Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Gold Line

Now I know a lot of wild claims have been made for the world saving powers of the 210 Gold Line. It is going to get people out of their cars, save the world from global warming, and be the very lifeblood of the newly regionalized California supercity of the future called San Gabrielania. Or something. But did you ever think it would also be the pot of gold at the end of Sacramento's somewhat anemic rainbow? Apparently that is the case, according to the Pasadena Star News.

I personally would never have thought that our little 210 Trolly would someday produce enough revenue to effectively end California's debt crisis all by itself. A claim like that would certainly have made me more than a little skeptical. But according to an editorial in yesterday's Pasadena Star News, the fabulous revenue producing powers of a newly extended Gold Line will be the envy of the world, and an event of truly historic importance. Check this out:

Our View: Continue Gold Line's formula for success - It's not all that often we get accused of reporting too much good news on our front pages, but good things do happen. Friday's bulletin that the regional MTA Board voted to fully fund the Gold Line Foothill extension from east Pasadena through Azusa is just that - a highly positive step for the San Gabriel Valley ... But we're not sure everyone fully grasps the importance of this mass transit line's growth on our economy and our communities. There will be more than just a train reaching the last station of Phase 2a near Citrus Avenue come early 2014. First there's the economic. This phase will generate 7,000 jobs, $1 billion in business revenues and $40 billion in tax revenues ...

Now 40 billion big ones is whole a lot of bananas where I come from. And you can get all of that by merely extending the 210 Gold Line from Sierra Madre Villa Station to Azusa? Wow! Can you imagine what we'd get if we extended it all the way to, let's say, Glendora? Or Rancho Cucamonga? By calculating the tax money to be raised by multiplying the rough mileage times the relatively modest length of the current extension, we're talking about $250 billion dollars! With that kind of dough we could rescue the public school system, fix all the roads in California, pay for the retirement of everybody, and still have enough left over to buy anybody who asks a nice cup of vanilla yogurt.

So why stop there? I say we extend The Trolly all the way to the Nevada border and divide the take equally between every taxpayer in the San Gabriel Valley. We'll all be millionaires and live happily ever after.

As exciting as that all might be, there was more in yesterday's Star News that piqued my wandering interest. And this time the topic to be discussed was of a more sober nature.

Pasadena may use eminent domain to seize historical building - The city is considering using eminent domain to seize a historical building near City Hall that has been fenced up and abandoned for more than a decade ... The building, 78 N. Marengo Ave., was designed by Julia Morgan, California's first prominent female architect. It was built in 1921, making it one of the earliest historical structures in the city ... At a public hearing next month, the council will consider authorizing city officials to use eminent domain.

Now the story goes on to very carefully explain that the reason for using eminent domain to seize this property would be for benign purposes. That is, the City of Pasadena might use this controversial procedure to save a valuable historic property from the neglect of the current private owner, someone who has thoughtlessly allowed the building to fall into disrepair.

But this does beg the question: What will Pasadena do with this property once it is wrested from the hands of the current ownership? Will the City turn it into a museum? A hospice for wayfaring youth? A really challenging skate park? Apparently the final result could be something far more mundane.

Sue Mossman of the Pasadena Heritage historical preservationist group said local preservationists would prefer to see a more low-impact use for the building, such as office space ... "In general, Pasadena Historical is not in favor of eminent domain," said Mossman. "But there are times when it is the only solution. It just isn't good for a building to sit there boarded up."

Hmm. So could we have declared the boarded up and blighted Skilled Nursing Facility a building great historical importance to the City of Sierra Madre, and then used eminent domain to save it from the callous and careless LLC currently owning the place? Just kidding.

Bonus Coverage: As was discussed yesterday in the place that has caused Bill Coburn to recoil in horror, the Tattler reader comments section, it was revealed that listed among Josh "Why I Love This City" Moran's Facebook "friends" is one Chip Ahlswede. Something that brings back memories. Chip, as a savvy reader pointed out, is a fellow closely associated with the infamous Schubert Flint Public Affairs, the politically oriented ad agency that organized the public relations effort to defeat Measure V in 2007. In the process taking most of the $170,000 somebody had raised to defeat this citizen initiative. Chip, as we know, worked on behalf of the interests of a concerned Schubert client, in this particular case the Arcadia Association of Realtors.

