State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman visited with city officials at a special meeting on Monday, pledging to seek different funding options for sound walls on the 210 Freeway, and also discussing potential state legislation that could affect La Cañada Flintridge.
Funding for sound walls was No. 1 on the city’s list of concerns, especially the means for LCF to obtain funding if Senate Bill 1, the legislation that increased the tax on gasoline to provide money for road repairs, is repealed in November through a ballot proposition.
“We’re looking for a path that we can follow regardless of what can happen with that legislation in November,” Mayor Terry Walker said. “How can we get some relief from the state, from Caltrans, from wherever?”
Friedman said she believes SB 1 is still the city’s best bet for building sound walls, and revenue provided by it could still become available in future funding cycles.
“I need to see how far out that money is spoken for because I don’t know,” said Friedman, noting that she will learn more about the SB 1 funding when the Assembly reconvenes in January. In the meantime, she added, she will also investigate with her staff in Sacramento to find out what other financial options could fund the sound walls, including bonds or “other pots of money.”
“I can see if there’s anything at all this could qualify for,” said Friedman, who is on the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Additionally, Friedman said she would like to help the city obtain $7 million to match $5 million for the SB 1 funds. In May, with the encouragement of state Sen. (and LCF resident) Anthony Portantino, the California Transportation Commission approved $5 million in funding from SB 1, but a $7 million match must be made through the city. Local officials have said at previous meetings that match funding is a tremendous amount for a city with an overall budget of $14 million for 2018-19.
The money would help the city build four proposed sound walls, with three on the north side of the 210 Freeway and one on the south side. Construction costs for the project are estimated at $10 million, with design costs of about $2 million.
SOBER LIVING HOMES
The next item up for discussion was sober living homes, and the assemblywoman addressed her legislation that passed the Assembly and Senate and is waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it into law.
If signed, Assembly Bill 3162 would make all treatment services be provided under one roof, instead of at a series of buildings in a neighborhood as is currently allowed, Friedman said. The bill is a reaction to comments she had received about treatment facilities in Malibu.
“They’re so lucrative,” Friedman said. “They make so much money on them. They buy entire blocks. They buy five and put housing in one and treatment in another. They’re creating de facto compounds.”
Friedman said the bill also creates a one-year probationary period for a sober living home. The license can be revoked if the facility doesn’t comply with all codes and regulations. The bill would help create more oversight of the treatment facility industry, within which Friedman noted there are good and bad operators, with the terrible ones leaving behind an “unbelievable toll” on human life.
Councilman Gregory Brown said that the issue is more than just a sober living home, and that it seems the state is trying to impose “one size fits all” solutions on cities.
According to state law, cities are preempted from regulating residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities if six or fewer people are treated there.
“Sober living homes can be a one-size-fits-all that cause a lot of problems in some communities more than others,” Friedman said.
Friedman said that she is optimistic Brown will sign the bill, but that input from city officials in support of it could help.
“If it got vetoed, it would go back to square one,” she said.
FLINT CANYON RESTORATION PROJECT
Friedman and the council also discussed how to repair the eroding Flint Canyon Trail.
According to a map from the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation, the trail is more than two miles in length and can be accessed from Hahamongna Watershed Park to the east, Cherry Canyon Park to the west or numerous residential streets that cross the trail.
The cost of repairing the trail has been estimated at $4-5 million, said Division Manager Ann Wilson, and smaller grants, like $100,000, won’t help the issues of erosion. The city is seeking more money.
Friedman suggested trying to connect the trail’s purpose with bicycle riding to make an argument for SB 1 funds or other money.
“There’s a lot of money every year for bicycle infrastructure,” Friedman said.
CANNABIS DELIVERY AND REGULATION
City Manager Mark Alexander said the city has prohibited cannabis delivery and cultivation but he is worried about the League of California Cities advocating for delivery at the state level. Alexander said he is concerned about the league preventing the city from enforcing local ordinances on cannabis.
Friedman said she understands the city’s concerns.
“This isn’t an issue I’ve been following very closely because Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge both prohibit cannabis dispensaries and delivery in their communities,” Friedman said. “And I supported that when I was on the Glendale council. … I do have some sympathy for people who are generally ill who want cannabis delivery because they can’t physically go and get it. I just don’t quite know where that balance is. It would be easier for me to vote against the statewide bill if there were some thought given to those situations.”
Walker said LCF has taken a conservative approach on the newer issue of cannabis delivery, and ultimately “our last choice would be to have it mandated to us.”