Freeing the Treasured Forest of Trash

Takataka Club volunteers have bonded over their love and care for the Angeles National Forest, with members including Kamden Gray (from left), Sarah Culhane, Jeremy Culhane, Oliver Gilpin, Kirby Gilpin, Matt Culhane, Ellen Runkle, Patrick McDonald, Ruanne McGuiness, Valerie Botta, Natalie McKenna and Jean Pierre Mangui.

On a recent misty morning in the Angeles National Forest, a group of local volunteers wearing yellow vests and hard hats dispersed throughout the cliffs, making like bees to recover debris — trash of all kinds — strewn along the bluffs, an unsightly mess framing the view of the area’s majestic mountains.

That’s why, in fact, the group was there: “Look how beautiful it is out here — it’s just gorgeous,” said Valerie Botta, motioning toward the panoramic vista. “We’re so lucky to have this in our backyards, so incredibly fortunate to have this forest nearby for hiking and views, yet people treat it like a dumping ground. There’s trash everywhere.”

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On Happy Note, City Approves Music in the Park’s Return

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council discussed items on Tuesday that anticipate a return to pre-pandemic days, approving the revival of Music in the Park beginning July 5 after the popular summer concert series was canceled in 2020 due to restrictions set by the Los Angeles County health department.

Coinciding with L.A. County’s recent arrival in the yellow tier, the least restrictive level in the state’s four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the city staff told council members it is planning to conform with the protocols currently in place for outdoor live events and performances. Under current requirements, the city is securing bands and vendors to provide 10 live concerts (instead of the traditional 16), starting Monday, July 5, and every Sunday thereafter through Sept. 5. 

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LCF Library Turns New Page for Book-Hungry Patrons

Outlook Valley Sun Photo
Jerome Kim, with his children Emmy (left) and Ellis, were excited to finally return to the La Cañada Flintridge Library to browse and check out books in person on Tuesday after 14 months of service disruptions due to COVID-19.

The La Cañada Flintridge Library opened to in-person services this week for the first time after a 14-month hiatus due to the pandemic and resulting Los Angeles County Public Health restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.  

The library will open at 75% capacity, allowing for about 60 people to enter at a time, which is monitored by an electronic sensor at the entrance. Under the new L.A. County health guidelines and L.A. County Library mandates, the limited in-person services include the use of public computers, printing and browsing the collection. Masks are required, as is the 6-foot social distancing rule between.

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College Access Plan Pushes for Equity, One Student at a Time

Photo courtesy Dipti Vaidya
College Access Plan founder and Executive Director Mo Hyman has fought passionately for students in Pasadena to have fair access to a four-year college education — and all that it represents.

After more than a year of living under a pandemic cloud, College Access Plan founder and Executive Director Mo Hyman has found a way to celebrate silver linings.
And with reason, since CAP — a nonprofit advocate for four-year degree college access and attainment for underserved, underrepresented students — has achieved a lot recently to celebrate in 2021, its 15-year anniversary.
For one, CAP helped defeat the use in California of the SAT/ACT, that formidable and much-dreaded test that has long determined a college-bound student’s fate. CAP was one of six organizations that joined in bringing civil rights action against the University of California and its use of standardized exams in admissions decisions. The plaintiffs won a preliminary injunction, later upheld by a California First District Court of Appeals, barring the UCs from using the scores to determine acceptance.
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City Sends Off Prized Local Deputy

Deputy Eric Matejka

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, La Cañada Flintridge City Council honored Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station’s dedicated resource officer Deputy Eric Matejka, who is retiring, with a commemorative plaque and kind words for all his work over the years.
Matejka spent about 20 years at the CV Sheriff’s Station post, investing a lot of hours at La Cañada High School, other local schools and community-wide functions.
“We’re super happy for you but we’re a little bummed out that you’re leaving us,” said Mayor Mike Davitt. “But you’ve done such a great job in our city and you’re such a key member of our community and part of the fabric of everything that goes on here.”

