Friday, June 18, 2010

Did Karen Warner Attempt To Airbrush SB 2 From Last Night's Housing Element Meeting At City Hall?

Now you'd think that having to include housing for the homeless here in Sierra Madre would've been a bigger deal. Yet our generously compensated consultant on these matters, Karen Warner, didn't cover this issue in any kind of depth during the presentation portion of her talks on our Housing Element requirements at last night's special City Council/Planning Commission confab.

And while in the handout provided to the meeting attendees a discussion on this matter does occupy a couple of pages, none of that came to light during Karen's edifying PowerPoint presentation. Which, given the possible impact such news might have on a community that values its quality of life and the safety of its streets, seems as if it was almost by design.

When you consider that Sierra Madre doesn't have a homeless problem, or much of a "homeless community" as it were, would that mean we should be required to plan for the building of homeless accommodations for people who would then migrate here to live in them? I mean, if someone is homeless, how exactly do you establish that the person asking for "transitional housing" actually is from Sierra Madre? The last known location of their shopping cart? Since one of the big themes of the evening was "preserving the character of our community," it seems like a rather odd thing to try and wallpaper over.

The law created by Sacramento that is having this unfortunate effect here in Sierra Madre is known as SB 2. An appropriate government website describes the bill thusly:

This bill requires cities and counties to identify specific sites with by-right zoning to accommodate the community's need for homeless shelters, requires cities and counties to identify zones where special needs facilities and transitional housing are permitted either by right or with a conditional use permit, and prohibits a city or county from disapproving applications for shelters and special needs facilities unless specified findings are made.

Now Karen, in her apparent attempt to elide consideration of this matter from her presentation, did use some of this obfuscational state terminology ("support housing") to describe the SB 2 effect on our Housing Element problems. And it was only after her spiel was over and the assembled officials were allowed to ask questions was the elephant actually brought out into the open. Which is what happened when Councilmember MaryAnn MacGillivray starting using the term "homeless" to describe those who would seek relief in "transitional housing."

And it got even weirder. Once having been forced to use plain English to describe what this housing actually is, Karen then fell back to discussing how only five or so people in Sierra Madre have been identified as being homeless. Which she claimed meant that any neighborhood we might zone for homeless housing would never actually see any of it. There just being no need for such a thing in a town with such a minuscule number of homeless people.

To which Kevin Paschall, in one of the few moments of clarity to make its way into this discussion, said: "If we allow for homeless facilities, they will come."

It must be remembered this demand that we accommodate planning for housing homeless people is state imposed. Just like SB 375, just like AB 32. But that said, I do not sense any burning commitment to stand up to this troublesome imposition from our current City Council, no matter how potentially detrimental to the citizens of Sierra Madre. One of the new City Councilmembers had absolutely nothing to say on this matter, while the other was busy keeping all abreast of developments in the Lakers game. And Mayor Mosca, of course, couldn't seem to talk about "following the law" enough. It seems that in his mind our City government is nothing more than a paper processing operation for Sacramento.

We all know that if we zone for such housing on East Montecito (the neighborhood designated for the homeless, by the way) and no such things are built, there are plenty of litigious homeless advocacy groups in Los Angeles County who will happily inquire as to why that is. Just as low income housing advocates use state law to sue us if we don't accommodate for their needs, advocates for the homeless will do the same. And if you then throw in a couple of government dollars for the happy "stakeholders" there willing to take in homeless people? Well, those 5 lonely persons would suddenly find their numbers in Sierra Madre growing exponentially.

Of course, this would increase foot traffic downtown. Which would hopefully please the Chamber of Commerce. Certainly attendance at their Kersting Court musical presentations would improve.

Some talk was had about the building of a 16 unit low/very low income structure on City owned property on Highland Avenue. Kevin Paschall expressed his misgivings about building such a thing right next door to a public elementary school. Hopefully this will resonate with the other members of the Planning Commission as well. Once again SCAG's imposed RHNA numbers could be putting Sierra Madre's residents at some risk. In this particular case the most vulnerable among us. As if public education in this town isn't under enough stress already.

