Monday, February 8, 2010

Joe Mosca Casts A SCAG Vote Against The Interests Of Sierra Madre

When Joe Mosca reneged on his promises in 2007 and cast the deciding vote against giving the people of Sierra Madre a direct say in the approval of the Downtown Specific Plan, his remaining loyalists claimed he did it to make the DSP better. Which, since hardly anybody beyond the actual investors themselves wanted the kind of huge condominium complexes called for no matter what the plan looked like, was met with both hoots of derision and a recall attempt. Plus Joe's now former supporters used the power of the petition to get Measure V on the ballot, and the DSP vote Joe broke his promise over was saved.

So what Joe Mosca did at last week's SCAG/CEHD meeting should come as no surprise. After all, turning his back on what this town wants, all the while claiming it is because he knows our needs better than we do, is now an established pattern. But would you believe that the issue being voted upon this time was the possible confiscation of our city property taxes for regional use, and that Joe actually cast a vote to keep this initiative going? Despite what this could mean for Sierra Madre? Follow along and we'll break it down for you.

SCAG is the regional planning authority that has been the source of much of the pressure on cities like ours to allow for unwanted high density development. Mostly in the form of muli-story mixed use condominiums. You only need to take a short trip to Pasadena or Monrovia to see what becomes of cities who've adhered to this scheme. There you will find blocks of unwanted complexes that are a glut on the market and will remain so for years to come. Sierra Madre has resisted this for years, and has maintained itself as an unscathed and independently run small town in one of the most densely populated counties in the United States. It is quite an accomplishment if you think about it.

SCAG, while claiming to be the place where local governments go to plan together for regional development, has actually become little more than the local enforcer for Sacramento's development policies. Joe, who supports and works hard for these policies, was assigned by powers that be in the regional governance world to something called the Community, Economic & Human Development Committee, or CEHD in acronym speak. And in 2012 it will be this CEHD that will hand down what are expected to be the largest Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers the SCAG region has yet to see. Numbers which will determine what level of development the state can demand that we accommodate here in Sierra Madre. Sacramento's mandates under SB 375 are clear, and their factotums at SCAG are working hard to make them happen.

But apparently it is no longer only development planning that SB 375 has taken away from small cities like ours. Would you believe that Sacramento aligned regionalists are also working to take control over things like local property and sales taxes away from us as well? This is something that could mean we'd no longer be able to budget for the needs to the people of this city, and with their tax money, without first getting the approval of the state. And would you believe that Joe Mosca actually supports this?

The concept that has been created by regionalists such as the people at SCAG is called the "Fiscalization of Land Use." The description I will reproduce below is a finding of SCAG/CEHD's Fiscalization of Land Use Subcommittee. Here is how the matter is explained in their February 4 meeting handout:

While local governments in California are funded through a variety of revenue streams, the legal structure of the finance system restricts local governments' flexibility in allocating funds as well as their ability to raise additional revenue.

(In other words, these local governments in question have exhausted all of their possible resources through over-spending, and now they must find other ways to find more cash.)

The SCAG document continues:

One of the options for a city to raise revenue is by realizing an increase in "taxable sales" within its borders and a resulting increase in sales tax revenue returned to the city. This can create a strong incentive for local land use planning to favor retail development that increases taxable sales and sales tax revenue. Many locations in California have thus become "over-retailed" with more commercial space than local and regional markets can support.

So what is being described here are the actions of misguided city governments who, having spent themselves into a hole, turn to large scale commercial development in hopes of creating increased sales tax revenue at levels commensurate with their spending. One of the big pitches for our allowing for such development, the Downtown Specific Plan, came with the promise that sales tax collections would increase markedly.

So what do they see as being a way of relieving these cities of the consequences of their actions? Here is where the going gets a little murky.

The Fiscalization of Land Use Subcommittee developed goals to where the recommendations should:
- provide more balanced and stable revenue for cities and counties;
- provide more balanced incentives for land use planning and development; and
- reduce the extreme reliance and competition for sales tax revenue.

