The Candidates Respond

The Crescenta Valley Weekly posed questions to the seven candidates vying for six seats on the Crescenta Valley Town Council. Their answers are below.
The election is being held on Friday, Nov. 16 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Luke’s of the Mountains – Sadler Hall, 2563 Foothill Blvd. (at Rosemont Avenue) in La Crescenta. Those registered voters in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County in La Crescenta are eligible to cast a ballot.
Answers printed in the order received.


1) What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Crescenta Valley residents?
Michael Claessens: A year ago I might have said “improving communication with our Supervisor” or maybe “community emergency preparedness.” Both are still relevant and important issues. However recent events – internationally, nationally and locally – have made many people with whom I speak more fearful and feeling less safe—not from street crime, but from their sense of creeping intolerance towards their religion, ethnicity, place of birth or maybe just their English language skills. The Crescenta Valley is becoming increasingly diverse. Last year, the Town Council, by a unanimous vote, approved a proclamation promoting equality for all of its citizens. But that is not enough. Our community, led by our Town Council, must do all it can to foster an attitude of openness, tolerance and respect for the differences that exist among all of its community members.


Jeffrey Rodriguez: La Crescenta has always been one of the safer communities to live in and, while it still is, I feel that over the last couple of years crime has seemingly gone up, particularly property crimes such as car break-ins and home burglaries. I would like to see more involvement with a Neighborhood Watch group and the local sheriff’s department. The more residents who are involved in that the safer our community will be for everyone.
Emergency protocols and procedures: We need to make sure that every person knows what to do in case of an emergency, whether that be earthquakes or wildfires, and how to get the help they need when they need it.
Lastly, I find many people, including myself, concerned about new construction and what that construction should look like. I believe the Land Use Committee is a valuable tool and resource that will be instrumental in having La Crescenta look the way the community thinks it should.


Desiree Rabinov: Based on my experience serving on the Town Council, it seems our residents are most concerned about traffic during peak hours and the safety of the streets surrounding our schools due to speeding and unimproved infrastructure.
A second challenge facing our area is to enhance the commercial corridor along Foothill Boulevard. This issue has come up on several occasions at Council meetings with concerns expressed about the streetscape and high vacancy rates. We need to find ways to create an environment that will attract businesses that are relevant to our community. In this way, we can create a more vibrant and active and economically sound town that can become known as a destination for shopping, walking and eateries.


Donna Libra: I think the biggest challenge facing Crescenta Valley residents is crime. I have been a resident for 17 years and have seen crime increase, especially in home break-ins. As a captain of my neighborhood watch, I believe educating residents on crime prevention is vital. We have an outstanding sheriff department but they need our help. Being aware of suspicious activity, including unwanted solicitors, and reporting these activities to our sheriffs is a great asset. I believe if we all work together as a community we can decrease crime in the Crescenta Valley.


Carin Hoffman: I think the biggest challenge we face is filling the Crescenta Valley with quality retail stores that stay in business and provide valuable goods and jobs to our residents. More retail stores means more revenue that stays in La Crescenta. Empty storefronts reflect poorly on our town and don’t help property values stay competitive. We need to invigorate our community by filling these vacancies with businesses that make La Crescenta a desirable place to live and visit.


Sophal Ear: The biggest challenge facing CV residents is maintaining our sense of community, space and character while managing tremendous growth. We don’t have to look far – residential development is everywhere – from condos to townhouses to medians on Foothill to the never-ending saga of I-210 and its pavement rehabilitation project. Over the course of my three years on the Council so far, I’ve literally heard “someone is going to die on the 210,” lights on the field at Rosemont Middle School (bad idea) and on blocks that vote for lights, dark skies, bleachers at Crescenta Valley High field; I’ve seen the trash around CV High School, where I live, and the impossibility of parking (I can’t park in front of my own house most of the time!) and, of course, the 5G “small” cell transmitters from AT&T that are now being appealed. These are all the concerns and challenges facing our community.


Charles Beatty: Celltowers and making them available for those who need them but also protecting those who feel they cause medical problems.


