Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mud Flap

We here at The Sierra Madre Tattler are currently having a rewarding conversation with Bill Coburn on the blog that he has attached to his Sierra Madre News Net site. Also in the mix is his informational and elegantly designed mudslide awareness site, Sierra

Now my initial observation to Bill was that the Santa Anita Fire of last April, as he points out on Mudre, is obviously a deciding factor in the mudslide problems we are now facing. Fire ravaged hillsides are the curse of many foothill cities, and we need to be concerned each and every time a storm rolls in. However, there was nothing on his site about the mudslide problems at the "development" plagued One Carter Estates being a contributing factor. Given the serious problems many homeowners in that area have suffered, I thought this was a significant oversight.

To his credit, Bill took my point under consideration. He admitted that this "... was an inadvertent omission" on his part. "I overlooked One Carter as a contributing factor." He then updated to include the following:

"Less than 3% of the expected ten year storm mud-flow (sic) is expected to come from the One Carter property, some of which was denuded by fire, and then some by the developer. So the development at One Carter was also a (minor) contributing factor to the potential mud and debris flow problems the City is facing."

Now I wasn't quite sure that what Bill had written here was in the spirit of what I was talking about. As I pointed out in my next post.

"Not to belabor the point, but do you have any convincing statistical evidence to back up the 3% claim? It has always been my observation that acts of God are more often than not capricious, and saying that storm damage can be predicted with statistical accuracy strikes me as being more than a bit counterintuitive. And besides, can you really be certain that those homeowners who have been experiencing the consequences of the One Carter mudflows would be all that comforted by their inclusion in that 3% figure? I mean, you have seen the photos, right?"

Bill grumpily replied that the 3% figure comes "from math." He then made what I considered to be a rather startling admission, especially given his reputation for being something of an expert on local hillside disasters.

"Do you have photos of mud flowing from One Carter? I haven't seen any. Nor have I seen any mud flowing from One Carter. Perhaps you can tell me when this mudflow occurred, and/or provide me with copies of the photos?"

Included in a featured Dec. 15 article printed in the Pasadena Star News ("Rain snarls traffic, raises threat of mudslides below hills burned by Santa Anita Fire"), there is a photo of the sandbag barrier just downhill from the entrance gate to One Carter. "Sandbags are stacked on Carter Avenue in Sierra Madre to direct the mud and water runoff from the first major storm to strike the southland ..." reads the description written below the picture.

In October of 2007, in what was one of the most boneheaded decisions ever made by our City Hall, Dorn Platz was given an extension of their permit to begin work on the One Carter development. Boneheaded in that what they authorized was the stripping of all the trees and undergrowth from that steep hillside location, and in the middle of the rainy season. The result, in January of 2008, which should have been obvious to the solons responsible, was mudflow damage to many of the homes in the One Carter area.

Here's a couple of pictures of that damage. There are plenty more where these came from.


  1. It's no wonder Bill didn't see any mud at 1 Carter, he has to much "dirt" in his eyes. Bill needs to talk to the residents who live on Carter.

    Bruce should never have been given the authority by the past City Council to give the extension for grading at 1 Carter. When Jack wanted to put in his swimming pool on Skyland Drive he had to wait until the spring before he could start construction because he was in the hillsides. I guess the rules only apply to the residents.

  2. Look, people, the city should have never dealt with Dorn Platz in the first place. They were warned and warned by several residents who had researched this company, and their research always came up with corruption on the part of Dorn Platz. They had lawsuits against them from here to Oregon.
    Greg Galetley and his supporters in this town caused a lot of grief to us all.
    The destroyed a mountain side, that the overwelming majority of residents did not want to see happen, for many reasons, the number ONE reason-- the safety issue. One Carter has always been a prime target for floods, fire and earthquakes, or as resident Shirley Moore described the property, "a triangle of death".
    They wanted to build a High School up there.
    When the people absolutely said NO......the Greg G. gang persisted. Houses were to be built, way too many houses, and in inappropriate places. Sadly, the city council went against the prudent advice of the planning commission and the wise advice of hundreds of residents.....and okayed the Dorn Platz people to build.
    Of course it shouldn't have been graded, the mountain destroyed.....but it was. Why was it ever permitted in the first place?
    Ask former mayor and BIA executive Bart Doyle.
    Ask former mayor Glenn Lambdin (contractor) and former mayor Rob Stockley (former employee of Citybank) who alledgedly tried to secure a loan for Dorn Platz through his bank....and later "quit" his job there.
    Note of interest:
    The above ex-mayors were all very strong supporters of No on Measure V, you all remember their post cards everyday, their canned calls, their coffees every weekend with target groups. All this paid for by the California Assoc. of Realtors and Bart Doyle's Building Industry Association......$170,000 worth of mostly out of town money to fight Kurt Zimmerman, Don Watts, Kevin Dunn, Lee Cline and other concerned citizens who passed YES on Measure V for the folks.
    Can any of you imagine what would have happened if these people would have defeated our protective Measure this economy?
    Think about it.
    Thanks for writing this website Sierra Madre Tattler

