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.
That money is part of the $170 million allocation given to the sub-region that includes LCF after passage of Measure R, according to the council’s agenda report.
The measure, which expires in 2039, has a life of 30 years and the city was allocated $10.1 million through that year, the report said.
When four previously approved segments of sound wall are complete, the city will have spent $6.4 million, according to the report.
Metro has estimated the city has $3.7 million of funds remaining through Measure R’s life that can be used toward the construction of sound walls on the 210 Freeway or other highway improvement projects within the city, said Public Works Director Patrick DeChellis.
Wilson said a decision had to be made Tuesday about the Measure R funds for Metro to schedule the item on the November agenda.
Walker asked Wilson what would happen if nothing was submitted to Metro.
“I don’t think I know the answer to that question,” Wilson said.
Metro, however, could program the money to a later time period, which makes the decision an important one, she said.
“We need it in any case, provided the City Council desires to use those funds for sound walls,” Wilson said.
Some residents who spoke at the meeting said the freeway noise had gotten more and more unbearable.
“I encourage you to get as much money as you can from the state,” said Dana Coyle, who suggested selecting an area that affects the most residents of the city. “When the funds do become available, move on it right away.”
City Councilman Jonathan Curtis was upset with the sound-wall funding process.
“I’m 100% supportive of sound walls,” Curtis said. “To me, we shouldn’t make a rash decision tonight. … I don’t think we’ve got the right information in front of us. We’re just having it pushed in front of us.”

PUBLIC SAFETY REPORTS

The Los Angeles County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department made their reports for July and August at the meeting.
Anderson Mackey, an assistant chief with the Fire Department, said that in July there were a total of 125 responses from the department, most of them medical calls. Last year during the same time period there also was a total of 125 responses. There were 62 patients seen for medical calls, compared with 86 last year.
There were six fires in July, ranging from small spot fires to a cooking fire.
“Fire season is becoming year-round,” Mackey said.
During August, there were 137 responses, compared with 129 in the same period last year. Seventy-seven patients were seen for medical calls last month; in August 2017, there were 83. In addition, August saw four fires, with two last year.
So far this year, there have been 28 fires compared with 12 last year, and 647 medical calls this year compared with 717 last year.
Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Blasnek of the Crescenta Valley station said that in July there were no homicides, rapes or robberies, and that there was one alleged aggravated assault that authorities said involved a boyfriend being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend.
It was unclear if the alleged assault occurred in Glendale or La Cañada Flintridge, as the couple were driving on the 210 Freeway and were seen arguing at Ocean View and Foothill boulevards.
July saw five residential burglaries, but Blasnek said one of them probably involved a family member.
Walker asked if he was going to point out that burglaries were down from 52 in 2017 to 33 in 2018.
“Thank you, Mayor, for pointing that out,” Blasnek said. “That’s an almost 40% reduction in residential burglaries.”
He credited residents’ use of the Ring.com residential video doorbell system and a burglary crime task force for the drop.
In August, there were also no homicides, rapes and robberies. Robberies are down 67% from last year and five years ago, he said.
“It pleases me quite a bit to see that number,” Blasnek said.
There was one alleged aggravated assault, in which authorities said a father tried to intervene in a fight between a daughter and a boyfriend, and two residential burglaries. Residential burglaries so far this year are at 35, compared with 55 last year at this time.

PANEL MEMBERS

John Kozakar was selected by the City Council to fill the vacancy on the Parks and Recreation Commission. Scott Swanson was selected for the opening on the Investment and Financing Advisory Committee.

MOBILE BILLBOARDS

A first reading of a proposed ordinance to prohibit mobile billboards was continued.
A staff report described mobile billboards as vehicles that carry, pull or transport any sign or billboard for the main purpose of advertising.
The council and staff members had a long discussion over what a mobile billboard was, including whether vehicles “wrapped” with an advertisement should be subject to the ordinance.
“I don’t understand why adding a wrapped vehicle opens a bigger can of worms,” Walker said. “I think we need to address that.”
City Manager Mark Alexander said the topic would be carried over to a future meeting.

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