There was also a long convoluted discussion about granny flats, which made me feel both nostalgic and a little sad. 26 units are all that is left out of the RHNA numbers SCAG stuck us with years ago. Numbers based on their slap happy predictions of a California population boom that never quite materialized. Yet here we are fighting to pare our old RHNA number down by six through granting a kind of amnesty to secondary houses.

The point here being that when you compare what we're dealing with now to what is coming once CARB dictates its RHNA demands to SCAG, these really are the good old days. Those SB 375 driven numbers will far surpass anything we're working on today. And the 80% of the City Council that doesn't give a damn about Sierra Madre remaining a sustainable low-density community knows this.

Which is why they were as decorous and accommodating as they were on the granny flats question. This is all some very small potatoes, and they know that in a couple of years Sacramento will deliver everything they've ever wanted, and then some. Sky high housing mandates brought right to their doors like pizza. Could the renaissance of the Downtown Specific Plan be far behind?

60 comments:

  1. Inquiring Minds Want To KnowJune 18, 2010 at 7:18 AM

    East Montecito? Isn't that where Kathy Childs sold off all her properties a few months ago?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did the Childs' property sell? The bigger question - who bought?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hands off East Montecito damn it!
    That neighborhood provides lots of homes for people who care about the street and their neighbors.
    It is not the plum to be thrown at the wolves every damn time there's a plum needed.
    Maybe Montecito residents need to start their own legal fund.

    ReplyDelete
  4. long time residentJune 18, 2010 at 7:26 AM

    I have lived here a long time, and I only know 2 homeless people. Both are homeless by choice. Maybe there are 3 more wandering around giving interviews to Consultant Warner.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Laker Fan - T-VODJune 18, 2010 at 7:28 AM

    Interesting that the Highland neighborhood where the low income housing will be located was not informed they will be having a lot of new neighbors. Had the neighbors been told of this decision, the audience would have been crowded. Danny danced around that question when he sid the owner of the property had been told.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ms. Warner was very clear on the point: 1 homeless person triggers the need to provide the "dinner party table" as it were for the homeless. One.

    ReplyDelete
  7. buy high sell lowJune 18, 2010 at 7:30 AM

    How about the people who live around the 20 dwelling units per acre, maybe as much as in the 30's dwelling units per acre, site on Highland.
    Just watch their property values crash.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Granny Flat letter was designed not to get any response. It was just like the recent water letter. The city does not want to get any response.
    No response = no interest in the program and yipee they get to identify a new site for low income housing.

    Thanks to Maryann, a couple of others, and the audience the letter is going to be changed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Why was Joe in such a rush to limit input from the Council and Planning Commission? What did he not want brought to light and discussed? Maybe it was the homeless housing at the very back of the packet? Thanks Kevin and Maryann for cutting through being politically correct and calling transitional and emergency housing was it is. Homeless shelters. Kevin was right when he said, I would much rather be homeless in Sierra Madre than in Torrance. When it is built the masses will come to Montecito.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mosca's "I'm only following orders" mea culpa is gutless, passive, and dishonest.

    ReplyDelete
  11. civil is as civil doesJune 18, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    We have a few very smart people up on the dais, but it's painfully obvious that others are dazed and, yes, confused.
    So this dazed new city council is pushing a gigantic water rate hike, the potential for housing for the homeless, development that will choke to death that stretch of Highland, and will no doubt waive the necessary parking requirements for Dr. Sami when he appeals the Planning Comm. denial of his project.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Joe has a hard time keeping up with MacGillivrey. She was covering the documents with great precision, and he couldn't let that happen. At one point he said "It's not just MaryAnn," and tipped his hand. He'll cut her off not because anything she says is irrelevant - he'll cut her off because he wants control. Then discussion takes place, and what do you know, everyone comes around to agree with her insights.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Does homeless also mean a place for convicted sex offenders who have trouble finding a place to live be included as part of the homeless quota? I guess it's like when they said the elderly houses was for Sierra Madre residents, and people discovered it was open to anyone in the known world.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good question, 8:02. After all, Warner did identify this housing at one point as being for "special needs."

