How Green Can the City Be?

Should the city of La Cañada Flintridge be advocating for water-conserving landscaping? Should it be working with local schools to encourage students to walk or bike to classes? Should it be encouraging construction and demolition projects to divert 90% or more of material from landfill through reuse and recycling programs?
A handful of environmentally conscious LCF residents sampled a cornucopia of ideas meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their community at last week’s Climate Action Plan meeting.
According to the city, a CAP is intended to build on the community’s existing sustainability efforts to facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in a way that is practical, efficient and beneficial to the community while serving to enhance desirable characteristics and qualities.
The prospective wish list surveyed at City Hall on April 7 was dense and wide-ranging, with an eye to presenting a city Climate Action Plan to the Southern California Association of Governments by June. If that deadline is met, LCF could receive funding for whichever measures its officials approve.
Deputy Director of Community Development Susan Koleda joined representatives from Rincon Consultants in asking residents who attended the third of four public meetings to rank the list of proposals either “high,” “medium” or “low.”
“Most of these things seem doable,” said Steve Shashnar, a longtime LCF resident who attended the meeting with his father, who moved to LCF in 1981. “There are a couple on here that are going to be controversial, though.”
Take, for instance, the idea of a sustainable service ware ordinance, which could introduce a one-use fee for all takeout containers.
“That’ll be controversial,” Shashner predicted, suggesting, “Maybe tone it down a little bit? Say as long as it’s a recycled one there’s not a fee, or something like that.”
None of the items displayed on large boards, or available for perusal online at has been adopted, though many of them already are city policy. Say, the requirement that new roofs be constructed of fire-retardant materials. “That’s the building code now,” Koleda said.
But plenty of new ideas have also been explored in the meetings so far, Koleda said.
“There are two that keep coming up and one of them is leaf blowers,” she said, adding that the issue also ties into the city’s study of how to update its noise ordinance. The city’s website currently has a link to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, where grants are available to exchange old gas-powered leaf blowers for new ones.
“The other thing that’s been coming up is the number of waste haulers we have in the city,” Koleda said of the ongoing discussion about the five trash-collecting companies — three for residential, two for commercial — that service LCF. “And because it was brought up, it’s being considered.”
“La Cañada is unique, with just the way it’s set up,” said Christina McAdams, an environmental scientist at Rincon. “Everything’s along Foothill, and then it’s really steep but it’s also very compact. So things like walking and biking would be very feasible, but it’s not within the culture of this community. So there are definitely challenges like that.
“But everything is really interconnected. It’s not just the climate issue. That might be what’s bringing it to light here, but it’s a lot of other community benefits.”
The next public meeting to discuss CAP plans is slated for May 19, with a draft proposal expected to be shared with the Planning Commission on May 24.

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