One of the real joys of doing this blog - which is why I enjoy it as much as I do - is that I get to post about things that concern me about our town, and then some of the smartest people around talk about them. I find that to be a pretty good deal.
So here are two matters that need your kind consideration today. I do not have the answers, but questions raised by these concerns are troubling. These are topics that are in the development stage, but require a lot more research. So I am throwing them open to the best research team around, you guys.
1) The Sierra Madre Post Office is going to close. I have been hearing about this from a number of people. Recently I received an e-mail on the topic from someone I hold in very high regard, and the questions raised need to finally be aired out.
According to employees at the Sierra Madre Post Office, their place of work is on a future list of closings. Our research shows that it isn't on any 2010 list, so it isn't happening tomorrow. But this would, if true, be a real loss for our community. Obviously the concerns raised by such a possibility should be heard. We do need, and deserve, to have a post office here.
But there are also ramifications on the over development front as well. As anyone who has followed the situation at the Howie's property will tell you, one of the reasons the fine LLC that owns the place has yet to be able to build a towering monument to their greatness there is the parking issue. Under the current legal rhythm there just isn't enough of that attached to the property as it now exists.
But! If they could get their mitts on the properties that now are attached to and affected by the existence of our Post Office (a renter, it seems), that dynamic could change considerably. Here are some things to ponder:
a) The Postal Service leases the space on the CRA property behind Mr. Taylor's place for its drive up mail boxes. The owner of the post Office property owns the empty lot south of the Post Office. Once the Post Office moves what will the owner of the two properties do with that most strategically located land?
b) Are those properties protected by Measure V?
c) Also: will the City sell the CRA property behind Howie's to the current owner and enable them to build big. remember, this would take a 4 to 1 vote, and Gang of 4 would sell us out on that one in a heartbeat. It's pretty much why they're here.
d) Will the CRA try and buy the postal property for parking with the funds from the sale of the current lot as a way to offset the loss of parking across the street?
e) Would a bigger lot allow new buildings on the Boulevard to have additional floor space because there would now be more parking available? remember, the City Council rescinded in lieu parking fees, but for the right project they would have the desired flexibility to require the developer pay considerable fee.
2) Our Water Department Spreading Basin is an EPA Protected Wetland. This revelation owes its life to some recent off the cuff remarks from Bruce Inman. Don't get me wrong here, I respect Bruce. I think he has some impressive command of the issues that concern him professionally. But we also appreciate him because he has the artless manner of the true wonk. And sometimes he lets loose with things that he probably shouldn't have. Which makes for rewarding blogging.
So here's the skinny on this one. Bruce recently let loose that the spreading basin (where our water gathers) was declared a protected wetland by some Federal agency back in the 90s. I wasn't there when this was said, but others have born witness. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be the culprit is my guess. What it all means is that this area cannot be touched. No Huck Finn Fishing Derby, no dredging and re-dredging, no nothing. That water belongs to the ducks, marshland greenery, and other wild things. And not your front lawn.
Bruce Inman is reported as saying that he only became aware of this unfortunate situation recently, and is working to make sure it doesn't effect our current water operations there. Obviously we haven't been following the requirements of any such edict, and if it were to be enforced it would be disastrous for everyone in Sierra Madre who enjoys receiving water at their homes. No matter how rusty the pipes.
Now if you are into conspiracies (I love them myself and consider such speculation to be a perfectly respectable and enjoyable pastime), I got one for you. Did a Shenanigan Council back in the final decade of the previous millennium request an EPA intervention so that access to our water would become tenuous, requiring us to connect to an outside water system? The Metropolitan Water District would be the likely suspect to step in and supply us with enough water not just for what we need today, but also in the future when the crooks would have radically developed this place beyond all recognition.
After all, that vastly expensive water pipeline to other places that has been speculated upon so much recently would be just the ticket to make this happen. And didn't Bruce say we needn't worry ourselves about it because it the costs would be handled by Federal grants? The kind that become available when the needs of things like an EPA designated wetland area is being considered?
So many questions today.