Monday, December 7, 2009

Tuesday Night's City Council Meeting Should Be Eminently Rewarding

There are two things on the City Council agenda this week that, in my opinion, will make a big difference for this town. And, all false modesty aside, both of them received their initial push right here on The Tattler. A clear indication that opening news correspondence up to public participation can only play a positive role in local government. And perhaps yet another sign that the old school notion of local media meaning privileged heavy-handed establishment control and deceptive cynicism is finally dying a much deserved death here in Sierra Madre, as it has in so many other places.

You will see on the agenda for Tuesday night's City Council meeting an item up for discussion called Consideration Of Establishing Commercial Property Maintenance Standards. Originally agendized by Kurt Zimmerman, this is the long awaited Sierra Madre "Blight Law." Modeled on a similar law that Glendale passed earlier this year, owners of commercial properties bought on speculation would be required to keep these properties bright and shiny or face substantial fines. And the property that has become a symbol of just such "blight" here is the Skilled Nursing Facility. During the last City Council election the SNF became something of a lightning rod for those looking to blame a purported decline in Sierra Madre's downtown on Measure V. Here is a statement that was posed as a question on the dirtish (and apparently now deceased) Sierra Madre - A View From The Canyon blog in February of 2008:

"I want to know how the candidates intend to deal with the blight in downtown, the boarded up nursing home ..."

Well, it looks like the answer to that one is finally in the building. Here is how we described the situation last May when the topic of fining commercial blight jockeys first came to the city's attention:

Glendale Deals With A Major Cause Of Blight: Real Estate Speculators - One of the major causes of blight is real estate speculation. Banks and investors buy up foreclosed properties and then allow them to sit. Their hope being that when the market eventually improves the value of their holdings will increase as well and they can turn a profit. But until that time comes, they allow these properties to fall into disrepair. Why bother fixing them up until the time comes to sell them?

Until now that is. The days when secretive real estate investment LLCs can buy things up and let them rot until they get what they want are apparently over in Sierra Madre. The era of hostage taking has come to an end. In Glendale the fines were set at $1,000 a day.

So as far as the Skilled Nursing Facility goes? Windows would be nice. With some shutters and curtains, please. Oh, and some decent, living shrubbery as well. And paint. Whoever you are, you've held this town ransom to your deplorably nasty habits for long enough. Clean up or pay up.

The other item causing much excitement in these bloggly precincts is entitled Consideration Of A Ballot Measure Prohibiting Use Of Eminent Domain For Private Purposes In The City Of Sierra Madre. When you consider that Sacramento, through its draconian SB 375 manifesto, will soon be placing intense legal pressure on Sierra Madre (and just about every other city in California) to plan for development far beyond our ability to accommodate or sustain, outlawing eminent domain is a must.

While those advocating (SCAG, SGVCOG) this recipe for city destruction will never admit to it, the only way they are going to be able to clear the acreage necessary for the vast condo and mixed-use Higglytowns they are demanding is through eminent domain property seizures. And we must be prepared to help the residents of this town defend themselves.

And there is plenty of precedence for such measures in the State of California. As an example, the good citizens of Yorba Linda approved just such a measure in 2008. As we can see on the Ballotpedia site, it was called Measure BB, and the wording went this way:

"Shall the voters of the City of Yorba Linda adopt Ordinance No. 2008-920 relating to the elimination of eminent domain for private economic development purposes?"

It passed with 79.3% of the vote.

Trust me, what Sierra Madre and cities like us will be facing in the next four or so years is going to make the DSP and Measure V episode look like beanbag. The SB 375 RHNA numbers alone will be at a level never seen before. (RHNA numbers that will be cooked up by the SCAG "CEHD" committee that Joe Mosca works so diligently for, by the way.) By banishing eminent domain through the public vote now we will have taken a first big step in preserving what we love about Sierra Madre for future generations, while at the same time helping to protect the people living here from state government gone mad.

But remember, it is only a first step.

45 comments:

  1. Just the facts mamDecember 7, 2009 at 5:59 AM

    What a treat to see good things coming out of City Hall, a $1000 a day coming into the city will be positive input, this also shows the tax payers our local government does care and they are listening to their constituents. If your home was under consideration for being taken from you because of eminent domain think of the constant worry, I'm sure people will be giving thanks this Christmas for work our Council has done this year. This in deed has been a good year for the community, thanks to a City Council that listens to the people. With elections next year it promises to be an even better year, there is much to be celebrated, but much work ahead.

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  2. Thank God for Zimmerman, Watts and MacGillivray.

    With the dishonesty and outright criminality going on now in Sacramento, it gives us hope that we, the people, still have a chance at saving our town, our homes and our liberty.

