Friday, July 23, 2010

How Sierra Madre Is To Be Sold

"I think there are some very evil things about gentrification." - Jim McKay

After the Mayor and his brain the Mayor Pro Tem get their way and Sierra Madre is served up to the Ed Roskis and San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnerships of this world like so much thinly sliced ham, how exactly will they market our birthright? After all, everything has to be properly packaged and sold. Especially when you're asking for a lot of money to buy in. And there really is a bunch of the kind of quaint and historic here that makes for an exciting and high quality real estate prospectus.

And now, thanks to those fine folks who are trying so very hard to sell some of the many fabulous (though aging market-wise) Stonegate at Sierra Madre lots, we now have a pretty good idea of exactly how our town will be marketed to that most desirable of area real estate consumers, the upwardly mobile and highly compensated employees of large Los Angeles County corporate interests. Or at least the ones that are left. The kinds of folks who can plunk down a couple million big ones for some pleasant hillside scenery and lots of highly accessorized square footage.

But you do know, it isn't enough to just get yourself ensconced in a fine McMansion with stunning views of Arcadia. Today's person of discernment and taste would also want to set that bad boy down in an area with some colorful points of local interest. A town where fascinating people carry on with their lives in unique shops and fine dining establishments, with a little carefully preserved boutique history to ponder as you whisk down Baldwin and head off for a day at the mall or the golf course.

Here is how those pushing the million dollar lots up at Stonegate at Sierra Madre describe our little portion of the world:

Pass through the gates of history to the lifestyle of today at Stonegate at Sierra Madre.

Become a part of a small town with big personality, where life is as sweet as the flowers that star in the annual Wisteria (sic) Festival, and neighbors get together for community concerts, ice cream socials and wine tastings.

Live at the feet of the stately San Gabriel Mountains, in a valley where the climate is generally warm and sunny year-round, even when the surrounding mountain peaks sparkle with snow. Explore nearby nature in the Angeles National Forest, Mt. Wilson Trail Park, and other regional recreation areas. Up for more adventure? From your home in Stonegate at Sierra Madre, you can visit lakes, rivers, mountain resorts, wilderness areas, the desert, or miles of seashore, all within a 30 minute to one hour drive.

Enjoy every convenience of contemporary living in the City of Sierra Madre, with close proximity to the Westfield Santa Anita Shopping Mall, Santa Anita Golf Course and sporting events at the Rose Bowl. With numerous mass transit stations throughout the valley and access to I-210 (sic), it's an easy commute to the employment centers of Los Angeles or Riverside counties.

And did you know that the scalped hillside that was once one of the most scenic wilderness areas within the borders of Sierra Madre is literally a-brimming with history? And that the McMansion you build there will make you as one with that storied Sierra Madre past? Giving your lifestyle statement the kind of authenticity you might otherwise lack when living in something having all the character and architectural grace of a La Quinta Inn?

When you pass by the arroyo pillars that frame the entry to Stonegate at Sierra Madre, you are connecting with 150 years of rich history. These restored pillars are treasured remainders of three prominent historical structures which have occupied the Stonegate site.

In 1860, the property was homesteaded by George Macomber. The cabin that he built here in 1882 still stands, and is Sierra Madre's oldest remaining structure.

Nathaniel Carter, the founder of the City of Sierra Madre, purchased the property in 1881, and began construction of his family home, a large Victorian mansion. In 1882 he set the stone pillars at the entrance to his property, and added a barn and several outbuildings, exotic gardens, watering ponds, and a citrus orchard, where he developed the Carter orange. The Carter Barn and the pillars remain on the property today.

In 1939, the Willis family acquired the property, demolished the by-then dilapidated Carter home, and built a "modern" structure in 1941, complete with garage and swimming pool. Considered an architectural treasure, it was featured in Architectural Forum magazine and served as the family's residence for almost 60 years.

Today, you have the opportunity to make your own history, on a site that the City of Sierra Madre's founder deemed so desirable, that he built his own home right there. Today, you can pass between the historic entry pillars of Stonegate of Sierra Madre, and let the past lead you home.

Never mind that those bearing the name Willis have been regularly brutalized by some of the developers that have made such a wretched mess of the Carter hillside, because that is not the history you'd really want to know about as a Stonegate of Sierra Madre resident. Nor should you be concerned that your cozy wickiup nestled amongst those quaint relics of the past is inside of one of the state recognized most dangerous fire zones in this part of California. Or that you'll be sitting smack dab on top of a highly active earthquake fault line.