  3. There's been some official denial about mud at One Carter since last year. Following the fires last year, there was a televised meeting of City officials at the Senior Center that included a discussion there of mud flows. Bruce Inman made a very carefully worded statement that no mud had flowed from One Carter. This was contrary to other "unofficial" comments that there was quite a bit of mud flowing around on that property. Now this is the set up of a big lie. Saying that there is no mud flowing from One Carter is meant to make people think that there's no mud problem. Well, there is mud flowing around on the One Carter property. The whole point of the development is to break One Carter into numerous smaller parcels. Viewed in this way, there are horrendous mud problems because mud is flowing from parcel to parcel. We can't assume that they will automatically go away just because homes are built there. We need some assurance that mud won't flow from parcel to parcel within the development after development. That's what happened at the Nutsell tract, leaving one home completely uninhabitable (permanently) and others troubled. The One Carter development is headed the same way and the City should never have ignored warnings of this type. What did they think would happen when the debris basins were removed? All land is not suitable for residential development, even if Bart and the BIA put it as such in the general plan.

  4. Sorry to double-post, but I also wanted to make a comment about the Sierra Mudre info website. I was notified about this and wanted to watch it carefully. I did check in and saw some photos (taken by a neighbor) posted about an address on Skyland, showing sandbags and water in the street. I assumed that it was a close call. Later, I learned that the family at this address had to be evacuated and ended up with 13 dump trucks full of mud at the rear of their house. Their Thanksgiving was in a hotel room. A little more follow-up would be a good idea--individual blogging will not always produce the full story, unfortunately.

    The full story is important to the development discussion. The reason for the mud flow is directly fire-related but a little more complex than simply burned ground-cover. In fact, there was a mud barrier behind and above the home in question. It was made of wood and while serviceable for years, it was burned during the recent fires. It not longer protects them from mud. It has not been replaced by the government entity that installed or required it in the first place. This was no doubt a condition of developing that Canyon area. Well, the developer is long gone and it hardly seems fair to expect residents to pick up where regulation has fallen off.

    There's more to this than just a fire. Development decisions do not simply affect the immediate construction--they go on and on but are not addressed that way. Sandbags are not the answer.

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  6. The:
    you're right, thanks for the correction.
    I guess I had Citibank on my mind......the Wall Street Crash and all.....Citibank was one of the failed/bailed I think.
    I've been watching the People's Republic of Wall Street all month SIGH

  7. Yeah, Rob was giving 1 Carter the ok and his bank was one of their financing partners.
    No conflict of interest there.
    This is directly from the current DP web site
    Citizen's Business Bank.

  8. pasta, roia and The:
    thanks for the good scoops.
    How do we post a link?

  9. But let's don't forget an important fact about Measure V and financing the opposition. There was $45,000 paid from the Sierra Madre Redevelopment Agency for promoting the Downtown Specific Plan. Our tax dollars no doubt going for electioneering. Personally, I liked the little DSP T shirts that the planning staff were wearing. Talk about government supported propaganda. Where's Glenn Lambden when he could bring a lawsuit about spending tax dollars to promote something that was supposed to be subject to open dialog. Give me a break!!

  10. OK: Still haven't figured out that link thing. I can make it happen for original articles, but not posts. People want to see a link they'll have to type it in themselves. Which is unfortunate. I typed in yours and I reached for my jug of bourbon. I've been there a number of times and it's a beautiful place. The birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, tho' most folks would tell you it was Illinois. And lot's of race horses.

  11. Thanks, anyway, SMT.
    Most sites you just highlight the link and it comes lit up.
    You can highlight and copy the link, paste it to Google, hit "I'm feeling lucky" it comes up right away.
    Some of you sharp techies on board here must know. Help us out?

  12. Big storm coming in later today. Not exactly the Christmas present the city needs right now.