Congregational Church's struggles with this town's zoning laws from 1991 up until around 2002. It is an important and hard-hitting document and I recommend that you spend some quality time with it. The report is simply entitled Congregational Church CUP. "CUP" being the acronym for Conditional Use Permit, and having absolutely nothing to do with the Holy Grail or mens' intimate athletic equipment.
The purpose for pointing this report out is two-fold. The first is to show that the SMCC's struggles with Sierra Madre's zoning laws is a long standing and seemingly on-going process. Of course, I'd like to say that in the past at least some attempts were made to comply with City zoning laws and ordinances, but based on what I've read here that might not be the case. And perhaps the bad behavior we are witnessing now is not totally out of character for the SMCC? I mean, what were they thinking when they just built a building and only asked the City Council for the necessary paperwork after it was completed? That being something many suspect is an indication of the poor opinion the Congregational Church has long held for this City and its government.
Of course, these factors are now the cause for tectonic rumblings in this community, with many feeling that the sub rosa addition to the New Life Center was built illegally and should be speedily hauled down.
But the other reason for pointing out this SMCC CUP report is express my pleasant surprise at the source. It would appear that our main man Bill Coburn is highly capable of truly hard hitting and incisive journalism. And here I thought his whole shtick was taking pictures of elegant ladies in late 19th century white dresses and dudes in shiny off-the-rack suits. That plus surfing, highly complex websites, and very scary weather reports.
And not only that, the man can turn the corner on a phrase with the best of them. Check this bad boy out:
"Central to the Church's argument that there would be no negative impact is the fact that the Church has been using the property in this manner for 11 years. Had the Church conformed with CUP 1826-91, PC Resolution 96-05 or City Council resolution 98-45, it would not have been using this property as classrooms for 11 years, and if, as stated by the Church in 1996, they had fulfilled their intent of returning the property to commercial use within five years, they would not have been using this property for this use for 11 years. Thus, the Church's inability to conform to prior CUP's appears to be the very basis on which it is asking this Planning Commission to approve the current CUP."
Spot on, right? And deja vu all over again. Kind of like constructing a building that violates City zoning ordinances, and then, after it is already built, going to the City Council and asking for an amendment to the General Plan. All because it's already there, and what are you going to do about it, anyway?
How does that phrase go? Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it? Something like that. And for Sierra Madre and our friends at the Congregational Church, it certainly does look like we're walking down a well-beaten trail.
I really need to spend more time at Bill's site. It truly is a treasure trove of useful information.