Monday, May 17, 2010

A Few Follow Up Stories

The SNF Mystery Continues: The currently available story on the vanished 'For Sale' signs at the Skilled Nursing Facility is both vague and unpromising. The immediate reason for the disappearance of the signs being that the deal between the owner and the company hired to sell the place is up. There apparently was a time element involved, and since nothing had happened and time had run out, there was no reason for the signs to remain in place. They just had to go.

However, the second half of what we've been hearing is that nobody new has been brought in to continue the process of finding someone to take the place. The word being that the current and rather aesthetically indifferent owners haven't quite decided exactly what it is they want to do with the troubled nursing facility.

The timing issue does raise some questions, though. Having the deal with the Realtor hired to sell the place scheduled to run out just after the Sierra Madre election had taken place does make it all seem like the effort was a little on the insincere side. And perhaps that was the time Fish Construction knew they might want to be reviewing their options? More news on this story as it becomes available.

Why I will never vote 'yes' on a state bond issue again: We all had a good laugh over Hasan Ikhrata's brilliant idea at the recent La Quinta/SCAG conglomeration. That being since redevelopment funds were becoming increasingly scarce these days due to Sacramento confiscations, incentives would need to be put into place to encourage cities to work towards sustainability. Which I guess is why Hasan unveiled the notion that a $2 million dollar prize could be made available so that cities can compete for big cash prizes for appropriate planning. The criteria for winning being that you make your city as spectacularly compliant to the demands of SB 375 as possible.

But did you know that there are some other ways to plan your way to Sacramento gold? Apparently there is something known as the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentives Program, and they are taking applications to win the big bucks as we type. Known as SB 732, and also the brainchild of California State Senator Darrell Steinberg, it offers an Ikhratian carrot to those cities and towns feeling the SB 375 stick. Here are how the prize criteria break down:

The sum of five hundred eighty million dollars ($580,000,000) shall be available for improving the sustainability and livability of California's communities through investment in natural resources. The purpose of this chapter include reducing urban communities' contribution to global warming and increasing their adaptability to climate change while improving the quality of life in those communities.

Just so you know, this money became available when Proposition 84 was passed by the voters. Originally designed to help keep our water pure and our beaches clean, Prop 84 apparently has now become (at least in part) a grant program for cities that are willing to work to get their planning right with AB 32 and SB 375. Here is how this is described:

The Sustainable Communities Planning Grant is funded by Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006. It added Division 43 to the Public Resources Code, Chapter 9, Sustainable Communities and Climate Change Reduction Section 75065(a), authorizing the Legislature to appropriate $90 million for planning grants and planning incentives that reduce energy consumption, conserve water, improve air quality, and provide other community benefits.

So when you cast your 'yes' vote on Prop 84, all with the intent of cleaning up beaches and making the rivers nice, would you have ever dreamed that you were also voting for something that would provide money to city planners hellbent on bringing high density development to places like Sierra Madre? And, to take this to its logical extreme, perhaps the reason "Go Slow Joe" Mosca would want to spend $300,000 on consultants to place SB 375 elements into our General Plan is so that he can try and claim some of these Prop 84 moneys?

Like I said, no more 'yes' votes on state bond issues for me. Apparently once these bonds are approved and the funds effectively borrowed, you never can tell what the money will be used for.

Something rather unbelievable. You might recall our discussions of a California Assemblyman by the name of Isadore Hall III. He was the gentleman who authored a bill that made it possible for Ed Roski Jr. to avoid the ignominy of having to suffer CEQA reviews before he could build an NFL Stadium and adjacent shopping mall in City of Industry. The real purpose of Hall's bill being to cut off at the knees any attempt by certain concerned area residents to tie the boondoggle up in court until the environmental and sustainability (to use the jargon) issues were worked out. We wrote about this in October of 2009, and you can access the article here.

Well, it turns out that Assemblyman Hall is continuing his fine work even today. Concerned about preserving the legacy of a former State Legislator, he has now proposed a bill that would rename a portion of the 405 Freeway the Kevin Murray Highway. Kevin Murray being a fellow who served for 8 years in the state legislature, forced to retire in 2006 due to term limits. Here is how columnist Robert Rector describes the possible ramifications of the honor Hall wishes to bestow upon his esteemed colleague:

According to Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters (Murray's) legislative career was about average. He carried a few significant bills, including one aimed at encouraging installations of solar energy panels on roofs. Murray also carried some questionable measures, such as one stemming from the messy divorce of Southern California supermarket tycoon and major political donor Ron Burkle, to close public access to legal documents in divorce cases.

Unfortunately, Murray joined the politicians-with-their-pants-down brotherhood when a Los Angeles County Park Police officer found him with a prostitute in Murray's state-leased black Corvette, parked outside John Anson Ford Theater just after he was sworn in as a state senator. Apparently that qualifies him for everlasting commemoration, at least in Hall's eyes.