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Fiesta Days Canceled Amid Hopes July 5 Parade Will Fly

Outlook Valley Sun file photo
La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce President Pat Anderson and City Manager Mark Alexander attend a former Fiesta Days celebration. This year’s annual event has once again been canceled, but a July 5 parade is being planned in its place.

For the second year straight, the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce will cancel its annual Fiesta Days celebration held over Memorial Day weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions set by the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
However, in lieu of the time-honored festival — a tradition since 1974 — the Chamber will plan a parade for Monday, July 5, pending improving coronavirus case numbers throughout the County.
“The decision to cancel Fiesta Days last year, and now, this year, was really taken out of our hands by the Department of County Health — all we could do was try to adhere to the orders,” said LCF Chamber of Commerce President Pat Anderson. “However, with the improving metrics, it seemed possible that we could at least hold a parade, and that seemed like something positive and hopeful to shoot for.”
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City Council Advances Pickleball Pilot Program at Glenhaven Park

Photo by Keira Wight/Outlook Valley Sun
A tennis player volleys against the backboard at Glenhaven Park, which has been earmarked for a temporary, mixed-use pickleball and tennis pilot program. City Council denied an appeal of the program on Tuesday.

Following a lengthy public hearing and discussion, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council on Tuesday voted to uphold an earlier decision by the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission to implement a pilot program allowing for a mixed-use pickleball and tennis court at Glenhaven Park.
The city received 83 public comments via email voicing support for and opposing the matter, as well as submitted, signed petitions opposing pickleball use at the park. Residents living in close proximity to the court in question spoke publicly, some giving emotional addresses in a bid to dissuade council from forging ahead with the pilot program at Glenhaven, known as the city’s smallest and most remote park.
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Food Pantry Feeds More Than the Hungry

Photo courtesy Yemi Kuku
With the pandemic limiting their volunteer options, Tony and Jacque Collier (above) spearheaded a neighborhood food pantry outside of their home in Altadena, which has fed thousands during the crises.

At the outset of the pandemic, Jacque Collier found herself feeling like a lot of people — directionless and bereft of motivation. But when she began having trouble getting out of bed, she decided, something had to give.
Collier, who in normal times dedicates her retirement to volunteering countless hours, was clinically depressed. And that just couldn’t stand.
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City Council Upholds Committee Term Limits, With Exception

La Cañada Flintridge City Council voted to reaffirm its practice of maintaining a two-consecutive term limit for commission and committee members, who apply for the volunteer positions and are vetted through an interview process.
At its special meeting on Tuesday, the council discussed the possibility of extending eligibility for commissioners, especially for those who have been appointed to complete the vacancy of a partially served term. For those members, a partially served term counts as a full term when the individual is appointed to fill a vacant position with more than two years remaining on the unexpired term.
Ultimately, however, the council unanimously upheld its current practice, and made a singular exception for the consideration of an application from Jeffrey McConnell that would allow him to be eligible for the appointment to one additional four-year term on the Planning Commission. McConnell has been instrumental on the Planning Commission, council members noted, and its current, arduous undertaking of updating the city’s zoning code.
“We are in the midst of rezoning which is a very important process — the last time we did it was 2011,” said Councilwoman Terry Walker. “It has great impact on the future look of our community and the expertise of the current commissioners is very valuable.”
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‘Welcome’ Group Kicks Off to Connect Newer Residents

There’s nothing quite like a year of pandemic isolation to make one start dreaming of barbecues, pool parties and community events again, especially with spring in bloom, vaccines underway and declining COVID case numbers promising a new dawn of socialization.
With that in their purview, one small group of newly minted residents is spearheading an effort to kick off the La Cañada Flintridge Welcome Association, a group meant to help “new to town” families and individuals to become better acquainted with each other, the city, civic organizations and the charms and idiosyncrasies of living in the Foothills. The new group would revamp a former organization known as the La Cañada Newcomers and Social Club, which had a social-connection flare that appears to have fallen by the wayside perhaps more than a decade ago.
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