That last one is pretty good. Sounds like SCAG feels that anyone who fails to attract or succeed in a free enterprise system should be sheltered from the consequences of their failure. And how is that to be achieved?

Balanced incentives should also help local governments plan consistently with state mandates such as SB 375, RHNA and RTP. Staff has prepared two options for discussion and possible further review:
- Option 1 - a sales tax-for-property-tax swap; and
- Option 2 - sales tax revenue sharing.

In other words, pooling taxes from all the cities within the SCAG region, and then doling funding out to those cities in need of it the most. Such as the ones that spent all their traditional funding, allowed for runaway development in order to make up for it, and when that failed to achieve the desired results, sank into fiscal disaster. Think of this as a welfare system for failed city governments, paid for out of our seized property taxes.

Sierra Madre, which is funded mostly by property taxes (sales taxes being quite miniscule in this town), has remained not only solvent but is actually running healthy surpluses due to superior budgetary planning and spending control. And therefore we could hardly expect to get very much of that confiscated loot under such a system. Rather we would become one of the contributing cities in order to, as SCAG puts it, "provide more balanced and stable revenue for cities and counties." Our punishment for being successful, I suppose.

Now this proposed plan to remove the rights of cities to decide how to do budgets and spend their own taxes was met with impassioned opposition from some of the cities at this CEHD Committee meeting. Their hope being to kill this process outright. The representatives of several cities stood up and gave forceful speeches on what a terrible wrong this would be should it somehow go live. Something resulting in cities such as ours not only losing control over their finances, but also suffering the indignity of lesser burghs spending tax money raised in other, more provident, cities.

When the time came for a vote on this matter, there were two options available. The first was to completely kill this policy process and make sure that it never saw the light of day again. The other was to allow the study to continue, with the possibility of a full passage and implementation in the future.

The final vote was 19 to 6 in favor of the process continuing. And how did The Honorable Mr. Mosca, City Councilmember from the City of Sierra Madre, vote on this? He voted with the regionalists, and against those who favor cities remaining independent and in control of their own taxes and budgets.

Which also means that Joe also voted against the interests of the people who elected him.


  1. Joe Mosca is a lobbyist for development.
    He lied to Sierra Madre to get elected.
    He has continues to lie.
    He may come to your door step and lie to you, Sierra Madre. If he does....send him packing!
    He fooled us all once, but he won't fool us twice.
    We need to run these "development plants" off once and for all.


    You voters can make sure Joe Mosca will finally be out of our city government! Won't be able to cast these damaging votes against Sierra Madre at Sacramento SCAM/SCAG meetings.
    Won't be able to lie to us anymore!

  2. Here is the part that confuses me. How is it Joe believes nobody
    is going to pick up on these kinds of things? Does he really think
    that people are incapable of understanding issues like this, and
    that he'll never get called out? It's like he is almost daring us to
    talk about this stuff.

  3. Why is Joe still in a position representing Sierra Madre at these meetings? A group of citizens should attend the next meeting and take the opportunity to repudiate his presence there.

  4. Joe is dangerous, we must get the truth about him out to the un-supecting.

  5. Joe is still a part of SCAG's CEHD Committee because COG appointed him to it before his ticket was yanked there by the Mayor of Sierra Madre for his almost non-existent meeting attendance. He's kind of grandfathered in there, and since he is such a yes man for all things SCAG, they let him stay.

  6. 7:52 Are you going to attend the meeting and make the truth known?

    7:58 is right but everyone there would hear that he no longer represents Sierra Madre at the meetings.

  7. This is about as transparent as it gets to moving California's fiscal structure to socialism. It's Sacramento's answer to Prop 13 which sent all the local property taxes to Sacramento for distribution to the cities, but instead got witheld inside of a bloating bureaucracy, and finally ended up in confiscation of these tax monies. That's what *created* the need for all this local sales tax revenue in the first place, and is also now responsible for the cuts in school funding.

    Residents of this state need to wake up and get moving at the ballot box.

  8. Amen Laurie B.!!!!!!!!!!!

    To all voters reading this blog!
    Find out who your representatives are who represent Sacramento!

