Monday, December 14, 2009

Consultant Proclaims Pasadena Has The Highest Greenhouse Gas Emissions In The Entire Western Hemisphere?

Don't you think that Joe Mosca and John Buchanan would just love to hire this particular consultant and have him stop by to "give staff some direction" on greenhouse gas issues? The solons running Pasadena actually did hire this guy, and paid him a bucket of taxpayer dough in the process. And what did they get for their money? Apparently they bought themselves a report that makes the lovely Rose City out to be an ecological wasteland on a par with the likes of Chernobyl.

The consultant we are discussing here is a Mr. Michael Hendrix, and he is the "air quality and climate change team leader" at the consultancy outfit PBS&J. Here is how they described Mr. Hendrix upon hiring him last July:

Hendrix is an authority on solving technical challenges related to air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, health risks, and acoustics. "Mike will help California cities cope with the increasingly urgent need to get out front of climate issues that are negatively impacting the state," said William S. Ziebron, PBS&J's California state director. "He'll be advising cities on how to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and will help resolve other air quality issues impacting plans of several cities..."

Now apparently Mr. Hendrix's rather controversial recent finding that Pasadena is the source of an incredible amount of nasty global warming emissions did not go completely unnoticed in the local press. And Pasadena Star News reporter Dan Abendschein captured the sense of confusion and alarm some on the Planning Commission experienced there upon hearing the bizarre conclusions contained in this consultant's report.

Study of greenhouse emissions questioned - Was it a miscalculation that resulted in Pasadena having the highest greenhouse emissions of any Western Hemisphere city? - Does Pasadena have the highest greenhouse gas emissions of any city in the Western Hemisphere? That was the question members of the Planning Commission asked after reviewing a consultant's plan aimed at reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as required by state legislation.

Consultant Michael Hendrix of PBS&J, a consulting group, used a complicated formula to calculate Pasadena's greenhouse emissions that took into account the number of vehicle trips residents make, the source of the city's utility power, and the amount of garbage the city emits, among other factors ... Compared to the handful of other cities that have made similar calculations, Pasadena's emissions could be the highest in the Western Hemisphere - about five times as much as Santa Monica and Berkeley, two California cities of similar size, according to the calculations Hendrix used.

Planning Commission members were understandably distressed by those estimates. "This makes us look like a West Virginia coal town," Commissioner Richard Norton said.

When you spend a lot of money on a consultant you usually get some kind of advice to go along with all that data. And certainly Mr. Hendrix had his recommendations. One of them just happened to be that Pasadena should zone for (wouldn't you know), even more high-density development than it is already struggling with.

Sadly, Mr. Hendrix's conclusions couldn't have come at a more politically embarrassing time. You see, there has been something of a mass case of buyer's remorse among the residents of Pasadena recently. This in regards to a huge infusion of downtown development in the past few years, the result of a previous General Plan. And with a new General Plan now in the planning stages, the last thing these concerned Pasadena residents wanted to hear was that this detested development had turned them into a notorius international air pollution and traffic pariah. The very things all that condo and mixed use construction was supposed to remedy. Or so they were told.

And now this Hendrix guy is saying that the way to solve the problem is to allow for even more development? Needless to say, that just didn't fly. And an incensed Pasadena Planning Commission had Hendrix strike it from his report.

So here is a question. Do cities investigate the consultants they are considering before actually hiring them? Because I did a very cursory internet search into this Hendrix fellow, and it seems obvious to me that his outre' recommendations should have come as no surprise. If you click here you will see an example of what I mean. Here are a few of the pertinent details from the cite:

Title - SB 375: A Proactive Approach for Local Jurisdictions - Inland Empire Chapter Program Association of Environmental Professionals, June 24, 2009.

Presentations by:
- Theresa Fuentes, City of Pasadena - Deputy City Attorney
- Michael Hendrix, PBS&J - Project Director - Air Quality & Climate Change

Involved Agencies:
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), AMBAG and MTC in the SF Bay Area, SCAG and the sub regional COGs in So Cal

As you can see by linking to this rather large deck (and it does go on), Hendrix is pretty much a garden variety "by-the-book" SB 375 advocate, and someone apparently deeply enmeshed in Sacramento's MPO policy enforcement apparatus. That he would have recommended a plan for yet another layer of unwanted high-density development in a city already way beyond capacity seems pretty obvious to me. Strip away the greenwash and that's what SB 375 is really all about. However, that the City of Pasadena would have to pay this guy a large sum of cash to find this out seems rather negligent to me. The internet could have told them all they needed to know about this fellow for free.

But maybe there is a career opportunity for somebody here. How about a consultant who would screen consultants for cities too cerebrally challenged to do the basic checks for themselves? Which is probably most of them. If you are currently unemployed and thinking of going into business for yourself, there really seems to be a need for this kind of service.

Tell them Eric Maundry sent you.

