Monday, November 15, 2010

The General Plan Update Steering Committee Packs the YAC!

The cynics said nobody would come. They said that people really don't care very much about Sierra Madre anymore, and that the issues are far too complex and confusing for most to understand. Even if they cared enough to try.

And that the kind of popular civic involvement that had so typified and sustained this community over the years was dead, and no matter how hard those who still believed tried to resurrect that spirit, those times were now far behind us and would never come back. The preservationist old guard needed to wake up and learn to accept the hard truth that nobody was all that concerned anymore.

Now, we were also told, those who wished to take this town in a direction nobody ever wanted in the past would seize the advantage offered to them by this indifference and lethargy and Sierra Madre would become just like everywhere else. Overbuilt, generic, and broke. And the America it once typified, perhaps beyond its time and place, was gone as well. Overrun by a slick and well-financed group that saw our town as little more than a choice opportunity for an easy killing. Like so many others.

And the cynics were wrong. Truly wrong.

Yesterday 300 very festive and highly engaged Sierra Madreans packed the YAC to participate in the creation of a brand new Sierra Madre General Plan. And in particular they wanted to hear all about what the General Plan Update Steering Committee was doing to protect Sierra Madre and keep it from becoming anything but the unique and wonderful community it is today.

Many questions were asked, and each member of the GPUSC was surrounded by well wishers and supporters. All in attendance happily filled out the questionnaires that will give guidance in its future deliberations and decision making.

The demand for questionnaires was so great that City Staff had to leave several times to run up to City Hall and make more copies. And then when they came back from their errand they discovered parking was hard to come by, with all once available spots taken up for blocks and blocks. You really had to want to get there.

Bill Coburn set up some kind of video contraption that only he would understand, and Danny Castro's General Plan presentation to the City Council was shown over and over, never lacking for an audience. Narrated by Deniece Delmar, Chairwoman extraordinaire.

Those who had predicted superstardom for Danny the Planner in the past could now see their faith rewarded as people, watching this video of his work, hung on to every word. Could the cynics have ever believed that people would really want to know the guts of what planning this City's future is all about? According to them professional consultants would need to be hired to fill that vast yawning chasm between sound policy and weak public interest. So how do you explain this?

Many people came with specific questions and concerns, and buttonholed any City Councilmember within reach. And a good many of these folks had questions having little to do with the General Plan per se, and more about their fears over the direction the City has taken in these uncertain times. People seemed to find this an agreeable open forum where they could address their concerns with City policymakers face to face. Far preferable to talking from behind the three minute podium, facing a City Council that, at times, can seem intimidating, remote and unconcerned with the wishes of the people.

Today there was no dividing line between the people and their elected officials. Everyone was the same, and the concerns had little to do with anyone's special place or conferred power. Democracy, that great equalizer, had made all in attendance truly Sierra Madreans, and one. Our elected officials seemed almost overwhelmed at times. People wanted to know about everything. The concern was authentic, and the interest strong.

The Genii is now out of the bottle. The rebirth of Sierra Madre has begun.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

61 comments:

  1. For those of us who could not make the Sunday gathering, will an opportunity be made to fill out the questioner?

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  2. 10:14 - This was the first of 6 town hall forums. But those surveys will soon be available all over town. If they are not at the Library yet, they will be very soon. Or you can go to City Hall tomorrow and ask for one. This is a year long process, and everyone needs to be heard from.

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  3. There will be lots of oppotuities to fill out the questionnaire.This town hall was the first of 3 or four. But do it at your first opportunity since the Committee is anxious and willing to get started with the meat of the plan and they need your input.

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  4. General Plan Update Steering Committee Outreach TeamNovember 15, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    The survey will be available at the City Hall counter. It will also be mailed to all Sierra Madre households as an insert in the Wistaria Vine which is scheduled to go out next month. The General Plan Update Steering Committee is the caretaker of the surveys and will begin the daunting process of review in the days and weeks ahead. Look for regular updates from the City's e-Blast e-mail feature. If you haven't signed up, do so soon.

    The GPUSC wants to thank the volunteers who helped make the Town Hall Forum such a success, and the City Hall staff who have been so supportive throughout the planning process.

    Sign up for e-Blast! See you in December at the GPUSC regular meeting.

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  5. Is there anyway the survey can be put online?

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  6. Thanks, GPC, and all your volunteers and to the city staff members for putting on a very nice community event.
    You people put on an informative and FUN time for all who attended.
    My family and friends really enjoyed the afternoon.

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  7. I didn't want to go, but once I got there it was OK.
    There were many different kinds of people there, not just the club types. The council members, especially the mayor, tried to plant themselves in the middle, but it was easy to avoid them.
    I hope there are more gatherings like that, where the 'regular' folks come.

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  8. Some of the members of the GPUSC are committed to bringing the community back together, after the Heflin/Carter disaster, the dsp disaster, the lying mayor disaster, the smear campaign success disaster, after all that, some of the members of the GPUSC want the community to work together.Now if the development side of the relationship would just mind their manners and request permission and listen to input that they take seriously, we could do it.

