The Altadena Town Council may be one of the most powerless bodies in the county. Because Altadena is an unincorporated town, the county Board of Supervisors really makes all the decisions that involve money or exercise of government power.
The Council, with no budget and no power other than to give advice to the supervisors, can't really make significant decisions.
But, with the supervisors' (and particularly District 5's Michael D. Antonovich's) eyes and ears on the ground, what council members say bears some weight in county halls.
The supervisors — and the county planning commission, if it's a land-use issue — do listen to what is said in those letters that get sent downtown from the local sounding board, where the issues can sometimes be hard-fought.
The 16 council members — two from each census tract — are elected to alternating two-year terms, so eight seats are up for grabs every year. The interest of the citizens in the annual elections runs hot and cold — last year, only 78 votes were cast.
One incumbent retained her seat by virtue of being the only candidate in her census tract — nobody actually voted for her (she was in the hospital on election day and couldn't vote for herself). In one census tract, nobody ran at all and the seat was later filled by appointment.
This year, however, seems to be one of the hot years. Fourteen candidates are vying for seven seats in the June 8 election. One census tract has no candidate running.
On May 29, Neighbors Building a Better Altadena held a candidate forum that attracted about 60 spectators, almost as many as actually voted last year.
It's a good thing that there's interest because there are some major issues to discuss. Probably the biggest discussion will come out of the Town Council's Community Standards District Committee, which will be doing the first major update in zoning and planning in a quarter-century.
Any community standards developed will serve as the guideline for future residential and business development in Altadena. Everyone has an opinion, especially in the business district, where the standards are either ignored (Spanish-style buildings!) or selectively enforced (sandwich board signs are forbidden on Lake Avenue).
Any final standards will also have to take into account that so many artists, home-based businesses, artisanal craftspeople and food producers are springing up all over town. Finalizing this plan will be one of the most important things that the next council will do.
You can keep up with the elections at the official website, altadenaelection.org. Neighbors Building a Better Altadena also has candidates' answers to a series of questions on its website, buildingabetteraltadena.org.
Voting will be on Saturday at various locations around town, but there will also be pre-voting available from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive.
Art on Millionaire's Row: The annual art show and crafts sale will also be held Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Altadena Main Library, 600 E. Mariposa St.
While there will be a juried salon art show in the library, the parking lot will be filled with artists, craftspeople, music, food trucks and vendors — all in a family-friendly setting.
Golden Poppy Awards: The best gardens in Altadena will be celebrated at Altadena Heritage's annual Golden Poppy Awards from 4 to 7 p.m. next Sunday.
Every year, Altadena Heritage recognizes some of Altadena's best and most creative gardens at the ceremony, which will feature food, libations, music and conviviality.
Award winners have included everything from older, established gardens in historic homes to new native plant and drought-tolerant landscapes.
One of last year's awards went to Cody Howard, a horticulturist from the Huntington Museum and Gardens, who adopted a stretch of packed dirt next to busy Altadena Drive and turned it into a cactus and succulent "guerrilla garden."
This year's gathering will be held at the McPherson Home, 1075 Topeka St., built by David McPherson, chief engineer and designer of the Mt. Lowe Railway. Cost is $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers, and memberships and renewals can be handled on site.
To make reservations, visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call (626) 993-5338.
TIMOTHY RUTT is publisher and editor of altadenablog.com.