And, if you really are fascinated with its history, that you could wake up late one night suddenly aware that you are living in an area considered to be an ancient sacred burial ground by many of the area's indigenous peoples. Rumor has it things do get spiritual up there.

I mean, if you're really interested in history, you've got to want to take in more than just the kinds of gaucherie being offered by the folks pushing these lots.

Anyway, when choice parts of Sierra Madre are rezoned for large scale development, this is the kind of bollocks that will be served up and put into slick pamphlets to help sell off the real estate holdings of banks and developers that will - at least theoretically - have benefited by the duplicitous agenda of our current City Council.

Of course, somebody will actually have to buy all this stuff. And the way things are going in this country, that special breed of person might be very hard to find.

This from Planetizen.com:

The Commercial Real Estate Crisis Is Coming

Nearly half of the commercial real estate in the U.S. is underwater, according to Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel. She is concerned that a coming crisis could sink the current recovery.

What they're talking about here is the second leg of the development depression, which was caused largely by the subprime lending insanity of the early 2000s. The first half was the home real estate crisis, which mostly affected private residences. The steep decline in housing prices that have sent so many homeowners here into a state of shock was apparently only half of the ride. The other half is commercial properties. The office buildings, shopping centers, and condominium projects that sit empty from New York to Pasadena. And that portion of the crisis is only just beginning to make its presence known, with the full effects expected in the next year or two.

From Planetizen:

Alison Stewart: So are we going to see small cities with skyscrapers that are empty?

Elizabeth Warren: Well-

Alison Stewart: Store fronts that are empty?

Elizabeth Warren: Quite frankly, we are going to see some of that. See-through buildings, where the building has already been built, but there are no tenants in it, so you can see from one set of windows all the way over to the other. There will be some of that. there will also be some other adjustments that will be made. In some cases the mortgage will repossess the property and is able to sell it to someone else and get it off their books.

Sounds like more government bailouts to me.

And what is the value lost by having 50% of American commercial properties "underwater," as it were? Apparently it is in the trillions of dollars.

Good luck with that Stonegate at Sierra Madre thing. You're going to need it.

65 comments:

  1. Has any of the lots even sold at One Crater? I heard that it doesn't have good feng shui...

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  2. Probably why they took out all the trees.

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  3. I know Lot 2 sold, the owner was at the design guildeline meeting last week. I have also heard that about thirteen lots were in escrow as of last spring.

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  4. The site plan shows a community look out. (See site plan using the blue describe link) Will the new owners take turns at the look out post to make sure the "low-landser" don't plan an envasion?

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  5. "My home is on high,
    a McMansion in the sky."

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  6. Those lots have been in escrow for a long time, 7:38. Frankly, I'm not sure I believe it. The worst thing that can happen to a piece of real estate is to have it stay on the market too long. A lack of buyer interest only leads to even more buyer disinterest. I think they have some real problems. Which is why they're now pushing this cooked up history thing.

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  7. did the marketing brochure left out the pesky details like the flood and fire zones the lots are smack dab in the middle of or mention the mudslides of recent years?

    those prospective 1 Carter/Stonehouse homeowners need to visit those "wine tastings" and see what kind of riff raff and Santa Monica wanna bees are actually scarfing down the chow and chugging wine - I can't imagine those paying several million dollars for lots and building homes are those that will want to mingle socially with the Sierra Madre self annoited elite and power brokers that believe that they run this town

    does the brochure mention the historical significance of the Buc?

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  8. How come they only mentioned the wine tasting and not the tobacco spitting contest that takes place out back?

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  9. those trees were 100+years oldJuly 23, 2010 at 8:35 AM

    Surely they need to add to this statement:
    "and a citrus orchard, where he developed the Carter orange" WHICH WE RIPPED OUT IN ORDER TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A SO-SO HOUSING SITE

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  10. The lawyers are lining up to solicit the 1 Carter and Stonehouse homeowners to sue the city when a fire or floods wipe out the homes because the city knew that the area was unsafe.

    If only the real estate agents who sold the lots and homes could also be sued for negligence.

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  11. They also forgot Bowling Down Baldwin. The event is put one of too many sponsorder by our city paid party planners. But if you take away the city sponsored events, you would need to cut a couple positions.

