Sound Wall Money Is on Council Members’ Minds

Declining temporarily to take up the issue of the location of proposed 210 Freeway sound walls, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council decided to request that $3.7 million in Measure R funds be programmed for construction of the walls.
Mayor Terry Walker, addressing three residents who spoke at a City Council meeting Tuesday, said she needed to speak with people in other neighborhoods and gather information to help make a decision as to where the sound walls should go.
“I hate to see us get hung up on which segments,” Walker said.
The council’s recommendation is for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to make the funds an agenda item at a board meeting and approve the request, said Division Manager Ann Wilson.
“What we’re asking for is to program all our Measure R money,” Wilson told The Outlook.
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Portantino’s Bill on Suicide Prevention Signed Into Law

Photo courtesy state Sen. Anthony Portantino Gov. Jerry Brown (right) recently signed into law state Sen. Anthony Portantino’s Senate Bill 972, which requires schools to print a suicide prevention telephone number on identification cards of students in grades 7-12.
Photo courtesy state Sen. Anthony Portantino
Gov. Jerry Brown (right) recently signed into law state Sen. Anthony Portantino’s Senate Bill 972, which requires schools to print a suicide prevention telephone number on identification cards of students in grades 7-12.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino, whose suicide prevention bill was recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, said people sometimes have spoken openly with him about the tragedy because of his experience dealing with it.
His older brother Michael died of suicide in 2010.
“One of the things that struck me was after the suicide, people came up to me and felt comfortable talking about it,” said Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge). And talking about it is something his legislation aims to encourage.
The bill, which requires the telephone number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to be printed on student identification cards, was signed on Tuesday.
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Planning Commission Denies Unocal 76 Gas Station Alcohol Permit

For now, the city of La Cañada Flintridge will not have a gas station mini mart selling alcohol after the Planning Commission unanimously denied a permit to the Unocal 76 on Foothill Boulevard, upholding a long-standing policy.
Before casting his vote on Tuesday, Commissioner Arun Jain said he visited five gas stations in town personally on Sunday to ask them if they have a beer, wine or liquor license.
“Each one of them told me the same story,” Jain said. “They were denied and don’t have it. And that has been a very long-standing policy for La Cañada. I didn’t know that.” He added because there are nearby schools and a church, “it would be negative for the people living in that area. This granting of the license is not sitting well within the community as such and it would be a special privilege granted to you.”
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Descanso Seminar on Fire-Safe Landscapes Draws a Crowd

Clearing vegetation around the house and proper plant selection were among the recommendations for creating fire-safe landscapes at a seminar on Saturday hosted by Descanso Gardens.
The two-part program, titled “Designing for Danger,” had a sold-out crowd of about 50 people, said Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping.
Attendees David and Darlene Spence said they have lived in LCF for more than 30 years and wanted to learn more about the topic.
“We’re not horticulturists,” Darlene Spence said. “We’re not hobby gardeners. We hire someone to cut the grass … so we are not particularly knowledgeable about native anything.”
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School Board OKs Financial Figures

The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve a summary of district revenue and expenditures for the 2017-18 fiscal year, including an unaudited fund balance that increased by about $2.1 million from the previous fiscal year.
The California Education Code requires that unaudited financial information for the previous year be submitted to the board and the county Office of Education by Sept. 15, according to a report from Mark Evans, assistant superintendent of administration and business services.
Even though the previous fiscal year ended on June 30, final totals are not completed by the district and the Office of Education until the end of August, Evans wrote. A state-approved firm then audits the reports and documentation, and everything is finalized for submission to the LCUSD board and the state by Dec. 15.
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Helping LCF’s Target Store Put Down Some Roots

Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK Target is on track to open in La Cañada Flintridge by mid-October.
Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
Target is on track to open in La Cañada Flintridge by mid-October.

With new signage going up this week, a Target store is on track to open in October as the chain puts down roots for the first time in La Cañada Flintridge, with help from an LCF native who will manage the new location.
Store team leader Geoffrey Weaver, 29, grew up in LCF, graduated from La Cañada High School in 2007, and said he’s excited to be working in his hometown, which, he added, has been welcoming.
“The community response has been really positive,” said Weaver. “It makes things easier.”
The store remains on schedule for a VIG (Very Important Guest) opening on Oct. 16 and a grand opening on Oct. 21, with a “non-publicized” soft opening in between.
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Legislature Passes Portantino’s Bill on School Start Time

California lawmakers have approved Senate Bill 328, the school start-time proposal authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), with the legislation passing the state Assembly and Senate late Friday.
The bill now waits to be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Sept. 30 to make his decision.
The legislation would require all public middle and high schools in California to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., a policy that the La Cañada Unified School District implemented in 2017-18. Research has shown that the later start helps teens get more sleep, do better in school and have improved mental health.
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City to Tackle Funding Options for Sound Walls

Four proposed freeway sound walls, called a top priority for La Cañada Flintridge, will be discussed in a public session as the City Council considers its financial options.
The council will have a discussion regarding Measure M transportation funds, a possible source of money for wall construction, at its Sept. 18 meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.
“But nothing is going to happen until after November, when the proposed repeal of [Senate Bill 1] is on the ballot,” said LCF City Manager Mark Alexander in a recent phone interview. “There is a question as to whether the city will receive the funding for the sound walls if SB 1 is repealed.” The legislation raised the tax on gasoline to provide money for road repairs.
“That’s what the City Council is grappling with,” said Public Works Director Patrick DeChellis in a recent phone interview. “The sound walls, yes, are a top priority for the city. They always have been, and until the last one is constructed, they always will be. But is it the right thing to do? To take the limited funding, the discretionary funding the city has, and spend it all on the sound walls?”
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LCUSD Back to School; Turns to Safety, Security

La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board members praised local schools for successful back-to-school events at their Tuesday meeting, the first the board has held since breaking for part of the summer after its Aug. 7 session.
“We’ve had a great start to the school year,” said LCUSD President Kaitzer Puglia, noting the successful PTA meeting kick-offs district wide and plentiful participation. “I cannot thank the families of this district enough for all that you do to make this place a wonderful learning environment.”
The board kicked off the meeting by honoring the La Cañada High School sports medicine team and its coach, who crowded the room in their red team shirts to receive certificates of achievement. The team recently placed fourth in the National Sports Medicine Competition, and students claimed individual places as well, with Allison Mueller taking first place. More than 3,500 sports medicine students from 300 high schools participated.
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YMCA Plan Receives Encouragement — and Resistance

At 65,000 square feet, a proposed expansion sought by the YMCA of the Foothills for its location in La Cañada Flintridge is a big undertaking — too big to be resolved in just one city Planning Commission session.
The commission met Tuesday night to discuss a planned expansion that would have two phases, including construction of a three-story building. The main phase of discussion Tuesday concerned construction of a parking deck above the front parking lot, and commissioners approved an adjustment in the line dividing the YMCA lot from private property next door. But eventually, they voted for a continuance of the hearing because of neighborhood disgruntlement.
There were rumblings from commissioners about technical variances, from neighbors concerning traffic congestion and residential driveways, and even from Earth itself as a 4.4-magnitude earthquake shook the room at City Hall.
“I am moved by your speech,” Commissioner Jeffrey McConnell said jokingly to John Pride, landscape architect for the Y, after the earthquake was felt during Pride’s statement to the commission.
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