I'm Just Sayin': Democracy needs an educated public

This week I’d like to explain how just a handful of people can make a difference in La Crescenta and Glendale.

My first example came last week, when local home builder Mark Anderson came last Thursday evening to the Crescenta Valley Town Council’s Land Use Committee meeting to explain some requirements that the L.A. County Department of Public Works is trying to place on a housing project he’s planning for the corner of Briggs and Prospect Avenues in La Crescenta.

The county wants him to create curbs, gutters and a sidewalk on Briggs Avenue and a swale on Prospect Avenue, to enable the county to widen that street. Currently, none of these exist on either street, with Briggs Avenue having a hopscotch pattern of sidewalks in the four-block length from Foothill Boulevard to the Foothill (210) Freeway overpass.

Anderson felt these requirements weren’t necessary and had earlier contacted the council asking them for their assistance.

Much to their credit, council President Cheryl Davis and Land Use Chairman Steve Goldsworthy went door-to-door in the neighborhood on Wednesday evening. They handed out flyers, asking residents to attend the Thursday meeting or to e-mail the council with their opinion.

They also spoke with 10 people, nine of whom absolutely do not want curbs, gutters and sidewalks on Briggs Avenue. Some of these neighbors also attended the meeting on Thursday and restated that they like the semi-rural feel of their neighborhood and that the so-called improvements weren’t wanted or needed.

After hearing from the residents, and reading several e-mails in agreement, the council voted to send a letter to the county asking them to remove these requirements from the project. Mike Lawler and I, who are on the Steering Committee of the Crescenta Valley Community Assn., were in attendance and agreed that our organization would also send such a letter.

So even a small number of people can make a change, or in this case, stop unwanted change, in their neighborhoods.

This brings me to the second part of my article, the upcoming election forums and panels that the Crescenta Valley Community Assn. is hosting in the next month.

The first forum, co-hosted by the Far North Glendale Homeowners Assn., is for the Glendale City Council candidates and will take place at 7 p.m. Friday in the community room of Dunsmore Park, 4700 Dunsmore Ave, La Crescenta.

At 7 p.m. March 23, there will be a Glendale Unified school board candidate forum, also held at Dunsmore Park community room.

Finally, at 7 p.m. on March 29, a panel discussion on Measure S will take place at at the La Crescenta Library community room at 2809 Foothill Blvd.

The Glendale City Council and school board candidate forums are the only ones being held in the Crescenta Valley and we are the only group hosting a panel discussion on Measure S.

In the 2009 Glendale City Council election, just 236 votes separated the top two vote getters. Had that small margin occurred between the third and fourth place candidates, the council make-up would be very different from what we have today.

Again, a small number of people can make a difference. Please attend these forums, become an educated voter, and become one of those people.

SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at sharonchary@gmail.com.

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