I suppose Joe Mosca having finally gotten the job he wanted could be having an effect here as well. His endless resentment over not being chosen Mayor having had an unfortunate effect in the past on his predilection for occasionally prickly behavior. He does not handle rejection well.
MaryAnn mentioned at the beginning of the meeting that she had attended a joint Monrovia and Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce seminar on SB 375 and has a CD available for anyone interested in hearing what went down. She described it as very informative, and we're all about that.
Public comment had two high points and a low. The issue that received the most eloquent of attention was the water rate hike. Linus Pakulski spoke about how he was mystified why funds were not being set aside for infrastructure improvements all along. It's not like the water costs anything, so how was that money spent? He briefly recapped the situation: 12-1/2% state unemployment, highest sales tax in the nation; and a $40K fee for infrastructure hook ups in Sierra Madre. He then went on to say that although the increase was represented as 16% the first year it quickly escalates to 40% within 5 years. Mr. Pakulski characterized the situation as political manipulation. He said the City Manager shouldn't be asking citizens for more money, she should just deal with the problem.
Donna Sutcliff joined with Linus in objecting to the proposed water rate hike by describing it as an extreme burden for those on Social Security and fixed incomes. Further commenting that "it" - the increase - is underhanded and unethical and the City should have included a ballot with the opportunity for citizens to protest the rate hike. She proposed that a low-income accommodation be made.
It was at this point that Mayor Mosca reminded the faithful that a public hearing on the matter would be held at 6:30 pm on July 13. Which paradoxically is also the day that objections to the hike need to be received by the City Clerk. Something that seems a bit out of kilter to me. How can people - some people anyway - truly know if they object if they haven't had a chance to observe these water rate deliberations? And wouldn't that be after it is too late to object? Very odd timing.
Tim Hayden took to the podium to compliment the City Council on the harmonious nature of tonight's meeting, and then launched into a series of his usual gripes about the Canyon Advisory Committee. This time it was something about how this now disbanded committee didn't have any members experienced with the Municipal Code. The municipal code apparently, at least in the mind of Mr. Hayden, being something that only elect and highly trained professionals such as himself should be permitted to grapple with. He then went on to recommend that once the Planning Commission reviews the Committee's work the public should be allowed to vote on it. I'm certain that the massive public discontent with preserving the Canyon as it is would lead to Mr. Hayden getting everything he wants in an election.
There was some discussion on the purchase of fleet vehicles. It looks like we'll be getting some new vans and sedans, and that seemed to meet with everyone's approval. There was some confusion about "green credits," however. How eight passenger vans could be considered green is beyond me, but maybe there was something here I missed. Air Quality Management District funds would be used, so maybe these new vehicles emit a higher quality of greenhouse gas. The matter was shelved for future revelations.
The TUP for a Real Estate sign for the "Stonegate at Sierra Madre" Development was up next. Teryl Willis spoke about how the used car lot orange flags made the place look like a circus that ran into a mountain, and hoped that they could be placed by the sales trailer rather than out front. Which is much more appropriate if you think about it. Dennis Furtig, a representative of One Carter LLC, reluctantly agreed to give up the flags. He also bemoaned the fact that they haven't sold a single lot since February, something he intimated was due to the lack of adequate signage. Which is kind of an odd observation to make given that One Carter is not exactly on a busy thoroughfare, and few folks would see them anyway no matter what they looked like. But perhaps he meant signs and flags that could be seen from the 210.
The issue of Assessment Districts emerged next, and you can see how this will be an endless "process" leading to an inevitable conclusion. It was agreed that staff would provide a feasibility study on how long it would take to do a feasibility study. At which time they will then launch into a feasibility study on doing the feasibility study, I suppose. The thing really is a hodgepodge of topics. Tree trimming, street lighting, street repair, and landscape maintenance all being thrown into this little plastic shaker and stirred. The key here is street repair. Something that could lead to something very expensive. Keep your eye on that slow moving target.
The General Plan Update Committee was up for consideration next, and again it was a fine example of people saying everything except what was really on their minds. The elephant in the room being cloaked by an unwillingness on the City Council's part to seize it by the tail and face the situation. Or something. The jargon laden term "process" was used several dozen times, always a sign of delay and inconclusiveness. A word that those who use it seem to believe gives them an air of seriousness and profundity. Mayor Mosca proposed a study session be held for the new City Council members, both of whom happily nodded their agreement. Their curiosity apparently never having caused them to take the radical step of looking into the matter on their own, or calling any of the members of the Committee to discuss. It was even suggested that they could go to one of the Committee meetings! That is, if it isn't canceled like all those other meetings.
The confab wrapped up with a discussion about the possibility of making changes to the Sierra Madre Municipal Code regulating the permitting of filming and video production in the City. Something that could actually bring in some cash if properly handled. And create a booming local industry for film extras. We do live in a character rich environment, and outside of pizza delivery that could very well become our foremost enterprise.
I'm telling you, if this keeps up SMTV3 viewership could plummet into the single digits.