City addressing issues at Cornishon fields

The city of La Cañada Flintridge on Monday painted striping for 53 designated parking spots on Cornishon Avenue, the first step in addressing a litany of concerns aired by residents who live in the immediate vicinity of the sports fields at the former Foothill Intermediate School.

"The parking on Cornishon Avenue itself, adjacent to the fields, wasn't being used efficiently," said Carl Alameda, senior management analyst with the city.

The designated parking spots will ensure that all available street space is being put to good use, Alameda said.

Congestion and insufficient parking are ongoing concerns of residents on Cornishon, just south of Foothill Boulevard, one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the city. The former public middle-school campus is now home to half a dozen private schools and educational centers, including Renaissance Academy and Learning Castle, as well as La Cañada Unified School District headquarters and Lanterman Auditorium.

Recent neighborhood ire has centered around unauthorized use on Sundays of the athletic fields, located on both the west and east sides of the street.

City ordinance limits the use of the two fields for organized play to six days a week. Sunday is reserved for unorganized play by local residents, such as father-and-son pick-up games. The idea, said Jim Kambe, vice chair of the La Cañada Flintridge Parks and Recreation Commission, is to give residents some respite from the traffic and noise, as well as to give the fields a chance to regenerate.

However, teams, complete with uniforms, equipment, coaches and referees, are showing up to use the fields on Sundays, according to residents and city officials.

"The thought behind it was to give the fields and the neighbors a day of rest," Kambe said. "Now you have people coming there — they don't seem like they are from in town — and they are playing. We have let it go for so long that they are obviously running a schedule around it."

Local groups make a concerted effort to care for the fields and to be sensitive to the neighbors, said Parks and Recreation Commission member Allen Koblin, but individuals who come from elsewhere do not.

"They are out there playing and they are digging up the field," Koblin said. "The field needs as much time as possible for re-growth. They don't care. They are not from the area."

Vague signage has made it difficult for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to enforce the Sunday restricted-use ordinance, according to commissioners.

The city is working on stepping up enforcement of the Sunday restrictions, Alameda said, starting with overhauling all signage at the fields in order to state explicitly who is allowed to be there and who is not. The signs are expected to be reviewed by the Sheriff's officials and then installed in about four weeks.

Impacted residents say that they support local youth sports and that they have been very tolerant of the many practices and games that take place at the Cornishon fields. It is not unreasonable, they said, to ask that the one-day restriction be enforced.

Wendy Nicoll, who lives south of the fields on Atlee Drive, spearheaded a recent petition in opposition of the installation of a field lighting system that would have allowed athletic activities to extend into the evening hours (the commission voted down the proposal, 5-0).

"It is horrible," Nicoll said of the traffic, noise and trash that is generated by those who use the fields. "You can't have people over and eat outside until dark.… We have tried to be good neighbors, but some people are not very good neighbors back."

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