2010 in review

The year 2010 was one of watchful anticipation in La Cañada Flintridge: City officials were on alert during periods of rainfall, keenly aware of the threat of debris flows in the wake of the 2009 Station fire that charred the Angeles National Forest, while school officials braced for ever-worsening news on the state budget front.

The preparations taken immediately after the disastrous forest fire spared some, but not all, of the homes in the path of mudslides that hit the area in early February; it was a disaster of proportions that brought the governor to town to declare a state of emergency. But when thunderous storms arrived again in December, the hillsides held.

While many were occupied in clean-up activities throughout the year, the La Cañada school board was buffeted by bad news out of Sacramento, where the state's financial woes impacted education spending. Some La Cañada teaching positions and district staff jobs were eliminated. The La Cañada Educational Foundation agreed to run the high-school summer-school program to save the district other funds. And in recent weeks the call went out for annual donations of $2500 from public-education stakeholders.

Still, the city and organizations such as the Crescenta-Cañada Y, Descanso Gardens, the Community Center and the LCF Chamber of Commerce saw their share of positive events throughout the year, including the launch of the La Cañada Flintridge Shakespeare Festival and word that one of our own, Evanne Friedmann, would reign as Rose Queen in Pasadena this weekend. Continue reading for a month-by-month review of 2010 in La Cañada Flintridge.


•On the first day of January, "Scissored Wizard," the float created by the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association, captured the Fantasy Award for Most Outstanding Display of Fantasy and Dramatic Imagination in the 2010 Rose Parade. Also representing this city that day were Rose Queen Natalie Innocenzi and Princess Katherine Margarita Hernandez, both Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy students, and Princess Michelle Van Wyk, a student at La Cañada High School.

•The Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station installed three boxes to receive old prescription drugs, illegal narcotics and used syringes for proper disposal. "It's a great way to keep drugs out of our sewers and [illegal drugs] off the streets," said Sheriff's Capt. David Silversparre.

•When a third rainstorm in four days pounded the foothills during the third week of January, officials ordered the evacuation of 251 La Cañada homes. Although mud poured into local debris basins, there was little serious damage. Subsequent storms led to evacuation orders being issued at least six different times.

•Malia Mailes was crowned Miss La Cañada Flintridge 2010 during the LCF Chamber of Commerce annual installation dinner, while Joel Peterson was seated as president of the chamber's board of directors.

•The YMCA of the Foothills named Tyler Wright, who was then the relatively new chief executive of the Glendale YMCA, as its chief executive and president. Wright was among 75 candidates considered for the job overseeing the CC-YMCA and the Verdugo Hills Y.

•The City Council voted to allocate $4.5 million in Measure R funding for the design of 27 segments of sound wall that might be constructed along the Foothill Freeway in LCF.



•The Mullally Debris Basin at the end of Manistee Drive in the Paradise Valley section of La Cañada Flintridge crested in the early hours of Feb. 6, with disastrous results for the upper Ocean View area, during one of a series of rainstorms that pounded the foothills. Other La Cañada neighborhoods that also border the 2009 Station fire burn areas were impacted as well, with many households across town experiencing debris flows on their streets and being placed under evacuation orders as a result. It was later reported that the state would reimburse up to 75% of the $1.1 million spent by the city on debris-flow preparation and clean-up since Jan. 21.

•The city made preliminary inquiries into the First Church of Christ, Scientist property, on the market for $4.95 million since November 2009. A closed session of the City Council was held, but nothing reported by City Manager Mark Alexander.

•State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino named Pat Anderson, president and chief executive of the LCF Chamber of Commerce, as the 44th Assembly District Woman of the Year. Almost two weeks earlier, Anderson's home was among those heavily damaged when the Mullally Debris Basin overflowed.

•Los Angeles County officials opened a disaster-assistance center in La Crescenta to connect foothill residents with government resources to help with the debris flows. Disaster declarations freed up low-interest federal loans for property owners, renters and business owners impacted by the incidents.


•Early in the month, the La Cañada school board approved the elimination of 2.5 permanent and 2.2 temporary teaching positions in a series of cost-cutting measures as it tried to manage a multimillion-dollar shortfall. A couple of weeks later, the board also voted to lay off 11 district staff employees. The positions involved included kindergarten aides, a Foothills School special-education assistant, an LCHS counseling and guidance assistant and a district human-resources official.

