County grants easement for Descanso Trail Loop

The “missing link” of the Descanso Trail Loop was effectively connected this week as the La Cañada Flintridge City Council at its Monday night meeting adopted required mitigating and monitoring specifications and documentation and moved forward acceptance of a trail easement from Los Angeles County.

The unanimous decision of the city council to authorize City Manager Mark Alexander to sign the easement certificate of acceptance came as no surprise, since gaining legal access to that portion of the project has been the aim of the council and members of the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council for more than 30 years.

“This is very exciting for all of us,” said Councilman Greg Brown, who's credited with, a few years back, “finding” the overpass that allows trail riders, walkers, hikers, and mountain bikers the ability to traverse the loop despite the freeway, which dissected the city several years ago. “Tonight will mark the culmination of this whole vision that has been around for many years before the freeway went through and created the great divide,” Brown said.

Creating a circular trail around La Cañada Flintridge became a goal for many La Cañadans in the 1970s, after flood control channels went in and fences went up in many portions of the city, said Mary Barrie, vice president of the Trails Council, and an avid horseback rider. “The fences made it really difficult for riding and people couldn't access the trails,” she explained.

Randy Strapazon, president of the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council, credits the dedication and vision of Liz Blackwelder, 88, and Cookie Kulper — both longtime La Cañada residents, equestrians and Trails Council members — as well as the City Council, with accomplishing the final legal process necessary to make the trail a reality. Blackwelder and Kulper advocated for the trail and didn't give up, despite decades of negotiations and roadblocks, Strapazon said.

Although Kulper was at Monday night's council meeting, Blackwelder is currently in Huntington Memorial Hospital and wasn't able to attend what Strapazon called a “historic meeting.”

Strapazon, and various members of the council, also praised Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich for working with the Trails Council and city to negotiate the easement.

When the trail is completed, it will allow pedestrians and riders access from various points around the city to the 12-mile loop. “This is a permanent trail that will connect the city and help establish the community feel,” Strapazon said.

In accordance with the easement, the trail must be constructed within the next year. Cost of construction, management, inspection, material testing, contingencies, and the services of a biologist/botanist, archeologist, and geologist/paleontologist — as required by the Mitigation Monitoring Program — is estimated at $346,000.

Annual maintenance is expected to cost the city $7,000, according to the city staff's report.

In other business, the City Council Monday night adopted proposed ordinance No. 371, which prohibits the storage of vehicles on city streets and public rights-of-way.

Although a few residents showed up at a previous council meeting to oppose the ordinance, no one showed up to offer public comments during Monday's meeting.

The ordinance will take effect in 30 days and requires vehicles be moved a minimum of 200 feet if parked in the same street location for more than 24 hours.

After 24 hours, a warning notice would be issued and, if not moved within 72 hours, the vehicle would be subject to citation or towing.

The ordinance doesn't apply to temporary parking permits, which can be issued — at the city manager's discretion — for a maximum of two weeks.

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