By Mary O’KEEFE
On Aug. 18, Assemblymember Mike Gatto spoke to the Cañada-Crescenta Democratic Club at a meeting hosted by Anthony and Ellen Portantino at their home.
At the meeting, Gatto answered questions from the audience on a variety of issues and spoke about what was happening in the state assembly.
He spoke on AB440, a bill that had cleared the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality and is now on its way to Appropriations. The bill would give local governments the tools needed to clean up contaminated properties, known as brownfields, and to recover costs of the contamination from the responsible party/parties.
He also spoke of a bill to ease traffic. AB405 would allow HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes to be used by all vehicles during non-peak hours.
“It doesn’t do anyone any good when there is an accident [on the freeway] and you can’t go around it [because of the HOV restrictions],” he said.
Gatto added that other areas, including northern California, have time sensitive HOV lanes in which carpool restrictions are in place during rush hour and then open for all vehicles during non rush hour.
“This is the last month the legislature is in session,” Gatto said. “There are hundreds of bills in the mix.”
One of those bills was signed into law on Aug. 12 and will allow cities more freedom to build dog parks.
“The idea came from Laura Friedman,” he said. Friedman is a Glendale city councilmember. “She came to me at the opening of the Crescenta Valley dog park.”
The CV dog park was the first park of its kind opened in Los Angeles County. Friedman had pointed out to Gatto that L.A. County had the ability to self insure, but for a city it would be cost prohibitive to have a dog park. AB265 limits the liability that cities and counties face when operating dog parks and protects them from litigants who claim, for example, that they were unaware of potential dangers, according to Gatto’s website.
“We were able to get that bill through this year,” he said.
He commented on the 710 extension, saying, “I don’t see anything that is good” about that.
“And I think the community has spoken,” he added. “We don’t want this.”
A question came from the audience regarding the Rainy Day Fund, which is purported to increase the potential savings in the state fund from 5% to 10 % of the General Fund. Gatto is a supporter of the measure.
“To me, [the concept of] a rainy day fund is simple,” he said. “[It’s like] you see this guy and he is very wealthy and [appears to be] responsible but he has nothing in his retirement or savings. [After finding this out], you would say he is not responsible. … Well, that is what California is like.”
Gatto added the state tends to spend all its money in the good times and then has nothing when bad times come around.
The Cañada-Crescenta Democratic Club was chartered in 2005 to serve the Democrats in the area. They were then called the La Cañada Flintridge Democratic Club. In 2008, the name was changed to Cañada-Crescenta Democratic Club because its reach had grown throughout Crescenta Valley.
They meet on the third Sunday of each month except for June and December. For more information, visit http://canadacrescentadems.org.