As it stands, the outlying L.A. County suburb of La Cañada Flintridge isn't the most thrilling sight to behold.

“It's kind of all browns and whites,” says Ina Dan, a friend of yours truly who grew up at the mercy of the city's excruciating drabness. “It's almost missionary — your typical American town.”

But recently, to the horror of La Cañada's largely wealthy, largely white/Korean/Christian residents, a drive-thru shack on Foothill Boulevard, the only street in town with any stores on it (we're a “main drag” kind of city, says Dan), repainted its roof a monstrous shade of neon yellow. Uh-oh: Ordinance time! The La Cañada Valley Sun reports:

The La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission Tuesday endorsed a possible zoning ordinance change that could require businesses to submit to Design Commission review when making changes to their existing building colors or installing outdoor furniture. …

There was confusion in the commission about the exact language and intent of the zone change, however, as the board debated the possible creation of a standardized palette of pre-approved colors that would streamline the approval process for new businesses. This idea was supported by Pat Anderson, president of the local Chamber of Commerce.

Dan isn't surprised. “This is their M.O. — to try to keep everything standard and boring and conservative,” she says.

Odd man out on the Planning Commission's vote was Chair Michael Cahill, who told the Valley Sun that such an ordinance would be “too much government on too small of a thing.”

Ya think?

Sadly, this is not the first time La Cañada has tried to reign in local businesses, in the name of maintaining total visual conformity: The city also has a tight grip on the scope and brightness of window signage.

And Dan remembers that for years of her youth, city politicians tried to prevent the world's first Sport Chalet from expanding, because they didn't want to bring in outsiders. She and her friends used to call La Cañada “the bubble.”

Most humorously, the city tried to crack down on parties last year, with a fun-killing “social host ordinance.” Via the Valley Sun:

On Monday, public safety coordinator Peter Castro said there have been complaints about raucous parties and underage drinking in La Cañada.

“It has been reported that many parents have a high tolerance for teen parties and allow them to occur on their property without supervision,” Castro said. …

A social host ordinance could be incorporated into current code and would allow the city to apply a civil fee against hosts, he said.

Next target: Colors! We've contacted the Planning Commission for comment.

Update: Robert Stanley, director of community development for La Cañada, says design commissioners “don't want to call out a specific color as being not a good color — in fact, they're a very creative group. But they want to make sure, if you're going to change a building in a certain area, it's either consistent to that area or doesn't clash with a building next to it.”


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