Posted on | January 4, 2009 | 43 Comments
I recently wrote about land development use issues in the Glendora South Hills, and it generated some off-line discussion locally so I’d like to introduce to you a local environmental activist and current Glendora City Council Candidate Kristin Parisi.
South Hills Alosta Canyon Trail, Glendora, California
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
Both my husband and I are transplants from the Midwest to California, and we chose Glendora nearly 25 years ago as the place we wanted to raise our family. Soon after our children started school, I got involved in PTA and with other local issues and was quickly “hooked”.
Growing up, my folks were small business owners and we were always active on local issues and local politics. My mother owned and operated our small town newspaper and my father was a local politician. I was raised to believe you “Can’t complain if you don’t get involved”, so it was a natural step for me to provide information that helped the community, try to get our elected officials to listen, and work on the campaigns of candidates I believe in.
As a community volunteer, I published a little paper called “Glendora Life” from 1998-2007. It was Glendora’s “alternative” source of information. We dug for facts and reported news that other local media chose to ignore. Over the past 12 years, I have gradually become more informed, more involved, and more committed to being the type of voice in city hall our citizens deserve.
In my life, I’ve held many different jobs including teacher, college administrator, and policy analyst, but none more fulfilling or rewarding than the work I do now as a Children’s Social Worker. Every day I am in touch with some of our most needy families and feel blessed to have an opportunity to try and answer those needs, whether its safety, emotional strength, food or housing.
I hold a masters degree in Public Administration. I am dedicated to public service, and I will bring my communications skills and broad experience as an administrator, educator and social worker to the Glendora city council.
What do city council members do?
At best, city council members are the most accessible face of government for the citizens. The council sets policy on everything from where you can walk your dog, to the number and size of your business signs. The council plays a huge role in land use and planning decisions that impact the future of communities. Councils make decisions that determine the amount of open space and parkland to protect, the policy on recycling, which congestion management and traffic calming efforts to fund. These are all policies the city council decides on.
Council members are expected to be responsible enough to research issues they
vote on. They should listen and give voice and consideration to the values, opinions, and preferences of their constituents as part of their decision process. Of course, there are competing interests to be considered, but council members should give them all fair consideration and seek solutions and build consensus for decisions that better the entire community, not simply appease their friends or those with the loudest voices.
Unfortunately, what council members do and what they are supposed to do are often not the same. We all know that far too many elected officials succumb to the pressure of repaying favors to those who financed their campaigns.
Kristin Parisi City Council Candidate Waving to Crowd, Glendora Christmas Parade, California
Why do you want to be a Glendora City Council member?
Again, I think the process should be inclusive. When planning to balance housing needs with sustainability, protection of open space and quality of life, for instance, the process yields better results when the process is inclusive. That balance only comes when there are independent voices on the council and a real debate about the huge changes proposed for our community, and the possible solutions.
Since I got involved locally more than a dozen years ago, I’ve shown my concern for every area of our city and the kinds of decisions that are made to protect and improve our neighborhoods by being actively involved, speaking out to the Planning Commission and the City Council, providing written comments to environmental impact reports, and challenging decisions when I thought they were made in error, like the decision to place a commercial nursery operation in a wilderness park.
I’m running for the Glendora City Council because I still believe that discussion, dialog and debate are healthy. I believe in democracy and that everyone should have a place at the table. When we listen and consider everyone’s opinions and have a real, authentic commitment to inclusion and planning, we arrive at better decisions.
Your name was brought to my attention due a blog post I made about commercial development within the Glendora South Hills. What are your views regarding past, present and future decisions regarding our local wilderness area?
Every week, I drive all over the county and there is no better argument for preservation and conservation than a tour of the Southland. We are indeed fortunate to live near the foothills, just one of California’s natural treasures.
The fact is that more could have been done to preserve our local wild areas. Those who made the decisions, however, were obviously motivated by the interests of landowners who supported development regardless of the elevation, regardless of the slope, regardless of the habitat in the area.
I’m pleased that the Glendora Community Conservancy, www.glendoraconservancy.org, with the support of California and Los Angeles County voters, have been able to preserve so many acres. We need more people like you and them, and we need local politicians who make preservation and conservation a priority.
Regarding the future, I think we need to grasp the concept that “when it’s gone, it’s gone”. Preservation should be part of the planning process – valued as much as any other factor in reaching the balance I talked about before. What we can preserve, we should, and we should be good stewards of it for future generations. There is absolutely no need for commercial developments in our South Hills, and the Glendora City Council should terminate the lease and use the land for the purpose for which it was intended.
Colorama Diesel Truck Driving Up Bonnie Cove Trail, Glendora South Hills Wilderness Park, California
Leased Private Property in Glendora South Hills
The Glendora City Manager wrote to me stating that the Glendora Wilderness Park is “zoned as open space and thus cannot be developed with houses or any commercial buildings.” Clearly this is not true because a commercial nursery operation is located smack dab right in the middle of it. Hikers have reported being harassed and run off the Bonnie Cove trail by renegade truck drivers that apparently weren’t even aware that it was originally intended to be a hiking trail. If elected to the city council, will you do what you can to preserve our remaining open spaces?
Like many other Glendorans, I disagree with the current city council’s decision to lease out publicly owned land in our South Hills Wilderness Park area to a commercial nursery. This decision was made hastily. It was a “consent calendar item” for the council, decided without public debate or thorough consideration of impacts on the public: such as public safety for citizens who visit the hills, spraying of toxic or hazardous chemicals, and damage to flora and fauna.
As a member of the council, I will work to terminate the commercial lease with minimal impact to the city’s financial resources. I am a member and supporter of the “Save the South Hills” effort and will continue to be. In addition, I will continue my efforts to protect the foothills and would like to see expanded grant writing activity to support our Conservancy’s efforts and those of other area conservancies. I hope to work with local schools and interested organizations to increase educational and recreational uses of the areas that are available to the public. Public land is a public trust. It’s time we started treating it that way here in Glendora.
Tell me some memorable experiences you have had along the Bonnie Cove trail in the South Hills.
What I love most is the sense of being somewhere away from life’s hustle, bustle and so close to nature. We are so blessed that this opportunity is so close to home. Seeing the baby hawks hatch in the hawk nest across from the Bonnie Cove trail is a wonderful site. It’s said the nest has been there since at least the 1960′s.
Sadly, one less than positive memory was the day we looked at the black walnut tree which held the old beehive, killed by a nursery employee. It was another thoughtless insult to the natural beauty and web of life, and an example of how these two land uses – commercial nursery in the middle of the public’s wilderness park are not compatible and needs to be resolved. I’m told nursery employees seem confused as to why there are hikers on the “road”. Actually, they’re driving their trucks and cars on a hiking trail! The business does not have the South Hills’ best interest in mind; it is useful in their effort to turn a profit. As I said, the uses are not compatible and the park should be returned to the public for public use.
Lupine and Mustard Wildflowers in Glendora South Hills Wilderness Park
Tell me about the Glendora Community Conservancy and your involvement with this organization.
The Conservancy and I are on the same page — preserve open space, and I am a fan and supporter of the Glendora Community Conservancy. The organization has successfully protected a significant number of acres in our foothills, although not as many as I would have hoped for. The Conservancy has a local office and website you may wish to explore.
Click on the link to learn more about the Glendora Community Conservancy and local environmental issues.