La Cañada State of the City address lauds commercial development, sound walls

Residents of La Cañada Flintridge saw many new developments pop up in the city over the past year, including a Sprouts market and The Habit Burger Grill, outgoing mayor Steve Del Guercio noted during the annual State of the City address to La Cañada Kiwanis Club members Wednesday at Descanso Gardens.

Del Guercio, who last week relinquished the gavel as mayor and completed his final term on the City Council, called the revitalization of the downtown area a “success story.”

“I look back and remember when we didn't have any landscaping,” he said. “We had a lot of buildings that looked tired.”

Del Guercio said he is proud of the way Foothill Boulevard looks today.

After two years on the city's Planning Commission and 12 years on the City Council, Del Guercio decided not to seek reelection in March. Last week, he was feted by fellow council members and city staffers as Laura Olhasso was named the new mayor.

Del Guercio spoke to an audience of 60 people. He focused his talk on development, completed projects and issues that will be resolved with a new mayor. Last year, the Jessen Drive Bridge was renovated, creating a wider point of access. The city's website was renovated and now includes digital copies of agendas and city documents. The city's tree ordinance, which calls for the protection of certain species of trees, is still being revised.

The city was also able to fund three sound walls along the Foothill (210) Freeway and construction on them is set to begin in the next year, a project Del Guercio said was crucial to residents.

“For those folks who live in close proximity to the freeway and suffer 80-85 decibels, it is really an important thing, Del Guercio said.

The city is in good financial shape, he reported. Ten years ago, annual property and sales tax revenues generated roughly $4 million, he said. Over the last fiscal year, property tax alone generated nearly $4 million for the city and sales tax revenues amounted to $2.1 million, he said.

“Where we fill the hole is with property tax,” he said. “How that has happened is that property values have gone up from reassessment, appreciation and new construction of homes. That's been a big driver for our municipal source of revenue.”

The city currently runs on an annual budget of $11 million, with an estimated $13.2 million in fiscal reserves.

In his time on the council, Del Guercio has seen a lot of projects that the community pushed for become a reality. But he is worried about one project taking shape.

“The most frightening thing to me, when I think about what could happen to this community over the next 10 or 20 years and could really change our quality of life,” he said, “is the extension of the [Long Beach] 710 Freeway.”

Cars and trucks could seek alternative routes, spilling out onto Foothill Boulevard, he said. “It's going to be a 25% increase in traffic with 30,000 vehicles. It would just be a very bad thing.”


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