    Find out your Assemblymen and State Senators who support development/crooked politics and do not support you-the VOTER!

    Find out the Joe Mosca's in your town. Vote the bums out of office or recall them!

    Laurie Barlow is absolutely right, here. We must wake up and let our voices be heard via the ballot box!

  9. VOTE

  10. We need to shut this down before SCAG proclaims it approved and pushes it up
    the ladder to Sacramento. Obviously
    Mosca is voting to benefit his shoddy
    little regionalist career rather than
    the peoplehe is supposed to represent.
    He needs to be fired for this.

  11. I believe joe mosca is a madre forker.

  12. Let's ask Mosca why he voted against Sierra Madre at the Candidate's Forum next month! Make him admit his traitorous voting record on camera!!

  13. Poster 7:38 "How is it Joe believes nobody
    is going to pick up on these kinds of things?"

    I know this was intended to be a rhetorical question. In my estimation, however, it is not a rhetorical question. A significant minority of people in Sierra Madre remain ignorant about the damage Mosca caused and continues to cause as a Council Member. That ignorant minority will, I'm afraid, re-elect him in April because "he seems like such a nice young man."

    I hope that I am proven wrong. For that to happen, however, will require that the posters here get the message out about Joe Mosca. A poster suggested that the Sir Eric article critical of Joe's campaign flyer (where he claimed to have saved Sierra Madre from the wrecking ball and took credit for the City receiving millions in grant money) be read at the next Council mmeting. I think that is a great suggestion and would recommend that other articles posted on this website, be read as well.

    Public comment at the City COuncil meeting is an opportunity to campaign for our righteous candidates at no cost.

    More importantly, all of us need to put our money where our mouths are. John and Pat will not be elected and Don will not be re-elected without generous campaign contributions from us.

  14. Yes, 9:42, we all need to question this.
    We also need to see a date for the City Hall candidates forum.
    Certain groups such as the Rotary are not keen on seeing this happen....why? Because Joe Mosca, Josh Moran, and Nancy Walsh will not look good.
    Everyone call city hall and ask when this annual candidate's forum at city hall will take place!
    Ask for Elaine and demand an answer!

  15. 10:00 AM I completely agree. Somebody needs to read the article by Sir Eric bashing (justifiably) Mosca for taking credit for everything. What an arrogant so and so.

  16. Remember the post a couple of months ago about Hasan Ikhrata, head of SCAG, having started his career as a planner in the Soviet Union? It sure looks like his style of government has arrived in California!

  17. Illegal seizure of revenues tend to remind Citizens of the very early days of their nation's foundation.On the whole,they take a very dim view of any illegal confication of their taxes for any purpose.

  18. Let me get this straight. They want to take our
    tax money so they can prop up bankrupt cities like Pasadena? Joe Mosca wants this?

  19. After all, Mosca regularly responds that he represents 31 cities in the San Gabriel Valley when asked about his SGVCOG and SCAG activities. What part of doesn't represent Sierra Madre needs explaining?

  20. This is outrageous. Without consulting his fellow COuncil Members, Joe Mosca is casting a vote supporting a process that could strip Sierra Madre of part of its tax base.

    In other jurisdictions, this is the sort of behavior that gets you recalled.

  21. RE 10:24... It shows us they were very serious about what they wanted to do with these dumb citizens..get an expert in Totalitarianism!

  22. Somebody needs to ask Joe to resign from SCAG. He should not be casting votes that have the potential to imperil the financial security of our City.

  23. The question must now be asked. Is
    Joe Mosca really this dumb? He has
    just committed political suicide.

  24. 10:50. It's only political suicide if everybody in town knows about it.

    How are we going to get the message out.

  25. Don't worry about it, 11:00.
    By the time the election rolls around EVERY VOTER will KNOW the TRUTH ABOUT MOSCA and the two little BART DOYLE PUPPETS running with him.

    Call Elaine and DEMAND the City Hall Candidates FORUM be held. 355-7135.

