La Cañada’s school board and administrators have certainly been in the spotlight, or is it the hot seat, for the past few months. We’ve been asked to decide who to elect to the board. We’ve learned that one sitting board member lives out of town and we’ve watched as another board member has taken up the baton for more reluctant parents, filing a formal complaint against a high school teacher for alleged egregious behavior. Parents of teens who benefit from courses taken at Hillside Learning Center braced to see if the district would stop accepting credits from that school (as of Tuesday night’s school board meeting, it looks like their concerns can be allayed, at least for the time being) and there have been rumblings that another parcel tax proposal could be in the offing.
All the school-related conversation has certainly been interesting — and yes, some of it downright dispiriting. But there are other things happening in town that are unrelated to the schools. One of the most important of those matters is decidedly unsexy, but nonetheless important to our future: the updating of the city’s general plan.
My prediction is that the topic won’t generate nearly the number of letters to the editor that schools issues have, probably won’t be tweeted or even shared on Facebook, but if we care about the future of the community, we do need to pay attention. Active participation in the process would be even better.
In whatever leisure moments you manage to eke out, do you sometimes reflect on how pleasant a city this is? We have some attractive parks, a fantastic trails system, good-looking neighborhoods, only occasionally awful traffic (7:30-8:00 weekday mornings on the east side of town come to mind) and a respectable commercial district that sees updates and improvements each year.
The elements that make this or any other city a desirable place to live are in no way accidental. The state mandates that every city have such a plan and recommends that it is updated every 10 years. The general plan includes sections on land use, transportation, housing, conservation, open space, noise and safety. It also lays the ground rules, you might say, for development.
The citizens of La Cañada have been a civic-minded bunch, even before our 1976 cityhood. It was through the efforts of people living here years ago that the equestrian-friendly trail system was enhanced, Memorial Park built over the 210 Freeway, and development controlled through zoning. Those residents of post-war La Cañada who arrived in droves to build homes where ranches and fruit orchards used to stand did so in a rather thoughtful manner. They cherished their new hometown and, according to vintage Valley Suns, spoke up loudly before county zoning commissioners when they were worried about a project. That generation, by the way, also saw to it that La Cañada had its own unified school district. They were looking out for the next generation.
Like those before us, we have a responsibility to look out for the people who will be coming along in the future. We have a chance to do that now with the updated general plan. I learned from City Manager Mark Alexander last week that all too few members of the public have weighed in on the proposed updated plan, which has been before the Planning Commission during three recent hearings. The next review of the draft general plan update will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, in Council Chambers at City Hall. The City Council will get its turn to review the plan in January or February, Alexander said.
We plan to publish a story on the draft general plan in next week’s issue, so please watch for it for more information. And you can find the draft plan on the city’s website, www.lacanadaflintridge.com. Take a look, see if there are any elements you think need revising, and speak up.