Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Night Fight Card

Think of this as a tout sheet, kind of like what you might buy at a race track if you were looking for some guidance on where to place your bets. Except in this case we're not
charging for the service, and we're not exactly at the track. No, it's the time that comes around every every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, the Sierra Madre City Council meetings!

Now we're not going to discuss all the events. But there are a few that we'd love to chat about. Let's dig in.

Action Item #2: Discussion Regarding The Southern California Association Of Governments (SCAG) - Now the funny little organization with the kooky name has pretty much worn out its welcome in this town. And as cut rate as the cost of belonging to this fusty old Eisenhower Era remnant might be, there are standards that must be held to. Now George Maurer, in a letter to the Mountain Views Abuse last week, takes a decidedly different point of view. Here is what he had to say on the matter of our getting out of SCAG:

I totally agree that we should not withdraw from SCAG. Totally a scare tactic on people who really don't understand the issue and are willing to bury their head in the sand, hoping the housing issue will go away ... Staying in SCAG gives us better representation. The 'head-in-the-sand' syndrome seems to be coming popular and a lot of people don't care to face reality.

Mayor Maurer will always get the benefit of the doubt on this site because of his courageous vote against allowing Dorn Platz to destroy One Carter. If only his 4 fellow councilmembers had been so principled. However, in this case George has missed the point. First of all, the person who is supposed to have been representing us at SCAG through COG, particularly on the committee actually responsible for cooking up development quotas (Regional Housing Need Assessments aka RHNA numbers), rarely shows up at CEHD meetings. This according to SCAG's own minutes. So as far as our getting better representation, well, we've all been severely let down by Joe Mosca before. And this case is no different. Of course, when you consider that his predecessors were folks such as Enid Joffe and Bart Doyle, you can see that we're talking about a long-standing tradition of indifference to the needs of this town. Our representatives at COG and SCAG have been far more likely to side with Sacramento and its patrons than the needs of the people of Sierra Madre.

Anyway, what George is apparently crediting SCAG with here is its being a deliberative body. One that can be convinced to accept our viewpoints. Yet if you look at SCAG's record on RHNA appeals, the changes are almost always very slight. That is if they change anything at all. And anyone familiar with the RHNA numbers assigned to Sierra Madre knows our appeals have gone nowhere. SCAG is, for all intents and purposes, a rubber stamp organization tasked by Sacramento with delivering to towns the bad news on RHNA numbers. This so the persons actually responsible for them, our beloved state legislature and its favored lobbies, don't have to dirty their hands. This is an organization completely without independence, and is therefore of little real value to us.

I have been an advocate for getting us out of SCAG for quite some time now. It might not make any real difference as far as our RHNA numbers go, we're stuck with them either way. But it would send a statement that Sierra Madre is not afraid to stand up for what it believes. Now I have to admit, there is another theory going around that deserves some attention. This one states that we would be better off using SCAG to further our own ends. Not out of any naive belief that SCAG will somehow stand up to Sacramento and give us a break on our RHNA numbers. That will never happen. No, this idea states that SCAG, properly infilitrated by right-minded people, might actually be a great place to meet other city government types who are also sick of seeing their towns forced to accept hyper-density redevelopment despite the wishes of those living there. If we are ever going to stop this kind of Sacramento sponsored abuse, it will take many cities banding together to fight it together. This might be an argument for staying in, if only for a little while. It will be interesting to see how this thing goes tonight.

Action Item #3: Consideration Of Filling Vacant Canyon Zone Committee Seat -This is pretty much, to use Joe's overcooked term, a no-brainer. The City Council needs to select an individual who wants to preserve the Canyon as the unique and priceless historic district that it is. Now John and Joe will attempt to force in somebody who doesn't give a damn about the Canyon or what it represents to the people living there. And you can probably count on Joe delivering one of his cloying "values" bromides. But in the end neither John nor Joe care a whit about the Canyon, its history, or the unique culture to be found there. To them it only represents an opportunity for their cronies in the redevelopment industry.

Action Item #4: Consideration Of A Request Of The Canyon Zone Committee To Implement A Temporary Moratorium On Development Within The Canyon Zone - The moratorium is needed to avoid any additional new projects in the Canyon until new rules can be created. Rules designed to maintain the history and culture of the Canyon. The R1 standards in place now are absurd, and totally out of place there. This organically created community needs standards that are as unique as the neighborhood itself. Now Joe Mosca will deliver an argument stating that since we're not doing a lot of construction there now, why have a moratorium at all? Turn that one on its head. Since there is little construction, why all the fuss over a moratorium?