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  12. I'm sure the kazillionaires who buy & build up there can't wait to come to the ice cream socials. Real meeting of minds, that.

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  13. The knick knack case at the Womans Club would charm them I'm sure.

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  14. without the water they can not build so keep your eye on the ball and don't get distracted from the protest for the water hike. If not counted properly it must be renoticed.

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  15. They haven't sold dirt...July 23, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    I'm not sure I believe that any lots have actually sold...the sign still reads 28 or is it 29 lots available...and lets face it...I'm not sure how many Asian folks would buy them because of our school system, while getting better, is no Arcadia. Should prove very interesting to say the least.

    Anyone contemplating building a house in a canyon at the base of the mountains KNOWS the risks...maybe that's why they haven't sold..

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  16. The piller entry picture on the brochure shows what looks to be a sunset - but the sun is going down in the north.
    Or maybe rising in the north.
    Somehow appropriate.

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  17. I think they oughtta put a little skull and crossbones on the site of the murder that happened when Greg Galletly lived there....someplace between Lots 1 & 2, wasn't it?

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  18. carter used to be a good streetJuly 23, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    From the site plan description,The area is characterized by winding roads, native landscape, hillside and valley views and wildlife.

    Should read, The area is characterized by graded roads, a stab at native landscape after we demolished everything alive in the area, hillside and valley views and wildlife that will probably be shot soon after your arrival.

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  19. Neither flood, mudflows, 7.5, inferno or 35.0" will stop the idiots from building on the slopes of Mt Wilson. Surley they would not be stupid enough to put homes in the valleys? Or surley the brains at City Council and City Administration would not be stupid enough to approve this lunacy, would they? Who were those masked men anyway? LLC's riding off in the sunset, with their money, leaving Sierra Madre holding the bag.

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  20. Don't forget the body dump (unsolved murder) and the other guy left up there wounded.

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  21. Naw, they would be more interested in "Mary's Market"....a former canyon community country store, turned into a meeting place for the dirt realtors and developer pals.
    Don't forget Josh, (is he out of rehab) yet? What was that again he sells there?
    Same as his "mother", real estate? Oh wait....it was something else.

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  22. FYI everyone else, tooJuly 23, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    "City employees who live in Pasadena, Altadena, San Marino, San Gabriel, Arcadia and along borders of Temple City and Sierra Madre are advised that eradication techniques will be used Friday, July 23, and repeated at two-week intervals for at least six sessions to combat oriental fruit flies.



    The California Department of Food and Agriculture will conduct the operation, which will involve squirting a small spot of bait six to eight feet high on the trunks of street trees. About 600 bait stations per square mile will be placed. Male oriental fruit flies feed on the bait and are killed by a small amount of Naled pesticide. The operation does not include aerial treatments.



    Oriental fruit flies are major agricultural pests and a few have been detected recently in Pasadena and San Marino. Mated female oriental fruit flies deposit eggs into fruits, vegetables and other produce, and the resulting maggots make the produce unfit for consumption."



    If you have questions or concerns, the California Department of Food and Agriculture can be reached at (818) 901-0719.

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  23. Why didn't the city tell us about that?

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  24. Perhaps they're verifying the fruit fly count.

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  25. News flash to 9:38 am

    The "City" lies! Sometimes by omission.

    Just ask Nancy Shollenberger or the group who collected petitions/letters against the water rate hike. They were told one thing by Elaine (the city) and then told something else when the result of their efforts didn't suit the city.

    Yep, your city, the City of Sierra Madre officials, including 4 elected council members all LIE.

    MacGillivray and Shollenberger are the ONLY elected officials who represent you, the people, and the future generations of our town.

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  26. Would a Tattler friendly realtor find out what is really going on up there? Are lots sold/in escrow? How many decades will all this take anyway.

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  27. The realtors who sell at Stonegate at Sierra Madre will have to disclose everything or they will be liable for prosecution. It's a mighty long list, but realtors are good at cheerfully marching through warnings, disclaimers, and other bad news documents. Don't know where dead bodies fit in that though.

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  28. Why do they call it Stonegate when there's no gate?

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  29. I hope they cover the ancient burial site stuff. People buying up there could find themselves dealing with forces they are not equipped to handle.