But according to the blog Queers United, Schubert Flint Public Affairs, along with former colleagues of Mr. Ahlswede (Chip, having left in 2007, was not involved) went on to do far bigger things than just screwing up the 'No on V' campaign in Sierra Madre. Here is what that blog has to say:

Schubert Flint Public Affairs is an advertising agency that created many of the ads that helped Proposition 8 pass in California, leading to same-sex marriage rights being taken away in the state ... The "National Organization for Marriage," an anti-gay think tank, is continuing their relationship with the ad agency in an attempt to further erode marriage rights for same sex couples.

That Sierra Madre is one of the few cities anywhere to stand up to these guys and win is quite a testimony to our ability to see through all the garbage that was thrown our way. We have a lot to be proud of.

61 comments:

  1. Sierra Madre Anonymous ChorusMarch 30, 2010 at 6:57 AM

    Good morning Sunshine!

    14 Days to Election Day! Vote Alcorn, Crawford and Watts on Tuesday, April 13th!!

    Sierra Madre First!!!

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  2. I know a little about the marvelous building Pasadena is considering acquiring by Eminent Domain. The City's predicament is similar to that of Sierra Madre and the SNF. In Pasadena's case the owner is not a resident nor citizen of the US. A relative represents their interests. The building was acquired as an investment and the owners immediately sought permission to demolish it and construct a totally out of character multi story office building. The owners have placed a high value on the building and their intent is to let it settle into decay until it has no more value as a possible historical site to be refurbished.

    I have great conflict about the use of Eminent Domain as I'm sure many of us do. This is one of those cases that should stand out as an exception. A historic building of great beauty and "bones" with an organization strongly behind rehabilitating it in the best interests of the City of Pasadena, not for private commercial use, but for the beauty and grandeur of what is one of the most beautiful cities in California.

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  3. $40 billion (with a b) in tax revenues? No wonder Metro is in such trouble. They can't do add and take away.

    Puleeeeeez!

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  4. According to the Star News building trolly lines is as profitable as finding oil. I think we have found the way to save California!

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  5. John Crawford!

    Never forget he's our man.

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  6. The Tattler causes Bill Coburn to recoil in horror? And the Cumquat never got so much as a Tut! Tut! out of Billy? Who is the clergyman who was a Cumquat fan, anyway?

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  7. Ironically the reason the YWCA had to sell the building was because it couldn't afford to make the structural repairs in a historically sensitive fashion as required by Pasadena Heritage. City could have bought the building then for 1/3 of their best offer now. The road to Hell is *always* paved with good intentions.

    Eminent domain is a tool that should be used sparingly and only with public support for the individual circumstance, not to feed city coffers or developer agendas. If Pasadena didn't have eminent domain abilities, then they wouldn't have the leverage on this property that they do now. Now all they need is a blight law and associated fines, not that it matters to a Hong Kong billionaire. You kind of need eminent domain for the hammer end of the blight law.

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  8. Three Dollar Bill Coburn has selective amnesia when it comes to that sort of thing. The porno site was fine, but tell the truth about some of the shenanigans and shenaniganers in this town? The horror! The horror!

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  9. A strong blight law with fines of 1000/day would find the owner in a hurry to unload it to someone who would immediately renovate it, and make it a profit center.

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  10. The Gold Line should have been built INSTEAD of extending the 210 Freeway. If that had happened, there would be less cars and trucks on the 210 freeway. Now it is too late.

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  11. That probably works for local investors, especially if there's no public transit available to a fairly distant potential retail center. Keep everything at the Arcadia Gold Line stop.

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  12. Been in the trenchesMarch 30, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    "Gold Line formula for success" presumes a tremendous amount of development and industry expansion along the route. It's been a planned industrial/tech corridor for two decades now, which is how the Gold Line has always been justified. So that's where you'll see a lot of high rise commercial/tech buildings sprouting up.

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  13. fan of public transportationMarch 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    And who was the brilliant designer who excluded efficient and easy access from SanGabrielville to the airports?
    All you have to do is add three hours on to your travelling days....

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  14. 8:25, if the fines in a blight ordinance are big enough, even an out of country billionaire will get irritated by them eventually.
    Don't need eminent domain - just need a good blight ordinance.
    As the council discussion of the dust ordinance brought out, make it cheaper to comply with the ordinance than to pay the fines.

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  15. Agreed. What would the City do with a property once they've acquired it? Renovate and then resell? Manage it like a property? Rent it out? Sell it to somebody else. Makes no sense. Better to hold the owner's feet to the fire and make him/her behave like a responsible citizen.

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  16. 10:05, you mean like the owner of the ever deteriorating Albertson's Market shopping center? Another Hong Kong owner with a relative managing the property who refuses to take responsibility for the burned out former laundry or try to rent the vacant shops. Dreadful! What recourse is there if these scumbag owners refuse to obey the law?

