Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Agenda Man Wonders: Does This City Council Ever Actually Finish Anything?

"They don't bite, they chew." - Carla Bley (from Escalator Over the Hill)

It seems like this water rate increase debacle has been going on for about half of my adult life. It just never seems to end. On and on and on it goes, wherever it stops, who could possibly live long enough to know?

Is this what "the process" is? An endless series of non-events and time wasting fiddle-faddle that only leads to further inertia fueled futility, all the while going absolutely nowhere? All designed to wear down the opposition to the point where they scream out in agony and despair, "No Mas! No Mas!?"

Has it all become the ultimate match of The Last Man Living Wins?

For a guy who wanted to become Mayor as badly as he did, you'd think Joe might have actually spent at least a little time figuring out what exactly it is he wanted to do once he actually got the gig.

I mean, it can't possibly be that the reason he needed the job is so he gets to sit in front of the SMTV3 cameras and talk about whatever comes into his head all night, can it? And that it somehow never once occurred to him that he might actually have to get something finished?

So here is what the Agenda for tonight's City Council meeting says. Or at least that small portion of the Agenda that you can find on-line:

Recommendation that the City Council hold a Public Hearing regarding the proposed water rate increase, approve the rates listed therein, read Ordinance No. 1312 by title only, and direct staff to place Ordinance No. 1312 on the agenda for a second reading December 14, 2010.

Honestly, I doubt the first reading will be all that interesting. So why should they want to drag us through all that again on December 14? Are they saving this water rate hike until they can give it to us as a Christmas present? Will they drop it down our chimneys along with some helpful pamphlets on drought resistant plants and how best to care for your new remote read City supplied water meter?

I don't know how much more of this I can take. Raise the damn rates already. Run roughshod over our rights. Declare that you have done all this to pay down the bond debt even though at first you said it was to fix the pipes. I mean, for God's sake, do something, man! Almost an entire year and all the Gang of 4 can manage to do is raise water rates ten bucks a month? That is, if they ever actually get around to doing it?

I'm telling you, I am pretty underwhelmed. If this is all they are capable of doing, then maybe the City is safe from whack-o predatory development after all. If talk were buildings, we'd be living in a Brave New Manhattan by now. Or at least Pasadena.

Someone somewhere defined Hell as the absence of all interest, the death of all possibility and an addiction to nothingness. If when I die I find myself in a place that looks a lot like City Hall, and seated before me are creatures that appear strikingly similar to the Gang of 4, it is then that I will know that I truly am a sinner, and that I am in for an eternity of sorrow, regret and soul crushing futility.

There is one other event scheduled for this evening. And that is:

Proposed Canyon Zone: Joint Special Study Session of the City Council and Planning Commission, November 23, 2010 - - - A Brief History of a Long "Process"

The City Council and Planning Commission will hold a special joint study session on the proposed new Canyon Zone. The study session will be held this evening, November 23, 2010, at 6:00 PM in the City Hall Council Chambers. The meeting is open to the public and there will be an opportunity for any and all to comment.

Regulations pertaining to the development of a Canyon Zone have been discussed and studied in the past, but never seem to get finalized. The difficulties inherent in applying the current R-1 residential zoning standards to the Canyon area prompts the need to adopt new, separate zoning standards that allow reasonable development of properties there while preserving the unique character and natural environment that typifies the place. The proposed zoning would establish standards for dwelling size, building height, massing and setbacks, parking, lot coverage, permitted uses, construction sites, and other equally important standards. The proposed zoning would apply to new construction and building additions.

You might wonder why this item is before the City Council as a Joint Special Study Session of the City Council and Planning Commission. The Canyon Zone Committee -- made up of Canyon residents John Herrmann, Caroline Brown, Michael Howard, Jim Monacchino and Sherry Robison met regularly for a full year; held Community Outreach meetings; and conducted a well-attended Canyon walkabout. This committee gave serious and informed deliberation to prior Canyon Residential Zone findings, and submitted their revised plan to the City Planning Department. Danny Castro, Director of the Planning Department, guided the committee at every step of their deliberations. MaryAnn MacGillivray acted as City Council Liaison to this very important Committee.

A previous Canyon Residential Zone Committee led by Kurt Christiansen, then Planning and Development Director, made up of Tom Pendleberry (architect), Michael Howard (educator), and Kathy Orth (Realtor) had embarked upon the identical task, taking their work up to the point of submitting a version to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Christiansen resigned from the City and the Canyon Residential Zone Plan languished as just another chapter in the 27-year old saga of creating a zone consistent with the unique challenges inherent in building in Sierra Madre Canyon.

Canyon residents had for years asked for a zone that spoke specifically to the small lots, lack of parking, unusual easements, narrow streets, and fire safety issues endangering residents but frequently overlooked by developers.

As the Canyon Residential Zone Committee neared the end of its task, a group of local contractors, realtors, and residents, claiming to speak for an unidentified majority, challenged the Committee as having been illegally constituted because there hadn't been any professionals knowledgeable about building and zoning codes chosen by the City Council to sit on the committee.

