Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Last Night's General Plan Steering Committee Meeting

(Editor's Note: While the dissolute and utterly irresponsible Sir Eric partied into the wee small hours of the morning at an undisclosed location somewhere in Los Angeles - he actually calls this "work" - there was a meeting in Sierra Madre of the GPSC. Thankfully stepping in to carry on the responsibilities of The Tattler is the highly accurate and detail oriented Minute Maid. Here is her report.)

Call To Order/Roll Call: Chair Denise Delmar, Vice Chair Kenneth Anhalt, Leslee Hinton, Deborah Sheridan, Teryl Willis - All Present.

Elaine Aguilar, Danny Castro, and Leticia representing the City, and Scott Porter, Assistant City Attorney, at the dais.

Brown Out: The Mayor and City Councilmembers were all in attendance as well. City Manager Elaine Aguilar (sans rusty pipe) reminded the Committee and the Public that not only could the Council not comment or speak, but that they were not allowed, under The Brown Act, to even sit near each other. Something that many hope could set a precedent and become common practice in future City Council meetings.

Additionally two members of the Canyon Zone Committee were present - John Herrmann and Caroline Brown - as well as about two dozen residents keenly intent on coming to grasps with the General Plan process.

The Minutes were approved. Other things happened. Then the next thing happened as well. Life is sequential, like an amusement park ride.

Follow Up Items From Committee Members: Here the Committee members were invited by Chair Denise Delmar to report on their tasks as assigned at their previous meeting, which took place way (way) back on March 2, 2010. Leslee Hinton reported that she had met with Caroline Brown of the Sierra Madre Conservancy to learn more about land that the Conservancy had acquired. Teryl Willis reported that she was very pleased following her meeting with the Sierra Madre Elementary School's Curriculum Director. Teryl described a state mandated writing assignment, taking place throughout 2010, of 4th and 7th grade students. The Director is investigating making the Sierra Madre General Plan Update a part of the writing program assessment. Ken Anhalt and Denise Delmar had made contact with the Historical Society Board of Directors who are awaiting the opportunity to participate. A liaison has been assigned and more information will be available in the very near future.

No reports of dancing contests or prizes won were reported on by any of the Committee members.

The next item up for consideration was the Identification Of Subcommittees To Assist the GPSC. After discussion amongst the Committee and input from the public five subcommittees will initially be recommended to the City Council for establishment. Those being:
- Outreach and Communication
- Environmental (green house gases, sustainability, water resources, and a history of doorknobs.)
- Downtown and Montecito commercial and retail businesses
- Database/Mapping
- Wildlife Protection, Open Space, and Dark Skies (aka "night")

Chair Delmar will present these committees to the City on July 13th and request approval for their establishment and that they be populated with an endangered species known as volunteers.

A separate conversation about qualifications and the way committee members would be selected ensued. City Manager Aguilar reminded the Steering Committee that the City Council would solicit applications and make the appointments. Nobody seemed surprised by this. A Public Comment speaker (Anita Delmer) questioned the need for professionals (aka "experts," "specialists," "consultants"), reminding the Steering Committee that in a strict sense none of the five were qualified by virtue of education or licensing. It was again stated that the need is for a "People's Committee" and applicants of all backgrounds should be included in the Subcommittees - not just experts. Hopefully the volunteer nature of these subcommittee positions will keep the usual tax devouring predators away.

This was followed by the rather hard core portion of the meeting called Review/Evaluation Of Current General Plan. The Committee reviewed the current General Plan, with an emphasis on Chapter One - Land Use, Section One - Land Use Designations. Pretty much the holiest of holys in these Orwellian times we're a-living in.

And then the Committee started a line-by-line deadly dull review ...

After a few false starts it was determined that Danny Castro would annotate Chapter One as to which items were still outstanding and which items had been incorporated into existing zoning, current ordinances, and otherwise had become settled since inclusion in the 1996 General Plan. The Committee agreed on this approach.

Chair Delmar suggested a half-day workshop during hours accessible to those residents who might otherwise not be available. All to continue the process of pushing the review forward. City Manager Aguilar commented that such a plan was feasible and that City Staff could be made available for such a meeting. The Committee agreed to participate.

At this point in time the Committee returned to the business of comparing their individual assessment of Chapter One - Land Use, Section One - Land Use Designation.

No further reporting was deemed necessary until an annotated copy of the recommended changes can be obtained from the development staff. Reporting concluded and your witness left the City Council Chambers and out into the cool night air.

Odds, Ends, and Random Observations

1) The attendance of all five Councilmembers was unprecedented. And their serious countenances were rather remarkable as well. Perhaps it was because they were forbidden to speak that caused them to look so serious. If scowls were howls, the room would have been deafened. Only MaryAnn broke the silence with whispered entreaties to the City Manager - she's irrepressible.
2) Anita Delmer, Barbara Lee, De Alcorn, John Capoccia, and John Hermann were the only public speakers.
3) John Capoccia stressed the need for a published "plan to address the plan" because people didn't understand how it was going to work.
4) This was a VERY good meeting. If it was any indication of what is to come I will not want to miss the July 13th meeting.
5) I will not go again without a copy of the 1996 General Plan! No one should go without a copy because the line-by-line review is predicated on what is contained there.