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  17. Albertson's is in Pasadena. If Pasadena decided to use Eminent Domain as a way of cleaning up their bad properties they'd end up owning 30% of the city. And since they've spent themselves into a very deep hole already, where are they gonna get the cash? Better to just fine the jerks. Certainly they could use the money.

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  18. Kaiser Steel, Fontana, made a boneheaded decision to pay the $10,000.00 day fine rather than retrofit for millions of dollars. Japan made modernization decisions and keep on producing steel--Kaiser Steet, Fontana? Out of business. At least that is how I remembered it. Correct me, Historian.

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  19. 7:17 - I believe the clergyman you're inquiring after was Father Smuttle. No
    longer in town I'm afraid.

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  20. A California environmental group had a transportation committee to research public mass transit some years back. Up and down went the price of crude and there was no public will for builiding such when the price would have been far less than now. Having ridden public transit in Asia and Europe, Mexico and Costa Rica, where petrol is dear and cars are expensive tools not a piece of jewelry, So Cal not only could have, should have? We could still have autos for the jolly ride to the countryside.

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  21. There's nothing wrong with public transportation. What is wrong is the huge development demands that go along with it. Light rail is great, but why does it come with unfunded Sacramento mandates that are not in keeping with what we want in our cities?

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  22. Been in the trenchesMarch 30, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    The development money creates the income that justifies spending public dollars on public transit. More people riding it to jobs. So transit presumes development, classic chicken and egg. Just like Henry Huntington did when he paid for the red car rail that ultimately sold huge amounts of real estate around the transit lines.

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  23. Cities like Pasadena presumed that they were going to reap a huge windfall from all the sales tax they would collect from new development. And they spent accordingly. But the condos didn't sell, the stores didn't rent. And they have fallen into debt. Sierra Madre, which didn't allow that kind of development, is now running a surplus. The argument you are presnting fails the reality test.

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  24. Been in the trenchesMarch 30, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Well, it fails the recession test, I wish it would fail the general economy test. Who knows?

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  25. I think they can be called subprime slums. Soon to be added to the national debt as the banks run to Uncle Sugar for more bailout money. The housing collapse was only the first act, you know.

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  26. A blight law is a must. And the SNF is # 1 on the fine and fix agenda. However the enforcement of code violations extends far beyond boarded up windows. There are code standards galore in books at City Hall, and they set excellent standards for appearance and maintenence of property and grounds. The problem remains that enforcement is defered to the Police Department and one officer to identify and remedy. It does not happen. A ride around Sierra Madre will disclose a multitude of homes and property in violation of code standards. Do we fine one property "SNF" and let the others go unchallenged? Or do we rely on the City Council to take on the task of enforcement. We are a long way from settlng the blight problem in Sierra Madre. It seems no one has the stomach for it.

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  27. I'm having trouble with the following DIRT argument that keeps cropping up on or in other newspapers and blogs. It goes like this --- You should ignore the enviable record of Mayor MacGillivray and Councilman Watts (e.g., balanced budget with surplus, recovery of fire-fighting and mud abatement costs from the state and feds, anti-smoking and anti-blight ordinances, probable reduction in RHNA low-income housing numbers etc etc etc) and vote for Joe Mosca, Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh in the upcoming election. Why? Because the Mayor insisted that Councilman Mosca stop interrupting residents who were criticizing Mosca's record during public comment at the last City Council meeting. In other words, because the Mayor was "mean" to Joe Mosca, we should vote for candidates that the Mayor does not endorse. That logic elludes me

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  28. Poster 12:31. I'm with you. Sadly, it's not just the dirts that fall victim to the nice = competent politician line of bull.

    Ironically, Mosca's recent behavior demonstrates that he's far from being a nice young man.

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  29. Why? It's obvious from Joe's campaign literature, you silly goose. Joe did all of those thing sand more! Joe did it! Joe did everything! The Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem, other councilmembers and City staff did nothing. Joe did it all! And when anyone challenges that statement, they're being mean to Joe.

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  30. 7:17

    You're thinking of Michael Bamberger.

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  31. I would think clergymen would not be averse to viewing questionable material. After all, how can you fight evil when you don't correctly understand its nature? That must have been what was meant.

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  32. Personally, I think the Gold Line was one of the best things that ever happened to the San Gabriel Valley. I love riding it into LA instead of driving against the rush hour squeeze and paying a fortune in parking. I understand how public works provides jobs, thus generating economic benefits, but exactly how that translates into the kind of tax revenue described there is beyond me. Can someone explain that to me? Exactly.

