As always, the Arcadia Association of REALTORS (sic) has sent questionnaires to the candidates to find their views on key issues in the area.
Hmm, I am a candidate for a seat on the Sierra Madre City Council, and I never received this questionnaire. Do I feel slighted? Am I upset? Am I holding my sides and shaking with laughter? Well, one for three is good enough for baseball, and that works in this particular situation as well.
Of course, it does beg the question of why an organization such as this conclave of mostly out of town fellows would presume to need to know what candidates in Sierra Madre might think about their issues. But the AAR does certainly seem to care about what goes on here. So much so that they are rumored to have contributed thousands of dollars to the "No on V" folks a few years back. Which in my mind puts them more than a little on the buttinski side of things.
It also reveals a lot about what their current agenda might be. I would hate to think that similar out of town money might be coming in to influence this election as well. I mean, all these guys really want is continuous Pasadena-style overdevelopment here, and they don't like anyone getting in their way. Even when it's not in their town.
However, since they didn't care to ask me, I guess I will just have to answer their questions here. It is pretty obvious what they're getting at, and we might as well have some fun with it. I can't imagine that there is really much else you can do with these guys. And never let it be said that I am not kind to tourists. Then there is this:
Arcadia will have a contest between 6 candidates for 3 seats, Sierra Madre will see 7 candidates vie for the 3 open seats. Due to a lack of interest, the Bradbury election has been canceled. Congratulations to Councilman Barakat for returning to the council, and for Richard Pycz for volunteering to serve the community.
I wonder what's up with Bradbury that nobody wants to run for their City Council? I mean, things can occasionally get a little out of hand at Sierra Madre City Council meetings, but not to the point where all the candidates get scared and run away. Things must be pretty rough over there in Bradbury. Either that or they're just not made of the sterner stock that so distinguishes candidates here.
Well, OK. Let's answer the Arcadia Association of Realtor's questions.
1) What role does local government have in regulating private property rights? A whole lot less than it used to, unfortunately. Under the new Sacramento guidelines as spelled out by AB 32 and SB 375 much of the control over planning decisions that used to be the purview of individual cities has been somewhat confiscated and concentrated under the hoary wing of Sacramento. Particularly if the city in question happens to exist within something considered by the central planning authorities to be in a "transportation corridor." Which, because of our proximity to the Gold Line (or 210 Trolly as we like to call it), includes Sierra Madre. So my answer here would be that cities of like mind should band together to wrest back our right to control all development within our borders. Which would help us in the fight to hold off the kind of massive high-density development certain concerned persons want so badly.
(As an aside, there is an Arcadia only question here that reads: "What efforts need to be done in order to prepare Arcadia for the expansion of the Gold Line?" Now this seems to me to be a direct contradiction to the spirit of the question I just answered. Because since Transportation Oriented Development is now something pretty much under the thumb of Sacramento and its compliant regional organizations such as SCAG, wouldn't that seem to indicate that the AAR advocates state control over regulating private property rights? Personally, and considering what a godawful mess Sacramento has made of this state, I'd prefer local control every time.)
2) Under what circumstances would you support enacting new or increasing existing assessments, taxes or fees? Sierra Madre, as many of us who live here are aware, is currently among those select few cities in the area that is currently running budget surpluses. Our bills are being paid, the checks don't bounce, and our parades and downtown holiday celebrations are at least partially subsidized out of taxpayer money. So the question of raising taxes or fees is moot. This is a well run City that has learned in the past couple of years to live within its means. And if fiscally challenged towns like Arcadia would like to stop by and pick up some pointers, they certainly are free to do so.
3) What would your vision be for the future of the downtown community of Sierra Madre? (Including but not limited to ideas for underutilized properties & business development.) It is my fervent hope that the downtown area of Sierra Madre will remain the beloved and unique shopping area it has been for as long as this town has been in existence. I would be disheartened to think that there might be those who would even consider changing that small town atmosphere we revere into the kind of generic and overdone "could be anywhere" look we now see developing in places like Arcadia. Business development is always a fine thing, but it must be remembered that Sierra Madre is overwhelmingly a residential community. The vast majority of people living here don't do so for the industrial opportunities. And as far as the "underutilized" thing goes, please remember that one man's unsatisfactory consumer experience is another man's precious jewel of a community. You can't please everyone.
4) What is your position on the Eminent Domain Initiative? I fully support it. It was a topic that first came up on this blog, and I took considerable pride in seeing something that started here going on to receive unanimous approval from our City Council. Watching John Buchanan enthusiastically cast his vote for this Tattler initiative was a cause of great joy for me. But that said, it must be pointed out that as important as this Eminent Domain Initiative is, it isn't in any way the last word on the scourge of property confiscation by government. The State of California, should it decide that such a thing might be standing in the way of the kinds of "Transit Oriented Development" called for by SB 375, could swat our little Eminent Domain ordinance away like a fly. Obviously this fight has only just begun.
Thank you for the questions, AAR! Can I leave you one of my brochures?