There is another consideration as well. If people desirous of building new projects sense there is a danger of new codes being put into place, or even a moratorium, there will be a rush to build under the totally unsuitable R1 standards currently in place. We can't let that happen. The moratorium needs to be put in place now. For this to pass it will take a 4 to 1 vote. Watch John and Joe once again vote against the interests of the people of Sierra Madre.

Action Item #5: Resolution No. 09-62 Consideration Of A Temprary Use Permit (TUP 09-17) To Allow Private Rental Events To Occur In The Alverno "Villa" - This one has apparently gotten caught up in the webs and snares of lawyerland. It will probably be continued as our City Attorney will need more time to unravel the avalanche of findings requested by the homeowners' attorney at the last meeting.

The homeowners need to consider what they might end up with should they sucessfully choke off Alverno's one big cash raising enterprise. That property, graced with its historic Villa, is something the development community would love to get their hands on. And if they're not careful they could find themselves looking at a lot of fine SCAG housing, low income and all. I would urge the homeowners to instruct their attorney to sit down with Alverno and work things out. Because otherwise they could find themselves with a situation far worse than the one they're facing now.

Action Item #6: Mountain Views News Contract Review And Contract Renewal - Someday the geniuses in Sacramento will allow towns such as ours to post legal notices on their city websites rather than forcing them to squander valuable tax money on fish wrappers as addicted to bizarro reporting as this one. It will be a moment of liberation for all of us.

Should be quite a wild night!


  1. I think there will be less "punch you in the back" tactics tonight. The last meeting, Joe came into the ring wanting to play dirty. But now that he has so beautifully revealed himself in such a dark light, in front of the whole town, this meeting should be more of a fair debate. And Joe, I'd like to you treat my Mayor with a little more respect.

  2. Joe and John don't "value" the Canyon or Sierra Madre, they are opportunists who only care about their own ego, overblown community status misaligned ideals and some perceived online legacy of thier names with regards to search engines.

  3. Joe believes he works for people vastly
    more important than any officials in Sierra
    Madre. And, believing as he does, any rudeness
    he might show stems from his belief that he
    speaks for a far higher authority. It is his
    duty to make their will felt. Of course, he
    is living in a dream land.

  4. Great preview Tattler. I'll be watching (keeping the mute button handy for babbling Buchanan.)
    You forgot to say how Joe and John will claim the developers who want to build in the canyon should be on the committee, and not have to deal with the moratorium, because it's fair to include them, like they represent any significant portion of the canyon, or the town.

  5. Moratorium now!
    History teaches us that greedy people are probably finishing their applications to get them in to the developer servicing department right now.
    That way they can say they get to abide by the old rules.
    We've sure seen that before. Look at the hillsides.
    Or maybe the hillsides will be sliding down to city hall.

  6. Developers, construction advocates and anyone else not in favor of the moratorium are welcome at the Canyon Zoning Committee's monthy meetings. Their voices are encouraged. However, to date with one or two exceptions they have not shown up. Grandstanding at the City Council meetings and chatting it up privately with the Planning Commission and Councilmembers seems to be more their style. Pointedly the moratorium will not affect homeowners doing repairs or small renovations (under 200 square feet). The moratorium is directed at the scrape and build predatory developers who have invaded the canyon in the last few years - and then only until the committee completes it's job: recommending changes that will protect the rights of the property owners!

  7. As I see it:
    1. Joe will behave.
    2. Sierra Madre will pay its membership fee and remain in SCAG.
    3. Canyon Zone Committee: The J birds will push for a developer type and Marianne might give in to give balance to the committee.
    4. The moratorium will not get 4 votes unless some sort of understanding is in place with a pro developer on the committee.
    5. If the council knows the neighbor's attorney is right about the TUP findings, the item will be continued. Both groups will be told to work things out and come back. If the attorney is wrong the school will get the TUP with some restrictions.
    6. MVN contract will be renewed....no choice.

  8. As you see it, you sound like an experienced council watcher. Interesting twist on the quid prop quo of having a developer on the committee in exchange for a moratorium. However, Mayor MacGillivray told the canyon people she'd get a canyon zone in place, and she's fulfilling her promise. Therefore I do not think she'll compromise on letting a fox make up rules for the henhouse. Your take on the tuff TUP is right on. As to Joe - the guy's got some powerful mood swings - never know what he's going to be.

  9. Those 4 hens in the hen house will peck the eyes out of any old fox or rooster that starts to crow too long or loud.

  10. I'm confused about the Mountain Views News contract.
    The owner was found guilty of what, something like financial malfeasance, right?
    And the judgement went against her, and she came to the council and lied about it (thanks for the video Nueroblast).
    So the city still has to do business with her anyway, even though she's been proven guilty of some kind of shenanigans?
    Greg Galletly, Susan Henderson, we do seem to have our share of cons.

