The development plans of the Moscateers are now in full motion, spinning as quickly as the wheel in a hamster cage. The massive water rate hike, the movement to undo the work of the General Plan Committee and, rising from the grave like zombies at a Saturday matinee movie double feature, the very expensive and consultant driven "Housing Element Study," are all indications of a City administration getting ready to put into play plans for some very major development here.
Now those who have been following Sierra Madre affairs for the last few years or so should not in any way be surprised. It has always been the position of the Moscateers that the requirements of SB 375 must be met by this community. And that when SCAG issues its CARB dictated RHNA numbers, the City of Sierra Madre must be ready to accommodate the large scale high-density development being called for by Sacramento. Which shouldn't be a problem for a Mosca led City Council as it is what most of them want anyway. This is hardly a secret, and unless you have been living in a cave up somewhere in the Angeles National Forest, you know this already.
On June 17 Karen Warner and her Housing Element Study will be dusted off and given new consideration by a City Council much more sympathetic to her unimaginative and cookie cutter development strategies than the previous one. As you might recall, this costly plan calls for the razing of existing single family homes in order to create multi-unit condominium projects in areas adjacent to our downtown. Something that will come as an unpleasant surprise to the people currently living in those houses. It will most likely be pointed out by either John Buchanan or Joe Mosca that this is necessary in order to meet the RHNA requirements being forced upon us by Sacramento through SCAG. What will not be pointed out is that Mayor Mosca belongs to the committee within SCAG that establishes these excessive RHNA numbers, something that makes "Housing Study Element" reports like this one necessary.
If Karen Warner's report is voted upon and approved by this City Council, it will mean that the three recently elected members will not have been telling the truth when they claimed they were for slow growth development only. This is the foundation of what will be some very large scale building projects here in town, and can only happen with their support.
But this is not the only shenanigan being cooked up in The Palace right now. On Thursday, June 24th at 6:30PM, there will something called the General Plan Study Session. This will be where the City Council discusses where to go with the work already being done by the General Plan Committee. This decidedly pro-development City Council will want to include within our General Plan elements that will allow for the planning of large scale development. Under the guise of "process" (but also because state law doesn't allow for such topics to be discussed in private), the inevitable conclusion will be that the $300,000 a General Plan consultant would cost us must be spent. Something that flies in the face of what was being done by the current General Plan Committee at zero cost. Of course, the consultant selected will be one that will put fat development planning elements into our General Plan. Which is why Mayor Joe Mosca will be entertaining precious little input from the General Plan Committee at this meeting. He wants them gone.
As an aside, that this unnecessary $300k spend is roughly the same amount of money the City spent for the now discredited Downtown Specific Plan is no coincidence. Once this process is completed we will be seeing something very similar to what the voters of this city rejected at the polls a few years back. Again, it appears that the slow growth claims of certain members of this City Council were made for election purposes only.
Elaine Aguilar, who apparently has taken on the bad cop role nobody on the City Council wants to play, is now down on record as claiming that those residents out fighting the up to 40% water rate gouge are passing "misinformation." This is, of course, utter rubbish, and can only indicate that The Palace has become painfully aware of the growing outrage here in town, and fears the possibility that the residents will shoot down this huge rate hike. It has always been about the potential costs to Sierra Madre ratepayers caused by the massive Joe Mosca water gouge. I mean, isn't that reason enough to be outraged? That Elaine is putting herself at the middle of this debate is inappropriate to say the least. If the City Council wants it, they should have the guts to defend it. This is not the time to send out surrogates to do the dirty work like they did during the election.
But if you want to know about some real misinformation, how about the claim The Palace is putting out that this isn't in any way a backdoor Utility User Tax hike? If you are raising water rates by approximately 40%, you are also raising the taxable amount in the water portion of the UUT at an equally stiff clip. Which makes this very much a tax hike that City Hall is attempting to prevent you from voting on. Despite state laws to the contrary.