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LCF Embroiled in Toxic Legal Battle

What could the city of La Cañada Flintridge possibly have in common with Britney Jean Spears? They are both embroiled in a toxic legal battle that makes no sense at all.
By now, 600 Foothill Blvd. could have been a high-end senior living complex that might have brought tens of millions of dollars into the local economy each year. Restaurants, banks, grocery stores, gift shops, religious entities and estate planning attorneys would be living it up if the owners of 600 Foothill Blvd. had been able to sell the property back in 2018.
From the website of “Together La Canada”: “The first buyer in 2018, Oakmont Senior Living, proposed a 77,000 square foot senior living facility, but due to overwhelming opposition based on size, lack of parking and design the Planning Commission deferred consideration until more information was provided. Oakmont, who had bought the property on an option, decided not to proceed.”
The “lack of parking” is particularly interesting because the lot is surrounded by a mostly empty, very large, parking lot, but I digress.
After the Oakmont project was thwarted, the owners of 600 Foothill Blvd. submitted another plan for a mixed-use building, including hotel rooms and commercial space. LCF — as expected — refused to approve the project even though LCF had, at the same time, failed to submit a “compliant” plan for low-income housing, this is often called the “housing element.” The housing plan was due in October 2021 and, in case you missed it, LCF’s plan was finally deemed “substantially compliant” in November 2023.
As a result of the failure to have a timely housing plan, a state law referred to as a “builder’s remedy” is being used to determine whether or not LCF lost its right to object to the development of 600 Foothill Blvd. as the owners’ proposed. The builder’s remedy lawsuit is going well for 600 Foothill Blvd., as I thought it would, and not so well for LCF. Basically, Judge Mitchell Beckloff has ruled that the builders, and their significant allies, have sufficiently pleaded a case to apply the “builder’s remedy.” There will be more hearings and more expense for both sides as the case moves toward its inevitable conclusion: LCF was not in compliance with state law and a builder need not be subjected to the restrictions of our non-compliant city.
In fact, there will be a hearing on Friday, Dec. 22, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 86, to decide whether none other than the California Department of Justice will be allowed to participate and join the lawsuit against LCF. Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the plan to intervene in his weekly e-newsletter. In support of this move by Bonta, Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote, “Since California strengthened its housing laws, cities have attempted, unsuccessfully, to skirt these rules. La Cañada Flintridge is another community making excuses rather than building their fair share of housing. La Cañada Flintridge will learn, as other communities have, that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and ultimately, they will be held accountable.”
Likewise, I am sad to say, Ms. Spears’ case is not going well and I think she could use a second opinion, too. Watching these two cases, and having a fairly good idea of what is yet to come, these lawsuits seem like a terrible waste of time and money, especially precious taxpayer dollars.
Reminder: I am not affiliated with the project at 600 Foothill Blvd. and only hope for the best possible outcome for the most possible people. Always.

Lisa MacCarley
La Cañada Flintridge

First published in the December 21 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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