Council approves cash return

During a special meeting Wednesday morning, La Cañada Flintridge City Council members supported the release of a $50,000 cash deposit made by the owner of Flintridge Bookstore and Coffee House to guarantee completion of now-finished improvements in the public right of way outside the store.

Peter Wannier, whose custom-built bookstore opened at Foothill Boulevard and Chevy Chase Drive in February, had complained at the June 6 council meeting that city officials were taking too long to release the funds and hurting his business’s cash flow.

Further exacerbating tensions, Wannier also was anticipating partial reimbursement from the city of up to $30,000 for installing new sidewalks, light poles, street trees and other public-space work required by the Planning Commission in 2008.

City Engineer Ying Kwan said there had been no unnecessary delay, as final inspection and approval of that work had only just occurred on May 27.

Kwan further explained that Wannier’s situation was somewhat unusual, as builders typically purchase third-party bonds, instead of putting up cash in order to free up their own assets.

By early this week, conflict had evolved into cooperation, with Wannier and Kwan working together to compile warranty information, project receipts and other documents required for the pending release of Wannier’s money.

The council’s action on Wednesday officially designates Wannier’s work as complete, allowing City Hall to release his money as soon as those documents are found to be in order, which could take just days.

“I’m very pleased with the support from the City Council,” said Wannier. “Proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I’ll be very happy to see the final release of funds when it comes.”

While City Council members said they stand by the efficiency of the city’s development process, they also strive to support local business.

“I don’t think the process was bad. This was an attempt to help a local businessman who hasn’t had a lot of experience with development,” said Councilwoman Laura Olhasso.

The 3-0 vote included the support of council members Stephen Del Guercio and Donald Voss. Michael Davitt and Mayor Dave Spence were absent.

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