    The naive people who hang out downtown and belong to clubs are NOT the MAJORITY in this town! They have consistently supported losers and will suffer their biggest loss in this coming election. The "cats out of the bag".
    The not so silent, activist MAJORITY has won the past 3 elections. We have TAKEN BACK SIERRA MADRE.

  26. Please call Elaine
    626) 355-7135 Ext: 201

    Ask when the City Hall Candidates forum will be held!

  27. If Joe Mosca comes to your door asking for your vote?

    Just say we're going to fire you, Mosca, and run him off!

  28. Eric the guy with a blogFebruary 8, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Spoke with Elaine Aguilar at City Hall. And yes, she is getting phone calls, thank you very much. The City cannot sponsor a candidate debate, instead a private organization must do it. And this year it looks like the Chamber of Commerce has stepped up. They are getting in touch with the League of Women Voters about a moderator. The dates are being worked on, and it looks like this puppy is going to happen.

    Bring popcorn.

  29. Thanks, Eric
    Thanks Elaine.
    Thanks Chamber of Commererce,

    Everyone please attend this!

  30. The Chamber of Commerce has announced it will be hosting the Candidates forum at City Hall. The Chamber of Commerce has not said who will moderate the forum.

  31. I would believe anything about Joe Mosca at this point. U GUILTY, Joe the Deceiver! The sooner he is kicked out of Sierra Madre politics, the better.

  32. Wake up quick!

    The chamber will select Susan Henderson to moderate the candidate forum. Can't you see this coming? Sheeesh!

  33. Joe Mosca is anything but a "nice young man".
    He's a liar, a narcissist, who will stop at nothing to achieve his political ambitions.
    The Joe Moscas of this State are what is wrong with the State, it's why we are destroying everything, including our freedom.
    Get rid of this guy, fast as we can. Our town is in danger as long as this guy is on the council.

  34. Don't think so, 1:11.
    The League of Women Voters will moderate it, as usual.
    In the past the Rotary Club has sponsered it.
    Rob Stockley and gang.
    Anyone wonder why they don't want to sponser this one?

  35. Susan Henderson would be an unfortunate choice. It would end up being all about
    Susan's facination with herself and none
    of the candidates would be able to get a
    word in edgewise. With the exception of
    Joe of course, who would be invited to
    sit on her lap.

  36. It's irrelevant whether Susan Henderson or the Plague of Women Voters moderate the debate. The Dirts have operatives in the "Plague" like Colleen McKernan. Also, the Sierra Madre Women's Club used to have the best debates before the Dirts took it over with the likes of Jan Reed & Company. Now the Women's club just has a meet & greet forum. No Debate!

    I'm willing to bet they put it off until the very last minute, so that it will get as little repeat air time as possible.

  37. I just noticed that "Newspaper Adjudication" is on the agenda for tomorrow night's meeting.

  38. Ok, scartch that. Henderson was a bad guess. Sorry.
    But let me ask you this: What about pulling your SCAG membership? I mean it's not mandatory, right? I know of a local town that did this - I don't see the wisdom. You would end up with no input at all, I'm thinkin'.
    So what happens when you bomb your Council with calls and emails? Anything?

  39. 2:42 - Yes. We're all looking forward to a cameo appearance for that one. Perhaps the all time most popular Neuroblast clip came from just such a visit.

    Can we ever be so lucky again?

  40. For those of you with a lengthy attention span (especially Sir Eric), I highly recommend the following speech. It sheds an incredible amount of historical light on what we are facing politically and economically.

  41. What on Earth is his rationale? I know about the values we all hold dear, and the desire for bigger, better stages, but what's the actual logic?
    And you're right Sir Eric - it's our punishment for being successful in supporting MacGilivray, Zimmerman and Watts as they get rid of one shenanigan foolishness after the other.

  42. Sierra Madre business ownerFebruary 8, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    And this is the man who wanted to be, and still wants to be, mayor? Why, so he could sell the town outright?

