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News stories from the La Canada Valley Sun


SPORT CHALET UPDATE

By Anita Susan Brenner
For all his grousing about the twin evils of communism and socialism, one would think that Mayor Jim Edwards might have taken Thomas Macauley's advice to guys about the values of participatory democracy. Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly, as when they discuss it freely.

Last Thursday's public showdown proved that the real culprits in the Sport Chalet fiasco are the guys.

Now don't get me wrong. I like guys. My husband is a guy. So is our son. Our dog is a guy. And Horace J. Rumpole, Jr., our cat, is a guy. Most of the time, I like guys. But last week, the guys began to get on my nerves.

When Joan Feehan, a clear Sport Chalet proponent, began to ask questions about the traffic flow, Mayor Jim turned beet-red. This came after Mayor Jim's constant interruptions of Deb Orlik. Mayor Jim thought that Deb had asked too many questions about a clearly flawed air quality analysis. Deb didn't buy his argument that because other cities fail to comply with the AQMD, it's OK for La Canada to break the rules. And with a daycare center next to the project, no less. To Jim's obvious discomfiture, none other than the often-silent Carol Liu began to ask questions. And then, Dave Spence, another guy, started to complain that he knew all the answers because of private meetings. Dave asked, Does the public need to hear this?

Yes, guys. We do. Democracy and all that.

This guy stuff is frustrating because there are imminently reasonable solutions to the Sport Chalet proposal. Last week, there were offers to mediate. Instead of following-up, Mayor Jim plowed ahead with what most lawyers feel is a flawed case.

Under the present zoning, it would be better economics for Norbert and Vons to substitute mixed-use, mixed-income senior housing in lieu of a Vons megastore. Sport Chalet could have a bigger store in a smaller shopping center, at a lower out-of-pocket cost. Why would it be cheaper? Because of money from HUD and CHAFA, and State and Federal tax credits. In the current climate, affordable senior housing is a better financial partner than a grocery store.

And then there's community good will. Most of us would jump at the chance to discuss a settlement. It's a chance to be a hero. A chance to win. A chance for city hall to avoid another pathetic courtroom loss. But some guys just gotta be guys. I just wish they'd do it with their own checkbook, and not ours. (c) Anita Brenner Originally published in Valley Sun 1-30-9