Steady as she goes in La Cañada

While some California cities are on the brink of bankruptcy, La Cañada Flintridge has roughly $15 million — nearly one-and-a-half times it annual budget — in its reserve fund.

While foreclosed residences and empty storefronts present a ragged and depressed facade to other cities, La Cañada just saw a new supermarket open on Foothill Boulevard, its main drag.

Councilman Dave Spence spoke confidently in his State of the City address Wednesday (given weeks after his mayoral term ended because of scheduling difficulties), and city officials deserve credit for their fiscally prudent leadership.

It is true, of course, that La Cañada has many advantages other cities do not. It never had a redevelopment agency built on incremental property tax revenue from new construction, so had nothing to lose when the governor and Legislature dismantled those agencies last year. The affluence of the community has meant few properties have been foreclosed upon or abandoned in the city.

While the city is doing fine, other local government agencies are not quite as flush. Residents seem subject to threat of water-rate hikes at any time, and the public schools rely on an ongoing (and so far successful) fundraising drive by the La Cañada Education Foundation to continue to employ their full complement of teachers.

But it is the rare California city these days that is not scaling back services and staff, and credit goes to La Cañada Flintridge leaders for their steady stewardship.

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