    Speaking of selling - interesting real estate opportunities just now.
    East Montecito, #31-51, for sale, looks like 2 million. Described as very developable.
    Mariposa, sweet old house on one large-looking lot, realtor sign pushing that it's R-3.
    Thank goodness for Measure V.

  43. SMBizO -- Mas interesting. Is a DIC'r dumping
    property? Giving up on the mixed-use dream?
    The question begging to be asked: Why now?
    Convinced that the city council ain't going
    to come around to their way of thinking?

  44. 3:54 Did you mean "muy interesante?" Anyway...good guess, why else would anyone unload a piece of property in an economy like this? Unless they mortgaged everything to the hilt and can't afford the mortgage payments anymore?

  45. 3:49 That's Charlie and Kathy Childs' property on East Montecito. They were big supporters of the DSP. I thought that property has been up for sale for the last 4+ years. Is the NAI Capital sign still up in the front of the property?

    As for that supposed R-3 lot, is that on the North or South side of Mariposa? If it's on the South side, then it is NOT R-3.

  46. You know what the fasting growing type of building blight is in California is these days? Unsold condos, half empty shopping malls, and unrented office buildings from
    the subprime era. And if the DSP had been
    built that is what downtown Sierra Madre
    would be filled with now. Blight.

  47. I want to move to Sierra Madre.

  48. The one true independent city left in the San Gabriel Valley, TF. A living, breathing miracle in an era of regionalist compromise. A small cantankerous village situated in a densely settled county of 11 million souls.

  49. True!

    Move here! We need good folks like you.
    I don't know you, but something tells me your a fightin' man! Just like Don Watts and John Crawford!

  50. Measure V supporterFebruary 8, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    Get ready neighbors on Mariposa. From a realtor website about 232 Mariposa:

    "There are two separate parcels for sale . 5768-029-004 and 5768-029-005. Combine square footage of 19,500 in both parcels . Zoned SRR3CC for multiple units. There is an existing house on one parcel. Please check with the City of Sierra Madre for building codes, information and possible bonus units that might be added here. Excellent possiblilty to build multiple units here."

  51. Anon 3:29....I just finished watching the speech before Congress that you recommended....WOW.......It was an intense hour and definitely made my mind work (hard). I agree that more tattlers should watch it, but be warned, that there is a wealth of information that could be overwhelming to some people.

  52. Measure V Supporter,

    That property is not in the Downtown Business District, and therefore, is not covered under Measure V.

  53. We really need Measure V to cover the whole city.

  54. We have some time. Nobody is building squat right now. Banks aren't going for anything right now, and no lending institution is nuts enough to put money into DSP style crapola. But that isn't to say that in a few years the fools won't attempt it.

  55. Right you are, 5:09. It just misses the line.
    At least the Montecito area is protected.

  56. old timer....I have to disagree with you there. There's more to Measure V than just height limitations. What's good for one part of town may not necessarily be good for every part of town.

    It's just like saying that the Residential Canyon Zone or the Hillside Management Zone should apply to the entire City. It's Fuzzy Logic, to say the least.

  57. Wait, wait. If that Mariposa property is bought and beefed up, doesn't that hurt our RHNA "possibles," the properties the city can present as being theoretically possible for high density? If it becomes high density now, we can't present it as possible for later, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't satisfy any RHNA junk if it predates the order to build, build, build.

  58. As far as I'm concerned, Sierra Madre's "Downtown" is small enough that it is more than adequately served by the adjoining & nearby, residential properties. Downtown Sierra Madre should be strictly retail and commercial office space.

    Keep the Residences in the Residential areas!

  59. Bubba,

    You're giving SCAG too much power. Those RHNA numbers are arbitrary at best and should be ignored if not laughed at.

  60. 5:36, OK, how about a version of Measure V to be applied to anything new, with adaptations for the various districts? New stuff, not replacements, or existing, or pre-existing non-conforming (which should be Sierra Madre's nickname, the city of the pre-existing non-conforming structures, and people), but new stuff.

  61. 5:43, I wish I was the one giving SCAG too much power.
    It's the state, Brother.

