Recent campaign rhetoric from the proponents of Proposition A would have us believe that the City Council and the Planning Commission have been secretly plotting to "approve plans for large-scale developments, rezone residential property for commercial use, and allow shopping centers and condominiums to destroy the tranquil character of our city and the quality our our lives." If they were involved and informed, they would know that their assertions are absolutely not true!
I share the proponents' desire to preserve the unique, semi-rural residential character of our community. Where we disagree (and we disagree quite strongly) is whether Proposition A is an appropriate tool to achieve that purpose.
Proposition A is a bad idea which is antithetical to the entire planning process. The very purpose of cityhood was to gain control of the planning process and to use it for the benefit of all residents of our community. A zone change is a legislative function (as opposed to an administrative or a judicial function) and therefore it is a proper subject for the "give and take" of the legislative process. The law requires applicants to participate in a lengthly public hearing process and residents of La Canada Flintridge have always been active and involved in the process. There has always been an opportunity to voice concerns and to negotiate changes in any project to accommodate the concerns of neighbors.
However, one does not "negotiate" with a ballot box. Under Proposition A, there would be no room for compromises, for examining alternatives or for adjusting the scope of a development to more appropriately fit the character of the community.
A second reason for voting against Proposition A is that it is likely to achieve exactly the opposite of what its proponents intend. Its proponents apparently believe that somehow they will be protected by the requirement of submitting all changes in zoning to a vote of the people. What they fail to realize is that, by definition, any resident who will be affected by a project will be in the minority. The great majority of residents who do not live nearby may be quite apathetic about the whole affair. Accordingly, submitting the measure to a vote of the people would remove the very protections which are now built into the planning process.
The creation of the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Foothill Boulevard is proof once again that the planning process works in La Canada Flintridge. Residents adjacent to the commercial areas of Foothill Boulevard have raised legitimate concerns, and those concerns are now being addressed. Because I share many of those concerns, I volunteered to serve on the Mayor's Advisory Committee.
Now is not the time to jettison our tradition of community involvement in the planning process and adopt a procedure which causes us to "roll the dice" with respect to every controversial project.
LAURENCE G. PREBLE