One more thing. Today is Save Hahamongna Day. A ton of Pasadena blogs are expressing their support today for this park. They are urging all to contact Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and their City Councilmembers to preserve this historic and natural setting from being turned into soccer fields and parking lots. You can read more at Save There is also a Pasadena Star News article on this matter that you can access here.


  1. I wonder when the CC will drop its other shoe.

  2. This committee is being handcuffed by the Brown Act interrpretations and the Fabulous Four Council. With Council appoints forthcoming, there will be no give and take by the citizens. Let the committee do it's job, let the citizens give freely their input and get it done. As MaryAnn said at a previous meeting - it's the people's plan, not the City Council or City Manager's plan. A workshop means people sitting together from all parts of the city to give input. This "workshop" is now scheduled for the regular meeting on August 3rd with the same format, I presume, as last night's meeting. Some workshop! What happened to neighbors and committee sitting together at tables discussing, planning and agreeing or disagreeing. Is this no longer a democracy?

  3. Reminder to anyone who has NOT signed the water tax protest or sent in protest to Nancy Shollenberger.

    The proposed tax hike is UNFAIR. It's too much.
    The city was UNFAIR in the way they are trying to sneak this over on us taxpayers.

    We don't mind paying our FAIR share of taxes but 40% over the next few years is just way too high.
    The way the city is trying to put this over is
    not the way most Sierra Madreans would like City Hall to operate.
    It just isn't FAIR.....please join your neighbors in protesting this. We still have a voice, as of July 2010.

    To the petitioners/volunteers:
    We are getting lots of support from residents, they just need to be contacted and informed. I estimate at least 80% are in agreement with the above comments.
    Keep working hard. We just might win this one for the people!

  4. There is nothing that would slow down the plans of this rather secretive City Council than shutting down the water rate hike. As mundane as this issue might sound, it really is a very big deal

  5. The outreach facilitation has to be done as a "community meeting" with input reported back to CC in public hearing. Public hearing cannot be a "workshop", those are specific community meetings with community wide notification through all media channels, with facilitation and professional guidance. Need to call the CC on this one.

  6. The city has a two page hand out that was perused by a very thorough individual and he could not find an explanation for the difference in charges for meter sizes. Bogus comes to mind!

  7. There is a degree of bamboozlement to all this. Like maybe they don't think the good people of Sierra Madre are smart or curious enough to see this through to the end.

  8. It was a joy to sit and listen to bright and articule people speak and discuss something about our beautiful city with grace and elegance. I would say that perhaps the most intelligent, savvy and part of the most elite of Sierra Madre sat at the dais last night. What a refreshing change!

    Thank you Anita Delmer and John Capoccia for your statements, let us hope they will not fall on deaf ears.

    I would also suggest that this be televised so that everyone can watch and they will be available on DVD. Also, someone needs to write an article on the SM website which is community friendly for the citizens to know what is happening.

    Lastly, thank you Chair Delmar,you are fantastic and we do not need anyone else, you are doing a fabulous job. Your leadership is supberb. We are so blessed to have all of you together. A perfect committee for our communnity!!

  9. I saw something else last night as well. The Gang of 4 is desperate to gain control over this process. Mosca and Buchanan's agenda is to get all that Sacramento high density housing crap into our General Plan. It is a BIA initiative, and they need to deliver. They are going to monkeywrench this committee eventually. They just need to find the right moment to do it. They lack the guts and the honesty to just put the hammer down.

  10. Everyone please sign protest and get your signature to Kersting Ct today!! Friends tell your friends!!

  11. any meeting where Buchanan and Mosca don't speak is a big plus, they'd turn the meeting into an unproductive drone fest

    certainly Moran was updating his Facebook page or surfing the web and pretending that he was listening

    Walsh, no telling what she was thinking and she was probably peeved that she wasn't allowed to talk about her dancing

  12. The General Plan that Sierra Madre has had since 1996 is a good one. Yes there are things that need to be added or del;ted, but the plan itself was CREATED BY THE CITIZENS.
    Pretty darn good.

  13. Tattler, so the picture with this article would be showing.....?

  14. AH, I am still dreaming that the people I read about last night were our new CC the year 2012, voted in by half the voters. A group of people who love SM and can speak several sentences and can be understood and have no other agenda but Sierra Madre. Not development, not money somewhere, not pie-in-the-sky.

    Simple: this town and nothing more. No ulterior motives. Good people like Don Watts, MacGillivary and Zimmerman. They have no issues other than the people of this town.

