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City sees fortunetellers in future

The future is no longer hazy for clairvoyants who’d like to set up shop in La Cañada Flintridge.

Council members voted 4-0 Monday, with Councilman Don Voss absent, to include fortunetellers, palm readers, astrologists and psychics among businesses permitted to operate in La Cañada under the city’s zoning code.

Zoning rules previously didn’t address such businesses, leaving them in a limbo of being neither allowed nor barred.

The new rules allow self-styled forecasters of the future to apply for city permits to do business in commercial areas along Foothill Boulevard west of Memorial Park and on Verdugo Boulevard near the United Artists Theatre plaza, city planner Chris Gjolme said.


Fortunetellers and the like are, however, restricted from operating on Foothill east of Memorial Park, an area where the city prioritizes retail development, he said.

The issue came up after the city received inquiries from fortunetellers weighing a move to La Cañada, city officials said.

“It’s just one of those quirky things cities have to do sometimes,” Mayor Laura Olhasso said of the zoning change.

According to a city report, fortunetelling and psychic readings are considered free speech and therefore could not be subject to an outright ban.


But members of the Planning Commission, which first took up the issue this summer, struggled over how to define such businesses in city code — some calling them a form of entertainment, others seeing them a service providers.

Council members settled on the services label with little debate.

“Some people think it’s just a fun thing, and some think it’s a serious service. I can’t tell you who’s right or wrong, but to accommodate that, we put it down as a service,” Olhasso said.

The zoning change would go into effect 30 days after a procedural second approval by the council on Oct. 21, Gjolme said.


Follow Joe Piasecki on Twitter: @JoePiasecki.