Can it be that the chameleon-like Mr. Mosca is changing his colors yet again?
One of the benefits of having MaryAnn MacGillivray and Don Watts representing us at the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments is that we actually get to hear about what is going on there. When Joe Mosca was our liaison that was not the case. Probably because he never bothered to show up at the meetings. And something that MaryAnn and Don learned at the last COG confab is that SCAG has been trying to pull a power play in regards to SB 375. In particular strong arming COG into being the designated subregion for the administration of what has become known as the "Destroy Small Cities Act." In the process doing nothing to indemnify COG from some highly probable lawsuits. In other words, SCAG would set the whole thing up and then protect itself by turning the dirty work over to COG, who would have to bear the brunt of the legal challenges certain to emerge in reaction to this hideous and oppressive law. Something also meaning that cities like Sierra Madre would have to help pay for COG's legal costs.
Naturally the member cities of the San Gabriel Council of Governments turned that honor down.
The lesson that was taken away here is that SCAG, who is currently on a charm offensive in hopes of being seen as a collaborative organization on these matters, is in reality anything but. And by attempting to force the nastier aspects of enabling SB 375 upon COG, they were dictating rather than cooperating. Something that has reinforced their image of being Sacramento's enforcer and willing bully.
And apparently many of the member cities at SGVCOG are as unhappy about these developments as we are. After all, SB 375 will do harm their cities, too. But will they fight it? Here is where Sierra Madre is taking the lead.
Our City Council is doing something very courageous, and it needs to be talked about. What Sierra Madre is attempting to do is to lead a symbolic rebellion against a bureaucratic bully. That bully being SCAG. Unchallenged, SCAG could go on to dictate just how we should plan our city, how many houses we should build, whether those houses should be condos, or low income, or even places to park the region's homeless and addicted. That along with the kind of transportation we should be expected to use, how we should commute to work, an entire range of decisions that we'd always made for ourselves. But because of SB 375, these things have now become the purview of the central planners in Sacramento. A usurpation of local planning power on a scale never before seen in an American state.
And what exactly is this symbolic rebellion? Sierra Madre is not going to make payment on its $1,000 in dues to SCAG until that organization lives up to its claim of being a collaborative organization. With the litmus test being SCAG's reply to our letter contesting the unfair housing and employment projections they'd been attempting to cram down our throats. Something that could, should they get away with it, enable a massive development campaign here that would all but destroy the character of this town.
Kurt Zimmerman explained it to a visibly flustered John Buchanan this way. SCAG is antithetical to the preservation of Sierra Madre as a small town. And its apparent mission has been to break down the defenses towns such as ours have erected against over-development, opening them up to their client developers who so desperately want in. We need to send a message to SCAG that we mean to preserve of Sierra Madre as a small town. And that by holding back our $1,000 in dues we are saying that we won't be dictated to about how to run our town. And we certainly won't pay SCAG to help destroy it.
Now John Buchanan had a lot of wild claims to make about SCAG. Perhaps the most misleading being that it is a collaborative (that word again) organization made up of member cities defending their rights in Sacramento. But, and as Kurt so clearly explained, SCAG has never listened to us. And there is no better example of that than the outlandish RHNA number they hung on us a couple years back. We went before them, contested their unfair demands, only to have our point of view dismissed in an abrupt and summary fashion. They weren't there to listen to us, they were there to tell us what to do. And when they'd finished doing just that we were sent on our way.
Our paying that $1,000 would be, as Kurt put it, like the state making a condemned prisoner pay for his lethal injection. We just don't need to turn a thousand dollars over to SCAG so they can dictate the destruction of our City.
It was a very good night. And as was predicted on this site a week ago, it looks like we could have some Eminent Domain options on the ballot next April. Something not entirely separate from our SB 375 discussions. I'll have information on that, plus more about tonight's meeting, right after the holiday.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!