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Legislature Comes to Aid of La Canada Flintridge

September 17, 1987|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Two bills passed in the closing hours of the 1987 legislative session would give a boost to the La Canada Flintridge city treasury, restore a historic house and revive a plan to renovate the former Eagle Rock Library as a community center.

One measure that won approval Saturday would pump about $100,000 into La Canada Flintridge next year as part of a statewide plan to aid cities that do not levy a property tax.

Funds for Museum

A second bill--to split up $20 million in state tideland oil revenues--earmarks $500,000 to refurbish the 73-year-old California Craftsman-style Lanterman house for use as a museum and offices for the City of La Canada Flintridge.

The legislation also includes $238,000 for the old Eagle Rock Library project, which Gov. George Deukmejian blue-penciled from the state budget in July. Two earlier attempts to set aside funds for the project failed to win legislative approval.

The funds, sought by Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles), would enable the City of Los Angeles to bring the library, in the 2200 block of Colorado Boulevard, up to earthquake standards and to install access for the handicapped.

The two bills are awaiting action by the governor. Tom Beerman, a spokesman for the governor, said Deukmejian has indicated a willingness to sign the measure to help the cities. He has not taken a position on the measure to split up the oil funds, he said.

The $500,000 allocation for the Lanterman house, the one-time residence of the late Republican Assemblyman Frank Lanterman, was inserted into the bill by Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale).

The money would be funneled to the city, which owns the 1.3-acre house and gardens at 4420 Encinas Drive. Donald Otterman, city manager of La Canada Flintridge, said the city's goal is to maintain three of the rooms as they were in 1915 and turn the rest of the house into city offices.

An architect hired by the city has estimated the cost of raising the building to code standards at about $1 million. The city plans to form a private, nonprofit corporation to issue bonds to underwrite the improvements not met by the state grant.

Otterman said the city is launching a review of the project to evaluate how to limit traffic problems.

But plans to use the home as a city hall have triggered objections from local residents. They maintain that a city hall would introduce traffic dangers, noise and general disruption into their residential neighborhood.

Under the legislation to help cities with little or no property-tax revenue, La Canada Flintridge stands to gain about $100,000, starting July 1.

Part of a Bill

The proposal was part of a landmark bill to shift the cost of trial courts from counties to the state. Under the measure by Sen. William Lockyer (D-Hayward), counties would have the option of adopting the transfer. If signed, it could free about $300 million for other programs, including aid to such cities as La Canada Flintridge.

Cities with no property tax maintain that they have been caught in a fiscal bind since passage in 1978 of tax-cutting Proposition 13, which made it difficult for them to impose new taxes. Further, they say that they have grown but have not had the new revenue to pay for services.

The bill's critics contend that many of the cities have plenty of money and do not need the extra revenue. They maintain that, at minimum, the cities should be subject to a "needs test" to determine if they should get the funds.

The bailout for the cities would be phased in over a decade, with cities getting 10% more each year for the next 10 years. By the time the measure was fully implemented, it would cost the state about $220 million a year.

"It would have been nice to have it all at one time," Otterman said.

However, the phase-in was part of a compromise reached by Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) and representatives of the governor's office.

The funds have been sought for about four years by Sacramento lobbyist Joe Gonsalves, a former Norwalk assemblyman, who represents some of the cities that would benefit from the plan.

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