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Treasures of the Valley » Mike lawler

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The Beginnings of the CV Town Council

The Crescenta Valley never really got serious about becoming its own city. There were a couple of half-hearted attempts in the first half of the 20th century, but nothing stuck. When a big drought hit in the late ’40s, our valley was left waterless and at the mercy (literally) of the City of Glendale, which generously let us hook into its municipal water supplies. By the early ’50s, many CV neighborhoods chose to make the hook-up permanent, and annexed to Glendale. Tujunga had become part of the City of Los Angeles decades before that, and La Cañada Flintridge gained cityhood in 1976. That left a small sliver of the valley unincorporated and only marginally governed by the county. Although the ’60s had seen a serious attempt to create a City of La Crescenta, there were few problems in the unincorporated section to give cityhood any urgency, and the effort died from lack of interest.

By the late ’80s, a few residents felt that, although there were no major problems in unincorporated La Crescenta, there should be some sort of guiding force to keep it that way. Our county supervisor, Mike Antonovich, suggested that a “town council” be formed as Altadena had done a decade earlier. It would serve as an advisory group to the supervisor, and a conduit for local concerns. It seemed an excellent way to maintain our independence and quality of life, yet avoid the perceived higher costs and increased bureaucracy of cityhood.

A steering committee was formed in 1988 to outline the formation of the Crescenta Valley Town Council. The unincorporated area, from Pennsylvania Avenue to Briggs, and north/south from the San Gabriel Mountains to just above Honolulu Avenue, was to be divided into three census tracts. Three representatives (and one alternate) would be elected from each tract, making a nine-member council with three alternates. By January 1989, the steering committee had formed its plan for the council, had advertised and sent mailers to the community, and were hoping enough candidates would step forward to at least hold an election.

Their prayers were answered when a whopping 40 community members lined up to throw their hats in the ring. Some of the names of those first brave candidates are still familiar today: Nick Doom (today a government teacher at Clark Magnet High), Judy Tejeda (who served many years on the CV Water District board), and Eleanor Wacker (longtime leader in the CV chamber). One name stands out: Charlie Beatty, who is still serving on the CV Town Council today. On March 9, 1989 four polling places were set up for the first CV Town Council election. A total of 1,157 residents voted out of an approximate 10,000 eligible voters – not a bad turnout by today’s voting turnout standards. The biggest vote getter was Thomas Johnston, a lieutenant with the L.A. Sheriff’s Dept. and a 26-year resident of CV. His key to success had been two campaign volunteers with lots of energy – a couple of government students from Crescenta Valley High School – to help him canvass door-to-door, delivering campaign brochures to every household in his census tract.

On March 16, Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who had originally suggested the council’s formation, was on hand to formally install the new Crescenta Valley Town Council at its first meeting at Crescenta Valley High School. By summer of that year, the new council was ready to flex its untried muscles, and members chose as their first issue to tackle the seemingly Herculean task of eliminating, or at least slowing down, new billboard installations on Foothill Boulevard. That was a tough first fight, as the billboard companies are well connected (I’ll report on that battle in a future column). But from that fight to today’s battles over big rigs parking on our streets, from our dog park to our new library, in over 25 years of service to our community, the CV Town Council has made a huge difference. Council members volunteer their sweat and time away from their families to make our town a better place.

Thank you, CV Town Council.

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

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

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