38 comments:

  1. I challenge this Hendrix to a debate with Sir Eric Maundry.

    What do you Pasadena Tattler readers think of this?

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  2. Does more density somehow equate to less pollution?

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  3. Maybe that is why Rick's Burritos on El Molino and Walnut is going to be closed and more condos built.

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  4. Now there is another side effect of SB 375. It has empowered
    a whole new level of wacko consultants and forced cities to pay
    for their services. Is it any wonder California is falling apart?

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  5. 7:47 - the theory has it that if you build high density condo settlements near public transportation people will magically give up their automobiles and ride public transportation for the rest of their lives. or walk. What this does not take into account is the increased electricity production (the #1 producer of greenhouse gases is making electricity) it will take to run all those new buildings.

    Just another goofy lobby-driven Sacramento solution, one that we are being forced to play along with. You do know that Sierra Madre is a "transportation corridor" city, right? Donate your car to Good Will and get on the shuttle, citizen. Arnold says so.

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  6. Absolutely Foaming at the MouthDecember 14, 2009 at 8:11 AM

    What this Hendrix guy is doing is a flat-out fabrication; funny numbers to feed the State GHG findings that are necessary to create the "SCS" housing element equivalents. These then generate the gargantuan housing requirements required to be shoveled into all city General Plans by SB 375. This way there's an official "basis" for these findings that can't be challenged by CEQA.

    Here's the company background
    http://www.pbsj.com/Our_Corporation/Pages/Our_History.aspx

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  7. If it is a "transit related" project, then your friendly neighborhood developer has an automatic CEQA over ride. Ironically making for the possibility that "green" construction projects could, without an environmental review, become toxic health hazards. Just another power stolen from cities by the all powerful central planning authorities in Sacramento. Stiff arm salute to the north, please.

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  8. Absolutely Foaming at the MouthDecember 14, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    So, you have the transit related projects that can't be challenged, *add to that* the housing elements forced into General Plans. The Frankenstein Monster doesn't begin to describe it.

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  9. I find it hard to believe this has been created by Human Beings;and it is further alarming that people are taking it seriously.Where's the logic?

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  10. The only thing Sir Eric Maundry's readers are taking seriously is how to STOP this INSANITY.
    Speak up everyone.....tell those a**holes up in Sacramento, we are coming after them in the next election.....let's send them packing.
    Please posts lists of all the crooks who voted these evil bills in, Sir Eric.

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  11. I wish SCAG would invite this guy to speak at a Sierra Madre City Council meeting!
    All you folks from Pasadena show up, I'll pass out the rotten tomatoes.

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  12. Absolutely Foaming at the MouthDecember 14, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    The poor slobs in the legislature took the BIA lobbyists for SB 375 and AB 32 at face value. They didn't figure it out, looks good enough to their (very young and bright) reviewing staff, right?

    So a massive public outcry right now might just bring them to their senses and get this repealed in favor of GHG legislation that actually makes sense, since the reporting function is now required by the Federal Government. Note that a *report* is mandated, not any specific action. That's left to the states to decide how to comply, and this legislation is how Sacramento was railroaded by the development community using what was supposed to be a serious GHG reporting structure.

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  13. The state of California is
    definitely off its hinges.
    This is madness.

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  14. How much did this guy get paid? And did he really think nobody would say anything?

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  15. Sir Eric and his research team will have this chuckle-head on their radar from now on.

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  16. Maybe we should start a page called "Consultant Watch."
    Collect the names of the big
    dogs working SGV cities and
    track what they're pushing.
    They have their agendas, and
    we'd need to identify what
    they are.

    Time to shed some light on
    these characters.

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  17. I like that idea Ed.
    Would be most helpful for us.

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  18. So who pushed to hire the consultant?
    Was it city staff?
    Remember what Faye Angus said a few meetings ago - Sierra Madre's very well paid city manager is now just orchestrating the consultants who administer the city.
    Maybe Pasadena is having the same "in house' problem - people who work for the city don't really care what happens to the city.

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  19. This guy had to be hired because state law requires that every city in California do a greenhouse gas study. It goes under the "Consultancy Full Employment Act."

    I think the next topic that must be studied is on whether or not the easter Bunny exists.

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  20. The Tattler has probably already covered this, but has there been a WE'RE BUILT OUT movement in Pasadena? Good luck to the citizens on their input into the General Plan. Pasadena won't be spending beaucoup bucks on a consultant for their very own General Plan, will they?? Because if they have hired a consultant for that, the citizen input was finished a long time ago. It's called Consultant Template Tweaking. Like grouchy old man said, and here's how we fix it, crazy old lady said, and here's how we fix it. Talk about a dog and pony show.

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  21. They had a series of General Plan dog and pony shows in Pasadena. People turned up, expressed their outrage at what has been done to their city, but consultants like this guy are still being hired.

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  22. When Councilman Zimmerman was new to the council, he made the lucid remark that our city was overusing consultants, but that there are areas for which consultants must be hired. I can't tell when consultants are absolutely necessary or not, so I have to rely on honest politicians like Zimmerman to make those choices. I guess we can't kick the bums out all at once, in toto, as great as that would be.

    Since this Pasadena hired outfit "used a complicated formula to calculate Pasadena's greenhouse emissions," maybe that formula could be used by others for a rental fee. As in keep the consultant, just rent me the formula.

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  23. Maybe if we hire this guy Sierra Madre will be declared the biggest greenhouse gas producer on the planet, which means Washington will send us $40 million in FEMA grants to clean it up. Plus some cool looking white trailers.

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  24. So who IS running the show in Pasadena. Who's setting up all the meet and greets and tell me your concerns and have a cookie.
    There must be a big daddy consultant moving around all the consulting consultants.

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  25. I think they sensed unrest among the natives, so they put on the concerned face and held a party. But in the end the new General Plan there will account for vast new condo complexes, office buildings, shopping centers, and various other sundry buildings. All in the name of fighting global warming and getting people out of their cars, of course.

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  26. Councilman Zimmerman's comment, if memory serves me, was made after he learned how much money the City had spent on consultants to prepare the downtown specific plan. I think the total consultant and non-consultant costs to prepare that document came to over $250,000.

    I think Zimmerman made the comment while attending a joint City Council and Planning Commission meeting in 2006. At that meeting, he also read comments from the members of the community that were recorded in the appendices of the draft DSP. Nearly every commentator stated that he/she desired buildings in our downtown that did not exceed 2 stories.

    Despite what our citizens wanted, Zimmerman pointed out that the draft DSP allowed for up to four stories!

    There were some pro-development planning commissioners that were absolutely furious at him that night.

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  27. I think you're right 2:10. Sierra Madre, as small as it is, is going to hire a General Plan consultant for $300,000. The woman who is the consultant for the Housing Element of the General Plan cost the city $49,000.
    If Sierra Madre is spending that kind of money, imagine the bill for Pasadena.
    The DSP was a whole package consultancy gig. Does anybody know what the final tally on that was? $250,000 for the EIR, and what else? Add the costs of Measure V....

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  28. Hold on, Sam.....

    The costs for measure V, huge as they were, can be laid at the feet of the TRAITOR JOE MOSCA, had not been for his lies and flipping sides on the people who supported him, there wouldn't have been a need for that election.

    Yet another reason to DUMP JOE MOSCA in '010.

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  29. Channel 3 watcher when it's workingDecember 14, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    If the cost for the DSP got up to $500,000, yes, one half of a million dollars, it would tie with the cost for our new accounting software.

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  30. Sam, You are WRONG about the GP committee hiring a consultant for $300K. The GP has not and does not intend to hire a consultant for the GP. The process will take longer without a consultant. The EIR will need a consultant but this committee is not going to follow any hire gun's templete for a GP from hell. I suggest you go to the GP Committee meetings and see for yourself.

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  31. Consultants are for the weak. I'm sorry, but the Mayor of Sierra Madre is not named Mosca.

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  32. Just the facts, good to know. Last I heard, a GP consultant was in the budget and would be going before the council. The housing element consultat fee has already been paid.

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  33. Does anyone remember "Downtown 101" and "Downtown Immersion?"

    The City paid RBF Consulting well over $500,000 just for that 8 week propaganda campaign promoting the DSP, back in 2005-06.

    Shortly afterwards, the den of thieves, known as the City Council at the time, tried to convince residents to vote for a huge tax increase in the form of Measure F, because we were allegedly broke and heading towards bankruptcy. They even threatened to shut down a number of City services if we didn't pass the measure.

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  34. Yes, 4:42, I remember that too.
    The gall of that council, and the one before it, to spend so much of our money and then ask for more.
    Gives a little credence to that old rumor that some people want to bankrupt Sierra Madre so that the city will be helpless in trying to control development or anything else.

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  35. Don't worry about the 250K Downtown Development Plan costing so much, the Doyle/Stockly/Buchanan Council mortgaged the city hall to pay for it.
    That's why the CRA has to pay the mortgage out of the general fund every month.

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  36. They were such a special group, weren't they?

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  37. In spite of my contempt for the previous regime, there is no evidence that City Hall was ever mortgaged. It is in the CRA District, but that's it.

    Using cheap propaganda and misinformation is a DIRT tactic. Unless this Blog aspires to become Downtowndirt.org 2.0, then I suggest stating only what you can prove.

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  38. Hmm. Is that one of those "what is reality" questions? You know, where you can't discuss anything because in the end nothing can really be proven?

    There have been rumors for years that City Hall was mortgaged during the shenanigan years. And to say that people posting on a blog cannot discuss rumors is, well, kinda wacky. And if it is true, certainly those in charge when it happened would be tender on the topic, if you know what I mean.

    But if you have some pertinent information on this question, please post it. Sans the silly "dirt" threats, of course.

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