  11. She has the only paper that can run legal notices. No choice under the law. Now, if only Henderson followed the law.

  12. Let it be known that any environmental disaster that occurs in Sierra Madre Canyon due to the lack of a moratorium on new home building can be laid at the feet of Joe Mosca.

  13. like he cares? no different than the gang of 4 with Carter.

  14. Mosca and Buchanan march to the beat of a difference drum, i.e., the BIA and RE Industry. It isn't that they care or don't care about the Canyon. It's that their mandate is to STOP opposition to building at every level. The precedent that would be set by a Canyon Moratorium could be translated into citizen action against One Carter, Stonehouse, the Monastery, Alverno (if the TUP fails), and any of the other large chunks of hillside that will be coming on the development market after the RE Industry recovers from the bubble burst. A vote for the Canyon Moratorium is a nail in the coffin of ALL predatory development in Sierra Madre! Please help.

  15. Anybody remember during the Crater Disaster hearings, then city lawyer Colantuono smirked at the mention of a town up north called Bolinas. In Bolinas, they control development with water hook-ups, and at some point they put a moratorium on new water hook ups for 30 years. When a house was demolished, its water hook-up went for $500,000 or something.
    It's not impossible to get developers off of us.

  16. Hmmmmm. No mention of the best fighter in the ring, Zimmerman. He wasn't around for the last Council meeting. I predict he will come out swinging.

  17. 2:15, I'll bet Mosca toes the line more - out of fear that Mr. Zimmerman might squash him.

  18. Re the blog on Sierra Madre's need to build housing for the homeless (SB2): The basic premise is faulty. The homeless are NOT out there because of unaffordable housing " compounded by mental illness, drug addiction, etc." It is the drug addiction, mental illness, unwillingness to work, etc, that keeps them on the streets.

    We all know that the addict, alcoholic, or welfare mother are not going to become part of society until they make the necessary decision to once again become a productive member of that society. Those are medical/psychiatric/counseling issues; not physical plant or economic issues.

    I think welfare as it is, and this housing mandate, are empowerment tools that exacerbate the problem.

    Just yesterday I was at the laundry and the owner Jay ,who is acquaintance, told me he is exhausted because he works 7 days 7-7. He can't find a Hispanic helper ( most of his clientele is Hispanic) because he offers $8.50 an hour; but if they stay on welfare, they get $12 so they won't work.

    There was a fellow in my complex on total disability because of substance abuse. 28 years old. He had a non working woman living with him. Worked on cars in a garage to make money and drove a pizza delivery route and took cash so income wasn't reported. Had a big screen TV, a late model car,and enough to eat junk food every day with his beers. Why would he want to leave the dole? It was "easy street" for him. He had no required counseling and there was no effort being made to make him find work (that would go on the docket)

    Another case. When I lived in C.L. and occasionally worked in the rental office, I saw time and time again these women pop out kids for the ADC (a man couldn't live with them so he would go away until after the inspection ) and they would basically live very very well on the dole while the kids ran unfettered because they didn't have, and did not want to have, any parenting skills. The Social Services people both in Housing and in Dept of Family Services were basically bureaucratic savants who only know how to fill out the forms. The inspector that was assigned my complex would mostly come and sit in the office talking for an hour, fill out his forms, and go to lunch.

    It's a broken system that needs fixin as much as health care reform.

  19. 2:41, Other than the Bureaucratic savants (sic) a term that strikes me as extremely humorous given that it takes a "savant" to figure out the paperwork, I am taking a pass on trying to make sense out of this tirade. Come back when you have something relevant to bring to the table. Otherwise, climb back into your hole.

  20. Someone needs to ask at the City Council meeting tonight why the Congregational Church was host to a group meeting to prepare for a "City Council" meeting as their signs on the sidewalk and front lawn of the North Church. Congregational Church does not have an item on tonight's agenda, but Alverno High School does! So, was the meeting held there to foil complaints of multitudes of cars (they were parked all over the city street around the church) from the Alverno neighborhood residents? If Congregational Church hosts and supports Alverno on this item will those supporters be expected to support Congregatiional Church when they come back, again, with their mega-Church project?

  21. 3:32 pm, very interesting! And perceptive. Another alternative is that they may be plotting for a (near) future SMCC assault on the City Council regarding their illegal building project. Keep up the surveillance, super sleuth!

