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Urge City to Work With Owners of 600 Foothill

It’s deja vu all over again! In the mid-to-late 1990s, say around 1999, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council was in a jam. Norbert Olberz, the founder of now defunct Sports Chalet, had acquired numerous properties on the northeast corner of Angeles Crest and Foothill Boulevard, tore them down (or let them fall down) and proposed to build a shopping center. A plan for the shopping center had been approved, more or less, by city planners.
“NIMBY” cried the residents. “Terrible traffic!” “Too many strangers!” “The demise of our small-town atmosphere!”
The battle between Olberz and the NIMBY crowd went on for years, and even changed the composition of the LCF City Council. Still, Olberz persisted, although increasingly resentful of what he was being put through.
After years of back and forth, the LCF City Council eventually adopted a plan to allow Olberz’s property to be developed. Surrounded by more parking spaces than park, we eat there, we shop there, and we even govern there.
Homes in LCF did not diminish in value. In fact, LCF homes are significantly bigger and more expensive than ever, hovering at around $1,000 a square foot.
Nevertheless, our city council has hired not one but two law firms for the purpose of delaying the construction of a multipurpose, multifamily building at 600 Foothill Blvd., the sad little corner lot surrounded by the asphalt parking lot of the La Cañada Presbyterian Church (Los Angeles Superior Court Case Nos. 23STCP02575 and Related Case: 23STCP02614).
The legal battle has begun in earnest and it starts with the usual insults and posturing that has become standard fare in America’s broken legal system. Journalist Emily Hoeven noted that LCF even “argued in court documents filed last week that a California law designed to desegregate historically exclusionary communities, known as “affirmatively furthering fair housing,” is unconstitutional due to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down affirmative action in college admissions.” (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 1, 2023.)
I couldn’t believe it, so I read the pleading myself, and yes, that’s one of the arguments LCF’s attorneys make. It’s heartbreaking as well as embarrassing. Our community, having been recently put on blast by a Black family for their mistreatment, is sadly living up to its reputation as a sundown town.
Do you really want your tax dollars being used to make such a disingenuous and ugly argument to delay the inevitable? At a recent Kiwanis Club meeting, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told attendees that senior citizens are the fastest growing demographic facing homelessness. Several thousand children in Los Angeles County are homeless, too. But sure, argue that the laws trying to put a roof over their heads are unconstitutional.
Please urge our city leaders to stop litigating and work with the owners of 600 Foothill Blvd. to develop multifamily homes that will make the human sojourn a little less painful for people who are not as fortunate as you are. “All are welcome here,” right?

Lisa MacCarley
La Cañada Flintridge

First published in the September 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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