It all kicks off with the Consent Calendar. Approvals, comments, spending, and presentations will all take place per usual. In there is another hefty spend for our Community Redevelopment Agency, this time for $17,046.48. The CRA being the gift that just keeps on taking. The Chamber of Commerce will be looking for us to pick up some of the costs for the Wistaria Festival, something that could get interesting. But the highlight here is going to be a presentation recognizing our Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3208 for 75 years of service to Sierra Madre. Our VFW is one of the most monetarily generous organizations in town, and modest about it as well. And isn't that the true heart of charity, giving without any podium grandstanding? Since we won't be hearing from them about how much they've done, that duty now falls upon us. Is it too early to start campaigning for their selection as Grand Marshall at this year's Fourth of July parade? These guys are heroes on many levels, and deserve our accolades.
Did you know that when the VFW was passed over for this honor in 2009 it cost us Congressman David Dreier's offer to assist in getting parade performances from bands representing the four branches of our Armed Forces? I still can't figure how those in charge of picking last year's Grand Marshall screwed that one up as badly as they did. What a great patriotic sight it could have been!
Next up are a series of discussions on nine different items. Funding for the Emergency AM Radio Station begins the action, and certainly this is a worthy effort that we should all support. Sierra Madre is subject to the big four of floods, fires, landslides, and earthquakes, and getting information to the residents as quickly as possible should disaster strike seems imperative to me.
This is followed by discussions about streaming public meetings on the Internet (a good thing in my opinion, particularly for those who travel on business), emergency and mandatory evacuations, and "The Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010." Which on the surface seems like a good thing, but its League of California Cities affiliation makes the skeptic in me wonder what the small print might be all about. This is something that is sorely needed though, and it will be interesting to hear what at least some have to say. I expect the council will support it unanimously.
And then, with the preliminary bouts out of the way, the heavyweight topics step up for their moment of SMTV3 glory. You'll want to get your popcorn ready now.
During the "shenanigan era" developers and real estate investors were given a pass on the quality of life effects their projects might cause here in town. One thing these parties got a free ride on was with construction generated dust. Ask anyone who lives near One Carter and you will find out just how serious an issue this is. And after much consideration and discussion by City Staff and concerned volunteer committees, the City Council will be talking about a Dust Control Ordinance. Something that many other cities in California already have in place. Here is some wording on what Fugitive Dust is, per the Coachella Valley Model Dust Control Ordinance:
Fugitive Dust is any solid particulate matter that becomes airborne, other than that emitted from an exhaust stack, directly or indirectly as a result of human activities. PM10 is a subset of fugitive dust and is defined as particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 microns or less.
I don't know exactly how you measure a dust particle to see if it qualifies, but with another hot summer of seemingly endless work at One Carter ahead, with a similar grim and noisy process possible soon at Stonehouse, something needs to be put in place to protect young children and seniors from the debilitating effects of particulate dust inhalation. It is a serious health matter and needs to be treated that way.
Now the next item, Consideration Of Ordinance NO. 1306 Requiring Maintenance Of Vacant Commerical Property, is near and dear to my heart because it began all the way back in May of 2009 with an article on this blog. Kurt Zimmerman picked up on it and had the matter agendized. And now, a mere nine months later, it is coming up for discussion. Not the quickest process in city history, but I have to admit the timing isn't too bad. Here's how the original Tattler article opened it up:
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 homes and buildings 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 make some dough. 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? It's just cheaper that way.
The classic example of this phenomenon here is the Skilled Nursing Facility, that boarded up eyesore on Sierra Madre Boulevard. This all came about because the City of Glendale, seeing similar problems in their community, initiated a Blight Law to combat what was becoming an all too common practice. And we're just following their lead. As I said at the beginning of this post, it could be a contentious issue. Watch closely as Johnny B and Joe wrestle with the possible political fallout for siding with blight versus their loyalty to the LLC that owns the decrepit Nursing Facility.
The last item is entitled Discussion - Newspaper Adjudication. This involves the City's contract with the Mountain Views News, which entitles this publication to carry our legal advertising. There are several important issues involved here, the most obvious being the paper's seeming refusal to supply that most necessary element in maintaining an adjudicated status, proof of circulation. An adjudicated paper is required to be distributed to a large swath of residents within the City it has contracted with. And despite requests from the City Manager to supply subscription lists and other proof of adequate dispersal, the paper's publisher, H. Susan Henderson, has yet to find it in herself to provide that information. With the matter now becoming something of a test of wills between the contending parties.
What takes this particular situation to an even higher level is that Ms. Henderson was expected to make an appearance before the City Council 2 weeks ago to discuss this issue. A discussion that didn't take place because she apparently blew it off. So the City is taking yet another pass at it tomorrow night. And outside of a handful of rusting racks downtown (most now minus their signage due to sketchy upkeep), nobody really knows what kind of distribution our tax dollars are getting for us with the MVN. City Council patience is wearing thin. I have a couple of bets out on this one, with my money on Henderson not showing up this time as well.
Bonus Coverage: In the new issue of the Mountain Views News there is a front page article about the upcoming City Council election. The idea behind this piece was to name all the candidates, and then identify an issue date when each would hopefully answer the two high school style essay questions the MVN is asking. The article begins with this sentence:
On April 13, 2010, voters in Sierra Madre will go to the polls and select three people from a field of six to sit on the City Council.
The article then goes on to name these six candidates the author believes make up the roster. Don Watts, Joe Mosca, myself, Nancy Walsh, with Josh Moran and Bill Tice bringing up the rear.
There is only one problem here. The field of candidates is actually seven, not six. Susan Henderson somehow managed to leave out Pat Alcorn.
Then Henderson, who is both publisher and editor of this paper, declared that the MVN will "do whatever we can to help you make an informed decision." You can only wonder how since she doesn't seem to know who is actually running.