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  9. Sir Eric, you got it. Absolutely the best thing about the gathering,
    "Far preferable to talking from behind the three minute podium, facing a City Council that, at times, can seem intimidating, remote and unconcerned with the wishes of the people."
    And don't forget, sometimes the council is downright hostile.
    Ask Earl Richey, Kevin Dunn, Kurt Zimmerman, even that eloquent Fay Angus.
    The councils are hostile to residents who don't put up their signs.

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  10. Thank you the original 5 members of the steering committee. You came through despite the odds and the total disrespect you received. Obvious to me that Mosca and his buds wanted you to quit. But you didn't and good for you.

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  11. The General Plan people are something we can believe in again. There is just so much negativity in town right now.

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  12. 11:36, I doubt Buchanan, Mosca and any other of the sell the town types want to smoke the peace pipe with the preservationists.

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  13. Anonymous@11:45, you're right.The general plan has kept the community like it is so far.All concerned citizens just have to make sure nobody weasels a bunch of lawyerly high density stuff into it.

    And watch out for Jerry's lawyers walking our way.

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  14. Well that's the real problem, isn't it.
    We have greedy people who want too much, and others who just want to live their lives in this uniquely nice town.
    Why can't we chase the robber barons out before sundown?

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  15. As I understand it the high density stuff is already in there from the last general plan. The job now is to cut that stuff out.

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  16. Crawford, great article.
    Thanks.

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  17. Let's not get overconfident here. Remember that the four new members on the committee were Joe's pick, and that the first thing some of them said was "consultant good"

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  18. I also saw a lot of different kinds of people there - the realtors had a meetngreet corner by the food, the pols took the middle, the better to work the crowds, the seniors seemed to gather by the survey table - leave it to them to get the real business of the event done.

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  19. If you have followed the meetings Always, you know that there are funds for two consultants:
    1) The charming Karen Warner and her charming Housing Element, state mandated and done.
    2) The updated GP EIR - has to be shipped out and is budgeted for $50,000, money set aside.
    The controversial consultant ideas were for
    1) $300,000 I kid you not for a consultant to write the whole thing.
    That is what the original 5 members of the steering comm. kicked to the curb and we all have to thank them for saving us money. What a concept.
    2) Certain people are saying there needs to be more for the EIR. Poppycock. It can be tiered.

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  20. Congratulations to the residents of Sierra Madre for showing up.
    That's what I'm talking about.

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  21. Can somebody explain to me how we prevent fraud on those surveys?

    You see, I've had experience with developers.

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  22. This town has a long tradition of dedicated volunteers. Yesterday showed me that the tradition will continue.

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  23. I suggest that the council members don't go to the meetings that are supposed to be for the public.

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  24. Big shout out to the people who got the word out.
    The forum was great, but wouldn't have mattered without that effective communication that got the folks there.

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  25. But 12:17, the council members ARE the public,
    remember they pay water bills too,
    and they are just like you and me - but better,
    and they think we gave them the right to rule.

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  26. Experience with developers, what a buzz kill. Anyone know how the integrity of the surveys is being protected?

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  27. The City Council job is to somehow get this town to accept development. And if they don't,
    at least make them knuckle under. What went
    on yesterday doesn't make their dirty work any easier...

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  28. Look, the town doesn't have a choice. The different groups with competing interests have to learn to work together. Civil war is not an option.

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  29. Measure V was at one of the tables yesterday, and I sat in a corner and read the whole thing for the first time.
    It is a thing of beauty.
    We need something like that for the whole town.

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  30. Sierra Madre is a gentle, unpretentious place.

    The rough and arrogant need to relocate.

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  31. Maybe it's foolish, but I came away from that town hall feeling hopeful. The staff and the committee members were helpful to one another, there was a real diversity of residents in attendance, and the workings of government were there for one and all to see and participate in.

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  32. I came across an article from 1997 in The Weekly Standard that responded to attacks on the suburbs from the "New Urbanists." The article reminded me that Sierra Madre is not a suburb, but a small town, which in Southern California is becoming a rarity. Where the typical suburb might negatively be described as a "nowhere of clogged highways, strip malls, tract houses, francise fry pits, parking lots, and ravaged countryside," what we have here is unique and worth preserving. (By saying no to strip malls, tract houses, francise fry pits, etc.)

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  33. I was there, but not for the whole thing.
    Did anybody see Henderson on her race to the bottom?

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  34. I didn't see Harriet Poole 12:52, but I did see Terry Miller and John Stephens.

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  35. 12:51, good argument for making all of Sierra Madre a historic town.

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  36. Regarding council members attendance at town hall forums, how about if they are allowed to come but not to speak?

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  37. Council members and commissioners, all of whom (with one exception) live in Sierra Madre were in attendance as residents, entitled to comment but not to speak as officials. You saw them talking with other residents but not behind the tables -- that was reserved for the GPUSC and Team members.

