With the onset of the new year comes a slate of new regulations — regarding everything from massage parlors and e-cigarettes to historic home preservation and construction — that are sure to shape how life and business is conducted in La Cañada Flintridge.
Throughout the year, City Council members and commissioners have been working hard on amending current ordinances and making new ones in response to changing trends and directives coming down the pike from Sacramento lawmakers.
Here's a look at some of the changes that will be in effect in 2016.
No drones at Memorial Park events. Citing the flying quad-copters, which had been spotted flying over at least two civic events, as noisy nuisances and possible threats to public safety, the La Cañada City Council issued an immediate ban on all drones at city-sponsored events held inside Memorial Park. Some council members questioned whether further measures might be taken to restrict drone flights in a wider context, including residential areas.
Unpermitted construction crackdown. To respond to the issue of contractors working without the appropriate permits and licenses, officials amended the city's building code and business license regulations to require all construction sites display placards in public view indicating a project has been approved. Additionally, contractor vehicles must display stickers that show their drivers are working with a current business license.
Regulating e-cigarette sales and possession by minors. In November, the City Council approved rules governing electronic cigarettes like traditional cigarettes. Now, local businesses selling such devices must carry a tobacco retailers license, and e-cigarette smokers will be held to the same restrictions as regular smokers. Officials also banned the possession of nicotine e-cigarette cartridges by minors.
"We've tried to focus on having a community that is healthy and vibrant and to reduce issues with our high school and teenage population," Mayor Dave Spence said of the move.
Troy Rudnick, general manager of La Cañada's Crystal Vapor, confirmed Tuesday the business already carried its tobacco retailer license and would continue to prohibit sales to minors.
"We care about (our business), so we want to get ahead of the new laws," Rudnick reported.
More Mills Act tax breaks. In December the council voted to increase the cap on property tax reductions guaranteed by the Mills Act, a state incentives program designed to encourage the restoration and preservation of historic, privately owned properties. At the recommendation of the Planning Commission the cap doubled, from a combined $10,000 to $20,000. "It helps protect these valuable resources the city has, in way that is voluntary," said Community Development Director Robert Stanley.
Medical marijuana restrictions. Last month, City Council members adopted regulations prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation and delivery inside city limits. The move is an attempt to keep regulation under the city's control before new, yet-to-be established state board makes its own laws. At the request of some council members, who were concerned legitimate medical marijuana users would be negatively impacted by the delivery ban, City Atty. Mark Steres said that portion of the ordinance could be revisited in the near future.
Water-efficiency measures. New large-scale development projects will be required to contain plans for "low impact development" (LID) areas that will allow rainwater to penetrate into the soil. An LID plan must be in place before building and grading permits are issued.
The new law applies to: new development projects involving 1 acre or more of disturbed space; those with more than 10,000 feet of impervious surface area (including driveways); new retail gas outlets, restaurants or parking lots of 5,000 square feet of surface area; and other projects of similar scope, including residential plans.
"That will help recharge the water system," Stanley said of the law. "It's something that comes down from the state, but it helps the city, too."
Sara Cardine, email@example.com