For those of us who love the rural charm and foothills ambience of La Cañada Flintridge a warning was sounded in our city's planning commission hearing last Tuesday night.
Several years ago our council passed extensive hillside ordinances to protect our "ridgelines, viewscapes and hill tops" and the rural nature of LCF, thus preventing the ugly scarring of the hillsides as has occurred in much of Glendale and LA.
The hearing revealed that our hillsides remain at grave risk. In the application for Hillside Development Permit 03-57, the owner of a parcel of land at the top of Vista Miguel (off Vista del Valle), although met with exceptionally strong resistance from neighbors, was deemed not to violate the hillside ordinances and be acceptable from a planning perspective, and a continuance was issued.
The owner of the parcel having bought the property with approved plans on the flat part of the property and having given assurances of building a smaller home on the approved site subsequently decided that this site was not suitable. He then set about designing a 7,800 sq. foot home on the hilltop, claiming that it is the only usable site on the parcel. This project would require the removal of enough hillside to fill over 1,000 large earth moving dump trucks, degrading of the hilltop, lowering the ridge by 45 ft, filling the adjacent canyon to provide access via an immense winding driveway (over 800 feet), and disturbing the natural environment of over two thirds of the property.
A large house would loom on the hilltop overlooking the neighborhood, and a pristine ridgeline and viewscape would be lost forever to the neighbors and to La Cañada Flintridge. Worse, permitting this desecration would almost certainly lead to "domino" development and further hillside and ridgeline loss north of the property in question. When do we say "no" to further destruction of our hilltops and ridgelines?
For those of us interested in preserving the outstanding natural beauty and charm of LCF, attention to the planning commission's work, and close contact with our city council members over projects that threaten our community's natural beauty is essential.
It is all of our responsibility to preserve our spectacular environment.
Ann and Randall Wetzel