Treasures of the Valley » Mike lawler

Posted by on Jul 11th, 2013 and filed under Viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Mysteries and Questions on CV History, Part 3

Mike Lawler is the former president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

Mike Lawler is the former president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

Here are some more questions I’ve had from readers:

What’s the deal with the ugly grading and massive houses being built on the Verdugo Mountains above Whiting Woods?

Thanks to the efforts of residents and grass-roots groups like VOICE, we’re fortunate to enjoy views of undeveloped green Verdugo hillsides. This very visible hillside development scarring the Verdugos caught many locals off-guard. The history of this development goes all the way back to 1979, when the owner of 22 mountainous acres on Deerpass Road above Whiting Woods proposed 26 homes along with some massive grading on the ridgeline facing our valley. Residents put up a fight, and the development was reduced to 14 homes in the early ‘80s, then to nine homes, but the development was still stalled due to public opposition. By 2001, a new developer and the City of Glendale worked out a reasonable compromise. The developer dedicated the majority of the acreage as open space in exchange for some vacant city-owned property at the intersection of Pennsylvania and the 210 Freeway. The city-owned property was zoned for multifamily housing  – a nice deal that gave the developer a good profit and preserved much of the Verdugo Mountains property. However, the developer retained the right to build two homes on the ridge above Whiting Woods, and those are the two we see being built currently. The swapped out multifamily property at 4201 Pennsylvania is also currently being developed for a 30-unit townhome development.

Although the bad economy of the last four years was hard, it also stalled an onslaught of development that is bound to affect an area like ours so close to Los Angeles. Hang on to your hats, La Crescenta! As the economy heats up, so too does the pace of development!

What happened to the KFC “bucket on a pole” sign that was in front of the La Cañada KFC at Foothill and Ocean View?

John Hammel Jr. asked the question, and added, “I seem to remember an effort to save the sign.” The City of La Cañada-Flintridge has a strict “no pole signs” ordinance. Any pole signs that existed before the code was enacted are “grandfathered” and can stay. Even though the KFC sign was grandfathered, in 2002, the city and the owners of the shopping mall that leases space to KFC came to an agreement to remove the pole sign and put up a small monument sign in its place. When the shopping center was re-landscaped the sign came down. I don’t remember or find any reference to an effort to save the iconic sign.

A threatened pole sign that was saved was the one in front of Divina Cucina at 3730 Verdugo Road, just below the Montrose Shopping Park. Glendale also has a “no pole sign” ordinance and when the restaurant went through a remodel, the city asked that their pole sign be removed. Loyal customers of the popular Italian restaurant came to its defense, and the sign was allowed to stay when it was pointed out that the pole sign existed before the city ordinance was created, and thus was grandfathered in. Divina Cucina’s sign was originally a free-standing pole sign in front of a drive through dairy at that location back in the ‘60s. The restaurant expanded out to the sidewalk, engulfing the ground mounted sign.

Interesting notes on the KFC “bucket on a pole” signs. The massive plastic and metal buckets originally had a motor inside that allowed them to revolve, and the heavy signs are notorious for blowing down in windstorms and damaging cars. According to several KFC histories, the bucket sign was developed by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas in Ohio in the mid ‘50s. He worked for KFC for almost two decades where he honed his business skills and made enough money to found Wendy’s in 1969. The removed signs are collectable, and a seller in Altadena was recently offering one for $1,000. The KFC in Tujunga at Foothill and Tujunga Canyon Road still has a “bucket on a pole” out front.

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