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  30. How about this for a title:
    The Shame of Stonegate IN Sierra Madre

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  31. good business senseJuly 23, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    10:51, they call it Stonegate because they had to do something. The words One Carter had developed the worst kind of ju-ju, and imagine what comes up when One Carter is googled.

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  32. It is Stonegate at Sierra Madre. Just to give it that shnooty uppah clahss effect so necessary to move some pricey hillside dirt.

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  33. I was looking at Mike Engs bio and committees because of the lobbiest stories, but thought it interesting, that he is on a committee that deal with dead folks human remains. It is obviously very important in some circles not to be anywhere near murder sites or ancient burial graveyards. I used to look out my kitchen window and see a mountain panorama, which is important. A Vis a vis helps with dishwashing drudgery. Then my city allowed a man to build a two story 3rd home, they got 3,000 in fees. Now for the rest of my I have to look at that house or not look at that house. But what a city does is sometimes unforgivable. It breaks your heart and trust.

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  34. Just imagine calling it Stone Pillars. Anyone for pillorying the folks who caused all this?

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  35. 11:15, far too many of us have had to learn that lesson.
    The city does not protect the residents. It only protects the staff, and any new development.
    No wonder the Planning Department had a name change.
    Developer Servicing, resident ignoring.

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  36. Oh, 11:16 am, they've long since left the building. Sandy the exclusive RE rep for Coldwell Banker didn't get to be a millionaire; Greg Galletly didn't get to make many millions, instead declaring bankruptcy; and so many of the local construction companies who sold their souls to support the project didn't get squat. All in all we've got a new crop of wide eyed real estate sales people looking to make a bundle off the lots at the top of Baldwin. I'd wager that most have no clue as to the number of years of acrimony and outrage since the Headmistress woke up one day and discovered God wanted her to build a highschool at One Carter.

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  37. I think that among the services Developer Servicing performs lately is advice on how to deal with problem residents. Nice to think that is what our tax money buys for us.

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  38. Heard about all the trouble in the city of Bell and their outrageous salaries (Bell is an Charter City)...Sierra Madris a charter city ,too

    Charter City
    A city which has been incorporated under its own charter rather than under the general
    laws of the state. Charter cities have broader powers than do general law cities.

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  39. Is that picture from the old TV show The Prisoner? I loved that show!

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  40. The best picture for this article would be that snapshot Jaymi Wilson took of the men standing by the huge cut down trees that they loaded on the trucks.
    Where was the tree commission?

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  41. Washington Post is reporting the Federal Budget Deficit will hit $1.4 trillion for last year. An all time record.

    Why is it government, all levels of government, is being run by such a bunch of fools?

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  42. What I have hoped for in all that hillside ruining is that at least some locals might get a scrap - some architects or builders. But there's an ominous sign up on the far eastern lots (those strange slices of lots) that advertises G.J.Gardner Homes. Looks like a deal has been made.
    gjgardnerhomes.com

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  43. If you care what will be built up there, keep your eyes on the Planning Commission agendas, and go to the meetings about the houses. Help the planning commissioners enforce the design guidelines. Some good things have been rescued - most importantly, Mayor Macgilivrey got that Lot 3 as unbuildable. The horse is out of the barn to be sure, but we can still support the design guidelines that the planning commissioners approved.

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  44. Can anybody tell me what "the lifestyle of today" might be? Does it have anything to do assuming real responsibility for your community and the welfare of those who live in it?

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  45. 12;26..Government has become the desired refuge for Scoundrels,Knaves,Fools.In short,Racketeering!!

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  46. The Tree Commission has a city ordinace that only protects four species of native trees during construction. The oaks, sycamores and walnut trees still on the site were the best they could do. Also, don't forget the council that approved the project would have approved the removal of the non-native trees too. The developer had to "mitigate" for a large number of trees which will be replaced on the site and elsewhere throughout the city. It really does look like a wasteland though that is for sure.

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  47. As of recent the lots as per all the Assessor Parcel Numbers (APN) were still listed under Capitol Source Bank. Could it be that lots in escrow have instructions that escrow won't close until all the lots are sold or in escrow. I don't know how that would work, but if it were possible you would not be a lone buyer in a ghost town, wondering where your neighbors were--can't quite have a glass of neighborly wine all by your lonesome.

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  48. Or have an ice cream social.

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  49. 1:46, maybe the tree commission can work on adding more trees to be protected.
    In western Europe, the age of the tree matters too.