2) What are your views on Sagebrush? If the territory transfer favors La Cañada, what role will CVTC play in the future of Mountain Avenue Elementary? If it stays with the GUSD, what should CVTC do to improve relationships with La Cañada?
Mike Claessens: There needs to be more and better discussions between the districts, because it is not clear to me how the proposed territory transfer favors either the La Cañada or Glendale school districts. In fact, the only group I see benefiting from the proposed transfer are those homeowners actually within the Sagebrush territory – and even then, any gain is more perception than reality since children in the Sagebrush area already have the option of attending schools in either district.
That being said, if the territory transfer favors La Cañada, the CVTC must pressure the GUSD to do all it can to mitigate the well-documented negative effects of such a transfer on both the school performance of the children remaining at Mountain Avenue Elementary as well as the District’s efforts to reconstitute the school after the loss of students to La Cañada.
If Mountain Avenue Elementary stays with the GUSD, the CVTC would not have a direct role vis Jeffrey Rodriguez: The Sagebrush issue is a very complex one, and one that both sides have valid reasons for wanting it the way they do. In my opinion, if your home is located within the legal boundaries of a city, your children should be able to attend the school district within the city they live in. I honestly think it’s as simple as that, and something I would expect if I was living in the Sagebrush area currently or planned on buying a home there.
We need to encourage cooperation between our communities as we are both a part of, and have a stake in, what happens to our foothill communities. Sometimes you have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to find the answer, and I believe most people would expect and hope their kids would go to school in the LCUSD. My only caveat to the above opinion is that I want to make sure that Mountain Avenue Park is protected as a school resource, and protected so that the local residents can enjoy it for years to come. So, as long as the park is protected and made available to the students as it has always been, I would support La Cañada’s request for transfer. The open enrollment to either district has helped, and was a good temporary solution, but I believe a more permanent one is the answer.


Desiree Rabinov: During my service, I have supported the Council’s decision to maintain Mountain [Avenue] School under GUSD. Our role is to support the community and their concerns about possible impacts to current and future families residing in both areas. As it stands, it is up to the two school districts to adjudicate the legal process and find a solution that can benefit both communities in support of their educational needs. The Council is a forum for all residents who wish to express their concerns and ideas, and to create an environment of working together by encouraging the exchange of information, collaboration and dialog for recommendations to appropriate representatives. This process is one way of working toward solutions, as well as building community cohesiveness.


Donna Libra: My views on Sagebrush reflect what I have been hearing in the community. I am for keeping the schools and community together, not changing anything. The students in the Sagebrush area already have an open permit to attend either Glendale or La Cañada school districts. There are financial issues and bond obligations that need to be honored. What ever happens in favor of either La Cañada or Glendale, the role CVTC should play is to keep Mountain Avenue Elementary as a neighbor and community school. Our relationship with La Cañada is strong. We are both one community. We share the same law enforcement, fire services and part of the Sagebrush community is served by Crescenta Valley Water District.


Carin Hoffman: Mountain Avenue is all about community. Sagebrush is a big part of GUSD, and these families care deeply about their school. Mountain Avenue has an incredible feel with excellent parent involvement. The families who are at Mountain want to be there. Families do have the option to go to LCUSD and, while a transfer is not guaranteed, Sagebrush families are high on the priority list for permits. GUSD has made this compromise so that parents and students feel good about where they live and where they go to school. If Sagebrush stays in GUSD, we need to make sure it remains easy for students to go to La Cañada. If the transfer favors LCUSD, we would lose revenue and face the possibility of Mountain closing. CVTC needs to make sure this school does not close by helping the district study school boundaries and brainstorming solutions our community wants.


Sophal Ear: With three children (Steven, 9; Caitlyn, 7; Nathan, 5), and soon-to-be a fourth child (Jasmin, 3) who will be in transitional kindergarten next year at La Crescenta Elementary, I can’t imagine what the parents of Mountain Avenue Elementary School (MAES) kids who don’t live in Sagebrush must feel. MAES could lose hundreds of students, not to mention GUSD would lose $3 million per year! CVTC has to champion parents’ interest and insist that GUSD does what is required to maintain the quality and standards of MAES. Superintendent Dr. Winfred Roberson Jr. and wife Yvette come regularly to our CVTC meetings. This is a testament to a stronger relationship than ever between our community and GUSD. If the territory stays in GUSD, there will be fences to mend with La Cañada; the truth is, very few cities actually encompass the school district in which both entities are located.


Charles Beatty: Regarding Sagebrush, I do support GUSD and their effort to keep the area in their district even if they have to take the decision to the State Supreme Court.


3) If elected, what goals do you have?
Mike Claessens: In addition to acting on my responses to questions 1 and 2 above, if re-elected, I intend to see the completion of the Foothill Boulevard medians and the parking median at Two Strike Park. I will also help oversee the construction of a new walking path along the southern edge of the Two Strike Park baseball field that will formally connect the southwest edge of the park to the eastern end of Henrietta Avenue. I want to help lead the improvement of the Town Council’s website. Finally, my favorite project is to continue as co-chair of the Town Council’s pancake breakfast, which raises money for many of the area’s youth groups.


