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Letters : Sodium-Vapor Lights

November 21, 1985

On Nov. 4, La Canada Flintridge lost a great battle. The City Council voted 3 to 2 to permit Southern California Edison Co. to replace their existing mercury-vapor lights with high-pressure sodium-vapor lights. This was done despite the expressed will of the people of La Canada Flintridge not to permit the change.

Councilman O. Warren Hillgren was the leader of the drive for Edison, claiming that he simply wanted what was best for the community. What irritates me is that Mr. Hillgren could claim that he wanted to listen to the people, yet it was clear that he really had his mind set prior to the meeting.

What this demonstrates is that certain council members do not wish to listen to the people who elected them. There were more than half a dozen residents who got up and spoke before the council in favor of keeping the mercury-vapor lights. Not one resident of La Canada Flintridge spoke in favor of the change.

Nevertheless, in the name of the people, Hillgren, J. Bixby Smith and Jack Hastings voted against the will of the people, citing a need to better manage the community's precious resources. This is a grave loss to the community, which for years has been a very special place to live.

I personally have lived my entire life in La Canada Flintridge, and I have no desire to see it turn into another Downey or Bellflower because someone wants to cut a little $7 item on their tax bill. The beauty of La Canada Flintridge is worth much more than $7, and to destroy part of that beauty to save a little money is wrong.

Edison said that La Canada and San Marino were the only two cities that have not converted to the high-pressure sodium vapor. But if one ever examines the communities of La Canada and San Marino, one will quickly find that both communities stand out as the most beautiful places to live in the San Gabriel Valley. What doesn't occur to Edison is why San Marino and La Canada are special. It is these small things that make our communities really special, and I am sad to see us lose one of them.

Some of the council members came up to me after the hearing and told me how much they appreciate hearing what the community has to say. But Hillgren, Smith and Hastings did not listen to what we came to say. Rather, they followed the ideas they had before. Is this what the City Council is all about? I feel it is not. It is total arrogance on the part of the council members to presume that they are wise fathers to us little, foolish children. I really felt insulted.

I think this arrogant attitude can best be summed up by Hillgren's license plate, which reads: HIS HONOR. His honor just happens to be a public servant who I feel fails to serve the public. And since I have brought up his license plate, I might add that if Mr. Hillgren is so worried about conservation, why does he drive a Cadillac?

I also want to praise Ed Krause, who for the last three years has listened to the people on this issue and has stood behind the people. Also, I would like to praise Mayor Barbara Pieper, who admittedly was undecided on the issue until the Nov. 4 council meeting. She made her decision based upon what the people wanted. This is what democracy is about. I believe in government by the people and for the people, not government by the king and for the king.

I am sorry I have to write this letter, but I felt that the people of La Canada Flintridge should know why their neighborhoods will soon be turning orange. Maybe Mr. Hillgren is right, that everybody in La Canada wants to save 2 cents.


La Canada Flintridge

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