Backing Builds for Ballot on Development : Advocates of Limits on Commercial Projects Claim 4,225 Signatures

Times Staff Writer

Leaders of the Homeowners’ Assn. of La Canada Flintridge say they have collected more than three times the signatures needed in their petition to put a proposed ordinance sharply limiting commercial development in residential neighborhoods on the ballot.

Over three months, the group collected 4,225 signatures, representing about one-third of the city’s registered voters, said Jack Cane, a spokesman for the association. Signatures of only 10% of the voters, or 1,380, were needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Under the proposed ordinance, which seeks to protect the single-family residential character of the community, approval of a majority of voters would be required to rezone existing residential areas for greater density, such as commercial development.

The petitions were turned in Monday to the city clerk, who has 30 days to count and validate the signatures before sending the petitions to the county recorder’s office. That office would then prepare the measure for the municipal election next April.


Cane said the association will wait to see how the City Council reacts to the successful petition drive before it starts a campaign to pass the proposed ordinance.

“The city can write its own ordinance if it wants,” Cane said.

Much of the controversy over development in La Canada Flintridge has focused on Foothill Boulevard, the city’s main thoroughfare.

The debate heated up last year when Sport Chalet, which owns three sporting goods stores in the 900 block of Foothill Boulevard, requested a zoning change. Sport Chalet owner Norbert Olberz, who also owns 22 homes near his business, had plans to tear down these houses as well as the three aging stores and replace them with a larger, sports-related shopping mall.


Sport Chalet temporarily backed off from its plans, however, in the face of stiff opposition from community members. The firm agreed to work with a citizens’ group to come up with a plan that would be more to the community’s liking. The citizens’ group, called the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Foothill Boulevard, was appointed in March and includes the president of Sport Chalet, Sam Allen.

As part of its effort, the 20-member committee will conduct an informal walking tour of Foothill Boulevard Saturday. The group will gather at Briggs Avenue at 9 a.m. and walk east to La Canada Boulevard. The public is invited to join the tour, which is expected to last a few hours.

During the tour, the group will take note of existing land use, architectural design, landscaping and use of signs, according to Kent Frewing, co-chairman of the committee. After the tour, participants will gather in the city offices at 1327 Foothill Blvd. to discuss their impressions, Frewing said.

Committee members also hope to interview owners of businesses and residences along the route.


A second tour will be conducted on June 22, picking up where Saturday’s tour will end at La Canada Boulevard and continuing to Oak Grove Drive.