These little insights into the thinking of the Legislative Eminences currently wrestling with California's myriad problems up in Sacramento really do give us hope that the future will be a better place.

60 comments:

  1. I always vote NO on all bond measure. The reason being, there is ALWAYS a loophole or so to either divert the money elsewhere or change the rules. Most of Sierra Madre's codes are written to give flexibility to the rules, so the rules really don't matter.

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  2. Getting Regional With ItMay 17, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    Maybe SMTV3 can start a daytime game show called "Wheel of Ikhrata." You get to watch in as busy consultants and planners plug "sustainable elements" into the General Plan in hopes of winning big cash prizes plus an all expenses paid trip to the luxurious SCAG offices located in walkable downtown Los Angeles.

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  3. We are all under the authority of the "Golden Rule", They who have the gold my friends..., you know the rest.

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  4. Unfortunately that gold is our gold. Something we haven't been able to get back.

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  5. Oracle of the First WaterMay 17, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    I can see it plainly: soon all tax refunds, dividends, paychecks, and rebates will go directly to the State, who will then send us stipends based on how far we live from a transportation corridor divided by our personal weight/height measurement. It's coming.

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  6. In the future towns will be referred to by their MPO Distict number. City names will be used mostly as something to call post offices and public transporation stations.

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  7. Sierra Madre better hope that the SNF has sold because the new owners will be under the building standards of Measure V. The current LLC got its application approved just under the wire...just like the Montecito Land Company, which owns the Taylor meat location. Pre Measure V standards still apply to both properties with the current owners. If you don't believe me check with Planning. They will dance around and say it need to go through the approval process. Then if pushed, will admit Pre Measure V standards. BTW the SNF asking price is about $2.8 M. That makes it "pencil out" as developers say being very doable even today.

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  8. Have those applications not expired? These things don't go on in perpetuity do they?

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  9. Damn Crawford if we had a 150 million we could get you elected governorMay 17, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Kevin Murray chaired the transportation committee, there is a short bio on wikipedia, those guys are getting caught with their pants down quite often lately. According to voters there is an abnormally large group of Halls in Compton, the third is reflective of a three generation inbred group with ties to Perez, Hall(There is a Jack Hall builder) who started in newport and is now in Santa Clarita who was building and is now buying back his homes in foreclosure, and he is tied to Pacific Palms group by diversified builders which ties to the san bernardino county supervisor colony scandal, and there is the huff perez roski hall E5 investor group of the SGVEP, so I can see why they are trying to name a little piece of highway after him.

    Since all Scaggies cogs in the US, answer to the department of transportation, for mandates, money, and even Ikhartys little 2 billion dollars prize is paid out of the transportation dollars.

    I am getting a real kick, out the the fact that attempts are being made to nail Perez in the City of Industry, as per the recently short lived story of "Da asked Hsiung to wear a wire in the SBV tribune", it didn't make it to the Pasadena Star News, and you have to pull it up by search now.

    Some cities that were eaten up by the developers are now getting Urban Argricultural Grants, Wellness grants, it is hard for the citizens to stomach the rapid funding changes they see their municipalities, jumping through hoops to get.

    The Tattler and Tatts fight the good fight. I see justice being meted out slowly.

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  10. Why do people like Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner spend so much of their personal fortune on getting that job? What does that get them? Interesting and prestigious work?

    Of course it is obvious why the unions are spending so much of their dough on Jerry Brown.

    I'm voting third party this time. Probably Libertarian. They'd fire the whole rotten bunch up there if they ever got the chance.

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  11. "So when you cast your 'yes' vote on Prop 84, all with the intent of cleaning up beaches and making the rivers nice, would you have ever dreamed that you were also voting for something that would provide money to city planners hellbent on bringing high density development to places like Sierra Madre?"

    No, one would not. That is so utterly deceitful.

    Yikes!!

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  12. Somebody ask mayor mosca how he will solve world problems and bring world peace..May 17, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    11:01, a commenter on one of the recent 3 newspapers stories about the budget, stated that each LA county supervior had access to a 3.5 million dollar slush fund, he stated in three years that was 14 mill bucks, good question what are the perks of being govenor?

    My illusions, are crushed that someone enters to do good, those folks don't get elected. What if Meg gets elected as governor only to really want to run for President, and we get sold on Ebay? How much do you think a minimum bid on The City of Sierra Madre, would be? Oh wait, the peoples republic of China are already secured by assets. Our assets are grassets.

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  13. If California is sold on EBay, would there be a minimum bid set? Or would the transaction be based on assuming responsibility for existing debt?

