Monday, June 7, 2010

A Rather Unfortunate Myth

Now that the Redevelopment Frankenstein is dusting itself off and preparing for yet another of his cyclical romps through town, we should probably deal with one of the myths that always seem to accompany this event. That myth being everybody in Sierra Madre is economically well-off and should be more than willing to pay whatever accompanying additional tax, rate, or fee increases are sent our way. No matter what that increase du jour might be.

One of the things that makes Sierra Madre such a unique place is its economic diversity. Unlike many small cities, this town cannot be defined by the income of those living here. Pick most any burgh in the San Gabriel Valley and what is the attribute that first comes to mind? That's right, the town is either rich, predominantly middle class, or flat out poor. But here you can find decidedly humble homes right next to million dollar McMansions. Places owned by folks who are undoubtedly well-to-do, living right next door to people who struggle and barely get by.

But now that we've re-entered one of our regular 5 year redevelopment madness cycles, we must remember that the economic conditions of many people living in this town are not quite what some claim they are. We are often told that ours is a very prosperous place that should never for one minute prevent the many loudly proclaimed good works that would accompany redevelopment. That any opposition to redevelopment is the product of privileged NIMBYism that stems from a selfishness that shows little regards to the needs of others. And since such redevelopment never comes without the taxpayers having to pick up at least some of the associated costs, opposition to new taxes and rate hikes is therefore simply greed.

Or so the guilt trip goes.

The reality is many people living in Sierra Madre are hardly wealthy. And additional costs for things like water, or those imminent demands to our pocketbooks such as increased trash collection fees, bond debt for street improvements, or the Police Department raises that our present City Council will meekly fork over when the MOU comes up for renegotiation soon, do add up. Each of these taken separately might not seem like much to some, but the accumulated effect of all this nickel and diming is devastating to those who have to scrape together enough to pay their bills each month. As we are all aware, living in Sierra Madre is becoming more expensive all the time.

You hear a lot about the War on the Middle Class in this country. That those who work hard and long to get for themselves the kind of good life we have here in Sierra Madre are being tested like never before. And among those tests are government driven costs that only seem to increase year after year. Here new demands come around on an almost annual basis. The water rate hike being only one of the many now on our horizon.

One last thought. Gentrification, the process of turning modest surroundings into places preserved for the privileged alone, is something that has been going on for quite some time in America. The displacement of those who cannot afford to keep up with the economic demands of this change being a big part of the story.

So can it be that what we are seeing in Sierra Madre today is not just redevelopment, or a state-initiated drive to make us "sustainable" or "green?" But rather it is a process that privileges those who would profitably gentrify this town, something that will make living here beyond the ability of many current residents? And that the accompanying rate, tax, and fee increases will be among the things driving out those residents unable to afford them? Taking with them the economic diversity and therefore much of the character of this town? After all, that is what gentrification has traditionally done.

A few things to think about.

56 comments:

  1. We DO NOT NEED GENTRIFYINGJune 7, 2010 at 7:12 AM

    Look what was done to El Monte...and they did not care....a perfect example of "gentrification"
    wasn't ole Bart a part of that mess....leavin the poor folks hangin with no conscience.....and now he is tryin to gentrify Sierra Madre....remember folks how the developer ran out of money at 1 Baldwin.....we we warned!

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  2. The cancer of gentrification can be laid directly at the feet of those faux madonna-like real estate agents.

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  3. Gentrification usually includes upgraded exterior treatments, landscaping and otherwise making silk purses out of sow's ears. So what happened to Doyle's digs? Looks like it went the wrong way...

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  4. The best way to stop all of this is shut down the water rate increase.

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  5. I can't help it..I love this Blog.This tells it all in a nut shell!A silk purse out of a sow's ear! Indeed!!..Stop the water rate increase and resists all efforts on any increase!

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  6. We have to raise our rates to pay for other services. The UUT (raise) is coming next month and boy is it a loo-loo! WE ALL voted for this increase to support our current services, and now we have to live with the consequences.

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  7. Please fill out your letter to the City Clerk, protesting the water raise. Get everyone you know to do the same.
    Turn them in to Nancy or someone who is collecting the letters to turn in to Nancy.
    Be sure you TRUST the person you hand your letter to.
    If in doubt, give it to Nancy in person.....she's always at the city council meetings.

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  8. My wife and I mailed in ours to Nancy at City Hall this morning. The envelope was addressed to her personally.

