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Supervisor Barger and LCF officials put heads together on local, regional issues

La Cañada Flintridge City Council members had the ear of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger during a special meeting Wednesday, where they discussed regional and statewide issues that could affect residents and sought help on advancing key local initiatives.

The two-hour breakfast meeting covered topics ranging from Metro’s plans for the 710 Freeway to funding sound walls along the Foothill 210 Freeway to the possible repeal in November of a new gas tax that’s earmarked millions for the city.

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Barger and senior staff members fielded questions and shared updates on news and legislative efforts that may aid the city. For example, although La Cañada has been excluded from Metro funding potentially available to cities impacted by the 710 for traffic mitigation measures, fronting money from the future sale of some 500 properties previously owned by Caltrans might allow for the construction of sound walls.

“I would ask you to let us navigate the bureaucracy of Metro with you,” Barger said.

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The supervisor vowed to work with city officials on issues of joint concern, such as repair of the crumbling Flint Canyon Trail in areas that fall within the county’s jurisdiction. La Cañada City Manager Mark Alexander estimated full restoration could cost $4 million to $5 million.

“We’ve spent over $800,000 just on Band-Aid fixes,” Alexander told the county officials, who promised to help the city apply for possible grant funding through the Proposition 68 water bond, passed by voters in June.

The City Council also asked whether the county might share in the $500,000 cost of resurfacing Descanso Drive, from Verdugo Boulevard to Chevy Chase Drive, where traffic in and out of the county-owned Descanso Gardens is highest.

Barger accepted an invitation to participate in the city’s annual Mayor’s Hike, scheduled for Nov. 3, and tentatively committed to bringing another supervisor’s trail ride to La Cañada in 2019.

“Your city is a joy to work with,” she said. “While this is a once-a-year [event], you know our door is always open. You’ve got staff anytime you need it, as it relates to issues, so don’t wait. Bring us in earlier and we’ll do it together.”

Wednesday’s meeting convened 12 hours after the regular City Council meeting adjourned Tuesday night, when a host of subjects were discussed.

The council adopted the city’s 2018-19 annual budget and financial plan, the result of a series of budget hearings held in June. Councilman Greg Brown cast the lone dissenting vote against the document, saying he disapproved of taking an additional $347,225 from the city’s reserve fund to balance the budget.

“I just can’t support deficit spending,” Brown said.

His council colleagues maintained much of the withdrawal was for placeholder funding that may not come due and said the sale of the current city hall building for $3.2 million was not on this fiscal year’s budget but was in the proverbial bank. The vote stood at 3-1 (Mike Davitt was absent).

The council also approved amending the city’s zoning map to re-designate the current city hall building at 1327 Foothill Blvd. from “institutional” to “community planned development.” A Glendale insurance company purchased the property.

Councilman Jon Curtis said he hoped the city could prohibit insurance company employees from filling up the public Caltrans overpass parking lot across Foothill, but fellow council members said the city couldn’t bar businesses from parking there. That vote also came down to 3-1 with Curtis dissenting.

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