    Wake me in 2012.

  15. Not sure myself, 1:51, but it looks like a picture of the Pied Piper from a children's book? Perhaps a metaphor for what we're seeing now in Sierra Madre?

  16. Is the pied piper specific to the General Plan Comm?
    I have heard some different opinions about that meeting.

  17. The meeting itself was very good. The committee is still tenuous but will become more skilled as more meetings are held. Sticking points about the Brown Act caused some pauses. Looming like thunderclouds on the horizon are the motives of the various factions attempting to derail the committee even to the point of accusing them of ineptitude. Chairperson Delmar is very confident and solidly behind her committee. We need to be behind Delmar and the committee as well.

  18. The best news from this article is that there were actually residents in the chamber!

  19. I hear that 2:51.
    Anytime the Sierra Madre population can get interested in the city process, it's a good thing.
    Doesn't happen enough.

  20. The sad irony is that the only time people get interested in city govt is when the bad guys are running the place. Once good people take over everyone just disappears. I think we're seeing a return to civic responsibility now that the BIA's messenger boys are back in charge.

  21. Alright 3:55--citizen interest in the water rate hike is what is really needed now. Get your neighbors up to speed and help one and all send in their protest (NO to the water rate hike) letters in by July 13!

  22. petition carrierJuly 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    The great majority of Sierra Madre residents are just that - they live here and try to avoid politics as much as possible. The current mayor said he thought people were intimidated by the council meetings. While most people don't like speaking in public, I think the real problem is they're bored out of their minds.

  23. I'm really confused about the Brown Act. The Brown Act was intended to keep officials from meeting secretely or conferring with one another behind closed doors, or between emails or phone. Last night and our council meetings are open meetings, posted, and public. Why were the council members not allowed to speak? This meeting was open, public, posted and agendized, and council members were not deliberating or making decisions. The fact that they were hearing the same information as the public does not make this a secret meeting. This was a very deliberate act to keep MaryAnn MacGillivrey from speaking.

  24. The city council speaks a language most people are not familiar with. And with this city council some of the people sitting up there aren't familiar with it.

  25. One ex council member said something to me that really made sense. Most people think the government is "they" The government isn't somebody else - it's the people who step up.

  26. That would be when things are good, 4:36. There is also that other kind of government that wants nothing to do with people or their opinions. Their agenda has nothing to do with the needs of the people, but rather corporations and big government.

    You know, the kind that would time public comments.

  27. Anybody feel that earthquake?

  28. Santa Ana. 5.9er.

  29. 5.9 near Anza Borrego - near nothing!

  30. I was at that meeting last night, and couldn't help but notice there were some bad vibes in there.
    Something was very was disturbing.

  31. For Mayor Mosca, civility is doing what he tells you to do with a smile on your face.

  32. Good point, 8:01. That's pretty much what he gets from his Stepford followers.

  33. 7:09, that committee was just recently put through the attack on their integrity and competence that the four members of the city council orchestrated. There may have been some understandable tension in the room.

  34. Tis thus, Sir Eric? I do believe!July 7, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    The Pied Piper Of Hamelin
    Robert Browning

    Hamelin Town's in Brunswick,
    By famous Hanover city;
    The river Weser, deep and wide,
    Washes its wall on the southern side;
    A pleasanter spot you never spied;
    But, when begins my ditty,
    Almost five hundred years ago,
    To see the townsfolk suffer so
    From vermin, was a pity

    great metaphor,
    great analogy....!!

  35. So all the city council members actually showed up at the general plan comm. meeting. That is a surprise. And judging by their judgements of the comm., probably a threat too. A surprising threat? Nah, an expected threat.

  36. Our Joey is a stone cold control freak. And a very tightly wrapped one at that.

  37. Danny Castro (comunnity development director) should not be given discretionary power to make any legal annotations (new interpretations) to the past or current municipal codes in regards to the General Plan. This should be reviewed and determined by the General Plan Committee and then on to planning commission and then to city council. No one person and his preferences (whatever they may be---now there's a question) should be given that absolute power. Who's suggestion was to to have the community deveopment director so this???Aguilar..Levin or ????

  38. Recall Joe almost workedJuly 7, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    The question is, what does Joe want to do with his control?
    What would Joe like to see happen?

  39. Channel 3 watcher asksJuly 7, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    Would someone please tell the citizens, if this is for the citizens why it is not televised?

    People have a right to see these meetings. If we have the technology, why can it not be televised?

  40. 8:41 - very well done! I almost trashed that graphic because I was aftraid nobody would get it.

  41. thanks, sir eric, I kinda figured it out......never trash your stuff, peeps eventually get around to it.

    We are educated here!!

  42. Catching up on my reading, so sorry to be posting so later, but is the department that is in charge of encouraging and promoting development actually doing the following: "recommended changes can be obtained from the development staff."
    Conflict of interest.