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  9. Aaaahhhhhh. The Country Club exclusivity mentality at work! Perfect! Safely tucked away on the San Gabriel slopes, above the freeway, away from the apartment and condo blocs of Pasadena and Monrovia. Gentrification and the continuing watering of vast expanses of lawn as well as the beautiful aqua tint to the swimming pools that define the difference between the working class and the upwardly mobile! Walk to the eateries pushing your babies in $600 wheeled apparatus; drive the deteriorating streets in Land Rovers, SUVs, and quad cab dual wheel trucks because... well, after all, it's expected of the Country Club set. 40% increase in water rates? A higher UUT? $6 million in street bonds? Of course it must be done! The fixed income and senior residents will be dying soon, and they're too old to drive anymore anyway.

    Tax on!

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  10. the problem with Sierra Madre is that a bunch of wannabee could afford or be accepted in Santa Monica dropped anchor in Sierra Madre and were really desperate for attention and shallow ego fullfillment and immersed themselves immediately into city politics and sought out the limelight or couldn't afford the nicer areas of Pasadena or San Marino and want to change Sierra Madre into their vision of what they couldn't afford in another city..ala Joe Mosca and John Buchanan

    I do chuckle when I pass my neighbors house who has taken a bath on it's value because when they moved in they bragged about flipping 3 houses to move into Sierra Madre and was going to flip their house and move up to South Pasadena and then the market fell out. Personally, I think it serves them right and don't mind that they lost all of their previous equity from flipping. Also, they are supporters of the new development because they believe it will improve their value and wouldn't mind a water hike because they could care less how it affects those on fixed incomes.

    Or, we've got a few community service (what's in for me)residents (some real estate agents) whose houses went up in value and all of a sudden, they were driving BMW's, Hummers and Range Rovers, but I knew that they were still poor and had a basic normal job...and the Mom's are trying so desperately to fit in with the social elite, but they still live in Sierra Madre, not Beverly Hills. The more residents the more they can be the "social" leaders in podunk Sierra Madre. It's ironic that these same middle claass Moms that 10 years ago could have a conversation with their neighbors are now...hmmmmm...more enlighted and above their blue collar neighbors and it's all a facade.

    I do love the local Mom who drives a BMW SUV with the bumper sticker about reducing "YOUR (not her's) carbon footprint"

    Tell everybody you know about the water hike and let them know about the core of the hike request, it's for securing an infratstructure for developers and building out downtown.

    Take a hike Joe, Josh, JOHN and Ms. Walsh.

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  11. Keep working you folks out there, we need to stop this rip-off. Sir Eric, you are right about not all people in Sierra Madre can afford the rate raise. There is a reduced rate for low income, but the city ignores that fact that many of us have lived in our homes for years, are retired and in this economic downturn are hurting. We can't qualify for the reduced rate, but it will be a hardship lots of us t afford the taxes and assessments that keep going up and up. Especially galling is the fact that the raise of water rates is 1.5% more than the inflation rate - and that adds up in a hurry.

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  12. My mother, who has lived here most of her adult life, is retired and lives on the money she gets from her retirement accounts. The stock market is down to its lowest point in a couple of years, and she is being hurt by this. The last thing she needs now is to be squeezed for more money by the City of Sierra Madre. Please, this rate increase MUST be stopped!

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  13. Let's see now... City water department changes out water meters from small to larger without telling customers... trys to pass bogus rate increase under the noses of residents... 16% rate increase is actually 40% over five years... actual charges based on size of water meter that has been changed out without resident's knowledge. CM reviews protest letters and throws out the ones that she claims indicate the residents are "misinformed"... all non-protesting residents (read no protest letter) are counted as accepting rate increase. What is it that the residents don't understand?

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  14. Don't forget that the water rate increase also hits our UUT taxes.

    Personally I think the city was attempting to use the euphoria over the elevation of Joe Mosca to El Supremo and sneak this stinker through. Except I'm not sure people were quite that excited.

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  15. John Crawford?

    Would you please remind the slow growth people on the Tattler what to vote on Prop. 16 and 17?

    Thanks

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  16. I like the country club analogy. I've been thinking the DIC's were more like a high school with the cheer leaders and the jocks. I suspect more than a few Tattlers were on the periphery of that club too, and probably by choice. Now we have a couple a hundred trying to make us believe their version of life at the Mayberry Country Club can only be better by building huge new developments and four story condos with cutesy shops at ground level.