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  50. Looks like all we can know about the lots and the sales or lack thereof are rumors.

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  51. One things is for sure. Nothing ever seems to get built there.

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  52. Just peeked at Rooster's site. Still no comments on his water rate post from earlier this week. His readers must be thinking carefully about their replies.

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  53. Or they're trying to see where they go to post, in between the jumping fish, the old letters, the confusing arrows, the band o' archives, the general mishmash of that page. Brings to mind the remark about the propaganda arm of Mosca, Moran, Walsh and Buchanan.

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  54. I hear they're in the process of rolling out a carrier pigeon fleet.

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  55. That propoganda arm scored a big victory over the slow growth side in the last election, so it might be aq good target to make fun of, but obviously it has more smarts than meet the eye.

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  56. Ah to build houses in parched hillsides prone to conflagrations that make the news, earthquakes that other states' marvel at, mud incidents that defy debris basins - one of those land use decisions California is so famous for.

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  57. To repeat: You can turn your letter (to protest city staff checking and counting protests) in Monday or Tuesday. If they can't get the money to buy the extra water (water rater increase) needed to build out from the Metropolitan Water District that can not develop to the scale that makes tnem enough money.



    Today Friday(or MOnday ro Tuesday) every resident who can should write a letter, addressed to the city attorney Sandra Levin, Elaine Aguilar-City manager & the council that the city staff needs to cease and dissesee reviewing and counting the water rate protest, and return that process to the elected city clerk and provide her with the parcel list that Elaine Aguilar refused to give her so the city clerk can properly check and count the protests per Proposition 218.

    The letters can be walked in to city Hall . Have whomever you give the letter to sign it, date it and return a copy to you.

    The city council meeting scheduled for Tuesday July 27th should not have any resolution on the agenda for the water rate hike till the protest can be properly counted by the City clerk with the parcel map numbers that have been illegally witheld from the citizen's elected City clerk.

    This is an out right hijacking of the water paying customers and the communities vote.Who gave Elaine Aguilar the right to ask for copies of the protest and to determine the validity of them. NO one because that is the City Clerks responsiblity and not the paid at will employee who takes direction from the city council (and is hired and fired by the city council) and can benefit from the increased city revenue from the water rate hike.
    (That is putting the fox in the hen house)

    Sierra Madrean's take back your vote!!!

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  58. We need to put on the ballot an initiative that curbs the City Council's ability to spend. Measure V requires that any building downtown over two stories must be put to a vote. This initiative would require that any City Council spend over $99,000 be put to a city wide vote. This would prevent the needless squandering of our money on things like consultants.

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  59. CNN just interviewed a couple of Councilmen at the City of BELL. It was great. The man in question was very arrogant and felt that the people deserved "good services." Rick found out that the $800,000. Councilman lives in a Million dollar house in Huntington Beach. He gave him a hard time about his salary.

    And then asked the tv audienced: Do you know about your City Council?

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  60. Well City Madre wouldn't feel like they have to put everything to a vote if we could trust the people that are elected. There have been a few especially this previous council but avarice and greed seemed to be prevalent among people that get into positions of power. Yes we all want to make money and get ahead but some of want to sleep at night....

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  61. $99,000 is too high. $50,000 would be better.

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  62. Our city is a charter city just like Bell.
    Let's hear it for local control.

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  63. A non profit is wanting to build a facility in Ventura County. Guess what? They are not permitted to build unless they provide their own water source. They can not impact the local water source for one drop of water. Wish Sierra Madre could do that for ALL future development when new lots are formed whether it be someone subdividing their large lot, a condo development, or Stone House or any other undeveloped parcel.

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  64. This whole "selling" thing makes me sick to my stomach. Pardon me, I just went away to ralfff. Now after trying to tear down the Macomber cabin and resisting every other element of historic preservation, this is how the dirts are "selling" this town? Disgusting. And I noticed how they had the picture of Baldwin Ave with the Hotel Shirley and other historical facades like you're moving into Old Town. Get serious. This iconic little old fashioned town is the selling point for One Carter overdevelopment? Disgusting. The same people who brought us DSP+ and I-97-1 are now using that which they could not destroy in order to sell Sierra Madre to the masses. We should stop helping them and let them try and sell the town they would be so happy to create-ugly, dense, pretentious. I need a vomitorium, gotta go.

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  65. Dr. S. what a brilliant elucidation of hypocrisy.

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