It Was a Year of Living Hesitantly

First published in the Dec. 30 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The year 2021 is coming to a close much like it did in 2020: with a rise in COVID-19 cases due to families throughout the nation gathering for the holidays amid the discovery of a more transmissible Omicron variant — which has supplanted Delta as the dominant strain.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported nearly 12,000 new coronavirus cases on Christmas, a stern reminder that the pandemic is still very much present and will likely remain in our lives in 2022. The disease has claimed more than 815,000 lives in the United States alone and continues to affect municipalities, businesses and everyday life across the world.
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LCF Explores Charter City Status

First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

After more than a year of numerous mandates from the state and Los Angeles County, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council explored the possibility of becoming a charter city in a meeting on Tuesday.
The council had asked staff to look into the benefits of becoming a charter city, which include adopting its own charter document and having authority on municipal affairs such as elections, compensation for city employees and public contracts.
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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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LCF Sees Uptick in Larceny, Theft in First 2 Months

The city of La Cañada Flintridge saw a slight uptick in crimes in February, most of which were larceny and theft cases.
Capt. Todd Deeds of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station delivered his monthly crime presentation to the LCF City Council on Tuesday and reported a total of 27 part 1 offenses, which include robbery, aggravated assault, residential burglary and theft. Nineteen of the crimes reported involved larceny and theft, bringing the year-to-date total to 38. In 2020, there were only 15 cases in the first two months.
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Council Gears Up for Vaccine Dispensing Site

The city of La Cañada Flintridge has reached an agreement with Los Angeles County to make City Hall and Olberz Park a temporary medical point of dispensing (MPOD) site for the COVID-19 vaccine.
All five city council members voted in favor of approving the memorandum of understanding with the public health department during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
However, City Manager Mark Alexander informed the council and community that the county has paused “all activities related to MPOD planning” after Gov. Gavin Newsom handed the reins of coronavirus vaccine distribution to Blue Shield of California.
“[Public health officials] are awaiting guidance from the state regarding the standardization and streamlining of vaccine prioritization, dose allocation and vaccine administration through a centralized third party administrator, which will be Blue Shield of California.”
Alexander recommended that the council still approve agreement so that when L.A. County decides to move forward in expanding vaccine distribution with MPODS, La Cañada will be “ready to go.”

City Council Balks at Allowing Short-Term Rentals

The discourse over short-term rentals in La Cañada Flintridge will continue for the foreseeable future after the City Council made no decision on the issue during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Council members — except for Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Curtis, who recused himself from the discussion — mulled a proposed ordinance, given preliminary approval by the Planning Commission earlier this month, that would permit and regulate short-term rentals.
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LCF Will Get a Vote Center, After All

OUTLOOK VALLEY SUN photo
L.A. County agreed to make the La Cañada Unified School District offices located at 4490 Cornishon Ave. a vote center, allowing residents to vote in person in the board room from Oct. 30-Nov. 3.

La Cañada Flintridge residents will no longer have to trek to La Crescenta or Altadena to vote in person for the Nov. 3 election. City officials announced on Tuesday that the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office signed a site agreement with the La Cañada Unified School District for a five-day vote center.
“With the change in how the county allocates vote centers around Southern California, I think it is important that La Cañada Flintridge has a vote center located in town,” said LCF Mayor Mike Davitt. “We want people to vote and want to create all reasonable avenues to assist people in that process. I’m appreciative of all the work that the city staff has committed to this priority, and it appears we have been successful.”

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City Wants Local Polling Place for Nov. 3 Election

Photo by Keira Wight / Outlook Valley Sun
A drop-off box for mail-in ballots has been placed outside the La Cañada Flintridge Library, but city officials also are asking the county to place a voting center in the city. The nearest locations for in-person voting for the Nov. 3 election are in La Crescenta and Altadena.

 

In an effort to provide La Cañada Flintridge residents with more voting locations for the Nov. 3 election, City Manager Mark Alexander assured the community on Tuesday that municipal staff members are working with the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder office to possibly open a voting center here.
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Council Discusses Gift Card Program to Help Local Businesses

Local residents take in some warm summer weather on Wednesday to support local business Soak Nail Bar, which has moved operations outside to observe safety measures put in place by Gov. Gavin Newsom to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council is taking action in assisting businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing a gift card program that would encourage the public to spend locally.
Lisa Brancheau, senior management analyst, presented the idea in a virtual meeting on Tuesday, and the council unanimously approved a motion to allow City Manager Mark Alexander to run a pilot program that will cost up to $15,000. Mayor Mike Davitt and Councilwoman Terry Walker abstained from the conversation and vote because of their stakes in local businesses.
The program will allow people to purchase gift cards at a discounted rate and use them at participating businesses. Staff considered options that included a collaboration with Citizens Business Bank in which it would sell gift cards that function as a debit card. The idea of selling them through City Hall was also explored.
However, the discussion between Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Curtis and members Keith Eich and Richard Gunter favored a digital approach because it would present fewer challenges. Brancheau said other cities have successfully implemented similar programs through Giftbar and Yiftee, and the online platforms make it easier to conduct research and track data. The city would use the agreed-upon $15,000 to pay for any fees incurred on merchants.

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Businesses to Get Grants, Outdoor Space

Photo by Christian Leonard / Outlook Valley Sun
La Cañada Flintridge’s city manager told council members he would give an order making it easier for local businesses, particularly restaurants, struggling due to the pandemic to expand outdoor seating.

La Cañada Flintridge will offer grants to a few local small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, giving up to $10,000 to three entities.
The City Council approved the funds, which the city received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the CARES Act, during its meeting on Tuesday. The program will include a stipulation that the businesses cannot already have received COVID-19 recovery funds.
The $35,925 the city is eligible for is enough to give grants of up to $10,000 to three businesses. The remaining money could then be awarded to a fourth, according to a staff report submitted to the City Council by Senior Management Analyst Lisa Brancheau.
The money, which does not have to be repaid, can be used for payroll, operational expenses and the purchase of protective equipment.
Council members acknowledged that the money was not enough to help every business that needed it, but said they would try to get additional funding.
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