    Ever read The Thin Blue Line? Life at the country club is sort of like that I think. If you're say Judy Webb-Martin it's imperative that you maintain the affluent life style and therefore anyone you would socialize must then also be affluent otherwise why would she waste her time on you? To make it at the country club (or as a cheerleader) you must shop at Angel's Everywear, eat at Corfu, stop for coffee at Beantown, and send gift baskets from Leonora Moss or Savor the Flavor. Or maybe just hover in the vicinity like several of the aging jocks.

    After all, if we don't think we're important, who will?

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  17. I think that one of the messages the Moscateers were putting out to the saps during the election is that the Buchsca development policies were going to make them a lot of money. Being trusting and childlike, they naturally believed it.

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  18. Right 12:05 - Moran and Walsh saying they were going to concentrate on "bringing business" to Sierra Madre.

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  19. low economic profileJune 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    When you bring up the limited income stuff, this council, esp. Joe, John & Elaine, were quick to talk about the low income exemption, as if that solves the problem of people having trouble making ends meet. Hah! My family makes just a bit too much to get that exemption, and I do mean just a bit.
    That exemption is not a solution for most working people.

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  20. They are either out of touch or dont care.

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  21. long time resident tooJune 7, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    Sierra Madre really is economically diverse.
    There's the guy who lives behind the reservoir, the crazy lady who lives in one room, and yes the big fancy places, especially the new huge ones in the canyon.
    The city data type web sites show an average income that I think is skewered by some of the come-lately-come-rich.
    Wait til the Cursed Carter Stone picks up.
    The averages will take a serious bump up.
    I know many, many people here who have to work hard to make it.

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  22. I've been in Sierra Madre for about 6 years and have already seen people priced out, especially those who live alternative lifestyles, like by bartering. The place is poorer without them.

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  23. I think the current city council is mostly interested in people who will pay the city a lot to live here. The old Sierra madre that we care about is of no interest to them. It isn;t just the buildings they want to change, it is also the people.

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  24. Never underestimate the snobbery of some of our civic leaders.
    They've been trying to pretend for years that Sierra Madre is not working class, blue collar, white collar.

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  25. 2:24, but the eccentric poor are not 'presentable' and they don't live in 'appropriate' houses.

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  26. The favorite pastime of the downtown social elite is discussing people they don;t approve of while getting stinko on large quantites of wine they paid too much for.

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  27. Sierra Madre is a good place because of an accident - somebody set the town too far from the main paths, there were prettier places to develop first (think back 100 years), and maybe Sierra Madreans have always been kind of out of the mainstream themselves.
    It is not a fashionable place, except for a couple of shops most of the locals can't shop in.

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  28. So far its been the elephants' burial for real estate investors. Our biggest landmarks are failed development projects.

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  29. It is what it is - a small town with geographical limits and not much going on after dark.
    That's why the people who live here like it.
    Safe, basic needs met, and that's good enough.
    Why do people like John Buchanan, Bart Doyle and their followers want to make it something else.
    Mayberry on steroids?

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  30. They think they're going to make lots of money for people whose favor they long for. Despite the fact that the town is littered with monuments to their past failures.

    Maybe somebody should start a tourist service. A bus with a guide that will take dazzled tourists to the great failed projects of Sierra Madre.

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  31. One of the great things about the people I have known here is their common sense. This has been people on all sides of issues, good common sense. Something started to change a decade or two ago, and common sense is not valued like it used to be.

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  32. I think it was the subprime lending mania. People who never had much suddenly began to look at their house and IRA accounts as potential gold mines. How do you think they conned all those fools into investing in the Downtown Specific Plan?

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  33. 2:50, John Buchanan is fixated on making his name known on google search. if you've ever had a converation with him at a party or social function, the political sleeze oozes off him. nothing personal, but the guy reeks of self grand me me me importance and will bore you to death - he really enjoys having his picture taken and is only looking out for the interests of his employer, a energy company.

    more development equals more name and face time and in return, his employer benefits financially

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  34. I hear Tuesday is "bring your boss
    to council" night for Mr. B.

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  35. not cynical enoughJune 7, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Wait for the DSP to resurrect in a pretend Measure V friendly form....be a shame to waste all that money all that hard work done by RBF getting the town into the right frame of mind with developer rohypnol

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  36. They probably think they can sell 4 story buildings in town, and get people to vote in favor of them. When you consider that SM went for the Pinocchio Joe who knows, maybe they're right.