  62. Tattler, you write that the final vote on approving this robbery was 19-6.
    Do you know who the 6 were?
    Those are the people we want to have speak with us, for us.

  63. Fuzzy,

    It sounds like a good idea, but I don't think it's politically possible. What I think we need to do is make our existing laws clearer, with fewer loopholes, then appoint planning commissioners that won't give everyone that walks through the door a variance or conditional use permit, just because they asked for it.

    Another issue, that can't be legislated, is the fact that Real Estate agents will tell buyers whatever they want to hear. So, after they've purchased their house, they expect the City to allow them to do whatever they want.

  64. Great video Anon 3:29....took me a while to comprehend it all, but well worth it.

  65. Bubba....Apathy is what gives the State its power. Throwing your hands up in the air and swallowing the crap they feed you isn't going to change anything.

  66. Fabulous discussion board, you guys. Hang in there.

  67. Anyone seen the most recently LATE Mountain Views Snooze? I sure hope there weren't any important public notices in it. ;-)

  68. 7:20 - crap is all Sacrmento feeds us. The truth they reserve for the people they do business with, such as lobbyists. We're just a marketing problem.

  69. The new Looney Views News is out, and it's basically the same weather coverage you can see a million other places. The one thing of that is of interest is the big ad on the op-ed page begging for subscribers. As you will hear at tomorrow night's City Council meetings, to keep its adjudicated status, and therefore qualify to do business with the City, the LVN must produce proof that it is distributed to a certain percentage of Sierra Madre's residents. Something it has so far refused to do. Which makes the sudden push for subscribers all the more telling. I personally doubt this paper is read by more than 200 people. One because it is poorly distributed. But also because it just isn't very interesting. Between the boring columnists, inane news coverage, and the wild malapropisms, it really is one poor excuse for a newspaper.

  70. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  71. Dr. G... I don't disagree with the sentiment, but I have to monitor the language thing on this site. Feel free to post here any time you like, but keep it Rated G.

  72. It's not online yet, so I won't be able to see it...
    Any city notices?

  73. Ron Paul's ideas are not new. But I want to know how many people are really well read and well educated enough to fully understand what he is actually saying? Not many of your average Joe's are maverackey enough to sip tea and fully understand the rule of law? ya betcha!

  74. school teacher....Your comments are a rather scathing indictment of your own profession. Sadly, I agree that most people in this country are terribly mis-educated, especially about history.

    As far as I'm concerned, there's no better time then NOW to start learning, and that video is a great primer.

  75. See? That's what happens when national politics seep into our discussion of local issues.

    As far as I'm concerned national politics is for people who are just too simple to grasp the exacting nuances of local governance. Turn off the cable news and come up for air, guys.

  76. So much for Freedom of SpeechFebruary 8, 2010 at 10:25 PM

    Bad Karma....As far as I'm concerned, you are just too simple to understand politics above a local level.

    I don't own a television and haven't watched cable tv in 8 years, yet I am fully aware of not only what goes on in the global political arena, but also able to understand how it relates to and effects what goes on locally.

    Perhaps you will either try to convince us that the global economic meltdown was a "local" issue, or that it has no effect on Sierra Madre because it wasn't "local.".

    Just because you choose to live life with your head in the ground does NOT give you license to insist that others be as ignorant and insulting as you.

  77. Oh good lord, you aren't one of those people who claim that their freedom of speech has been trampled upon just because you were made fun of, are you?

  78. Hey, the Pontificator is back on this thread. The poster who deigns to speak to us all once and a while from on high.
    Predictable content; thumb your nose at SCAG with no regard for any consequences, diss all planning commissioners, instruct the rabble who post on what they should think, accuse activists of apathy, and try to slam Sir Eric with projected contradictions.
    Yep, that's the Pontificator.

  79. 9:34, he's just a troll.
    Don't feed him and he'll go away, and try to pick a fight someplace else.

  80. Sorry E.M. 7.5 inches of rain in 60 minutes....BULLHOOEY!!!... there, thats better!

  81. Thank you Dr. George.