Mayor’s ‘State of the City’ Message Is an Upbeat Update

Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK Mayor Terry Walker delivered a “state of the city” presentation on Wednesday, March 27, at a Kiwanis Club of La Cañada meeting held at Descanso Gardens.
Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
Mayor Terry Walker delivered a “state of the city” presentation on Wednesday, March 27, at a Kiwanis Club of La Cañada meeting held at Descanso Gardens.

La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Terry Walker on Wednesday gave an upbeat “state of the city” address that ranged from financials and public safety to the building of the new City Hall.
“Our top two goals are to make sure the city is fiscally sound and also public safety,” Walker told an audience of about 70 people at a Kiwanis Club of La Cañada meeting held at Descanso Gardens. “So we’ll talk about the fiscally sound part. After a year of me as your mayor, you’ll be happy to know City Hall is still standing — not necessarily in the same spot, but we’re still putting money in the bank.”
Showing slides that conveyed numbers, facts and images of the new hall, Walker said the general fund budget was more than $14.6 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year with reserves greater than $10 million.
“We do have, as you know, a large purchase in the City Hall, and as part of that we did take out a bank loan that hasn’t been funded yet,” Walker said. “That will be funded in June and our reserves will be in the neighborhood of $13 million.”
General fund revenues in the current fiscal year are expected to be more than $5.4 million, an increase of more than $439,000 compared to the previous year.
More than 75% of the revenues will have come from property, sales and real property transfer taxes as well as business license fees, Walker said.
She also said there were 311 local crimes in 2018, a 1% decrease compared with 2013.
“I know on social media you hear so much more, don’t you agree?” Walker said. “You hear about every crime in town. But when you look back, we’re actually ahead of where we were in the last five years. That doesn’t mean let down your guard, that doesn’t mean we have to quit working to keep it safer and safer, but just when people say, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much crime in La Cañada these days,’ there’s a good little stat to have in your back pocket.”
Walker noted the city hosted its first public safety town hall last year in March after a spike in residential burglaries.
“I think as a result of working with our sheriffs, we have an increase in neighborhood watch groups and certainly an increase in public awareness,” Walker said. She also pointed out that LCF funded two additional rounds of the Ring.com residential video doorbell program. The successful program has resulted in the Sheriff’s Department getting “a lot” of pictures for evidence and helps to deter crime, she said.
Additionally, the Los Angeles County Fire Department had 1,472 total responses last year, including 959 for medical calls and 30 for fires.
“We keep the Fire Department busy, as you can see,” the mayor said.
On April 10, the LCF Chamber of Commerce will move into the new City Hall, said Walker, adding that the organization’s employees will likely be the first faces a visitor sees upon entering the building.
“We’re really happy about that,” she said.
Walker also discussed the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project, also known as the Big Dig. The project, whose first phase began in late November, is expected to include 425 daily round trips by diesel trucks through the intersection at Berkshire Avenue and Oak Grove Drive and onto 210 Freeway entrances in both directions.
“This is always a difficult subject, quite honestly,” Walker said. “I think we all realize the importance of this — the necessity, really, of the sediment removal — but then there’s always concern about the number of truck, and the pollutants that will be in that area because of the sediment removal. So this is something we’re trying to work with the parents group from [La Cañada High School], who are spearheading this. We’ve had meetings with [county Supervisor Kathryn] Barger and the public works department to see if we can mitigate concerns, but it is an ongoing discussion.”
She also nodded to the progress in bringing a sound wall to the 210 overpass off Alta Canyada Road, with funding through Measure R, a 2008 ballot issue that increased the sales tax.
“We’re excited to have another one,” Walker said. She said the city is continuing to work on getting more sound walls for residents.
Other 2018 stats included:
• 260 road maintenance and traffic requests
• 5,893 tree service and spraying requests
• 27 graffiti removal requests
• 178 parks and landscape service requests
• 210 trail service requests and inspections
• Tonnage recycled from construction and demolition projects: 22,276
• 65 sewer connections processed
• 86 miles of streets swept 24 times a year, for a total of 2,064 miles
• 386 public right-of-way encroachment permits processed
“I think she’s done a fabulous job over the past year,” said Kiwanis President Michael Freed. “It was nice to have the presentation. Every year we see the growth and the improvements she’s been able to make and each mayor has been able to make.”
Harriet Hammons, a Chamber of Commerce ambassador, said she’s proud Walker is the mayor. She enjoyed the presentation, in particular the comments about the removal of dirt from the Devil’s Gate Dam area.
“I’m concerned about the dirt removal and pollution,” said Hammons, adding that she had heard that dirt removal would begin in May. “I know these people. I know Kathryn Barger well enough to call her up. I just keep digging at them.”

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