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  14. California might still be a good buy if you cherrypicked a bit. Selling towns off one by one might take more time, but the end result would could be profitable. Particulalry if the responisbility for assumed debt option is available. Once you've sold off all the good parts, dump the remaining toxic assets on the open market, change your name, take the profits, and relocate as fast as your little legs will take you off shore.

    That is pretty much the corporate business model in the United States right now.

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  15. pretty good karmaMay 17, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    A fabulous irony - Sierra Madre is actually sustainable if the state would let us be.

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  16. Interesting that a legislator of Mr. Hall's impeccable reputation would want to name a stretch of the 405 after a State Senator who got caught in a theater parking lot with a prostitute. With that in mind, who should the 710 Tunnel be named after?

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  17. With the fate of AB32 hanging on the ballot in November, and a spiraling downward state financial prognosis, surely all this sustainability crapola will get tossed out. Too much common sense?

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  18. If it ain't brokeMay 17, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    11:51 you must know our General Plan.I remember when it was first put together, and it is a blueprint for a successful and inherently "green" community.Hope the new committee isn't moneying around with it too much.

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  19. The new gp committee isn't monkeying around with the GP. Come to the next meeting, that is if they ever let us meet again. The last meeting was in March. The next one is penciled in for July.

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  20. Mayor Mosca wants to get his mitts on those big cash planning prizes Sacramento is handing out. You do not get those by running the city responsibly.

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  21. I have this gut wrenching feeling that anything done at a Council/Planning Commission meeting in public is meaningless. The deals are being cut behind the scenes and probably around the moron and the bobblehead. After all they might get a twinge of guilt and spill the beans. Look for the General Plan to be given over to a consultant to "review"; expect the Canyon Zone Committee's work to be shot down in "hearings" and recommedned for "review" by professionals (i.e. builders, real estate agents, and contractors) for buildability. Then see the fast tracking of the Montecito Land Company boondoggle at Howies, and set off a building boom with the Fish Construction Wistaria Village project. Expect to see a new library (remember the DSP said it should be relocated closer to downtown) and a new firehouse/police complex away from the downtown/residential complex.

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  22. The John and Teri Buchanan Sierra Madre Public Library and Folk Dancing Theatre.

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  23. The new library plans are also on the PBWS site under institutional projects.

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  24. The time to start selling your house is now. Years of construction and condo development are on the way. The only thing keeping property vales here at a higher level was the town itself. Looks like that is about to go buh bye.

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  25. Well stick a fork in me and call me done! There it is: a 23,000 sq foot replacement facility based the rich heritage of local architecture. We'll be renaming the town in the not too distant future: The Fred Weasley PBWS City of Sierra Madre. Go to:

    http://www.pbws.com/main/

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  26. Gob smacked, this is old stuff you know. Designed many years ago & then into hibernation, no doubt waiting for the signs of "We want to preserve our wonderful village by developing for the sake of preservation because we are slow growth preservationist developers."

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  27. So PBWS skimmed off Sierra Madre School, Sierra Vista School, Wistaria Village, and the SM Public Library. Any of you Tatta know of any other PBWS/Fred Wesley projects in town and how they get around contracting requirements that would make these projects open to all bidders?

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  28. Check out the preservation of the hillsides. Just jogged by one big crater and saw telephone pole racing flags and a for sale sign. Mr. Ho must be making a good living.

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  29. How many Tattler readers have looked at the Downtown Specific Plan?
    The Wisteria Village is in there. So's the Howies Extravaganza, the Congregational Church Swell, and that new library was supposed to come about on the victory of Measure F, but probably also hooked up with the DSP.
    Look at the DSP and you'll have even more to thank Kurt Zimmerman for.

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  30. Anonymous X, I agree this is old stuff - but there it is! New DIRT Council and it is already springing back to life? What are we to think?

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  31. Somebody's giving that bad old dsp cpr...

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  32. Nancy Walsh was espied on E Montecito this cold and damp afternoon showing a gent in a cowboy get-up and a white haired side kick around the neighborhood. They were seen staring quite intently at the power lines in particular. Too low for 3 stories maybe?

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  33. Dear Editor, at one point didn't you publish the dsp map?
    Could be informative for those who are newer to the arena.

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  34. They're moving fast, friends. Like they want to lock everything in before the kids wake up.

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  35. Underground those bod boys! Let's get ready for the Heydorff/Childs building boom! Work/live/industrialization of the messy little street ripe for redevelopment!

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  36. ( aka Skilled Nursing Facility)
    245 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
    Sierra Madre Land Company, LLC
    Land Valued: $1,188,510.00
    Building Valued: $414,817
    Recording date: 2004
    Assessment: 2008/2009
    as per Los Angeles County Assessor's office
    (Sierra Madre Land Company, LLC is listed on the Wisteria Village "project" page on Fish Construction Company web site.