Jeffrey Rodriguez: One goal I have is to strengthen the dialogue between the community and the Council. Being that the Council’s primary responsibility is to hear the concerns and issues of the community, and either try to resolve them through the Council or act as a liaison between the community and the County supervisor, I’d like see these lines of communication strengthened so we know exactly what problems and issues need resolving. Too often I’ve heard the phrases “Who approved that?” or “I didn’t know they were planning that,” which to me means we’re missing the input of a large portion of the community. I’d like to improve our outreach and get the community more involved. We need to get the message out that the CVTC meets regularly and needs to hear your concerns to better serve the community.
I believe we also need to focus on transportation and if our infrastructure is where we want it to be now and in the future. This includes seeing the median project and 210 projects through to completion, as well as examining any other areas where we can improve the streets and traffic in our community, especially near our schools.


Desiree Rabinov: During my four years on Council, it has been an enlightening experience to be part of a diverse group of Council members who have a passion for uniting, growing and enhancing our community in various ways. The needs of our society are changing. Each of us has contributed in many different ways with our respective expertise, skills and knowledge to help maintain La Crescenta as a desirable neighborhood in which to live. I believe the work of Council is doing to advance services we receive from the county district office is a critical link to the residents. I hope to continue our existing infrastructure as well as reevaluating the reuse of adjacent debris basin as extension to the Park; and improving the transportation services/connections to rail stations to and from the area. I also would like to continue the work with the Council in partnering with adjacent cities on opportunities where we can leverage resources and implement local studies and activities as we did this year by submitting a request from the County DPW and City of Glendale to apply through Metro Cycle 4 an Open Streets (similar CyclaVia) program in the La Crescenta/Glendale/Montrose area.
I plan to look ahead at new ventures that will broaden the role of the Council and create a stronger working relationship with County staff and Arroyo Verdugo Sub-region Joint Powers Authority on programs we all can benefit. I will continue to invite representatives from Metro to discuss Measure R and M funded programs that are happening in ours or surrounding communities.


Donna Libra: As a new member, I have several specific goals I would like to accomplish. Work with the Crescenta Valley Sheriff Dept. to establish more community meetings to inform the community about crimes and public safety.
Establish a relationship with an outside organization and work with them to help prevent drug abuse in our schools. Work with the Highway Patrol to establish more speed patrols near our schools. Continue to beautify our community, especially along Foothill Boulevard and expand their outreach to the community, building stronger relationships with other organizations.
[Propose] new regulation to eliminate door-to-door solicitation in our community.


Carin Hoffman: First, if elected, I would love to see more people involved in our community and participating in important conversations. A powerful online presence has the potential to include more community members. By updating the website and Facebook, residents can have their concerns addressed even if they cannot attend a CVTC meeting.
Second, I want people to take pride in La Crescenta. We can beautify our streets and attract quality businesses by implementing more effective litter abatement programs and better recycling systems. We need to reach out to the school district to see how we can get our youth involved in lessening trash and implementing recycling stations around town.
Third, we need a senior outreach program to take better care of our older adults who would benefit from more interaction with each other and with the community.
Finally, I am committed to bringing desirable retail stores to our town.


Sophal Ear: If re-elected, I will continue to serve our community as someone who has much vested in the Crescenta Valley. As I mentioned above, the biggest challenge is maintaining our sense of community, space and character while managing tremendous growth. I’m not beholden to developers, etc., and I believe we should exercise the power of the CVTC through its Land Use Committee in ways that make sense for our community: ensuring that what is built is sustainable and manageable and, wherever possible, reasoning with developers to not race to the bottom for the biggest bang for the buck –squeezing as many units as possible out of a piece of real estate, just because it’s legal to do so. Our sense of community is at stake. Another goal is simple: keeping our schools great, with the resources they need. Why isn’t there a Crescenta Valley Educational Foundation raising money for our CV schools?


Charles Beatty: The future of the Council should be to support the area residents. Democracy, of course, is 50 plus 1. For instance, a lighted crosswalk between Mountain Avenue and Briggs Avenue is better for our children and driving public.
Charles Beatty: The future of the Council should be to support the area residents. Democracy, of course, is 50 plus 1. For instance, a lighted crosswalk between Mountain Avenue and Briggs Avenue is better for our children and driving public.

Carin Hoffman
Charles Beatty
Desiree Rabinov
Donna Libra
Jeffrey Rodriguez
Mike Claessens
Sophal Ear