Sager of Esquire magazine.
When he reached out to ask about turning the odds and ends into a volume, the famously self-effacing Erskine responded, “A book? They are barely Facebook posts, Mike!”
After some convincing, Erskine was on board. Part of the endeavor felt like an ode to his Facebook group, which had gotten him through some dark days, and vice versa.
“I kind of think of it as a plate of warm cookies … you know, it’s not life changing or anything, it’s just kind of a nice gesture to my neighbors,” he said. “It’s kind of a compilation of all the things we took for granted, and you know, I don’t think we’ll ever take it for granted again. And in that way, we’ll be richer and remember that even in the darkest times, there are things that can make us smile and feel better.”
The rest, as he writes, is the “Lavender,” the giggle-inducing explanation of bizarre yet delicious items one might find at Trader Joe’s, a jest to chasing down eggs at Easter only to come up with an empty basket, the alarm at not being able to see people smile or the chagrin of trying to order at the deli counter through mask-muffled grunts and hand gestures.
It’s a trip worth taking, to laugh at the ludicrous, even as readers slide deeper into the pandemic.
“I think humor is really the great unifier — doesn’t humor bring us together?” mused Erskine, who is finally comfortable with social media in the time of COVID. “It gives us that communal back-and-forth that I think we all need in a time when we’re super isolated. You know, we’re pack creatures at the end of the day, we need each other.”
As always in his writings, La Cañada Flintridge plays in the background, like his silent movie partner. He never mentions the town by name (“Partly because of potential stalkers,” he said, only half joking), but the Chardonnay moms, the hiking pals, the local watering holes and his trusty steed, White Fang, all ring sweetly familiar.
Erskine considers moving, sometimes, especially since his youngest, Jack (aka “Smartacus”), will be off to college soon. But he’d miss La Cañada too much, he said.
“I mean, I would love to move sometimes, but then I’d have to take all my friends with me. And, you know, there’s a lot of places that wouldn’t take them.”