After rounds of interviews with civic-minded residents, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council last week filled 21 vacancies on seven city commissions and committees charged with informing officials on everything from building proposals to public safety to in-town traffic.
Candidates sought consideration for open seats available on the Planning, Public Safety, Design, Parks and Recreation and Public Works and Traffic commissions, as well as the city’s Investment and Financing Advisory Committee and Youth Council.
Residents currently filling those 21 positions all have terms due to expire on May 31. Due to two-term limits, several commissioners and committee members were not able to seek reappointment.
City Council members interviewed 27 hopefuls, publicly voting on the appointments during their regular meeting on May 21. A few candidates expressed interest in serving on multiple panels.
Appointed to the Planning Commission were incumbent Henry Oh and newcomers Mark Kindhouse and Samir Mehrotra. Named to the Public Safety Commission were incumbent candidate Marilyn Smith, Jeanette Applegate and former Parks and Recreation Commissioner Jeff Olson.
Incumbents Keith Eich and Kati Rubinyi were appointed to the Public Works and Traffic Commission, as was Marvin Collins, while current Design Commissioners Miriam Balcazar and Theresa King were appointed to new terms, alongside newcomer Ara Markari.
Parks and Recreation commissioners Jim Kambe and Jack Kozakar were reappointed to second terms, while Philippe Oertle will likely be sworn into his first term at the commission’s June 12 meeting. Incumbents Scott Swanson and Charles Thuss will continue to serve on the city’s Investment and Financing Advisory Committee, alongside newcomer Rod Essen.
Flintridge Preparatory School’s Sienna Arrobio, along with Royce Cho and Claire Saydah, both students at La Cañada High School, were appointed to serve on the city’s Youth Council, which hosts annual events and increases awareness of local issues affecting young people.
Commission and committee members serve four-year full terms and receive a small stipend for their service. Members are limited to two consecutive terms.
The newly appointed commission and committee members will be sworn in at the next regularly scheduled meeting of their respective groups.
LCF drafts emergency, disaster response plan
In a special meeting held immediately prior to their regular May 21 session, council members were briefed on preparations being made so city officials can respond quickly and effectively in the event of a catastrophe.
Emergency services coordinator Chris Carey delivered a brief tutorial on emergency management, explaining the city’s goals in a crisis will be to mitigate damage to life, property and infrastructure and resume business and community services as quickly as possible.
Providing accurate documentation will also be important, Carey said.
“The state and federal governments will likely be very quick to give money that we request, but they will also be on the spot auditing us, likely five years from now,” he said.
Carey explained when and how an emergency would be declared, shedding light on the role of city staffers and the council to cooperate but not interfere with law enforcement’s own emergency operations efforts.
The city will run its own emergency operations center (EOC), responsible for assessing events, responding to immediate needs, gathering information and keeping the community informed.
Run out of the new City Hall, the EOC is where staff and officials will make important decisions and announcements. Carey said he’s created a “kickoff binder” to inform whomever is at City Hall of how to set up operations, whom to call and what to do in an emergency.
Efforts to train residents on how they can become responders in their own neighborhoods will be crucial when county and city resources become overwhelmed, he added.
Mayor Pro Tem Greg Brown agreed. He recalled the city’s response in 2009 to the Station fire, which came perilously close to La Cañada Flintridge, and the subsequent mudslides that devastated several homes. He emphasized the need for residents and officials alike to have a local game plan.
“You get all this information from the regional [level] and it’s all very general,” he said. “But when it comes down to this neighborhood’s going to be evacuated in your town, you’re the only ones who really know what that means.”