•Responding to increased demand, the city placed a second shuttle bus in service along Foothill during the boulevard's most heavily trafficked periods.

•The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case involving employee background checks at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The hearing, set to take place in the fall, would center on an injunction issued by the 9th Circuit Court in January 2008 barring NASA/JPL from requiring "low-risk" employees — those who do not handle classified material — to submit to extensive background investigations. By the end of 2010, no decision had been rendered by the court.

•The LCHS PTA endorsed legislation introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino designed to encourage teens to call for help in emergency situations. The bill, AB1999, would protect young adults under the age of 21 who might have been involved in underage drinking activities from criminal prosecution and citation if they dialed 911 and remained with a friend during the friend's medical crisis. The bill was signed into law in September.

•A carnival at the Community Center of LCF launched a new TV show, "Mega-Bites," while raising funds for children's activities at the center.

•After a 7-year tenure as its interim pastor, the Rev. Clifford L. "Skip" Lindeman was inducted as pastor of La Cañada Congregational Church.



•A week after the city marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal April 1, 2009 runaway truck accident by dedicating a plaque to its two victims in Glenola Park, murder charges were reinstated by a state appeals court against Marcos Costa, the truck's driver.

•Donald Voss was elected mayor of LCF by his City Council colleagues.

•It was announced that Descanso Gardens administrators had completed an environmentally-conscious sustainability plan to increase the size and mission of the gardens over the coming two decades. Funding for the plan, which carries an estimated $65 million price tag, will come from private donations and grants, according to executive director David Brown.

•Race officials decided the annual Amgen Tour of California, a bicycle race that had twice passed through the Angeles National Forest and La Cañada Flintridge and was scheduled to do so again on May 16, would be rerouted due to Station-fire-related risks to the cyclists.

•The Bank of America branch in La Cañada was held up by a robber who told a teller he had a bomb. Several days later a 31-year-old man dubbed the "Foothill Bomber" was arrested in connection with the case.

•La Cañada and Palm Crest elementary schools won the 2010 California Distinguished School designation.



•Former Mayor Laura Olhasso was feted as La Cañadan of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada.

•Officials at Lanterman House museum in La Cañada Flintridge learned that two Ferahan Sarouk rugs in the house, believed to have been crafted in the mid-1800s, were valued at $75,000 each.

•Thousands of people, including students from as far away as Tijuana, visited the city when JPL held its annual open house, themed "Worlds Beyond."

•Approximately 150 horseback riders joined L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich on his Trail Dusters excursion, which took riders along La Cañada's trails. The last time the city hosted the ride was in 2004.

•After just a year on the job, LCHS Principal Audra Pittman announced she would be leaving the district to join the San Mateo County Office of Education.

•Warm weather and clear skies pleased LCF Chamber of Commerce officials and made for a particularly successful Fiesta Days weekend, with participants commenting that they didn't recall seeing so many people lining the boulevard for the Monday parade in previous years. The Y's Fiesta Days Fun Run also drew a record crowd, according to organizers.



•Jacqueline Luzak, then principal of the LCHS 7/8 program, was tapped to take the seat of Audra Pittman, who was leaving after a year at the helm of the 9-12 program. Two weeks later it was announced that Karen Hurley had been hired as the new principal for Palm Crest Elementary School and Craig Franzen would be the new athletic director at LCHS.

•Nearly 400 teens collected their diplomas when LCHS held its annual commencement exercises on Spartan Field.

•The La Cañada Flintridge Shakespeare Festival kicked off its inaugural season with a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Byrnes Amphitheatre at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.

•St. Bede Catholic Church said farewell to "Father Jim" Gehl as he left to take on a new pastoral assignment in Granada Hills.

•Diane's Hallmark, a fixture in LC for 31 years, closed its doors, citing the poor economy and an inability to negotiate a favorable rent with the Safeway Corp., which owns the Plaza de La Cañada, the store's landlord.  


•Panera Bread, a national chain known for its specialty baked goods and café offerings, opened a site as the newest tenant in the La Cañada Flintridge Town Center.

•A private ground-breaking ceremony was held for Descanso Gardens' new Sturt Haaga Gallery of Art. Heather Sturt Haaga and Paul G. Haaga Jr. of La Cañada Flintridge made the building possible with a $2.1 million donation.

