Friday, December 19, 2008

Sierra Madre's SCAG/RHNA Numbers To Be Drastically Slashed

You might recall from last year the controversy over SCAG's  Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) mandated housing numbers for Sierra Madre. A Sierra Madre Weekly item (May, 10, 2007) entitled "City Stuck With Unwelcome Housing Numbers," laid out the process:

"According to state law, each municipality must meet its fair share of the need for new housing. This year SCAG prepared the assessment. From 2006-2014 Sierra Madre must create opportunity for 138 new housing units including 82 very low, low and moderate income units. The city does not have to build the houses but it does have to make sure zoning codes allow them to be built if a developer is interested."

This was not greeted as being particularly sunny news by many here, especially in light of the fact that in order to make room for the kind of development SCAG was mandating, existing housing would have to be seized and leveled to create the kind of room necessary to build 138 new "housing units."

"'SCAG not too ceremoniously turned down our request for revision of our numbers,' explained Councilman John Buchanan about his recent appearance with City Attorney Sandra Levin and city staff before the SCAG Appeals Board to request a reduction in the number of housing units allocated to the city ...  'We knew ahead of time that these arguments were probably going to fall on deaf ears,' Buchanan explained."

It should be noted here that John Buchanan did have past service time with SCAG at the time of the ruling. And that Councilman Joe Mosca, who also attended the Appeals Board meeting, had two months earlier begun training at SCAG's Leadership Academy.

So this all sounded pretty final, right? SCAG ruled, and our then city leadership apparently tucked tail and accepted this ruling as an unshakable finality.

But now it appears that, under appeals put out by our current city leadership, Sierra Madre's RHNA numbers weren't quite so final as first assumed. Word out of Sacramento has it that SCAG's RHNA #s for Sierra Madre were somehow calculated incorrectly. And that our numbers could be drastically reduced, perhaps by as much as 50%! And at 50% current "granny housing" could very well be adequate to accommodate required low income housing, obviating the necessity for the kinds of dislocations new high density housing would bring.

More on this as it develops.


  1. Yippie! I sure hope this is true.
    If it is, you all can thank Mayor Kurt Zimmerman, Mayor Pro-tem MaryAnn MacGillvrey and Councilman Don Watts!
    They have been working very hard to lower these unrealistic numbers.

  2. Why wasn't Joe or the high paid consultant aware of this news? They only things out of their mouth were "we must do it or else."

    Thanks for all your hard work. Your are the ONLY source of information in this town.

  3. So what kind of degree do you get when you attend the Scag Leadership Academy? Doctor of Weaseling?

  4. Why am I not surprised about this reduction? And why am I not surprised that this is the only news outlet in Southern California that will carry this information? Because it's all part of the development hype that has run Southern California for about 50 years now. Prosperity through unregulated growth. And to show those little individual towns that were created to take control of their own land use decisions, we'll create a fiction called SCAG and give it some government discretion to impose development requirements as a condition of funding, etc. And add to that general scenario the fact that (sorry to mention this same old name, but . . . ) Bart Doyle was the City's representative to SCAG at the time these numbers went up so high. With the influence of those trying to make the town work as it is rather than build ourselves to prosperity, it's likely that all kinds of "mistakes" will be identified. Good work.

  5. A city's wealth is not determined by the number of housing units or density per se. A city's wealth is typically determined by the amount of property taxes that it collects along with sound financial decision-making by it's elected and appointed representatives.

    As more and more cities in Southern California, and more specifically, around Sierra Madre, go about increasing density; a low-density city becomes more desirable to affluent members of society seeking to escape from traffic, crime and noise pollution. Therefore, in the long run, property values increase and drive up the amount of property tax revenues collected by the city.

    Not to digress too far, the real fight is between "get-rich-quickers" living in and outside of Sierra Madre, and everyone else that views their house as a home and long-term investment.