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  38. 1:10, nobody told slow Joe

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  39. Joe was looking for validation from his peeps.

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  40. Good job steering committee!
    You had an amazing turnout.

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  41. We are going to have to listen to Moran, Mosca and Buchanan praise themselves for attending.Next council meeting,councilmember reports.

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  42. The Tattler thread is kind of bi-polar today, giddy and gloomy.
    Sounds like there was a good event, good information sharing, positive support given. So it's not perfect. Ya got something going on anyway.

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  43. So, south pas, you must be new to the Tattler. Most days it's bi-polar - just the nature of the neighborhood I guess.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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  44. Congratulations to all involved in the Town Hall Forum.
    It's hard to get people to come to city functions.

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  45. Sometime triple or quadruple polar. Which
    isn't very easy to do, and does take an awful
    lot of energy.

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  46. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesNovember 15, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    So Pas neighbor gave us some accurate adjectives. We're giddy about what we have and gloomy about the prospect of losing it.

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  47. Sunday's lollapalooza of an event is another milestone along the path to the General Plan Update. First was the selection and seating of the General Plan Update Steering Committee under the MacGillivray, Zimmerman, Watts, Buchanan, Moran Council. Then came a long period waiting for permission to meet... The election; the Council changes... Mosca-Buchanan determine that (1) General Plan Update will be complete in two years; and (2) the five member committee is inadequate and a consultant should be brought in... Denise Delmar faces them down and the committee continues in spite of erratic meeting schedules... Mosca-Buchanan counter with more Steering Committee members are necessary and appoint four more hand picked from 18 applicants... Denise Delmar wisely and graciously enfolds the new members into the committee which is now meeting more or less regularly at one month intervals... Enlarged Steering Committee develops goals and milestones including date for first Town Hall Forum... committee now functioning at very high level... City Council majority now declares only consultant necessary is for the EIR... Community declares Denise Delmar + 10 Committee and the Town Hall Forum a hands down winner... but there is a ways to go: more Town Hall Forums, more community involvement, results must be tallied, and a draft update written and presented to the City Council, line by line update of the 1996 General Plan must continue at painfully slow speed because City staff is not available to meet more often than once a month... and in the end, the General Plan Update Steering Committee is ADVISORY to the City Council. The clock continues to tick...

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  48. epater le bourgeoisNovember 15, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    I think the Tasmanian Devil of old WB
    cartoons fame was quaduplepolar. Look
    at the terrible toll it took on him!

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  49. It's too quiet out there . . .

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  50. Crawford writes that the cynics said no one would come.
    Heck, the realists said 50 people would come.
    Maybe people are finally unhappy enough to ACT.

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  51. Organized, 50 people are a majority.

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  52. Always appreciate a good historical summary 3:31. However the Zimmerman, MacGillivray, Watts council was not with Babblin' John Buchanan and Moran - and it took me serious reflection to remember who the other pro-development guy was - it was Mosca!
    May he go away and be so innocuous as to escape all of our memories....

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  53. I think the attempt by the Mosca people to sabotage the GPUSC has left them with mud on their faces. People side with the underdog. Besides, nobody who is a sitting mayor can any longer play the victim card. Joe needs to remember that the next time he beats up volunteers at a city council meetign.

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  54. Amen 3:51. The whole town is lucky that the exceptional chairwoman of that committee has not quit.

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  55. Joe's got to get a new schtick.

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  56. Counting Chair Delmar, there are 9 members on the committee.

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  57. Can be a contest. Help the Mayor find a new identity.

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  58. Let's hope the resident's voice via the questionnaire goes better than it did in Pasadena. Our planning commission heard loud and clear that most folks were fed up with over-development, traffic and congestion. In response, the planning folks effectively said (paraphrasing) "we heard you, but we're gonna build anyway. We'll just build in the eastern part of the city which hasn't yet been *over* built."
    Gee, thanks.

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  59. Pasadena and Sierra Madre is a tale of two cities. One that preserved itself, and one that bought into every development fad that came down the Gold Line. Where would most people want to live now?

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  60. City Girl/Country WomanNovember 15, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    Historic town indeed. And we are. Thanks 12:58

    Many of us have known this for a long time. The Canyon and our gentle and unique town has priceless value.

    It is not nice to fool with mother nature.

    We have promise in making us a Historic Town...

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  61. Per your quote "OWNER".

    1. Earl Richey clearly stated to the city council,that the city is in Violation of Prop 218 by denying all Sierra Madre tenant's, paying their water bill, the right to vote "NO".
    2. Howard Jarvis office in Sacramento, writter of Prop 218 bill... requests that all Sierra Madre tenants denied the right to have their vote counted, call Howard Jarvis'sd office immediately.
    Cindy will be your contact.
    3. Howard Jarvis's office will take all steps to defend their Prop 218 bill...and insure Sierra Madre tenants the right to have their "NO" vote counted.

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