    ReplyDelete
  15. We already have sexual offenders living in town. Check out citydata.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mayor Mosca is so out of his eliment as a leader that he can ONLY fall back on 'following the law--i.e. the dictates of Sacramento' and accept at face value the staff report or the report of the consultant. He has so little intelligence or background to base a decision or discussion on and has to twart MaryAnn, who has all of the qualities and qualifactions that he lacks, at every turn.

    ReplyDelete
  17. MaryAnn overwhelmed Joe last night. I swear his eyes were beginning to roll back into his head. He practically begged his pals on the council to say something.

    ReplyDelete
  18. it's on the replayJune 18, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Anyone catch when Joe said "Madame Mayor"? He knows the ol' gal is the one with the brains.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Joe seems to think being mayor means kissing
    up to state bureaucrats and doing whatever
    they ask him to. The man is a complete cipher,
    a functionary.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Being smart is uncivil.

    ReplyDelete
  21. 8:02, the elder housing had to be opened up to the wider area because of money. The funding for the project came with those strings attached.

    ReplyDelete
  22. How distressing it must be for MaryAnn when she is the only one to have read the material and had relevant questions. Can you imagine? A very important meeting and Josh Moran knew the Lakers score before he knew what was going on around him. Not only that, he is the Council liaison for the Planning Commission, but was conspiculously missing for Dr. Sami's hearing in which the result will most likely be appealed to City Council.

    No wonder our other Freshman Council Member doesn't know what is going on -- she has not been to any of the public meetings for planning, canyon, General Plan, Stonehouse, or Carter One.

    She also was not at the Planning Commission last night. Don't you think the two would want to attend as many meetings as they can now to help them make decisions about planning in the City? This would, of course, mean that they wouldn't have to have a "Study" session for them.

    It's only with disgust that I watch the proceedings and know that those two don't have a clue. No wonder Joe doesn't want the public to speak, he doesn't want them to show up his darling cohorts.

    ReplyDelete
  23. That document should have been gone through page by page. And as for Joe not allowing any questions during Karen's presentation, that was unbelievable. What kind of a power trip is the little man on?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Did you notice that Karen not only skipped over the SB2 issue, but also completely ignored item #24 under ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY "Water and Sewer Priority for Affordable Housing." What is that all about? Hope the Tattler can do some investigating on that one.

    ReplyDelete
  25. You have to remember, this is the Joe that skipped all those SCAG and SGVCOG meetings. Long periods of hard work fatigue him. Plus meetings like this are not really among his top skill set items. His real talents are more along the lines of shmoozing old ladies at club socials and wine tastings.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Smoozing and smiling and watching the 3 minute tick tock. It is going to be a long four years, y'all.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Here's the question I wish had been asked:
    Does any of the development intended for very low, low, homeless, does any of it come with covenants?
    Remember how much that was discussed when the last council would work on RHNA numbers.
    Did the issue disappear?
    Are the projects meant for the lowverylowhomeless staying with them?
    Or is it the same old same old, after a little interval it's a sellers market.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It was actually Buchanan who got Warner to spit out that 20 per acre with bonuses could end up "in the thirties". Maybe he was trying to soften the blow that density would be to the town by getting it out there early. Like he did with the DSP, and the famous "Never 4 stories!!!!Maybe 3"

    ReplyDelete
  29. More for water, more taxes, homeless people, 16 units of poor poeople next to our elementary school. Don't recall seeing that on anybody's campaign literature. Maybe they forgot and left it out?

    ReplyDelete
  30. There was nothing on the recently elected city council's campaign literature that would give any indication of intelligent decision making. In truth they would have had to say: we will swallow hook, line and sinker all staff reports, all consultant's and Sacramento's malarky, and keep our fingers crossed that the electorate is not paying any attention.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Where's the housing for the homeless in San Marino?

