Green, but not with Envy

From the Desk of the Publisher

By Robin Goldsworthy

Much has been said about a home up on Markridge Road that is painted a certain color green that has been called everything from garish to gross. I learned about the house a few weeks ago from a friend with whom I was having dinner at her house. She immediately pulled me into her car to drive over to see what choice this resident had made in painting her home.

Not long after, neighbors of the green house gathered to see what course of action might be available to them as they felt the color scheme not only disrupted the serenity of the neighborhood but might negatively impact property values.

A couple of days later, while at the July 4th fireworks bonanza at La Crescenta Elementary School, a neighbor of the green house asked me if I would do a story on the house. I in turn asked if the homeowner had been approached. When told that he/she had not, I said I’d be happy to pursue the matter once the homeowner had been told of his neighbors’ concerns.

I live up here in the foothills and it was my belief – it still is – that a person should not learn about the disgruntlement of their neighbors by opening up the newspaper.

The issue of the green house glaringly highlights the lack of residential design standards for the unincorporated portion of the Crescenta Valley. Similar grumblings have been heard regarding the “McMansions” built off Briggs at Panorama and at Chapman. Considered by many to be oversized for the neighborhoods, from what I understand the builders are acting within their rights with what they have constructed.

Even with design standards in place we’re still being surprised.

The Community Standards District has been adopted for the commercial corridor of Foothill Boulevard. The standards were six years in the making and were painstakingly shepherded through the County of Los Angeles approval process by a committee that included Stuart Byles, Sharon Ragavachary and Richard Toyon. When the CSD was approved, Crescenta Valley stakeholders awaited the implementation of the standards to new construction along Foothill in the unincorporated portion of the boulevard – basically from Ocean View to Pennsylvania.

One of the first projects moving forward was a multi-unit retail/office complex at Sunset Avenue and the 2400 block of Foothill Boulevard. But unfortunately, this project will not have to follow the CSD guidelines as it was approved prior to the CSD being finalized. It seems that in a gesture of good will, the architect did make a presentation to the CV Town Council, which the public could attend. Stuart and Sharon were able to offer some input that alerted the developer as to what the concerns were in regard to the new building. Hopefully those concerns – which thankfully were minimal – will be addressed.

But the Sunset project isn’t the only Foothill Boulevard development to stop us in our tracks.

Seemingly overnight a green fence surrounded the property that is the former home of Plumb Crazy in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard indicating new construction was starting. But will this project follow the CSD? Apparently it, too, is exempt as plans were approved prior to the CSD adoption. Of great concern is the future of an iconic Moreton Bay Fig Tree that sits just east of the new construction.

But of greater concern to me is where was the Land Use Committee of our own CV Town Council while these plans were being submitted to the county of Los Angeles? While I understand that the council can’t make policy – it can only advise the L.A. Board of Supervisors of local issues – the committee seemed as surprised as the rest of us by these plans, especially those of the Plumb Crazy development.

In the future I hope that the council and its Land Use Committee will be more diligent in monitoring what is being proposed for our community or we may end up with a lime green multi-story building looming over a dying historic symbol of the foothills.