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La Canada Among Winners for Local Issues at Legislature

October 02, 1986|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — As the regular, two-year session of the Legislature wound to a close last month, lawmakers grappled with statewide and global issues ranging from deposits on soft-drink bottles to apartheid.

But local issues, such as preserving open space in La Canada Flintridge, also received attention from the Legislature and from Gov. George Deukmejian, who late Tuesday completed action on the last of about 3,500 bills sent to him during the session.

La Canada Flintridge City Manager Donald Otterman said his city achieved its top legislative priority this year--obtaining $537,000 through the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to aid in the purchase of 40 acres in Cherry Canyon near Descanso Gardens.

Otterman said the city faced an uphill fight. At first, Deukmejian excluded funds for the purchase from his budget proposal. But local legislators fought for the money, which the governor allowed to remain in the final version of the budget.

One of Last Wilderness Areas

Otterman said the city plans to spend an extra $179,000 of its own funds to buy the land. Last year, the city obtained $1 million through the conservancy to buy another 55 acres in Cherry Canyon.

The canyon, which is dotted with oak trees and fed by a stream, is one of the region's few remaining wilderness areas. It is expected to be part of the Rim of the Valley trail corridor, which the conservancy hopes will one day ring the San Fernando and Crescenta valleys.

The Cherry Canyon acquisition was one of dozens of local issues that legislators dealt with during the session.

Legislators, however, said it was impossible to evaluate the session in terms of a single area, such as Glendale, because relatively little legislation is exclusively tailored to resolve local disputes or deal with local issues.

Michael Pottage, a spokesman for Assembly Minority Leader Pat Nolan (R-Glendale), explained that Nolan's 41st District "is a typical suburban district in California, and its problems are common to other districts."

'Very Self-Reliant City'

Sen. Newton R. Russell (R-Glendale) said the cities in his district prefer to resolve their own problems instead of seeking help from the state. For example, Russell said Glendale "doesn't usually ask for much; they're a very self-reliant city."

However, both Glendale and La Canada Flintridge suffered setbacks during the session.

Glendale was seeking a $2-million appropriation from a proposed state park bond act to buy the 746-acre Inter-Valley Ranch. But Deukmejian vetoed the item, saying it was premature because the bond act was not approved for the November ballot.

In another reversal, La Canada Flintridge last year was among the cities supporting an unsuccessful measure to raise as much as $175 million for financially hard-pressed local governments by boosting motor vehicle license fees. The measure encountered stiff opposition and, in effect, was shelved by its author, state Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights).

If the Campbell bill had succeeded, Otterman estimated, La Canada Flintridge would have received $800,000 a year--more than 25% of its $3.4-million annual budget.

A bill of importance to people who live under the flight path of Burbank Airport was vetoed by the governor. The measure by Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove) would have prohibited neighboring residents from suing airports more than once unless operations or noise levels had "significantly" changed. Deukmejian vetoed similar measures in 1983 and 1984, and once again rejected the bill.

In other issues of countywide importance:

Deukmejian last week signed into law a bill by Assemblyman Byron D. Sher (D-Palo Alto) that imposes stiff environmental controls on the 34 waste-to-energy plants planned in the state. The plants are designed to burn trash and generate electricity as a way of relieving pressure on county landfills. Several bills to restrict construction of such plants failed this year.

County lobbyists have been pushing for $161.4 million for new county jail facilities as part of a bill that dictates how $495 million in state bond money will be divided among the state's 58 counties for jail construction projects. Deukmejian allowed it to become law without his signature.

The continuing problem of prostitution in the Hollywood area triggered a measure by Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) to help police fight streetwalkers. It passed the Legislature and was signed by Deukmejian.

Los Angeles City Atty. James Kenneth Hahn said that under existing law an arrest is not valid if undercover police officers directly ask a prostitute to engage in sex for money. Under the new law, which will take effect Jan. 1, police will have the flexibility to initiate negotiations with suspected prostitutes.

"We expect to have more arrests and convictions as a result of the change in this law," Hahn said.

The measure was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that it would allow police to entrap prostitutes.

Parking problems in West Los Angeles and Hermosa Beach prompted a law that expands the ability of all cities to employ a wheel-locking device known as the Denver Boot to crack down on scofflaws who ignore parking tickets.

The law, which took effect in June, allows officials to lock the boot on any vehicle with five or more unpaid tickets. The previous law required that vehicles also have expired registrations.

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