•Workers were refurbishing the historic pedestrian bridge at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, closing St. Katherine Drive through the campus for about a month. The bridge was designed in 1927 by Myron Hunt for what was then a resort hotel.

•La Cañada Flintridge topped the list of average life expectancies in Los Angeles County at 87.8 years, according to a report issued by the county Department of Health.



•La Cañada Flintridge and the greater Crescenta Valley saw an overall drop in crime for the first seven months of the year, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department reported.

•A home on Fallhaven Lane was seriously damaged and a family cat killed after a fire broke out in a laundry room at about 3:40 a.m. on Aug. 17.

•A fruit-fly quarantine was ordered for an 89-square-mile area of the San Gabriel Valley that included the portion of La Cañada Flintridge east of Chevy Chase Drive and south of Highland Avenue. The California Department of Food and Agriculture said it would remain in effect for at least seven months.

•Results released by the state in August showed that the La Cañada Unified School District boasted a 98% passage rate on the California High School Exit Examination, matching its performance from the year before.



•Valley Water Company, which played a critical role in the development of the area by being the first to successfully drill a local well, marked its 100th anniversary.

•A subcommittee of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation announced at a school-board meeting that it was considering running its own summer-school program, as the LCUSD, struggling with a budget shortfall, would not be offering summer school in 2011.

•More than 100 people turned out in Memorial Park to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The service was organized by the Young Republicans of La Cañada Flintridge.

•The Crescenta-Cañada Y launched a new group, the Korean-American Women's Association, which would meet weekly to allow Korean women a local forum.

•Vons market in Plaza de La Cañada completed months-long renovations to the store and surrounding property.

•Two big rigs operated by the same trucking company were involved in freeway crashes within the city limits on consecutive days, snarling traffic each time. 



•Taking advantage of a visit by the superintendent of schools, approximately 150 La Cañada parents crammed into the multipurpose room at Palm Crest Elementary School to air their concerns about overcrowded classrooms.

•Three high-school seniors from La Cañada schools were named to the 93rd Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court: Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy students Katie Thomson and Jessica Montoy, and Evanne Friedmann, a student at La Cañada High. Several days later, Evanne was named Rose Queen.

•"Honolulu," a novel by Alan Brennert, was the focus of this year's One City One Book celebration in La Cañada Flintridge. The author was the featured guest at the book discussion held in the school district's headquarters.

•The La Cañada Ralphs Fresh Fare market reopened to business with an all-new look after being closed for several weeks.


•Incumbents Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) and Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) won their respective races in the general election.

•Marcos Costa, the big-rig driver facing murder charges for the 2009 runaway-truck accident on Angeles Crest Highway at Foothill Boulevard, surprised the court when he demanded that he be allowed to act as his own attorney in his trial, which is still pending.

•The City Council decided to step up efforts to trap and relocate peafowl that were considered by several residents to be a nuisance to their neighborhood.

•The California Healthy Kids Survey showed that 13% of LCHS's seventh-graders, 17% of its freshmen and 20% of its juniors reported they'd been offered, sold or given an illegal drug on school property within 12 months preceding the survey.



•Santa and Mrs. Claus, reindeer, snow and song brought holiday cheer to Memorial Park when the city and LCF Chamber of Commerce collaborated on the annual Festival in Lights celebration.

•Susan Boyd was elected by her board colleagues to serve as president of the La Cañada school board.

•As the nomination period came to a close, seven candidates emerged for three seats open in the March 2011 City Council election. Mayor Pro Tem Greg Brown, a councilman since 2003, announced he would not seek reelection. Those filing include incumbents Laura Olhasso and Don Voss, along with Michael Davitt, Jacqueline Harris, James Hill, Charlie Kamar and Robert Richter.

•The La Cañada Unified School District made a public plea for annual donations of $2,500 from all "stakeholders" until the state budget crisis ends.

•Approximately 147 homes in La Cañada Flintridge were placed under evacuation orders when an unusually heavy storm threatened to cause more debris flows similar to the ones experienced in February. But preparations paid off and the city escaped the downpours relatively unscathed.

•The LCF Tournament of Roses Association made final preparations to "3-2-1-Dig!", its entry in Saturday's Rose Parade, while Rose Queen Evanne Friedmann looked forward to her appearance in Pasadena's New Year's Day events.

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