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NEIGHBORLY ADVICE: LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE

A merger allowed their city to bloom

June 03, 2007|Helene Lesel | Special to The Times

Situated in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest, La Canada Flintridge retains the small-town spirit that fueled its quest for cityhood. Put on the map by Civil War veterans seeking a place with recuperative clean air, the area is known for its breathtaking views.

Beginnings

How did the city come to have such a long name? In 1963, the rural town of La Canada, located in the glen between the San Gabriel Mountains and San Rafael Hills, wanted to grow into a proper city. Since their community was too small to make it on its own, La Canada residents made overtures of cityhood to neighboring Flintridge.

Flintridge, set in the hills below La Canada, was named after U.S. Sen. Frank P. Flint and was originally developed as an exclusive community of estate-sized properties and large homes. The residents cherished their privacy and resisted the notion of merging with their neighbors. Fierce opposition by some Flintridge homeowners led to a proposal to establish their own city and a request for the county engineer to draw up boundaries for a 2-square-mile town.

By 1976, concerns about being "swallowed up" by the larger cities of Pasadena or Glendale finally led voters to approve a merger. After 14 years of wrangling, La Canada Flintridge -- with one of the longest names of any California city -- was born.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 07, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
School enrollment: A community profile of La Canada-Flintridge in Sunday's Real Estate section reported the enrollment in La Canada Unified School District as 3,330. The current enrollment is 4,252.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 10, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
School enrollment: A community profile of La Canada-Flintridge in the June 3 Real Estate section reported the enrollment in La Canada Unified School District as 3,330. The current enrollment is 4,252.

Drawing card

Set against the forest, the city has hiking, biking and equestrian trails, exceptional parks and gardens, such as the 160-acre Descanso Gardens. Residents find the location close enough to commute to jobs in downtown L.A. -- it's about 13 miles to the Civic Center -- but not so close that they feel they are living in an urban area. Some are employed locally at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

And then there are the schools, among the best in the state. The school district was founded in 1855 with just 15 students. Today it has an enrollment of 3,330.

"We moved here for the excellent schools and sense of community," said six-year resident Karen Gee-McAuley. There is strong parental involvement and local support.

The small-town ambience is easy to discern from the local paper, the La Canada Flintridge Outlook. The front page of a recent edition included photos of local sporting events and fundraisers. As Publisher Charlie Plowman, who was raised in La Canada, explained, "Residents enjoy knowing what's going on in their community and often know the people mentioned."

Good news, bad news

Excellent schools, neighbors that you know and the convenience of being near a major city are all reasons to live here. But increased freeway traffic has lengthened travel time for some residents, especially those traveling to L.A.'s Westside.

Although outdoor activities are popular, the weather doesn't always cooperate. There were record-breaking temperatures of 17 degrees in February 2003 and 110 degrees in June 1990. Fortunately, the climate is usually temperate, with a year-round mean temperature of 64 degrees and 300 sunny days a year.

Housing stock

Homes vary from the drab to the dramatic. Composed primarily of single-family houses, the area has about 70 homes for sale. A 1920s two-bedroom, two-bathroom fixer with 1,090 square feet on a 5,000-square-foot lot is listed at $745,000. There also is a newly built Georgian Colonial-style home with 8,000 square feet that has five bedrooms, eight bathrooms and six fireplaces on a 20,000-square-foot lot. Listed for $4,995,000, the property includes sweeping mountain views. No condominiums are currently listed for sale.

Report card

La Canada Flintridge students are served primarily by the La Canada Unified School District, with those on the city's western edge attending schools in the Glendale Unified School District. The 2006 Base Academic Performance Index Report, using a 1,000-point scale, recorded 940 at Palm Crest Elementary, 965 at La Canada Elementary, 937 at Paradise Canyon Elementary. La Canada High School (which houses a middle school and serves grades seven to 12) scored 898. The scores for those schools in the Glendale district are Mountain Avenue Elementary, with 942; Rosemont Middle School, 891; Crescenta Valley High School, 858; and Clark Magnet, 838.

Historical values

Residential resales for ZIP Code 91011:

Year...Median Price

1995...$420,500

2000...$588,000

2005...$1,168,500

2006...$1,254,500

*2007...$1,340,000

* Year to date

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Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; "The History of La Canada Flintridge" by Don Mazen; lacanadaflintridge.com; Prudential California agent Teri Lazarowitz; api.cde.ca.gov.

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