Around Town: Life with/without the tilde

The name of our town is La Cañada Flintridge.

Our town’s name does not have a hyphen. It does have a tilde.

Years ago, then Valley Sun owner/publisher Joe DuPlain was the tilde-hyphen enforcement officer. The late DuPlain was ready to launch at a moment’s notice to ensure that JPL was listed in “La Cañada Flintridge,” not “La Canada Flintridge,” not “La Cañada-Flintridge,” and definitely not “Pasadena.”

Come back, Joe DuPlain! La Cañada Flintridge needs you.

Case in point: The La Cañada Unified School District has committed multiple violations of the DuPlain rule. As of Aug. 22, the website describes the district as both “La Cañada Unified School District” and “La Canada Unified School District,” sans tilde.

Here’s an example:

“Welcome to the La Canada Unified School District Website. La Canada USD is a high performing K-12 public school district located in Southern California just north of the city of Los Angeles.”

Granted, some school boosters will think this a trivial point. There’s not one post on Facebook about the district’s missing tilde. The usual suspects don’t blog about the missing tilde. They are too busy blogging about Spartaca.

Spartaca is a cat that used to live at La Cañada’s combined junior/senior high school. In recent weeks, Spartaca was ousted. The new principal found a new home for Spartaca in a house with couches and a litter box.

Some folks support the principal. Some don’t. But what they have in common is this: There’s not one post on Facebook or Twitter about the district’s continuous and continual misspelling of our town’s name.

The tilde is part of our heritage. The tilde is essential to the Spanish word “cañada.”

Our town resulted from a merger of two localities, Flintridge and La Cañada.

The word “cañada” means a gully. Our town is mostly in a gully, except for the part in Flintridge, which historically did self-identify as a gully.

The Meadow Grove area, on the other hand, did have tunnels to move alcohol up and down to Michigan Avenue (now Foothill Boulevard) during Prohibition. (Meadow Grove is technically part of Flintridge, although it used be considered part of Pasadena.)

La Cañadans just grew the wine grapes, mostly for churches.

Teachers will tell you that you need to accept what you are in order to become all that you can be.

That’s why the district’s inconsistent use of the tilde speaks volumes.

For example, Beverly Hills is not in a gully. It is part of a hill. That’s why there’s no tilde in Beverly Hills.

San Marino doesn’t have a tilde either. San Marino was incorporated in 1913. The city founders took the name from the Republic of San Marino.

La Cañada Flintridge has a different history than Beverly Hills or San Marino.

One group that has embraced the tilde is the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation.

The foundation always uses the tilde. It never uses the hyphen. And the foundation has remained neutral on the cat issue.

Apples and oranges. Cats and dogs. It’s time for the new administration to embrace the tilde, to acknowledge our past and to lead our students into the future.


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.