City Backs Bikeway, Gets Encouraging News on Sound Walls

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council approved a $954,000 allocation of Measure M funding for a Foothill Boulevard Link Bikeway and Pedestrian Greenbelt Project contingent on Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority funding for sound walls.
The unanimous decision on the bikeway project was made Tuesday night on the condition that Metro would approve $3.712 million in Measure M funds — derived from a half-cent sales tax — and an additional $3.288 million in county funding that state Sen. Anthony Portantino said could be available for construction of 210 Freeway sound walls, a topic of much interest to city residents.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a couple of months,” Portantino told a surprised audience about the potential funding at this week’s City Council meeting. “I didn’t want to say it until it happened.”
With the additional $3.288 million, the city would have about $7 million that in turn would qualify it for a $5 million grant through California Senate Bill 1, which funds transportation projects. In all, that would result in a total of $12 million for sound walls, the senator said. City leaders have said that is the sum amount needed to pay for four additional walls along the 210.
On Wednesday morning, Portantino said Metro’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee had just voted to recommend the sound wall funding to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, which is likely to approve the matter on Thursday, Oct. 25, Portantino said.
Portantino said that he negotiated the deal and is grateful to have been working with County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“I’m excited the city [would get] $12 million for sound walls,” Portantino said.
Meanwhile, the bikeway project resulted from an online survey in which the Arroyo Verdugo Communities Joint Powers Authority sought feedback on projects it could fund.
LCF, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Glendale and other communities are members of the authority, which has approximately $24.1 million to spend in the area for five years, according to an LCF city statement. LCF will receive about $1 million over that period because the money is split in a per capita manner by jurisdiction.
The bikeway project includes a new bikeway on the south and north side of Foothill with landscaping, new sidewalks, and a new raised center median. The boundaries for the project are from 2111 Foothill Blvd. to the 2 Freeway on- and off-ramps at Hillard Avenue.
Audience members were startled by Portantino’s announcement of the sound wall development, but many — not all — said they would like to use the $954,000 for sound walls.
“Sound walls are our single most pressing issue,” resident Ken Hudnut told the City Council. “When there are dollars available for sound walls, that’s a big priority for a lot of people.”
The City Council promised it was not abandoning the quest for sound walls.
Before the vote, Councilman Michael Davitt told the audience the council was voting on the allocation of Measure M funds through the joint powers authority and not on the project itself.
“Us taking any kind of action for [the bike project] is no reflection on our commitment to sound walls,” Davitt said. “It’s a commitment for other transportation programs.”
Meanwhile, former LCF Mayor Don Voss supported the recommendation of the bikeway project because he said it was the most effective way to use the available Measure M funding. The former mayor also suggested using funds for the installation of a new LCF shuttle stop at Descanso Gardens.

TREEHOUSE ORDINANCE PASSES

An ordinance on treehouses that had been discussed in previous meetings was approved unanimously.
The City Council decided on Oct. 2 to include additional language from L.A. County building codes in a proposed ordinance about constructing treehouses. But officials postponed further action because they wanted to allow the public to consider the new language.
That wording, according to Susan Koleda, director of community development, is that treehouses can’t surpass 64 square feet and measure more than 8 feet from floor to roof. Additionally, the ceiling height can’t exceed 6 feet and it must comply with setbacks and height standards for structures, she said.
“I think this does a nice job of making it user-friendly so people know what the standards are,” said City Councilman Gregory Brown.

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