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  33. Pizza consumption. Gold Line riders eat lots and lots of pizza.

    Actually the tax thing is confusing. I think that people have to come up with a reason for continuing the thing because ridership has been so disappointing. It is nowheres near the projections of a couple of years ago. Of course, $40 billion is a nice round figure, and I can udnerstand why it might be used. But from what? Gelato sales?

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  34. Anonymous at 12:02?

    Check out this link, I think you'll be interested in taking a listen to this.

    http://www.krld.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=4518891

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  35. As a regular Gold Line rider I'd welcome pizza, hot dogs, gelato, even corn nuts and water. However, there is no food nor drink allowed on the Gold Line. Bad, bad, bad. I'd also welcome a restroom but alas that is not allowed either. Not on the train. Not in the station. Creature comforts will need to be upgraded before the train goes from downtown to points east.

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  36. I grew up in New York and on the suburban commuter trains they used to have big plastic lined cardboard boxes filled with cold beer packed in ice. And all kinds of food. They'd charge a bunch for the stuff, but no matter. Commuters wanted to get a buzz on and they spent to get it. Riding the gold line is like riding in a plastic sanitarium.

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  37. I commuted from Larkspur Landing to San Francisco on a ferry with a bar and lovely little snacks. Now that's civilized!

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  38. 12:24

    Sierra Madre used to have a Building Code enforcement officer in the Planning Department....until Bart Doyle came along. Sierra Madre also had a full time parking enforcement officer in the police department....until Bart Doyle came along.

    Both positions paid for themselves and often times even made money for the city. Bart Doyle had both positions eliminated and the responsibilities of both put into one position. Then, Lisa Volpe was hired to fill that position. Now, neither of those responsibilities are being managed.

    Looking back it all makes sense. It was just another means of creating the "Blighted" conditions necessary to force re/development on Sierra Madre.

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  39. I always enjoyed hearing how everyone in creation was responsible for the Blighted Nursing Favility except the guy actually owning it. Of course, that is the one the Dart Boyle Gang were loyal to, and not Sierra Madre.

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  40. 5:06

    The Skilled Nursing Facility is owned by a group of investors that formed an LLC. Some of those investors are developers and the rest were/are hoping to get rich quick.

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  41. The city does have a building inspector who checks construction at the various stages of building after the plans have been approved. He operates out the the Department of Development Services. Code Inforcement is different, under the Police Department--it focuses on all other city regulations: on-street or overnight parking, yard sale permits, business permits, etc.

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  42. I heard someone say the other day that the code inforcement is hated by one half of the population at all times: by one half if you do your job too well and by the other half if you don't do it well enough.

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  43. 5:40

    You sound like a City Hall lackie trying to CYA.

    A building inspector is not the same thing as a code enforcement officer. A code enforcement officer checks buildings after they have been built (every few years or so) and a building inspector checks during the construction of a building.

    Also, the word is spelled E.n.f.o.r.c.e.m.e.n.t.

    Can you tell me why someone that is responsible for monitoring overnight parking and yard sale permits needs to wear a uniform and carry a gun?

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  44. 20 minutes im nort gettin back

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  45. Lisa was here long before Bart Doyle. She started as the meter maid....

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  46. 6:05

    FYI, "that" refers to a place or thing; "who" refers to a person.

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  47. Anonymous at 6:05 pm, you've been posting every evening about this time. I'm guessing you've had a few too many.

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  48. LOL @ 8:06

    Hey Chip. Is that the best you've got?

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  49. He is a psy-ops genius.

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  50. Looks like he's adjusted his tin foil radar array to pick up the emanations coming from Sierra Madre.

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  51. 6:05 has a very distinctive and unvarying style of writing, and the content is always from a position of moral superiority.

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  52. SALivating to find others in the wrong. . . Oh, well.

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  53. i still haven't heard any compelling reason or accomphlishment on why I should vote for Josh Moran, but I have heard plenty of solid reasons not to vote for him

    first, he advocated a boycott of Sierra Madre businesses and I can't ever overlook that as a simple mistake by Moran, he advocated the boycott because he was and still is angry about Measure V and how it affected his ability to SELL condos in Sierra Madre

    second, he will have to recuse himself from a majority of council decisions or discussions, he has a real estate license or can easily renew and profit from his decisions or inside information as a Councilmember. He has no place on the Council unless you the voter is in support of demolishing Measure V and allowing 55 condos at the old Howies lot and the proposed 65 condos at the Nursing Facility.