It is quite clear from the earlier Committee made up of Pendleberry, Henderson, Clemmons, Shifs, Howard, and Orth that the group challenging the most recent committee was just plain wrong. Nonetheless, the City Council has chosen to allow their questions to be brought to the Joint Meeting tonight.

Quite simply, if the Residential Zone is enacted it will protect the homes of current residents from the overbuilding and inappropriate building styles of opportunistic developers. In its simplicity it established the minimum size of a home at 500 square feet - not the maximum as its detractors incorrectly state. Square footage will be proportional to the lot size with adequate set backs to maintain fire safety access. Parking will be established at two parking pads per lot. Garages and covered parking will not be required. The current trend of building large multistory houses encroaching into setbacks and obscuring neighbor privacy and views contribute to the erosion pr the property values of existing homes.

The Canyon Residential Zone agreement is exactly what the Canyon needs to protect it from predatory development.



  1. Just let the "Concerned Citizen" howl and protest.Wear them down and they will give up and crawl back into their lairs.The strategy that always works!There are however,tools available to Citizens still which can be used effectively against government tyranny.We still have a shot at stopping this nonsense but have to take a different tact!

  2. Steal our rights, lie about why they need our money, and then drag everything out so they can finally pass the rate increase at Christmas when nobody is looking.

    Class acts.

  3. The City Manager should read the entire ordinance word by word so the public will know what is in the dam^ thing. Many people watch the council meetings on television/computer, fewer attend the meetings and almost no one actually read the ordinances. I also doubt that Nancy is able to read and comprehend all of those words. So read it both times.

  4. People of Sierra Madre!
    Show up at the Council meeting tonight.
    Read quotes from Crawford's Tattler! It's the ONLY true source of TRUTH in the local media today!
    Share the truth! Come to the meeting. The gang of 4 won't listen to you, but the people will.

  5. Only need 10% of the voters to bring it to a city vote.

  6. 8:19 - good point.

    "When only a bobble won't do."

  7. Generally, hillside zoning works to the effect of keeping the building footprint smaller as the slope of the site increases. Usually there's height restrictions and a reduction in building mass. All for the obvious reason that hillsides can safely accommodate some small structures but not large developments. These structures will be subject to erosion, water intrusion, fire hazards, etc. etc. so this kind of zone should be designated as hazardous so that the homeowners there will maintain sufficiently large insurance policies to cover the risk that is being created by building in these areas. There should also be a tax overlay zone to pay for the additional fire and police necessary to respond to the hazards that this creates for City-maintained services. Of course, there's not sufficient water pressure at hydrants in these areas, which is another problem that's only solved by increasing the water infrastructure to deal with this.

  8. RE:8:27 Lived in the Canyon going on 50years..Water pressure is fine..Don't even try to use this as an excuse to push your SWINDLE!!

  9. 8:45, live in the hillsides and the water pressure is bupkis. Especially when everyone is watering their roofs. Maybe it depends on where you are, but 8:27 is 100% correct about the water pressure in my area.

  10. The planning commision studied the proposed canyon ordinance long and hard. They listened with respect to all who came before them, then made their decision to approve the new ordinance, with only a few revisions. If the City Council overrides them on some key issues, we'll know the fix is on for the builders and developers, and it is true that Josh only votes the way his "friends" want him to.

  11. I hear ya Sir Eric. Soul crushing futility it is. Then comes along a victory against the idiots and hope lives again.
    Political life in Sierra Madre.

  12. If the development of the hillsides in this town, Stonehouse and Stonegate/Carter, showed us anything, it is that predatory developers are the worst kind of prostitutes - they will say anything to get their profit, agree to anything, lie about everything, and not have a moment's doubt about their right to mess up the common good of a place.
    The CAnyon Code does NOR stop development. It stops predatory development.

  13. Yes to the canyon zone, and yes to similar protections for the rest of town.
    We are not playing with nice kids in the building arena.
    They are bullies and need to be treated as such.

  14. Allso a 50 year res.November 23, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    And what would that "SWINDLE" be?...8:27,your right to screw the place to the end time!

  15. I've been hearing that 500 square feet number thrown around by the developer/realtor people. Very misleading.

  16. The swindle would be the theft of our city, its character, and a way of life that is so important to so many people. You'd have to be quite heartless not to understand that.

  17. Of course those who oppose the canyon protection are spreading lies. That's how they win, they lie. It's a 500 square foot straw man.

  18. Allso a 50 year res.November 23, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    and what would that"WAY OF LIFE" be,9:44 ,perhaps flogging realestate?

  19. The canyon is built out.
    The public safety concerns are real and scary.
    Stuffing big houses on to weird lots is not good for anybody, even the people who live in the stuffed houses.

  20. Lots of contention this morning. Not sure that people are talking to the same purpose in different ways. Either that or they hate each other.

  21. Awwww, you're no fun Moderator.

  22. If all the Canyon residents flushed their toilets at the same time, would it send a tidal wave crashing down across the town?