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  3. On the mark!
    This action by our City council will be one of the most important action ever to be taken by this community.The impact upon our city by NOT taking this step would be catastrophic.The right to own and protect ones property defines us as free citizens.Support the efforts of Mary Ann,Don and Kurt.

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  4. Sierra Madre, the city that fights back.

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  5. Thanks for this information, Sir Eric.
    My family is very worried about the economy right now, and we don't need to add more stress worrying about our town and our very homes we live in!
    Kurt, Don and MaryAnn are so wonderful. How many towns have representatives who actually care about the needs of the people? Most only care about helping fulfill the needs of special interests, even if it hurts the people they are suppose to represent.
    I know my family will have a less stressful Christmas this year, even if we have to cut down our spending this year.

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  6. How much money would it save to do a quick survey, over financing an election, to see how the vote would go for a "no eminent domain" ordinance? If such a survey showed city-wide support that would then ecourage a majority of the City Council pass this ordinance without the cost added to or a special election. SAVE MONEY, SAVE MONEY, SAVE MONEY. Then if one city council member voted against this approach we would have even more ammunition against his re-election.

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  7. Eye of the sun.

    Today and tomorrow call 25 people in town and ask them if they support "no eminent domain". Then report your results to the council on Tuesday night. We need new faces at the city council meetings.

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  8. Eminent Domain is about as popular as cancer. And it seems to be getting a lot of traction on the news lately, particulalry cable. The connection has to be made between the use of eminent domain and the impact SB 375 is going to have on RHNA numbers. There is no way SCAG/Sacramento is going to be able to deliver on its promises to the BIA (etc etc) if it cannot use eminent domain. To just rezone neighborhoods with no way of clearing space should the residents decide to resist will in no way satisfy the real drivers here.

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  9. Just saw another eminent domain issue, this time from Florida.
    It's getting worse and will continue to get worse.

    9:59 is right on! There is no way SCAG/Sacramento will be able to deliver on it's promises to the BIA and gang, if it can't use eminent domain.
    9:59 is right again, on the popularity of eminent domain....anyone who would be in favor of eminent domain, besides the crooks who will make money out of it/us, would probably drown kittens and puppies.

    I hope all my friends on the Tattler will pay very close attention to tomorrow night's City Council meeting. Be there in support of our people if you possibly can. At least watch the meeting from start to finish on TV.
    Very important stuff, you guys.

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  10. Council Meeting:
    6:30 pm tomorrow night, Tuesday Dec.8th.
    City Hall.

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  11. The Commercial Blight Law is a long time coming. Thanks for this piece of good news. Does it have a provision that permits an injunction against continuing blight? Just in case we have some judgment proof owners? People who have shell companies who own these properties and will walk away from a bad investment? An injunction is not going to solve everything, but it is another weapon.

    In any event, good work, Kurt Zimmerman and the rest of council--two exceptions noted by all.

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  12. Old Kentucky is absolutely correct! This is a disgusting disguise of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We must not let the bullying of WALL STREET be allowed in Sierra Madre. It has been horiffic what has already been allowed in the Shennigan years. All of us must support our 3 FABULOUS CITY COUNCIL members who will not allow eminent domain/ SCAG. Let us begin the domino effect for all of California now and get rid of SB375 and all the insanity that trikles up and down to ruin all our lives.

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  13. Thank you Sir Eric and the very best of decisive luck to the good people of sierra madre.

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  14. http://www.castlecoalition.org/pdf/publications/report_card/states/california.pdf

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  15. http://www.castlecoalition.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2412&Itemid=129

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  16. I wonder if people can deal with something as big as this? How do you explain to someone that your state government doesn't really share your concerns, wants what you have, and wishes you would just go away? It is almost incomprehensible. Sacramento in its rage to spend is now devouring everything.

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  17. If eye of the Sun called 25 people they would be people already known as NO on eminant domain and not a "new" face at the CC podium. Who can run a volunteer random sample?--and as we all know--political calls are mighty unpopular.

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  18. Pasta, I agree with you! We need new faces at the podium. Tattler readers...please take note of Agenda Item 5 (right after the blight law discussion.) It's a contract amendment with Athens. Apparently, Athens failed to collect some UUT money from the residents. So the company owes the city $110,000. The city didn't want Athens to charge the residents more money. An exchange might be made...Athens won't surcharge the resdients, if the city agrees to increase the contract for another five years. (That would extend it to 2026.)

    Regardless of the decision, it's my understanding that Athens is going to increase the charge. (It's part of their contract...this is the time of year they normally do it.) Does anyone know how much the increase will be?