    ReplyDelete
  32. San Marino doesn't have any homeless folks. Unless they're sleeping in BMW's parked in people's driveways overnight.

    ReplyDelete
  33. The people living on East Montecito must be very happy today. They've gone from being a major redevelopment zone to a dumping ground for the area's homeless in less than 5 years. That is quite a mood swing.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The rule of thumb seems to be that the closer you live
    to city hall the worse the planning.

    ReplyDelete
  35. According to an op-ed in the Pasadena Star News, there are somewhere around 4,000 homeless people in the San Gabriel Valley. With around 25% of that number in Pasadena. I'm sure our neighbor to the west would have little problem with helping us reach our "no income" number should we comply with what the regionalists are demanding.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Using homeless people to "export product" into neighboring communities that don't have the finances or social services networks to support these homeless people is irresponsible, detrimental to the homeless, and drains community resources so that the State doesn't have to deal financially and programmatically with these mentally and emotionally dysfunctional people.

    Same loophole rationale that allows group homes to force their way into communities in R-1 areas on the cheap to warehouse bodies without complying with ADA, Health Dept. or social services requirements that facilities permitted and built in any other zone have to comply with.

    What SB 375 does is force "affordable housing" and indigent housing into smaller communities that can't support the associated costs. Meantime, the developers make tremendous amounts of money, as do the operators who run group homes, etc. The city does not receive any new taxes from this kind of activity. Same old. Privatize profit and socialize costs.

    Star-News editorial is just more shill for BIA and the SB 375 folks.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Looks like the Pasadena Star News has discovered a solution to Pasadena's homeless problem. Ship them to towns like ours.

    You'd think that with all those empty new condos there they'd open them up and let their hundreds of homeless people live there.

    But I guess their compassion doesn't go much farther than the usual guilt trips.

    ReplyDelete
  38. As long as cities comply with unfundated mandates (state or federal), the mandates will continue to flow down to cities. Cities are being forced to solve state and federal budget problems. Time to say NO MORE. Ignore spinless Mosca when he wimpers, "It's the Law". We don't have a homeless population because we don't offer them anything.

    ReplyDelete
  39. You people are being much too negative as usual. I see this as being an economic boon to the downtown area. Empty storefronts could now become homes to services for our new residents. Drug addiction maintenance and alcoholism treatment being two of them. And maybe a soup kitchen, too. I'm sure a lot of our local volunteers and businesses would want to pitch in and help there.

    ReplyDelete
  40. The solution is simple: the wealthiest communities are the best ones to provide services to the homeless. That means Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Malibu, San Marino, all the areas with Homes of the Stars.
    Sorry to burst anybody's hallucination, but our little town doesn't fit in that category.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Next city council agenda is online. Late item in the evening, a discussion of the "Proposition 218 process" and the water tax hike...can't wait to hear it.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Yes, let us set aside an area with a downtown for soup kitchens, drug addiction centers, Health Centers and a GED and other 2 year adult ed centers! It is helpful for those in need and new legal immigrants who find a place to learn English and job skills. It will bring people who will follow joe mosca's "it's the law" and look here for afforadble housing. Joe's supporters will surely volunteer to work on this new plan.
    Josh and Nancy could head it up to be sure it is civil.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Don't you know, 10:27? It is $15 million for a new well and pipes. Much of it from an unnamed Federal source that is going to give it to us because we're nice.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I've heard that Nancy wants to get a discussion about the establishment
    of a Decorum Committee on the agenda soon. They would study ways
    of utilizing the Police Department for enforcing civility here in Sierra
    Madre. It is her big initiative, and she has been working very hard on
    this.

    You can't be both green and mean, you know. One's internal ecology
    is very important in making the world a better place.

    ReplyDelete
  45. It isn't unnamed. The $ is from the Environmental Protection
    Agency. Read your city site. My guess is it's to support "Smart
    Growth." More water and the infrastructure to support green
    development. So called.

    Congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
  46. getting kinda bitterJune 19, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    So our city council wants us to fork over new water charges so we can partner with the EPA on what? Preservation? Continuing living in the reasonable way we do? Keeping our low impact on resources?
    Oh Boy!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Have you mailed in your Water Rate Increase protest letter yet? Have you forwarded it on to all you e-address list? Have you made copies and handed them around your neighborhood? Do it now. This ball needs to get rolling. I have gotten information from three different, non-connected sources so people are paying attention.

    ReplyDelete
  48. 2 things you can do to stop development in Sierra Madre:
    1) Stop the water gouge
    2) Reduce taxes

    They can't do it without our money.

    ReplyDelete
  49. 3:36, remember to put the "over" in front of "development".

    ReplyDelete
  50. Find a good lawyer/politicianJune 19, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Just craft a legislative housing exemption from AB 2, SB 375, etc. etc. for communities under 30,000 population because they can't support the unfunded housing mandates. It'a a scale thing. Rural communities already have prisons set up as a separate industry that pays them, so there needs to be some fairness here.

    ReplyDelete
  51. We have more than one good attorney who reads the Tattler.

    You can bet they will be watching these (over)-developments closely.

    Any illegal and/or unethical shenanigans will be exposed.

    Count on it, Bart, John and Joe.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Don't count Josh out of the development game either, remember who is mother is.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Josh has proven to be what most of knew about him from the past years of social encounters - sort of self absorbed and shallow thinker. It's amazing that he got elected.

    Imagine we've got to put up with this dude for another 3 years.

    ReplyDelete
  54. what part of we don't care what Sacremento wants doesn't Joe understand?

    still the same ole Joe - all about Joe's image, career, not the citizens of Sierra Madre and what is best for the future.

    doesn't he pay attention to the extreme backlash that the public is leveling against the old regime and the political way of thinking?

    ReplyDelete
  55. those sleeping in their cars in Sierra Madre stand the risk of getting shot by our cops

    ReplyDelete
  56. There is more than one way to "skin a resident". Disguise an enormous tax hike (10% to who knows how much in 5 years 75% or more) which as a tax would require a 2/3 majority approval, but as a "water rate increase" only a "smoke and mirrors" voting device (prop 218)where a "non vote is a yes vote", and the "discussion is scheduled at the same time as the City Council scheduled vote on the rate increase. (All of a sudden prop 218 is now on Tuesday's CC Meeting for a discussion. I wonder why? (A one time 1% rate increas would more than cover the operating expense of our current system.

    So what do the Council Members fronting for the mystery of the "who, what, when, and purpose" for this extrordinary tax hike intend to do with the money. WE DON'T KNOW YET BUT WE SOON WILL.
    You "non voters" are going to get a lesson in "HOW TO SKIN A RESIDENT."

    Resident 23 years
    A senior who cannot afford a 75% tax increase

    ReplyDelete
  57. Well the East Montecito plan raises it's head again (140 mixed use/low income units included)...This plan was proposed in 2004/2005(and almost approved) to cover the lower income units needed to provide government funding for the Downtown Specific Plan. It was put on hold not to alert the residents of the 350 to 400 units proposed for the DSP. Yes the East Montecito plan was to incorporate Charlie Childs (& Steve Heydorf's) property and to do either buy or eminent domain the adjacent Tom Mackey's property. Boy are they just trying to go back to the old drawing board. And there is Karen Warner (affliated with RBF Consulting Firm...who put together the downtown Specfic Plan) trying to manipulate our low income unit numbers for Scag. All the players are back and hoping the SB375 and Scag will put money back in their pockets. Any one who owns property on the planning commission within 300 ft of a proposed project must recuse themselves. (Anybody with the initials R.R. have propety in the East MOntecito plan zone). Oh ...what a tangled web we weave.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Sierra Madre residentJune 22, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Great information 7:20.
    I hate the way the people who have their homes on Montecito are treated as disposable.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I think as far as our friends are concerned, anybody living in Sierra Madre is disposable. Here to pay the taxes needed to work their projects and little else.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Homeless in Sierra Madre. Has a ring
    to it.

    ReplyDelete