Any of this make sense to you? I sure hope not, because it makes absolutely no sense to me. Maybe it's one of those "talking in tongues" things you hear so much about on AM radio talk shows? I certainly wouldn't know. I've never had more than one. Any more and things would get sloppy.
So in order to bring some clarity to all of this, because obviously that's what is so desperately needed here, a man of math and science was brought in. The master of a rational art. And that person was The Architect. The fellow currently working on the Congregational Church's Master Plan that isn't, but was. And he was brought in by the Mayor of Sierra Madre in hopes that once his viewpoint was given the sun would burst out brightly from behind the dark clouds that cast such a pall on the previous hearing on these matters. Matters that led to these things being discussed again. As apparently they will be once more the next time the elected leaders of this community hang out. There is a lot of confusion, after all. And all we really wanted was just a little bit of clarity.
The Mayor pointed out that on the Master Plan found in the back of the building, of which there was only one copy at the time, it states that the Congregational Church wants to build a Junior High School. That is what is written on it, so pointed out the Mayor. And that, according to the General Plan (not the Master Plan), is not what should be built on the lots located in the area in question. The General Plan says you can't do it that way. At least not yet. There's reasons for that. Good ones. And we haven't even begun to consider Measure V yet.
The architect spoke thusly (and I'm paraphrasing here):
"It says it's called a Junior High School, but it's not a Junior High School."
I shook my head. Somehow that statement frightened me. I always need to know where the horizon is or I get dizzy.
The Mayor again raised the question, but from a slightly different perspective. These would appear to be classrooms, right?
"They appear to be classrooms, but they're not really classrooms."
As Councilman Watts put it, "If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck ..."
The Architect went on to call this the design for a campus. But it isn't a campus as in the place where you go to get an education sort of way. It's for a Sunday School. A really big one. Which apparently isn't a school at all because it only meets on Sundays. People did report seeing kids at the New Life Center, on a weekday, but they were from another school. One that meets twice a month there, which isn't a school, either. And then there is the matter of a gym that will accommodate 600 souls at a single sitting, but they won't be sitting. They'll be playing basketball. Church pick up games with 300 on a side. After which they'll all turn into butter I suppose. Like tigers.
Obviously the man of math and science was listening to different birdies than the rest of us. I mean, why didn't he just come out and say that they want to build a school? Instead of saying it's a school on their plans but it isn't a school even if they do look like the plans for a school?
Oh. Because there is an episode that occurred before all of this? And now there is a kind of an unfortunate established precedent?
If I understand that near historical context correctly, the Planning Commission informed the Congregational Church that if they wanted to build an extension to their New Life Center, they would first have to obtain a General Plan Amendment from the City Council before its approval on the project was final. And certainly before the Church began construction on this New Life Center extension. Which they did anyway. All the way to completion and occupancy. At which time they asked for the General Plan amendment from the City Council. Who had never even heard of this building until then.
Which makes all of the above even more surreal.
I mean, if anybody can just build a building, and only then ask and receive from the City the needed approvals, why would anyone ever want to adhere to a General Plan? Do you just do what you want to do because you know that the pushovers at City Hall will collapse quicker than a cheap suitcase the second you confront them with your demands?
Therein, my friends, lies chaos.
Of course, you can find places that do it like that. They're mostly pretty far inland, and the people living in them don't make much money. And the towns they live in look like something out of Appalachia. Instead of like well-planned and orderly places, like Sierra Madre.
Do we need schools? Of course. And do we want people to live the kind of good and purposeful life that a sound religious understanding can bring? Without a doubt. And should people of good faith be allowed to help contribute to a better world through good works? Yes indeed.
But this is just not the way such things are done.