Sierra Madre residents have just won another battle with those who would like to devastate its character for profit. The current City Council, with the lone exception of MaryAnn MacGillivray - the past Mayor - has attempted to push a significant water rate increase through without justifying these increases or the scope of the water system repairs and upgrades. Through a manipulation of the process, the Council attempted to make it seemingly impossible for residents to engage in a process of protest. However, the citizenry has once again pushed back at these tactics by mounting a successful walking campaign to get far more than the sufficient required protests lodged with the City Clerk. On Sunday, July 18, the local Tattler blog posted the press release from the City Clerk, certifying that the protest was successfully carried out.
Interestingly, the Tattler also records this comment:
The City Clerk did not have access to the Assessor's Parcel Numbers List/Owner's Names. If this list is made available to her, she will be happy to check the list once again.
Which was a bone of contention throughout the entire process, and seems to have been withheld from everyone. This may become the grounds for some kind of City Council challenge by the residents to the whole intentionally obfuscated process. It's a shocking demonstration of how developers are seeking to control a city for the opportunity to build large projects that require more water allocation. So much for regional control and coordination of local needs and resources allocation, that's simply a development steamroller. It seems to have set in motion again the citizen revolt that resulted in the earlier Measure V which halted planned major development in Sierra Madre's downtown, another local resistance to the building industry honchos vested in Sacramento.
The mouse is a dangerous beast.
Sierra Madre Police versus Los Angeles Police
(Ed: Some interesting math was sent in by a reader. The comparison is between Sierra Madre's resident to cop ratio as compared to that of Los Angeles. Here is her note ...)
I just got a call from an old friend who is a new Tattler reader. She used to work for the LAPD and was married to an LA cop. Our 31 officers got to her, so she went to the website LAPD.org for their 2010 midyear report. Here are the comparisons:
1. Sworn officers: LAPD 9,961; SM 31
2. Population: LA 4 million (roughly); SM 10,500 (roughly)
3. Square miles: LA 468; SM 3
By my rough calculations that comes out to: LA, one officer per 400 people. SM, one officer per 338 people.
It appears that we have a greater police to resident ratio than Los Angeles. Yet according to the LAPD site, Los Angeles has 400 gangs, with 41,000 known gang members. How many gangs and gang members does Sierra Madre have?
Marilyn Diaz on small city policing
(Ed: In today's Pasadena Star News there is an article describing the process South Pasadena is undergoing to select its new Police Chief. Many experts have been brought in to help facilitate the process, such as our very own Chief of Police Marilyn Diaz. Here she describes what is expected of Police Officers in towns such as ours.)
Diaz said cities like South Pasadena and Sierra Madre face similar challenges in policing. "In small communities, where there is very little crime, we fight to keep officers trained, stimulated and current with trends of policing," she said. "We also have to meet a great expectation from our citizens because of the small and tight knit character of our communities."
Sierra Madre residents, Diaz said, expect to see police officers serving in more than a public safety role in the community, whether it be community service or volunteering.
Like South Pasadena, Diaz said Sierra Madre battles residential burglaries and other types of property crimes.
SCAG vs. Democracy
(You really have to enjoy truly spirited SCAG skewering. There is never enough of it, so when something of particularly high quality comes along, you really need to stop and smell the roses. Here is an editorial questioning the extra-legality of this organization that ran in the Orange County Register last October ...)
It seems like something out of a conspiracy novel: Phantom government agencies with no accountability and no judicial oversight making decisions for cities and their citizens. Unfortunately this is a nonfiction book, it is exactly what happened last week when the California Supreme Court said it had no jurisdiction over the Southern California Associations of Governments, this letting stand a SCAG mandate requiring Irvine build more than 35,000 new housing units by 2014, including about 21,000 units of "affordable housing."
This ruling is particularly jarring because it illustrates the mounting power of government agencies that have no electoral accountability or judicial oversight - a terrible subversion of democracy and liberty.
Think about it. SCAG is saying that Irvine must build roughly 40 percent of the entire county's affordable housing requirement even though Irvine contains about 6 percent of the county's population.
We recognize that there is a little irony in the decision, given the majority of the Irvine City Council is known for a pro-affordable-housing agenda, but nonetheless the mandate by SCAG is wrong, and the Supreme Court's decision to turn a blind eye to the problem leaves us puzzled. What the court has essentially said is that SCAG is its own judge, jury and executioner, something contradictory to our state and federal constitutions. Irvine lost the lawsuit because the state high court said it did not have authority to overturn SCAG's decision. So, who does?
Tomorrow's Headline Today
(Ed: Well, it is not our headline. At least not yet. But if the water rate protest is shot down in the next two days by the development advocates in control of our city's affairs, this could very well ours, and sooner than you think. This from the Pasadena Star News ...)
Former mayor, others oppose city's plans for more mixed-use development for downtown South Pasadena -- A group of residents is criticizing South Pasadena officials over plans to build another mixed-use condominium and retail development for the downtown commercial district.
Former Mayor Mike Montgomery, a lawyer, is leading the informal group that has focused its opposition against the most recent condo project proposed for downtown.
"We don't understand why the city wants residential condominiums in a commercial district," he said. "Residential units don't benefit the city. The cost of public safety and services (for new residents) exceeds the revenue generated."
City officials believe those projects, plus the one proposed for the corridor just east of City Hall and west of Fair Oaks Avenue, will help South Pasadena pay for all of its services and avoid a structural deficit projected for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
(Note: Isn't anticipating and spending revenues against as yet to be built mixed use projects what got places like Pasadena into the debt crunch they're in now? Empty buildings pay very little in taxes. Remember, if the spend happy Go4's plans go forward, this rationale is certain to be used.)
Foothill Cities Blog R.I.P.
It was once the center of regional attention as the place where many contentious issues were openly discussed, including such things as Measure V and the Mosca Recall. Sadly, it is now no more. With no one maintaining the place (the last article posted was sometime last February), the site has apparently become the victim of a rather toxic malware attack. Unprotected sites being particulalry vulnerable to assaults from individuals who take pleasure in such things. For your protection we have pulled the link from our "Sites of Interest" listings.
One more thing for today. We are awaiting word on whether City Hall will be heeding the clearly demonstrated will of Sierra Madre's residents on the water rate increase, or be making the kind of disastrous decision that could lead to this matter being put on the ballot for a popular vote. The Tattler will be posting any new developments as they come in.