In this regard these folks are strikingly similar to our Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, both of whom are employed by cash hungry uber-utilities that see local control on development issues as an impediment to commerce. Something that puts these companies and their well-placed employees in direct opposition to the desires of a many of the folks living here.
So anyway, today I have a bit of irony to share with you. And we love irony here at The Tattler, no matter what Jedidiah Purdy says about it.
What if this coup from above at the General Plan Update Steering Committee wasn't all about shoving new priorities into the General Plan? Such as the land use ingredients necessary for large scale development in Sierra Madre? What if the intention was actually to keep things that have been in there all along from being taken out?
Follow along here, it is worth the trip.
When the 1996 General Plan (which is still our current General Plan) was being slapped together, there were three people on the Committee who later rose to political prominence here in town. Those being its Chairman, Doug Hayes, along with Enid Joffe and Bart Doyle. All of whom were to later serve as Mayors of this fair city. None of whom turned out to be what you might call mainstays of the Sierra Madre "slow growth" majority.
In our hands today we have a copy of the Environmental Impact Report on the 1996 General Plan Update. Something that was prepared by Impact Sciences of Thousand Oaks, CA. Environmental Impact Reports of this kind are tasked with alerting concerned parties to the potential impacts of a General Plan on its community. Or, more succinctly, how things would play out once its decrees were actually put into play. And we're not just talking about air and water quality here, but the entire rainbow colored arc of livability issues as well.
In this particular EIR's Impact and Mitigation Summary Table the following potential consequences of the 1996 General Plan are spelled out:
Impact 5.7-1: By the year 2015, the population could increase by 12,450 from the 1990 estimate of 10,732 residents to a theoretical capacity of 23,212. Using effective capacity of 11,978 residents, the population would increase by 782 residents. This would be considered a significant impact under the theoretical capacity, however, not considered a significant impact under effective capacity.
Quite an interesting theoretical population increase (as opposed to the "effective capacity" increase) projected here in this EIR. You can only wonder what it is they found in the 1996 General Plan that would indicate such a population boom for Sierra Madre. Is there gold in them thar foothills? Or perhaps a development rich Downtown Specific Plan?
Of course, in the eyes of the Downtown Investors Club, even in its 1996 neonate stage, that gold has always been development. Something spelled out in the next passage.
Impact 5.7-2: By the year 2015, up to 5,224 dwelling units could be added to the City's housing stock under the theoretical capacity and 340 additional dwelling units under effective capacity. This is considered a significant impact under the theoretical capacity, however, is not considered significant under effective capacity.
And the wheel of somebody else's fortune spins on:
Impact 5.7.3: By the year 2015, it is projected that land uses generating employment in the city could increase by up to 3,528,360 square feet under theoretical capacity and 2,082,168 square feet under effective capacity. It is estimated that these land uses would provide additional employment opportunities in the City for up to 357 jobs for a total of 3,747 by 2015. According to SCAG, additional employment opportunities in an area that is housing rich is thought to be beneficial. A such, additional employment in the City would not be considered a significant impact.
This was back during those storied days when the bureaucratic SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments) was predicting that a colossal wave of new immigrants was heading to Southern California, and therefore we had some sort of moral obligation to build vast new tracts of housing to accommodate these latter day pioneers. Something we can all laugh about now since these waves of new arrivals never showed up.
Of course, that imperative is inoperative today and SCAG, along with its Sacramento enablers, have now replaced it with the notion that we still need to build condos for as far as the eye can see, but this time in order to save the world from global warming. Something that would be equally hilarious except that a lot of befuddled idiots apparently believe it.
All that said, it is important to note that Ms. Joffe, along with Mr. Hayes and Mr. Doyle, were laying building blocks for the Downtown Specific Plan all the way back in 1996. Three folks who were working very hard to make that "theoretical capacity" of 5,000 or so new dwellings a reality. Their subsequent political careers apparently being born out of the need to make those kinds of things happen.
There is a certain logical progression to all of this. And you can see why the current heirs to those bold folks, Joe Mosca and John Buchanan (along with the Bobbleheads, I suppose), could be concerned about slow growthers on the General Plan Update Advisory Committee possibly deciding to lance this 14 year old boil when that moment in the process arrives. It is pretty much the land use crown jewel as far as Joe and John (and their patrons) are concerned, and losing it would set their plans back considerably.
There are several directions we can go with this. One, the Water Rate Hike, which is either necessary to repair pipes or service bond debt depending on which day of the week it is, can now be seen as being a part of the DIC development scheme as well. If our water rates go up our deflated bond rating could improve, something that would make the selling of additional bonds (also known as the "Joe Mosca Solution to Everything") far more practicable.
With our existing General Plan calling for an explosive population increase to 23,200 souls, along with the additional 5,224 "dwelling units" needed to accommodate them, building that $17 million dollar San Gabriel Valley Metropolitan Water District pipeline into our little town now has a certain crazy logic to it as well. Despite Bruce Inman's brisk assurances that this has nothing to do with development, you certainly can't increase the population of this town that much without piping in a lot of outside water. It being highly doubtful that our current wells and water infrastructure are up to that kind of demand.
There are a lot of other insights in the 1996 General Plan Environmental Impact Report as well. And I will have to spend a lot more time with it. But one other nugget from this EIR Report that we need to discuss today involves our Police Department. Check this out:
5.8.2 Police Protection
Impact 5.8.2-1: Anticipated population growth, as estimated by the land use policy of the General Plan Update, would increase the need for law enforcement, requiring additional personnel and support facilities. This (is) considered a potentially significant impact.
Certainly there can be little doubt about that. With the kind of high density development and population increases called for in our current (albeit 1996) General Plan a veritable crime wave would probably ensue. If it hasn't already.
Residential development is anticipated to increase the population within the City from 10,762 in 1990 to 23,212 by 2015. To maintain existing levels of service estimated at 1.39 officers per 1,000 population, approximately 9 additional sworn officers would need to be added to the police force to support the projected 2015 population. This increase in population could have a significant impact on police services, thereby creating a need for additional sworn officers and equipment due to the anticipated increase in crime rate that often accompanies increases in population.
Impact Sciences, Inc., the authors of this EIR (as noted above), was not exactly accurate in its projections as the head count here has actually decreased since 1996. But the Sierra Madre Police Department, oddly enough, has undergone something of a population explosion.
Using the Impact Sciences mathematical formula, we can see that 1.39 officers per 1,000 residents comes to just under 14 for a town of 10,000. Today, however, we have 31 sworn Police Officers. Something which, according to this EIR report, means we now have the necessary amount of cops to accommodate a city of 28,000.
Now I wonder whose idea that might have been?
Bonus Coverage: The Looney Views News Insults Chief Diaz
In this week's Looney Views News the paper's obituary writer, in a front page article on last Tuesday's City Council "special meeting" on the water rate hike, made the following fallacious claim:
Several residents who support the council's proposed actions also spoke, encouraging personal responsibility for conserving water resources as a way to ease the 'pinch' should a rate increase be implemented. At least one such speaker, however, was subjected to interruptions from the back of the room by opponents.
Since Susan Henderson was only at this meeting for fewer than 5 minutes, and then only to take a couple of pictures, it escapes me how she might have known of any interruptions.
But had she actually walked into the room instead of standing in the doorway Susan might have noticed that this meeting was being carefully watched over by Police Chief Marilyn Diaz, someone who takes a very dim view of rudeness at City Council functions. Henderson's assertion that Diaz did not do her job last Tuesday evening is not only untrue, but a gratuitous insult to the professionalism of this career Police Officer as well.