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  37. Where did 9:25 get a price of $2.8M on the SNF? Someone told me the price was $5.25M. Does anyone know if the bank took the building back or sold the note to an investor? If the bank didn't take the building back, I highly doubt they want to. Thus, with the sign down and a Big Black Maserati driving around, I bet they sold the note to him and he is in the process of kicking the owner out...The question what does he want to put in there?

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  38. 3:50 why do you think a bank owns the building? Sold the note to whom? What are you talking about?

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  39. 3:54 the bank foreclosed on the building and then owns the property. Banks generally don't want to do this, so an alternative is to sell the note at a discount to an investor and let them deal with owner and foreclosing...

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  40. I do not think that is true. The SNF is owned by an investor who probably is thinking his ship came in right about now.

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  41. 3:58, are you sure about the foreclosure? No one else seems to know anything about the juicy bit of info...

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  42. Have you ever met the owner, something Fish? Whoever he is I am sure he isn't happy with his project today and has probably lost a few million at lease on the site...

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  43. I don't know if the bank actually foreclosed on the property, I do know there is a loan on the property and I would assume the owner has been making payments for the last five years or so with no cash coming in. Plus this is 2010 so the bank has to have written the value of the loan way down and at some point it migh make sense for an investor to buy the note from the bank because their basis would so they could make a redevelopment project work by removing the current owner. This is happening all across the country on properties that were bought in the time period this SNF was acquired...

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  44. 4:22 your comments are highly speculative and while they may be true it's irresponsible to declare the property foreclosed without actual knowledge of what you are reporting as fact.

    This is commonly referred to as disinformation.

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  45. There is also the potential for an intentionally maintained tax loss. It seems to be common knowledge that the owner of the Hasting Ranch Albertsons square has kept it run down through the years as a way of declaring it a liability. That owner lives in another country.
    With enough money, losses can be good.

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  46. I never said the bank took back the building I just informed you what is happening these days...

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  47. Can we talk (just for minute) about the house being constructed on N. Grove? The front of the place is practically on the street and really tall. It looks awful. This is John Crawford's neighborhood. Does anyone know how this project got through Planning Commission and City Council? It promises to be atrocious!

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  48. If the house got through the Planning Commission then it must be adhering to the requirements set out in our zones and codes, or have variances that were lawfully given.

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  49. Oh, without a doubt.

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  50. charles kissingerMay 17, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    I went to some of the meetings , it was very contentious . The owner wanted more than the allowed
    sq ft but I don't think he won but the project was delayed for quite a few months in haggling over the size

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  51. 3:50 The listing agent told me when I toured the buiding. $2.5M to $2.8M. That's how I know.

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  52. Chris at 8:06 PM - This project absolutely does not adhere to code, so of course this thing is being built with "lawfully given" variances. I haven't measured it, but the front of the house cannot be more than 15 feet from the street. And, it was obviously approved long before our last election. So, I guess I want to know where the "majority" of our most recent City Council was on this when the Planning Commission sent up their recommendation.

    Mr. Kissinger, do you remember when these meetings were held? I assume you mean the Planning Commission, or do you mean Council as well. Anyway, I'd like to check out the minutes of these meetings and find out how the this ended up getting approved.

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  53. I only went to a few planning commission meetings
    last year . I do not know if it was appealed to the City Council , The Dates I do not remember

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  54. more baffle mints pleaseMay 18, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    7:26, get thee to the
    1) city web site. Click on Planning Commission and there's a link to the agendas.
    2) library. You can check out PC disks & you'll find what you want to review.

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  55. I don't think we can get the minutes to meetings.Don't know why, but minutes are not online,just agendas, and I don't think minutes are in the library either.Does anybody know about minutes for the CC or PC?

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  56. The minutes are only available in the Library. If you want to take them with you you must pay to photocopy.

    Minutes are a public record and therefore available to the public.

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  57. 10:18, do you know how they are catalogued? I've looked for them online at the library site, but come up empty.

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  58. Ask a librarian.

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  59. 9:25, the city's computer system does not have the capacity to store the minutes of meetings.

    Charlie, I believe that all PC decisions are sent to CC for approval or rejection. The PC only makes recommendations of a project, the CC makes the final decision. Thanks for giving me a starting point to look into this.

    I have learned in the last couple of days that the PC sent this back to the drawing board at least once. So, does that mean that what we are ending up with is better? I wish I'd been paying more attention to this one.

    One of two things happened here:
    The PC sent a recommendation to CC to deny the project and CC overturned it and let this go through.
    Or, the PC sent a recommendation to CC to approve the project and the council agreed.

    Either way, I'm disappointed in our "majority" of the most recent council (Maryanne, Kurt & Don) I thought avoiding this kind of mansionization was something the three of them were working towards.

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  60. 8:42, give MaryAnn, Kurt or Don a call & ask them directly.
    Those are the people who will explain what they can given any laws that might constrain discussion.

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