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.
Continue reading “City Reverts to Remote Meetings, for Now”

Council Acknowledges Complaint Against One of Its Own

First published in the Sept. 23 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council on Tuesday issued a statement regarding the formal complaint filed by a resident against Councilman Jonathan Curtis.
Scott Van Dellen filed a complaint to the state Fair Political Practices Commission — a nonpartisan, five-member panel that administers the Political Reform Act — on Sept. 13 alleging that Curtis violated the act by using his position to influence a government decision concerning a proposed three-story development at 600 Foothill Blvd. Continue reading “Council Acknowledges Complaint Against One of Its Own”

Complaint Filed Against City Councilman

First published in the Sept. 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

A La Cañada Flintridge resident filed a complaint on Monday with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission — a nonpartisan, five-member panel that administers the Political Reform Act — against a local city councilman.
The complaint, filed by Scott Van Dellen, alleges that Councilman Jonathan Curtis violated two regulations set by the act, including “attempting to use official position to influence a government decision,” concerning a proposed three-story development at 600 Foothill Blvd. in which Curtis owns a financial stake.
In an interview on Wednesday, Curtis denied the allegations, emphasizing that he has never spoken with a city councilmember or city staff regarding the details of the project. Continue reading “Complaint Filed Against City Councilman”

Power Outages: City Seeks State Help

First published in the Sept. 2 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

Despite Southern California Edison’s efforts to remedy a recent surge in unplanned power outages that has affected more than 1,000 local residents, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council has decided to file a complaint with the state and is requesting a formal review of the electricity provider’s practices regarding the maintenance of its infrastructure.

During a virtual special meeting on Monday, the panel was unanimous in approving the city staff’s recommendation to formally complain to the California Public Utilities Commission — which regulates and oversees utility companies — and expressed its disappointment over the way Edison has handled the 16 unplanned power outages reported in LCF since June 21. Nine of the outages occurred on the Haskell circuit, one of the longest lines in the city. Continue reading “Power Outages: City Seeks State Help”

As Power Outages Increase, City Presses Edison

La Cañada Flintridge residents are accustomed to losing power and internet access every now and then, but not like they have in the past few weeks.
More than 1,000 Southern California Edison customers have experienced several local unannounced outages this summer, prompting city officials to confer virtually with utility representatives on Tuesday and express their concerns and frustration.
Residents in three areas of the community experienced unannounced outages last weekend, including some connected to Edison’s Haskell line, one of the locality’s longest — it extends from northeast LCF into the south-central part of the city. Haskell line users have experienced as many as six outages since June 21.

Continue reading “As Power Outages Increase, City Presses Edison”

Flint Canyon Trail Repairs Top City Council’s ‘Wish List’

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council approved an application to seek federal funding for at least one of four city projects during a meeting on Tuesday.
Staff was recently contacted by the office of Congressman Adam Schiff notifying them of the opportunity to apply for federal funding and that the application was due on Friday, April 9.
With very little time to evaluate more options, LCF Division Manager Ann Wilson presented four projects — Flint Canyon Trail repairs, Community Center renovation, air conditioning for Lanterman Auditorium and the construction of soundwall segments — that possibly fit the criteria of the funding and asked the city council to rank them.
The four City Council members in attendance — councilmember Rick Gunter was not present — all agreed to place the Flint Canyon Trail repair at the top of the list. The city has attempted to secure funding for the repair and restoration of the downslope of Flint Canyon Trail for years. LCF was successful in receiving a $300,000 grant from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy but that only covers a small portion of the overall cost, which is estimated at $6 million.
Continue reading “Flint Canyon Trail Repairs Top City Council’s ‘Wish List’”

City Council Gets Preview of NASA’s JPL Mission to Mars

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory new mission to Mars took center stage at the La Cañada Flintridge City Council meeting this week ahead of its scheduled Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landing on the red planet on Thursday.
JPL Director Michael Watkins and Mars Helicopter Project Manager Mimi Aung gave a thrilling presentation before the council as to how Perseverance and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will touch down, with the help from two robotic devices from orbit.
“This is one of those times we’re super proud to work at JPL and also live in La Cañada Flintridge; the eyes of the world are upon us here,” Watkins told council members.
The much-anticipated landing is expected at about 12:55 p.m. on Thursday, with a signal of confirmation expected to be received 11 minutes and 22 seconds later, the time of the distance the signal has to travel from Mars to earth.
Continue reading “City Council Gets Preview of NASA’s JPL Mission to Mars”

County Settles Lawsuit Over Devil’s Gate Dam Project

Photo courtesy Los Angeles County Public Works
A settlement recently reached between the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and two nonprofits that had sued over environmental issues regarding the Devil’s Gate Dam Project will shrink the 70-acre project by about 14 acres and limit the scope of future maintainance in the area.

After years of litigation, Los Angeles County reached a settlement over the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project, agreeing to limit the long-term scope of the controversial “Big Dig.”
The settlement, which county supervisors approved Tuesday, requires the county Flood Control District to exclude 14 acres from the project, which has sought to remove up to 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment from behind the dam, according to the agreement.
Additionally, roughly 6 additional acres will be maintained less frequently than other sections of the Hahamongna Watershed Park after the project concludes, decreasing the amount of digging that needs to be done there in future years.
Altogether, the settlement reduces the project area from 70 acres to 50 acres that will need to be maintained. The settlement also limits the county to 220,000 cubic yards of earth dug per year during its maintenance period after the main project ends.
Continue reading “County Settles Lawsuit Over Devil’s Gate Dam Project”

City Council Adopts Approximately $30M Preliminary Budget

Memorial Park fence repairs and a social media intern position were among so-called consideration items that fell by the wayside as the La Cañada Flintridge City Council closed a $3.1 million funding gap and unanimously adopted an approximately $30 million preliminary budget on Monday.
A final budget will be presented to the council for adoption in July, according to City Manager Mark Alexander, who explained that to sustain municipal operations, the council needed to OK the preliminary budget before the new fiscal year began on Wednesday.
Consideration items included several projects submitted to the council for approval, including street resurfacing and air quality monitoring for the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project. Council members greenlit most of the fund requests, but some had to be rejected or reduced to keep the preliminary budget afloat before Monday’s 5-0 vote.
Continue reading “City Council Adopts Approximately $30M Preliminary Budget”

City OKs New Ordinance on Accessory Dwelling Units

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a new ordinance regarding accessory dwelling units based on the recommendation of the Planning Commission’s staff.
The ordinance, which had a first reading before the council on May 19, “would streamline the permitting of ADUs and junior accessory dwelling units in accordance with recent state legislation,” Director of Community Development Susan Koleda told the council before it voted. The new policy also will allow ADUs up to 800 square feet and 16 feet high, with setbacks that would be a minimum of 4 feet in the side and rear yards. It also permits ADUs and JDUs on every family lot and limits off-street parking requirements consistent with state law.
“This is an improvement over the last ordinance,” Koleda said, “including how we measure 16-foot height, with clarifications to other sections of the ordinance, which is far more easily understandable to the public and developers trying to construct ADUs.”
Continue reading “City OKs New Ordinance on Accessory Dwelling Units”