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  19. GOP Trails Teabagger Party In New Poll
    http://airamerica.com/politics/12-07-2009/gop-trails-poll-teabaggers/

    When asked about this, Anthony Adams is reported to have said; "Tea? I like tea. Can you give me some?"

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  20. The agenda never gives enough information.

    What about the fact that as citizens we can't get more than a year's overcharge... but the city can go back and get a surcharge??? Doesn't seem right. Remember the man who was overcharged thousnads and the city said TOUGH LUCK. Why wasn't this information given to the UUT? committee?

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  21. The UUT Committee's main function was determine whether or not the tax increase was in any way used to purchase beer. Outside of that it was just a seminar on the Brown Act.

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  22. With the Republicants collapsing into the Tea Party, we need to found something similar to happen to the Democrits. I think somebody should start the Free Cheese Party.

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  23. Since some members of the council would not let the UUT go to a vote of the people, why did they not see the missing tax on their trash bill? I just checked my bill and plain as day NO TAX. Citizens are *&^%$%$#$##&&* again.

    A 5 year contract because Athens messed up?? We need which ever company is the cheapest overall. They will bury the $110,000 in the new rates.

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  24. They could always make it up by fishing in the recycling for credit card information.

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  25. Stacatto at 11:00 am

    Thanks for the information the COMMERCIAL BLIGHT LAW.
    The reason the SNF has sat vacant so long is the owners with the obvious support of certain dirts in town here, are waiting to overturn Measure V and go full speed ahead.
    I say BRAVO, City Council of Sierra Madre (the people's council....Kurt, Don and MaryAnn).
    The money you make off them can go good uses.
    Stay tuned. This council majority is rolling!

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  26. Can you imagine a more entitled bunch of jerks than the current owners of the SNF? Get out the brooms, you bums.

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  27. LOL! LLC chain gang.

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  28. i can't figure out how it is our problem (the people) that the owners of the Nursing Facility were dumb enough to buy the property and we should suffer with blight just because they can't build 85 condos on the property

    fine them into Hades

    speaking of Hades, what ever happened with the Congregational Church giving the city the middle finger and building an illegal building?

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  29. The Congregational Church scam is still lurking in the background. Like one of
    our many weebles it'll be popping its
    little head up before too much longer.

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  30. Mountain Loser News is way late this week. No new
    issue downtown and it's still November on the MLN
    site. Does that mean people don't have to pay for
    their ads?

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  31. In a just world, 7:10.
    I figured it was just a matter of time before all that punctuality slipped away and things returned to normal - as in always late.

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  32. Or as in 'couldn't care less.' You'd think she'd have
    at least some loyalty to the people whose money
    she takes.

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  33. Not sure "loyalty" is a possibility. But you would think a con would want to keep her suckers happy.

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  34. It's our money and they keep mis managing it.December 7, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    how many Sierra Madre residents will put up with an increase from Athens? This is insane that Athens messed up and we the victims have to PAY for their mistakes? Is this true? Is anyone going to find out more? Who in City Hall manages this? I hate to ask?Too many inept people working there that need to get the boot if they cannot manage the books corectly....

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  35. It's California. The tax payers foot the bill for everything.

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  36. Time for the taxpayers to revolt!

    Stand up and fight, Sierra Madre.

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  37. I just sent my 2009-10 property tax to the good folks at LA County. I wonder what I will get in return? Corrupt Supervisors on "perks", LAX which is a disgrace, A Green Line which stops 1 mile short of LAX, County Fire Fighters which can't get the hang of directing the National Forestry Service to put out fires, A County Hospital so inept it had to be closed, A non existent transportation plan, Overtime putting routine workers into 6 figure incomes (with retirement benefits to boot), just to mention a few. No wonder "pot shops" have flourished, I might stop by myself for relief!

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  38. Maybe its the pot shops that are the problem. Everyone in government has a prescription for their products.

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  39. i don't know about everyone else, but i am extremely looking forward to the day when both John and Joe are off the council and when they show up as citizens, they'll be limited to three minutes of speaking time

    I look forward to the next Mayor cutting John off when he goes 3 minutes and 10 seconds

    in 8 years John couldn't make a point in less than 3 minutes when he rambled on, he made less sense

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  40. It takes John 3 minutes just to untie his tongue.

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  41. Buchanan confuses the amount of words with the quality of ideas.

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  42. Sort of like a fogbank that thinks it's a thunderstorm.

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  43. The equation is that for every 1,000 words, there's a portion of a thought. Can be 5,000 words before there's one whole thought!

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  44. What a great Save Our City sign!
    Tattler, what city had that?
    Wonder how they're doin'

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  45. IM, it's Pittsburgh. Go to google images & type in Save Our City.

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