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  37. Buchanan said itJune 7, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    No, not four, never four. Maybe three....

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  38. Remember their slant: to avoid building in residential areas it is necessary to re-build the downtown. They'll say it again: if you don't want RHNA housing in your neighborhood support downtown re-development!

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  39. Seems to me that you have a big divide between those who view Sierra Madre as a cash cow and those who view Sierra Madre as a tranquil place to "live." A few years ago our neighbors listed their house 6 months after just moving in and when asked, said 'where else could you make $xxx,xxx.xx in 6 months?" Well, I am glad they didn't sell, they are great neighbors and I do hope they are not upside down on their loan.

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  40. I doubt they'll be able to attract any developers here unless they do something about the streets and water infrastructure.

    Oh, wait...

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  41. 11:37 - everybody vote "NO" on Props 16 and 17. That is unless you want to give special constitutional powers to a utility company and an insurance outfit. In which case you really should get your head examined.

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  42. Attention all Tattlers: You MUST go to Council Meeting tomorrow, and participate in the discussion re: budget rip-off. They are proposing to use our slight surplus for raises. Didn't the regime campaign on fiscal responsibility? Let's hope they keep their promise and vote no on raises, or would that be uncivil of them.

    Also on the agenda: The resolution between the city, COG and Edison was discussed at a COG meeting two months ago. Too bad Joe Mosca wasn't there to hear the discussion. This is supposed to help make it easier to enforce AB32 to save energy, but you know it will cost residents and the city more in the long run. Sorry Joe wasn't able to attend the Sierra Madre Chamber-sponsored meeting a month ago which outlined how AB32 is harmful to our businesses.

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  43. $300,000 for a counsultant here, a few hundred grand in raises there. What's money when you'll be selling the place off in chunks anyway?

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  44. And if AB32 should go down in flames at the ballot box in November?
    What then?

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  45. Don't be a louse,
    vote Mickey Kaus!

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  46. Where are all of those people who cheered so loudly (that I could hear it on my tv) the night Joe was made Mayor when someone said "Now we will get the streets paved!!" ?????

    do they have the $$$ ???
    are the aware of what he is doing??
    were they braindead??
    or are they one of the consultants? do they own the paving company? are they the RE Agents? or the developers? so many people, so happy to spend $$$
    do they like keeping their electricity on all night??
    will they be there tomorrow to support Joe, John
    Josh and Nancy and boo Maryann more?

    C'mon, show your wallets, fellers

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  47. Typical of their political ilk. Borrow the money to pay for the streets, then leave the bills for their kids.

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  48. I'll bet ya that the water tax brought to them by their elected representatives will act like smelling salts on some of them.

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  49. 4 Aliens grays give orders at UNJune 7, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    Oh Gawd, the El monte transit center, is now called El Monte Gateway, it has a new web site,

    Gateway, I hate Gateways and Bonds, gentrification and a gateway, this is hellck,!!

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  50. You need to put the pipe down guy, these delusions are taking over your psyche.

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  51. Everything's a gateway these days, portals to Hell, ya know? Mr. Applegate is a real charming guy, remember.

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  52. That's why they're having so much trouble selling lots at One Carter. It is a known gateway with a small sign.

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  53. Greys UN, gateways, transit centers, kind of like the Twilight zone story of "To Serve Man" and it is really a cookbookJune 7, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    8:37 Phil Schneider told that to Al Bielek, a few months before he was found murdered with piano wire around his neck. He said he witnessed it himself. Youtube.. There is also a video called "battle over LA 1942" I believe El Monte was called station 14 of the stations set up to guard the sky and warn of new aliens in Los Angeles.

    Our former now resigned city attorney told me he was a nordic.

    But then you are probably waiting for Leung to come back from China with more investment money.

    There is a story that aliens told little georgie bush that both he and his daddy were going to be presidents.

    UN sustainable housing, Agenda 21, millenium building, who needs a pipe? who is delusional,

    How about Gateway oh goody!!! Bite Me 8:37

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  54. Who needs a gateway when simple manipulations will do? As far as these illuminati scenarios go, forget it. Use Occam's Razor.

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  55. South of nowhereJune 7, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    I prefer the Gillette Ultra myself. If that one makes you bleed, at least you can be sure it will eventually stop.

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