I read Bob Lang's commentary in the May 3 Valley Sun. As a resident of La Cañada since 1957 and someone who sat on the committee looking at relocating City Hall, I would like to share my recollection of the process. To begin, the City Council interviewed local citizens who expressed an interest in serving on the committee. The City Council then selected a cross section of people to serve from that group. Laura Ohlasso was still on the City Council, and she left in 2015, so to infer the decision to move City Hall to a new location was made over the last year is incorrect.
Our existing City Hall building originally housed a dental office and multiple businesses like it. Much of the space is dead space. The Council Chambers room is far too small to accommodate large crowds, and the parking is inadequate. Lang's comment about "roll a bowling ball down any of the several hallways" leads me to believe he has never been in or looked into the offices. The employees and all of what they need to make this city run smoothly are crammed into inadequate office space. These are not working conditions I would like, and I doubt anyone else would like them either.
The committee took a hard look at the current location and what it would take to make it work. In order to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and add on enough space to house all of the staff under the same roof was determined not to be feasible. The property was not large enough. The committee also took into consideration the cost of relocating the staff while the renovation took place along as well as the cost to rent the space to house them. Lang's guess of "a couple of million" to fix City Hall was off the mark.
Yes, the total for the new City Hall started at $11 million, but I don't believe Lang factored in the sale of the current City Hall, the rent from the Montessori school and various other things that the committee took into consideration before making a recommendation. The issue was studied at length and not made hastily.
I applaud our City Council for keeping our city solvent. They do not "spend other people's" (their money, too) casually. It is unfair of Lang to lump our City Council in with every other politician in our country. Our "politicians" are not typical. They have retired from or currently hold jobs. While serving on the City Council they commit much of their personal time and money to support many of the local events after a putting in a full day of work or on the weekends. They receive a pittance to serve their community. I highly doubt they do it for the money. I believe they do it for the love they have for La Cañada.
Am I pleased with the all changes that have taken place since we have become a city? No, but then again, I have found no one likes change but a wet baby. My question to Lang is, "How do you think a city runs?" Empty buildings do not pay the bills. La Cañada must adapt as many other cities have. Has he taken a look at South Lake in Pasadena? Many of the same businesses in La Cañada are present on that once upscale avenue as well. Times are changing, like it or not. La Cañada is a city, but we are a city with a small town feel run by people who live here and love the city. In my opinion, the new City Hall would be a wonderful addition to our community.