Two hot button issues among La Cañada residents — a startling recent uptick of home break-ins and ongoing power outage issues — were tackled this week by members of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council.
Sheriff's and city officials updated residents during the regular council meeting Tuesday night on numerous additional public safety efforts being made in the wake of a rash of burglaries, including two December armed home invasions, announcing they'll host a citywide safety forum on March 5.
In January, a total of 12 residential burglaries and attempted burglaries were reported by tracking website Crimemapping.com, compared to six in both December and November. Similarly, a total of six commercial or other break-ins were tracked in January, compared to one in December and two in November.
City Manager Mark Alexander said numerous residents have contacted City Hall to share their concerns about crime trends. He assured residents officials were thoughtfully and actively responding to issues raised.
"I think it's really important that we share some of the information on the things we're doing as a city and the things the sheriff's department is doing in response to the incidents that have occurred," he said. "This is a very important issue and we are very concerned."
Alexander said in addition to increased patrols, made possible by extra discretionary funding provided the sheriff's department by the city, a new automatic license plate reader unit previously approved by the council was being installed on a vehicle at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station.
The station is also in the process of bringing on a community services assistant to support deputies administratively and help with parking enforcement so officers can spend more time patrolling La Cañada's streets. The annual $62,300 salary will be paid for by additional funding granted to the station by the city in July.
In a public comment, La Cañada resident Linda Reisz shared her personal experience as the victim of a Jan. 31 home break-in.
"I was burglarized last week — I have no jewelry left," Reisz told council members. "So now I've joined the ranks of people who've been cleared out."
She wondered how slow response times by the Crescenta Valley station, a lack of license plate cameras and under-policing in general may have contributed to the recent rise of burglaries.
Station Capt. Chris Blasnek assured Reisz and others that the station, located on Briggs Avenue in La Crescenta, has stepped up its policing to respond to the increased crime trend. In January, he said, deputies issued 238 warnings, 125 citations and conducted 86 field interviews, compared to 122 warnings, 62 citations and 24 interviews in December.
"We acknowledge we've had an uptick [in burglaries] and we're going to deal with it," Blasnek said. "Deputies are working hard for you out there."
A public safety newsletter prepared by city staff indicates the average response time of Crescenta Valley station deputies in emergent, potentially threatening situations is 3.6 minutes. In priority situations, when there is a probable but still unconfirmed active crime or threat to safety, the average wait time is six minutes.
In addition to increased patrols, Blasnek said the station is working equally hard to inform residents of ways to protect their homes from crimes. The city currently has 35 neighborhood watch groups and conducts regular informational sessions at residents' requests.
On Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge, 4469 Chevy Chase Drive, neighborhood watch captain Stephanie Arnold has arranged a presentation by representatives of Ring video doorbell. Residents can have their questions answered by experts and receive a discount on products.
Doors will open at 5 p.m. on March 5 for the city's town hall forum on public safety and crime prevention at Lanterman Auditorium, 4491 Cornishon Ave., La Cañada. For more information, call (818) 790-8880.
Edison responds to reliability report
Also on Tuesday, the City Council heard an update from Southern California Edison representative Marissa Castro-Salvati on infrastructure upgrades being made in response to an independent audit commissioned to evaluate the utility's local reliability and service.
The results of that report, released in September by Los Angeles-based consulting firm PMCM, showed La Cañada Flintridge experienced 2,371 power outages between 2006 and 2016 — a failure rate higher than Edison's systemwide average. The report made several recommendations, including renovation to an overburdened local substation.
Castro-Salvati told council members the results of the report were received and officials could expect to learn more about many improvements made in recent months when Edison releases an annual circuit reliability report later this month.
"SCE has invested $72 million of capital upgrades within the city of La Cañada Flintridge in the last 10 years and plans extensive community improvements in the next 10 years," she said. "Rest assured that an open line of communication and timely responses to customer requests will always be maintained."