Leonard Pieroni pointed to public safety as his top priority after being selected as mayor of La Cañada Flintridge in a reorganization of the City Council this week.
“We experienced an uptick in burglaries in the past year,” Pieroni said at the council’s meeting on Tuesday. “I think it’s imperative that we continue the close working relationship with our local sheriff and the [Crescenta Valley] station and maintain open communications with them so they can catch the bad guys and keep our community safe. I know they’re working on that a lot more than you probably see out in the streets.”
Pieroni took the reins from outgoing Mayor Terry Walker at the meeting.
Councilman Greg Brown, who was out of the country, was chosen mayor pro tem by his colleagues.
Pieroni, as part of his public safety comments, also expressed confidence in the L.A. County Fire Department.
“They continue to take care of our community whether it’s fire, medical calls or good intent calls [false calls made without malicious intent],” Pieroni said. “They’re here to keep our community safe and we need to work closely with them as well.”
Other topics the new mayor mentioned were traffic, emergency communications and La Cañada residents’ satisfaction with city services.
“At times it can be frustrating just to drive across town,” he said, referring to sometimes congested local streets. “We need to continue to assess the conditions and circumstances and work to solve the problems. Or at least try to find some improvements we can make along the way.”
He also mentioned he would like to see the City Hall building used for public functions, take a look at how the city approaches customer service and continue to promote LCF’s family-friendly environment.
After the meeting, Pieroni said his remark about burglaries referred to a situation last year and that such crimes overall are flat and trending downward. However, there have been home burglaries in which residents were present or arrived at their dwelling to find intruders, he said.
“That’s really scary,” Pieroni said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a regular basis but it’s more than once a year. They’re turning into not just a loss of property and whatever gets stolen, but very scary for anyone who runs into somebody in their house or comes home and finds out it was ransacked.”
Pieroni has lived in LCF since he was a 5th-grader at Paradise Canyon Elementary School. He was first elected to the council in March 2015. His term concludes in March 2020.
Before joining the council, he served on the Public Works and Traffic Commission from 2012-15. He is currently a section manager in facilities, engineering and construction for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has worked there since June 2015. Previously, he was a senior project manager for energy company WorleyParsons and a project manager for the security, defense and technology company Parsons. He received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1986. He and his wife, Brenda, have two children who are in college. He is involved with local groups such as the Boy Scouts and is a past president and current member of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Support Group.
Walker she didn’t know Pieroni at all when they were elected to the council four years ago, but having worked with him on various city committees and she considers him a friend. In particular, she mentioned their experience on the City Hall renovations committee.
“Len was always a voice of reason and calm,” Walker said. “As an engineer, he has an analytical mind, which is very helpful when working through issues. He is open minded and he is a great team player, and I respect his judgment. He is a man of character and integrity and he has a great sense of humor, which is a job requirement.”
As is his tradition, City Manager Mark Alexander presented Walker with gifts commemorating her time as mayor, including a Monopoly-style LCF game and an old chair from the former City Hall. Walker also received gifts and presentations from other officials.
Pieroni noted Walker had supported the end of the 710 Freeway extension, worked to secure funding for 210 Freeway sound walls and consulted with the La Cañada Unified School District for its proposed Sagebrush territory transfer. He added he enjoyed working with the former mayor on the renovation committee.
“I think we made a pretty good team,” Pieroni said.
Ordinance for Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Passed
Before the reorganization, a second reading for an ordinance to repeal and replace current LCF regulations for wireless telecommunications facilities was unanimously approved by the council. The change follows a recent Federal Communications Commission decision that will limit local control over the aesthetics of such facilities.
“We worked out the questions at our last meeting,” Walker said before the vote.
The ordinance is set to repeal the current regulations regarding wireless facilities in the public right of way and adopt a resolution to establish policy for small wireless facilities.
The FCC’s September order limits state and local regulation over small wireless facilities in the public rights of way and in a limited way on private property, according to a city statement.
For example, the proposed design standards recommend that when there is a choice in location, wireless carriers should choose a pole or a street light between buildings and not immediately next to the structures, according to the statement. The new standards also state paint and design should blend with surrounding buildings, signage should be limited and lighting is prohibited unless the Federal Aviation Administration requires it.
Lona Laymon, a partner at the law firm Aleshire & Wynder, said at a March 19 council meeting that the FCC ruling would force officials to accept any designs from telecommunications companies if action weren’t taken.
A question raised by Brown at the March meeting prompted city staff members to add to the ordinance a statement that wireless facilities “shall not impede” pedestrian, bicycle or vehicular traffic along the public right of way or present a hazard. Staff members, according to the report, also believe wireless companies won’t place their facilities — poles, for example — in areas where vehicles could crash into them. The order is being challenged in court, but no stay has been granted and it is expected to take effect on Monday, April 15.
Officials said the order has limited local government from regulating the facilities based on aesthetics and also provides that only published aesthetic regulations can be imposed.
Because the order will probably take effect soon, the ordinance was brought back to the council on Tuesday to ensure the new regulations are effective immediately.
The ordinance was set to take effect May 2, but because it is adopted as an emergency measure, it is in force now.
One speaker asked questions about the possible negative health impacts of the ordinance.
“The way the federal government has laid this order out, we can’t consider health impacts,” said LCF interim City Attorney Adrian Guerra. “Our hands are tied.” He added other cities, like Calabasas, have drafted similar emergency ordinances to try to protect established preferences about where the facilities can be located.
“Staff and I are going to evaluate the ordinance and regulations and we may bring revisions back,” Guerra said.