  22. ya'll gunna need a score card tonight with all the horse tradin' and backroom deals that's bin made. all the dudes and the lady will all have a straight poker face. nothin but saprises ta night.

  23. 2:41 Fat people hate skinny people, skinny people hate fat people, Dems hate Repubs, non smokers hate smokers, haves hate have nots, those with jobs hate those without, and those who generalize usually show their own ignorance not a grasp of relevance. Someone said "it takes a village" I nominate Sierra Madre! Grow up!

  24. It will be interesting to see how many people, Congs or otherwise, show up for the Alverno TUP, and no doubt for many of them it will be a first time in the council chambers, and also for many of them, the last time.
    It's one of the sad facts of modern life that most people don't participate in most of the political process. And it leaves the door open for the more rapacious among us to take over.
    The slow growth folks have got to hold on to the majority.

  25. I remember the last time the Congregational Church worked up a crowd. It was for the discussion of the "school" that wasn't. The audience was very, very odd, in that they were for the most part not getting up and saying anything at all. Just sitting, and staring.
    I asked a friend of mine who grew up in a congregation very like the Congregational Church, and he said that the faithful are called to come and sit - but they are not to start talking. They might wreck things out of innocence, say things they are not "supposed" to. Kinda creepy.

  26. pass the kool aide

  27. The previous Canyon Zoning Committee had an Architect, a wannabe architect, 3 developers and 4 Canyonites and a pro-building City Manager.Sleeping porches, code word for enclosed spaces with screens were not included under FARS, and as everyone up there knows, that in a year, those sleeping porches will have glass and be habitable space. This is just one example of how the developers twist the language to get bigger, and bigger and bigger houses. Because of the due diligence by the Canyonites, Bart Doyle stopped the process before it's conclusion. Tonites meeting should be very telling as to the true intent by the City.

  28. Alverno hittin' it out of the park!!!!

  29. Whoa!!! Grumpy guy!!!!!

  30. Sorry Don, if it's 2:00am until you hear all public comment then so be it, serve the people, or go take a nap!

  31. I swear if I have to hear one more blowhard pontificate about Alverno I'm going to kvetch. It's in the hands of the lawyers, YOU KNUCKLEHEADS!

  32. TO:
    Mayor MacGillivray, Kurt Zimmerman, and Don Watts!

    Thank you on behalf of most of Sierra Madre voters!

    Job well done!

  33. A small town in San Diego County has a mandatory "draught management" mandate in effect. Up to 20% reduction in water use; no new water connections except for projects already in the works; irrigation restrictions - 3 days, 10 minutes. How's that for controlling construction.

  34. I like the no new water hook ups, but 20% mandatory reduction in water use would not be popular in this town.

  35. 10:59 pm
    Is that you Rob Stockley?

    You didn't like what Don Watts did last night, did you? Knocked the hell out of the SCAG people.

    Hey, Don, the dirts are afraid of you.
    Keep up the good work.

  36. Hear, hear 8:45, I noticed that jerky comment too.
    As if Don Watts wasn't a dream come true last night.
    Don is a real American and he believs in the people.
    I know he probably wants a real clear separation of church & state, and might not be crazy about this, but...
    God bless Don!

  37. "THE" Real American American!September 24, 2009 at 10:43 PM

    Oh jeez, here we go with the "REAL AMERICAN" bullshi*!

  38. 10:43 - and what to you have to cheer about? No Show Joe and his endless whining?

  39. The Real Real American stuff?
    Help yourself Buddy, it's a free country.
    At least so far. And Don is the kind of person who speaks the truth, and stands up to bullies. So yeah, he's what's good about Americans. As opposed to Joe & John, who are what's embarrassing about Americans.

  40. Our city needs Doug Hayes! He was a great mayor who stood for honesty and values. Doug, if you are reading this, come on back o public office and help us straighten out this mess. Your city needs your strong leadership.

  41. SM dodged a bullet - so farSeptember 27, 2009 at 4:46 PM

    12:17 Doug Hayes was one of the Ex Mayors against Measure V right?
    So if we had his leadership, we'd be in the condo glut to end all condo gluts - assuming of course that any condos were actually finished. Probably we'd just have big dirt holes all over downtown, a la One Carter.
    No thanks to that short sighted and "deeply flawed" leadership.


  42. 12:17

    You've got to be kidding.
    Doug Hayes and his wife Janice Nelson are two of the most despicable dirts in Sierra Madre.
    I think they may even be members of "The Order of the Fly" They are huge Mosca supporters.
    Please spare Sir Eric the work of "alinskizing" Doug.
    I think we may have some very embarrassing video of old Doug.


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