    I doubt that Moran will uphold the Blight Ordinance because it affects real estate sales, I don't see how he can not be biased and very decisive on the Council

    third, if Susan Henderson endorses him, that solidifies my vote agin him.

    regarding Joe Mosca, I haven't read or heard verifiable facts on what he has actually accomphlished on the Council, I have read that a majority of his listed accomphlishments are actually issues that he had a minor minor role in and yet...he takes the credit? that's a leader? not in my book

    Joe lobbied (as per his profession)for the city liason role with SCAG, then he never showed up for meetings to protect our interests, so he did absolutely nothing for us, but he should be relected

    on a personal level, I can't vote for Joe because the lame headed dude borrowed a dog as a photo prop for his first election and then he parades his kid around town with "vote for my daddy pretty please with sugar on top" t-shirt, that's pretty low for a parent to stoop to, use your kid as a prop for a campagign photo op. ...how low will you go Joe?

    Nancy Walsh, I still don't know anything about her, she volunteered some but all she ever speaks about is the Council being "decisive" which what it was previously with Lambin, Doyle and that motely inept crew of developer clones.

    When someone screams and points a finger "you are decisive", usually it's the other way around.

    at least the current Council and the new Council will continue to be "decisive" - for the people and not the handful of real estate developers and agencies

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  54. Lifelong CanyoniteMarch 31, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    I will not be voting for John Crawford. Measure V is a great example as to why the Skilled Nursing facility and half of Howie's are blights. We need someone who represents the citizens of Sierra Madre and does not base his campaign on personal attacks. His comments on the Gold Line show that he has no plan for mass transit in the SGV. He shows his ignorance of important local issues.

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  55. Lifelong canyonite- Measure V is not the reason that the SNF is still unsold. GREED is the reason. We have a ghost facitity, but it is the original facility: one story up half a story of naural rise above the side walk--and compare that, if you would, to underground parking, ground level retail and two levels of condos, more likely than not standing ghost-like and empty. Check out the number of For Rent signs around town--don't you think excess empty rentals is problem enough?

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  56. 40 Year Canyon ResidentApril 1, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    Lc, one more time: the SNF and Howie's are vacant because the LLC's who own them are asking more than the current real estate market thinks the properties are worth. Mr. Crawford has made it abundantly clear that he is interested in Sierra Madre. The City Council of Sierra Madre is not planning the mass transit for the SGV. You in fact are showing your ignorance of important local issues.

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  57. Anonymous at 9:47 pm, while the first part of your post is spot on, For Rent signs in SM are about right for the first of the month. Rents are over the top, however. There is no excess empty residential rentals that are fairly priced - however their are greedy landlords charging over the top rents for "quaint" rentals. People are wising up. Monrovia, Arcadia, Pasadena and other cities in the SGV have an excess empty condo issue because they overbuilt. Apartments, condos, and homes that are reasonably prices are snapped up in days after they go on the market.

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  58. Lifelong CanyoniteApril 1, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    "The City Council of Sierra Madre is not planning the mass transit for the SGV."

    Your statement is correct, and I never stated in my first post that they were planning for the mass transit. Crawford's statement implies that he does not want mass transit in the area. It is up to the City Council of Sierra Madre to be the voice of the citizens to the organizations who make the final decisions on these plans. MacGillvray and Watts both decided to not participate in SCAG. Crawford agrees with them on this point, so we are left without a voice. What is Crawford's plan to get a voice in this issue?

    At the same time, it is a relevant issue. Currently the small transit in the City of Sierra Madre provides a service to the Gold Line in Pasadena. Obviously, Arcadia is getting a stop. Are we going to have access to that station as well? What is Crawford's plan for transit in and out of Sierra Madre?

    As of now, I am not a supporter of John Crawford. Try to convince me why I should vote for him.

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  59. This statement
    "MacGillvray and Watts both decided to not participate in SCAG"
    is 100% inaccurate.
    If that is the level of your ability to follow city business, perhaps you had best stay home on voting day.

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  60. LC, the City of Sierra Madre has access to the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station utilizing METRO bus lines 268 and 487 both of which run through town on reglar schedules from early morning until late evening. Transit is alive and well in SM. You show amazing ignorance of the SCAG issue as well as mass transit. I suggest you stop being coy.

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  61. How can someone calling themselves a Lifelong Canyonite not know about the Shenanigan Shuttle?

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