  23. Support the Canyon Zone Committee's plan.
    These 5 people are all long time residents, home owners, with NO AGENDA other than to protect their property and the property of their neighbors from future destruction by a few who wish to make profits at the expense of their neighbors and the future of the area.

    John Herrmann, Caroline Brown, Jim Monachino, Michael Howard and Sherry Robison........

    To those few selfish individuals who wish to negate your efforts....

  24. It's this simple: the opposition to the Canyon Zone are Tim Hayden, Glen Lambdin, Greg Prout, Tom Hammond, and Dan Slater. Builders, realtors and real estate investors, and a land use attorney. The Committee, Herrmann, Brown, Robison, Monachino, and Howard are property owners and residents.

    The Canyon Zone Moratorium against building was extended by the City Council for a final year. The building consortium is livid. Tall tales are being told about the Committee and its intent.

    Ultimately it's the laissez faire advocacy of a few unscupulous individuals out for a quick buck against long time residents who are asking for the opportunity to live lightly on their property.

  25. Mod, I think there was some sarcasm that didn't land right.
    Though there is an element of hatred between people who want to live in their homes and those who think they have the right to change everything no matter who is impacted.
    Developerspeak: I wantiwantiwantiwantiwant

  26. I see the canyon zone as a way the council can prove that maybe they do want to preserve something after all.

  27. Tattler, if you calculate the council majority's REAL decision about the water heist, it was pretty fast.

    They just had to make it SEEM slow and careful.

  28. I doubt the water rate increase will be done before Joe Mosca's run as mayor is over. He
    can't see past his own fog bank.

  29. No kidding,People are mad..They have a lot to be mad about.locally there seems to be no resolution to the scandalous outrages which are being committed upon the City's homeowners.Whether one resides within the city or the hillsides,the Special Interest continues to club the residents through subterfuge and lies."Mad as Hell"

  30. 11:35 is right!

    Alright, Sierra Madre residents....are you going to stand up and fight back or just let the crooks and greedy bastards take away Sierra Madre from us?

  31. Everyone go to the council meeting tonight and tell the Gangster4's"



  32. I agree with the ideas 12:12, but they are not voting on the canyon code tonight.
    There will be another meeting where The Lambdin Hayden dancers put on their performance, and that will be the meeting for the vote.

  33. They need to listen to the PC's report on the Canyon Zone plan. They need to respect the good people who served on the commission for so many months. They worked hard, so did our city staff along with then Mayor, MaryAnn MacGillivray.
    The gang of 4 needs to set aside their jealous contempt of MacGillivray and decide to do the right thing, again, those 5 people, Dan Castro, Elaine Aguilar worked hard to take folks on walks, so did the nice attorney, Scott.
    Canyon Zone needs to be passed and put into the General Plan...FINALLY!

  34. The hell with the Lambdin/Hayden/Dapper/Prout/Hammond/Packer/Moran gang of special interests against the residents of the canyon.

    Didn't everyone have enough of their lies during the last election, where they went door to door and told people lies about Pat Alcorn, John Crawford and Don Watts? LIES. Reason?

  35. from 8:27am to 8:45am:

    I pointed out the water pressure issue because it's a wedge issue to upgrade the entire water system to allow for more development, as you're obviously concerned about. My point is in the other direction, no water pressure, no permits. That may be a tradeoff that the canyon folks are willing to make, they'll accept that risk in order to keep development out. All everybody else has to do is keep the water system thing in check.

  36. I have friends who live in the canyon and are very partial to it. To me it is already badly overbuilt in many places, and it has very serious safety issues with the parking and the roads, so they can't approve this fast enough.

  37. 8:19 a.m., that's a good suggestion about reading the ordinance out for one and all to hear, but the language it is written in is baffling except to the initiates. It can be figured out, but not without study time.

  38. The language of city ordinances is a hidden magical one, and you have to go to law school to learn it.

    They are not eager for the rabble to translate it.

  39. Glen Lambden went to law school may he can figger it out.!

  40. My company had a very smart but intentionally confusing IT gal. The more she talked the less anyone understood. I'd find that I could understand what was going on whenever there was a sub in for her. Same kind of thing. If you don't understand my jargon, it makes me more powerful.

  41. Lambden went to law school? And here I thought he was in seminary.

  42. Not all law schools are of the same caliber, just as all lawyers are not of the same proficiency. As an example, compare Lambdin, his law school and level of expertise to Zimmerman, a graduate of a prestigious lawschool and referred to as a "lawyer's lawyer". Sort of like comparing the drive thru window at McDonalds to The Royce.

  43. Are you shure your spelling seminary correctly,4:39?

  44. Is it just me, or does John Buchanan sound like Elmer Fudd?

  45. Cannot go to CC. Please update on The Tattler.

  46. Who is the bigger a-hole on the city council?

    Buchanan, Mosca or Moran?

    My vote tonight goes to Buchanan!

  47. Elmer Fudd seems to think stuttering makes him seem more sincere.