Urban growth has emerged as the dominant campaign issue in the Nov. 6 election for the Crescenta Valley Town Council, with candidates calling for stronger local oversight of residential and commercial developments.
At a forum Thursday at the La Crescenta Library, candidates criticized the size and aesthetics of several recent projects, with one saying he wants Foothill Boulevard in La Crescenta to "look better than La Cañada." The group of 10 candidates also took aim at a home on Briggs Avenue that is so large that some neighbors said they initially mistook it for a church.
"It really affected the community," candidate Odalis Suarez said of the home. "It changed the dynamics of the neighborhood if you live there."
Another candidate, Krista Smiley, proposed the development of pocket parks along the Foothill Boulevard bike paths, similar to the one at Briggs Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
The Crescenta Valley Town Council, established in 1989, consists of nine permanent voting members who serve three-year terms, and three alternates who serve a one-year term, voting only when a permanent member is absent. The council is the mouthpiece of the community, representing the unincorporated area of La Crescenta to the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
Last year's election saw seven candidates. This year, two incumbents and eight challengers are competing for six seats, including three permanent positions and three alternate seats.
The candidates are: incumbents Cheryl Davis and Charles Beatty, and challengers Smiley, Suarez, Harry Leon, Young Seok Suh, Thomas Pollock, Charly Shelton, Michael Claessens and Will Swick.
Other issues raised during the forum included drug and alcohol abuse among La Crescenta youth, county emergency response services and public safety. Beatty, a longtime council member, said he would continue to push for a lighted crosswalk at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, and Davis promised to ensure that the proposed La Crescenta dog park, approved by county supervisors last month, comes to fruition.
"I would like to remain on council to see the construction and opening of the first L.A. County-owned and -operated dog park," said Davis, an officer of CV Dogs, the group that collected signatures to support the project.
Several candidates proposed improving the council's outreach to senior citizens and youth. The community could use a senior center as well as a youth council, Leon said, services that would greatly enhance the quality of life in the area.
Nine of the 10 candidates vehemently opposed the underground tunnel extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway, saying it would be disastrous for the entire foothill corridor.
Swick said he supports the tunnel, as long as the project includes sound barriers.
"If you live in L.A., you drive everywhere, and to have a better freeway system would be great," he said. "There may be more people coming through this area to businesses."
Claessens said he was prompted to run for the Town Council after watching hundreds of La Crescenta families being evacuated during the 2009 Station fire, and then again during the subsequent debris flows. He pledged to improve what he said was a lack of communication between county officials and local residents should he be elected.
"The county has views about how things ought to work…but there is very little input from the people within the community," Claessens said.
The Crescenta Valley Community Assn. will host a second candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Dunsmore Park Community Room. The focus of the forum will be local development issues.
The Crescenta Valley Town Council election will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 6 at the La Crescenta Library. Detailed candidate information is available on the Crescenta Valley Town Council website.