By Jason KUROSU
The Crescenta Valley Town Council’s Land Use Committee has endeavored to increase community interest in land use issues, though turnout at the regular meetings has remained low. Thursday night yielded around 30 people, but a theme of the night was community involvement and how much foothills residents are interested in a more active role.
Adam Thurtell from the L.A. County Planning Dept. came to address complaints La Crescenta residents had sent to the planning department regarding houses in the neighborhood that are considered “out of character.” These, according to the complaints Thurtell received, described homes that were “too large, too tall, blocked the view,” among other things.
Thurtell presented six routes the community could take to address these out-of-character homes. The six options include restrictions to new homes and additions to current homes, such as height restrictions and other requirements that would prevent encroachment on neighboring houses. Other options include tiering stories for multi-story homes to prevent blocking daylight from neighbors, increasing yard setbacks and increased floor area ratio restrictions. Thurtell emphasized that a combination of these options may be adopted as well as none of the options, if the community so wishes.
Residents were encouraged to contact the CV Town Council Land Use Committee with their recommendations or to send a letter to Adam Thurtell at the Dept. of Regional Planning.
The next order of business discussed whether or not community members could extend their involvement to actually sitting on the Land Use Committee. Overall, the committee was in favor of the idea, especially considering three members of the Land Use Committee were absent Thursday night. The members differed on what criteria would render someone eligible to sit in a committee member’s place. Currently, only members of the Crescenta Valley Town Council may join the Land Use Committee and this latest development would open the door for community members to join. However, whether this only applied to residents or also included local business owners and property owners who lived outside of La Crescenta was a subject of debate.
Committee member Michael Claessens was against business owners voting on the committee, citing an incident in Eagle Rock in which owners of medical marijuana dispensaries packed Land Use meetings in order to expand business.
“They didn’t live there,” Claessens said. “They just have a business there. I don’t think we should put ourselves in that kind of situation if we can avoid it.”
Others argued that people who own a business within La Crescenta should have a say on rulings that may affect their business.
Another debate cropped up over how the eligible party is to be appointed by the absent committee member. It was agreed that the appointed members would have to be approved by a majority of the other members of the Land Use Committee to avoid partisanship.
Ultimately, the committee voted in favor of allowing others to join. Whatever the form, the committee and the community appeared to have a mutual interest in furthering the inclusion of the entire community on land use decisions.
The next Land Use Committee meeting will be May 9 at the La Crescenta Library Community Room, 2809 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta.