Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pasadena Preservationists Step Up Big Time

Here we have yet another example of a City Council making development decisions that are completely out of touch with the wishes of the people it supposedly serves, and how those aggrieved citizens then turn to the Courts as a recourse to their faithless representatives. But the one thing that makes all this just a little surprising is the situation we're talking about is happening in Pasadena. Of all places.

In a story printed on the 21st in the Pasadena Star News, staff writer Janette Williams describes these happenings thusly:

Pasadena group sues city over scope of retail/office development - Pasadenans for a Livable City - a newly formed group that includes former City Councilman Sid Tyler and Planning Commissioner Richard Norton - filed suit Monday against the city to stop the $75 million Playhouse Plaza project the City Council approved on Nov. 17.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims the city did not follow the California Environmental Quality Act, and violated its own rules on downtown development when it gave the go-ahead to the five-story, 159,000-square foot retail/office project at Colorado Boulevard and South El Molino Avenue.

According to the suit, the project's "mass and scale would overwhelm the Playhouse National Register District buildings," including the historic Pasadena Playhouse. It also claims that environmental reports failed to adequately study the impact on traffic on South El Molino between Colorado and Green Street.

Gosh, mercenary elected officials attempting to circumvent CEQA in order to allow a powerful development company to build some hideous goliath of a mixed use monstrosity right in the middle of one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city? Like that never happens. And don't those troublesome preservation people know that according to SB 375 when you build big mixed-use buildings in a downtown neighborhood people magically give up their automobiles and take the bus, thus saving the world from immolation by greenhouse gas?

Looks like Arnold and Darrell's very special Big Lie isn't working in Pasadena anymore.

This next bit is amusing. You can only wonder what Pasadena Mayor Bill "Build 'Em" Bogaard was doing when this project was approved by the City Council there.

Mayor Bill Bogaard said he learned about the lawsuit filing late Monday morning and was "anxious to read the complaint" in detail.

"One should remember that this is a project that was rejected unanimously by the (nine-member) Planning Commission, and that each of the commissioners had serious reservations about the EIR and other procedural and policy questions that were applicable to the proposal," Bogaard said.

It was "unusual" for the council to disregard the commissions views, he said.

Yeah sure, unusual. Except when there's a lot of money to be made, campaign contributions and other considerations to be pocketed, and patrons to be paid off.

As far as I can tell, Pasadena's downtown is filled with "unusual" these days. Oh, and traffic, too. You see, because Pasadena blindly gave in to "DSP-style" development around the time we dumped it, they now have a downtown very much in-line with what SCAG claims is the remedy to such things as traffic. Except that they now have more traffic than ever. The Rose City is rapidly becoming The Gridlock City.

It might not have been around when Pasadena fell for the redevelopment mirage. But whatever the sequence, the SB 375 concept clearly isn't working.


  1. is Bob Huff teaching the city council how to govern?

  2. Ed Roski owns them all. Bob included.

  3. No different as when the Buchanan, Joffe, Tores,a nd others voted to over throw the Planning Commission and residents wishes with 1 Crater.

  4. When we can only remember to find and vote in politicians willing to truly represent the will of the people, as opposed to the big money interests. When we can start to see thru the professionally prepared, slick brochures and smiling faces of airbrushed candidates. When we can hold our politicians accountable for promises forgotten once elected. Then we will have local control back, and organizations like SCAG will fade away.

  5. The consequence of voters disengaging from the political process is the destruction of our cities.

  6. That's right 8:37.
    The Sierra Madre Planning Commission rejected the Galletly project at 1 Carter, finding that the project n the form presented was unacceptable. John Hutt said that the Planning Commission agreed that there would be houses there, but the question was how many and where. They did not approve what is going on now.
    Rob Stockly,John Buchanan, Tonya Torres and Enid Joffe ignored the Planning Commission and the majority of the community, and allowed this hated, ugly destruction of the hillsides to take place.
    Shame on them, and shame on the Pasadena City Council.

  7. I'll bet all these pro-development people on the City Council in Pasadena were financed from the same "usual suspects" who financed Mosca, Buchanan and will be financing the candidates who will try to get on our council for the dirts.

    Pay very close attention, Sierra Madre voters....follow the money.......don't vote for any "Manchurian candidates". The dirts want control of Sierra Madre they can move forward with their plans to destroy your town-downtown/hillside development, take away your liberty-forcing you to comply with all their Sacramento dictated "laws".
    I don't want unscrupulous people like Bart( eminent domain's a good thing) Doyle running politics in town.

    I'm sure the majority of my neighbors share my concerns.

    Support SLOW GROWN only candidates for office.
    There is no such thing as a "moderate".
    They will be either for protecting your liberty or they will be doing the bidding of the States.

  8. Slow grown, home grown - be wary of new participants in our city politics.
    Only tried & true people should run.

  9. I'm a little offended here. How come Pasadena was sent 6 carpetbagging development monkeys, and we only got two? Is this supposed to be some kind of slight?

  10. 9:23 True but ours eat 3 times as many bananas and make just as big a mess. You forgot we did have a mama monkey on stage for several years until the audience got tired of her act.

  11. I hope this group, "Pasadenans for a Liveable City", who are bringing this suit form an active group with public participation.. because from the initial sounds of it, I'd join this group.

    I do think we (all cities in the SGV) need to band together with a unified voice to bring the Goliath down

  12. T.F.
    So far, thanks to Measure V, we have held off the developers.
    In winning Measure V on the ballot, we saved Sierra Madre from becoming another over-developed depressed area.
    Our property values have held up, and even in the midst of a HUGE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE collapse, we are holding our own.
    We urge all concerned residents of other cities to join together and we can win this. We can win in the courts and at the ballot box.

  13. I think a lot of people are horrified by what has become of their towns. And it looks like Pasadena is finally waking up. Hopefully it isn't too late.

  14. 9:11 am wrote:

    Anonymous said...
    The consequence of voters disengaging from the political process is the destruction of our cities.

    This is exactly what has happened.
    Great post, Anonymous at 9:11, you nailed it!

  15. Another disgusted teacher with PUSDDecember 23, 2009 at 2:47 PM

    Think further about it California: the HISTORIC PASADENA PLAYHOUSE! Where was PUSD when this was all happening? They did not complain one ounce for our children and their students education and CULTURE of THEATRE! Check out all over our country how school districts use wonderful historical theatres to teach children THEATRE ARTS!! It is obvious they DO NOTcare one ounce about children in LA County receiving an education in the arts enough to save the Pasadena Playhouse. I remember a time when our public schools went on field trips to the Pasadena Playhouse. We saw Children's Theatre and learned about the history of our culture. Right here in our own back yard.

    This is more than the destruciton or our cities, it is the destruction of our culture, child by child. Shame on Arnold the "actor." Making highways and buildings, overcrowded everyone is more improtant than children. .

    I hope the people of Pasadena win this law suit. Looks like the club of Roskihuffication will be beat down by the voters who are not as un-educated as the greedy politicians think.

  16. I think it we are going to witness the kind of change that doesn't come along very often. Government can nibble around the edges of peoples freedoms and get away with it for a while. But when they try and destroy those very things that give us our sense of place in the world, then things happen. Those in power now won't even know what hit them.

  17. Mesquite 75149 and 9:11am... y'all are right. However, for those who actually have time to get involved in the process, it can be downright demoralizing.

    I got heavily involved in the Pasadena General Plan update... attending community meetings, holding my own neighborhood workshop, etc. I had to find babysitters, etc, in order to do all this.

    Then, as reported in the PSN, the overwhelming voice of the citizens was against high density. How was this feedback incorporated by the planning dept? It wasn't. They simply said that density is coming, and that they'd just move it to East Pasadena because it hadn't seen much development lately. I feel my time was completely wasted by becoming involved.

    BTW - Mesquite.. my second moniker could be Denton 76205. Welcome to the jungle, fellow Texan

  18. The oracle of Delphi's prophecies were often ambiguous. When Croesus, the wealthy king of Lydia approached the Oracle, she advised him that he would destroy a great kingdom if he attacked the Persians. Croesus launched his attack against the Persians, was soundly defeated and as a consequence destroyed his own kingdom of Lydia.

    As with the Oracle, Mayor Bogaard's prouncements are often susceptible to different interpretations. Case in point: his quote that he was "anxious to read the complaint in detail." The word anxious, as all of us know, means both "eager" in a positive sense and "troubled" in a negative sense. What the quote does not reveal is the Mayor's position with respect to the proposed development.

    Bogaard's second comment that it was "unusual" for the Council to overrule a unamimous vote of the Commission tels us only that such a veto is rare. Like his comment about the complaint, it reveals nothing about the Mayor's actual opinion about the proposed development.

  19. So was Bogaard there when the planning commission said the project was bad? Taking their case to the City Council and getting them to consider their arguments? What this looks like to me is Boguus wanted to see if anyone would yelp, hoping all the while that nobody would. And now, of course, he's all about considering all sides of the question. Smacks of damage control more than anything else to me.

  20. I see so much nail-biting and stressing and complaining over this issue - the over-development of Pasadena,

    and yet nobody does anything about it!! and it just gets worse and worse. The empty condos stand in their ugly reminder, everywhere, their windows plastered with "For Lease" signs.

    Pasadena is one of the most beautiful cities in California and some (including myself) say the whole Country. It should be of HUGE concern to us, to keep it that way.

    Sir Eric, if you could work you magic in Pasadena, like you have in Sierra Madre, it would be doing a favor not only to our times, but the generations to come.

  21. while I am on this subject, can I give a big grievance? We have this stunningly beautiful building, the old YWCA building, nestled on a corner of the most beautiful Civic Center in the whole Country.

    yet it sits there, year after year now, all boarded up??

    this is crazy!

    Put a ballet academey in it, a music school, an ethical eultural center, or?? something that goes with the feel of the Center.

  22. A former City of Pasadena manger who later moved to Oxnard (maybe this is enough info for someone to remember his name--I can't) spoke to a meeting of the Pasadena Chapter of the AIA a few years back. His best line of the meeting: "we are making asphalts of ourselves!" If you ever go to Pasadena on a shopping "expedition" you need to gear up with nerves of steel and a pocketfull of parking meter change and sturdy walking shoes. This is in preparation for the unlikelyhood that you will find parking within walking distance (I, for one, try to avoid highrise parking structures). Well, I do have my plan for So. Lake where I patronize "Thousand Villages" and Union St. where I shop at the Tibetan shop, eat Nepali food, get whole wheat baguettes at Aux Delicious then, for plastic boxes to store my (like yours) too-much-stuff "The Container Store" before coffee and fresh motzarella sandwich at Amore. Parking strategy trumps it all or just forget it.

  23. Hale Bopp City PlannerDecember 23, 2009 at 5:44 PM

    Part of the "get people out of their cars" theory the geniuses have come up with is to make parking difficult. That way everyone will get into some kind of public transportation. Unfortunately, public transportation is difficult to use and at times undependable. So much for "smart growth."

  24. great story sir eric

  25. Great thread today, Sir Eric and posters.

    It's great to know we all have a lot in common.

    All you people in Pasadena, you've found the right place here on the Tattler. You're welcome on this board! You, too, Virginia.

    Let's fight against over-development/destruction of our towns. We can win this.

  26. Good luck Sir Eric in the coming election for SM City Council.

  27. You haven't seen an election until you've seen a Sierra Madre election. We get old school on this stuff.

  28. Our elections are intense.
    We need to watch where candidates' contributions are coming from, and then everything is much clearer.
    I have heard that people can hide contributions until the last moment, and so do not have to disclose until after the election.
    I have also heard that there is a way to get the information anyway.
    Can somebody educate me about how that campaign disclosure loophole can be overcome?
    I know we need to do that here in Sierra Madre.

  29. Yes we do, FTM. Couple of red flags: realtors' associations, building industry associations, national political parties, ex-mayors from the Shenanigan years...

    And choose the candidates who are supported by contributions from plain residents.

  30. The final filing date for campaign contributions where the truth is finally listed is after the election. There are earlier dates but these may never disclose the sources you hope to find. So, it won't be the money that so much tells who is being pandered about but who is on their list of supporters and what they have done in town (never support a newby again--they have no local record to be called on to account for). The only thing you can go on is what you have observed--so we have a four year track record for the incumbents and can find out quickly on any others that are running. We know a lot about the three that the City Clerk has on record so far. It will be one of the better elections in town you can bet. I wonder if any of the former mayors who were photographed in front of Webb-Martin, gathered in opposition to Measure V, or members of the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce who opposed Measure V as well, are considering running. If any of these "big" names from Sierra Madre's political past are supporters of newly emerging candidates you wlll know their policies even before they do.

  31. Wow mon oie, that's very good advice.
    I wonder if we had all paid more attention to who was pushing Mosca, we would have put it together earlier that he was playing as both pro-development and pro-slow growth. Anyway, if memory serves, we didn't have any alternatives.

    You sound wise in matters political, but are you 100% sure about that financial disclosure loophole?
    And if it is like that, what the hell good is it? Happily we knew in time about the $170,000 from BIA/CAR to defeat Measure V. And that campaign was conducted by the very slick PR Schubert Flint.

  32. "Never support a newbie again" Amen.
    Mosca hustled everybody with the strategy of getting some old timers to recommend him. It's too bad, but anybody who hasn't been around for a long time, and/or participating for a long time so that I know what he or she really thinks, will not get my vote.
    Hey, it's ironic but Joe has been instructive.

  33. Last date for filing would have to come after the election date as it would have to be allowed that people can donate to a candidate or issue up until the last minute. So maybe it is not so much a loophole as it is a matter of democracy. Now that leaves us to pay more attention to other matters than the money. Yes, we thought we had a good candidate in Joe. People who now will be actively working to get him not reelected were working hard to get him elected four years ago. We accepted him and his palaver because we needed a candidate that was not a well known pre-dirt, pre-dic. We can only work harder not to be dicqued around again.

  34. continuing the thought . . . we must have had early filing information on the big money coming in fron BIA and Arcadia Realty, etc. early on for the anti-measure V push because it was so important to the opponents to defeat it that they poured in money early. Makes it all the more something to celebrate that Yes on V won! Also, showing that you have money in on the cause shows others that you want them to support your position, too. Any way No on V showed their money early. In the past City Council elections it was so low keyed and the money just came in from your townsfolk and neighbors there were no big chunks coming in from suspected sources, that is until Bart Doyle-- even his BIA and "big" in-kind contribution from someone in Simi Valley or the like (that was a long time ago) was filed close to the end -but not after the election. We know what to look for now. We should never be fooled or foolish again.

  35. I'm ready to follow Sir Eric with all of his magic, to end the ridiculous over-development of Pasadena and make Pasadena (and Sierra Madre) a better place for myself, my children, my children's children, and for everyone!!

    and you are right, Mon oie, we should never be fooled again.

  36. Old Kentucky and others have lists:

    Lists of NO on V supporters and signs in yards
    Records of people who signed 2-30-13 petitions and records of people who signed and then flipped to the NO side.
    Records of a few who had Yes on V signs in their yards, then promptly took them down.
    I'm thinking of one case on Sierra Madre Blvd.

    The only YES on V sign of an ex-mayor was in the yard of our current Mayor, MARYANN MACGILLIVRAY.
    Of course you all know who initiated Yes On V.
    Oh, wait, they are the ONLY memebers on the City Council who represent the PEOPLE, the ONLY members on the City Council who LOBBY fo us.
    The other two had NO ON V signs in their yards.

    Please remember that when you vote.

  37. W@hat about hiding behind a blog?

  38. Is something hiding behind this blog? I mean, I looked and all I saw were wires and stuff.

  39. Here's the bad part about Measure V. On the face of it, it's not the kind of thing I'd vote for because its structure is not the stuff of "good government". It's clearly a reactionary measure that gives radical control via local public opinion. It serves its purpose for the local residents under the circumstances, but I wonder if it is something that can withstand legal and political challenges in the long run. So it's a little scary.

    Sierra Madre needs to craft some governmental structures as part of its public policy that works to achieve the results that the residents want to keep future development in scale and character with the community. Unfortunately the way things stand now with General Plan revisions, the State would ramrod overdevelopment into the plan. Probably best to wait this one out until sanity is restored in Sacramento. Or is that an oxymoron?

  40. Yeah, what could be more reactionary, 10:23? People taking control of their community and using the vote to help make their city a better place. And how did Measure V come about? Because a small cabal of LLC investors that could very well have included members of the then City Council believed that they alone had the right to decide to put a massive generic condo development right in the middle of Sierra Madre's downtown. And how did what you sneeringly refer to as "reactionary" citizens do? They put the matter on the ballot and let the people decide. In true American style, democracy prevailed over the malfeasance of a few compromised elected officials.

    Your real problem with it is that you were on the losing side, and your pals took a financial bath. The real "radical control" was the notion that a complicit majority on the City Council, backed by large amounts of lobbyist money, had the right to overrule the will of a majority of the citizens of Sierra Madre.

    More laughable doubletalk from the Downtown Investors Club.

  41. 10:23 probably thought the Colonies went to far back in 1776.

  42. Watch out Bill of Rights. Here comes 10:26 to take you rascals on.

    Only question I have is how can Measure V be both reactionary AND radical. Aren't those opposite ends of the spectrum?

  43. Bring it on 10:23. Articulate the "legal and political challenges" that are scary. Don't do what was done before: "We HAVE to approve the ruin of the hillsides at Crater because of scary legal and political challenges" and never give SPECIFICS. If you want to use FEAR as a tactic to make people give up local control of their own towns, you're going to have to be more precise. And that old "We'll be sued" will no longer work in this town. We were sued, are sued, will no doubt continue to be argument please. We are no longer under the disastrous decision making of Suchanan, Btockly, Toffe and Jorres.

  44. Just another bleat from the Buchanan/Mosca Surrender Monkey Brigade. These clowns haven't had a new idea in years.