A member of the La Canada Flintridge Planning Commission who advocates low-profile growth in the small community was chosen this week to fill the vacant seat on the City Council.
The four council members Monday night unanimously selected John Hastings, a general contractor who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, for the council seat left open by former Mayor Thomas Curtis, who announced in January that he would resign when a new council member was found.
The appointment follows more than two months of discussion in which council members interviewed five candidates who expressed interest in the job. The council decided to make the appointment rather than call a special election, which would have cost the city about $12,000, said Councilwoman Barbara Pieper, who was chosen during the same meeting to be mayor for the next year.
Hastings, 56, has served on the Planning Commission for 16 months. He said his top concern is the development of Foothill Boulevard, the city's primary commercial street.
For several months the city staff has been putting together a design study that addresses such issues as traffic circulation, the lack of parking lots, architectural upgrading and general zoning along a two-mile stretch of the boulevard. The study, which may be ready for council approval within six months, would serve as a master plan for the area.
Hastings, owner of the contracting firm Terra Trend Inc. in La Canada Flintridge, said he is eager to "get on with the plan" and is especially concerned with a quarter-mile strip which forms the heart of the city's business district, between Angeles Crest Highway and Gould Avenue.
"What we need is an overall plan, a goal, rather than the sort of catch-as-catch-can system we have right now," Hastings said. "But it will be low-profile growth. I'd like there to be an emphasis on more commercial sites but also a mix of residential properties."
'Sprucing Up' Urged
Hastings said he would work toward "sprucing up" parts of the city that "look a little ragged" and have such problems as an excess of billboards and overhead power lines that detract from the city's semirural appeal. He said his background in construction will benefit the city, especially in development matters.
"So far, I think the council has done a fine job in addressing city concerns and I hope I can contribute to our success," Hastings said.
Mayor Pieper said she was pleased that Hastings' appointment was unanimous and said it was in stark contrast to the lengthy debate council members had in 1980, when they were deadlocked over who should replace Councilman George Parrish, who resigned.
She said the council had been close to calling a special election but eventually compromised and appointed Curtis to serve the remaining three years of Parrish's four-year term.
"We really had a problem back then, but I'm happy to say that this time we were very united," Pieper said.
The four other residents interviewed for the council seat were:
Nick Berkuta, a lieutenant in the custody division of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and a member of the La Canada Flintridge Public Safety Commission; Bill Dyess, a real estate appraiser, founder of Highland Federal Savings and Loan in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles and chairman of La Canada Flintridge's Public Works Commission; Richard Guthrie, senior vice president and manager of the consumer loan division for Century Federal Savings; and Marcian Herman, a retired owner of a construction company.
Hastings will serve the remaining three years of Curtis' term. Curtis, who did not attend Monday's meeting and has not participated in the appointment process, said he resigned because of growing demands on his time from his family and his law practice.