Town Council candidates focus on development

Several Crescenta Valley Town Council candidates on Wednesday called for more limitations on the height and size of residential developments in the unincorporated areas.

The La Crescenta-Montrose Community Standards District, enforced by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Department, applies only to commercial and multi-family units. But the recent construction of several large homes has made it clear that the limitations should be extended to include single-family homes, the candidates said.

A controversial new house at Briggs and Panorama avenues is too big and too visible, they said, and its impact on the neighborhood could have been reduced if the height and size limitations had been in place for such projects.

"The Panorama thing would be more palatable if the trees were still there," incumbent Charles Beatty said.

Large homes can actually help increase property values, said candidate Harry Leon, a La Crescenta-based plumber and small businessman. But steps have to be taken to ensure they complement the community, he added.

"We are not against people building, but you have to keep it characteristic," Leon said. "If you have Corvette upholstery you can't put it in a Cadillac. It looks nice, but it doesn't match with a Cadillac."

The comments came during the second of two forums meant to introduce the 10 Crescenta Valley Town Council candidates to voters, who will go to the polls on Nov. 6 to elect six new members.

The candidates are: incumbents Beatty and Cheryl Davis, and challengers Harry Leon, Krista Smiley, Young Seok Suh, Thomas Pollock, Charly Shelton, Odalis Suarez, Michael Claessens and Will Swick.

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 functions as a liaison to the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

Shelton, who at 21 is the youngest candidate by about two decades, said that La Crescenta doesn't need any more "impersonal" office buildings or tasteless strip malls. It needs development that will provide places for people to gather and interact, he said.

He proposed trying to attract a laser tag facility to the area, which would give youth something to do in their free time.

"One of the things I am hoping to feel around and see if there is some support is … if those people with money are willing to create some new business and use that land for the community," Shelton said.

The county's notification process for new development is completely inadequate, said Suarez, an attorney and real estate broker.

It is impossible to find projects on the county website unless you know the long, complicated case number, she said, and neighbors often don't know what is coming until it's already half-built.

Suarez cited a residential development on Frances Avenue where the developers subdivided a large lot into three new parcels. Because it was technically a lot-line adjustment, the developers were not required to notify the neighbors, Suarez said.

At risk were half a dozen mature oak trees.

"The county always says, 'Well, they are going to plant 20 little oak trees,'" Suarez said. "We are never going to see them. We will be dead by the time those oak trees grow to the size that [the existing trees were]."

Other points of discussion included the visibility of the Town Council within the community, the presence of lunch trucks on Foothill Boulevard, the creation of a local youth council and the Long Beach (710) Freeway extension project.

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