Thursday, December 9, 2010

Your December 7th General Plan Update Steering Committee Meeting Wrap Up

It's a good thing the outreach session at the YAC was such a stunning success, because otherwise nobody would have any idea of what is going down at these GPUSC meetings. The public might have been invited, but they aren't showing up all that much. Perhaps this is more of a statement on how meetings are held in this City? Maybe the outreach format of the Town Hall Forum is more conducive to increased resident participation?

And there are worker productivity issues to be dealt with as well. Because out of the 3 plus something hours taken up by this conclave only a relatively modest amount of progress was established. Which just goes to show that for some people an audience can be a dangerous distraction.

If 5 is company, is 9 a crowd?

But not to worry, things will probably lack for any level of real intensity until the GPUSC gets to the Land Use portion of the General Plan. Since the previous GP held out the possibility of accommodating 23,000 residents, and some current elected officials would not be averse to this City reaching this Calcutta level of density due to the implicit development possibilities, well, you can imagine the tension that will create. I personally can't wait.

Trust me, things will get very exciting then. But let's get back to the meeting just past.

The first big chunk of time was spent with each of the GPUSC members present sharing their impressions and reminisces of the Town Hall Forum held at the YAC a few weeks back. Here is a sampling of what the attending Committee members had to communicate on the matter:

Ed Miller/Land Use Table: A "great" event, he was surprised at the turnout and the enthusiasm of the civilians attending. Ed took notes of some of the comments made by those attending and here is what the people suggested:
1) Trees in the Canyon need trimming to reduce fire hazard.
2) Leaf blowers make too much noise.
3) The demise of the KFC chicken shack is a painful tragedy for our community.
4) Montecito area should be set aside for low income.
5) Orange Grove resident complained about ruck and motorcycle noise after 10 pm.
6) Empty lot of Sierra Madre Place should be used for community garden or senior housing.
7) We need an outreach program to attract businesses.
8) Encourage mixed-use downtown.
9) In new construction square footage should not include the basement.
10) Encourage solar power.
11) No high density in residential neighborhoods.
12) Should not reopen examination of One Carter or Stonehouse.
13) Farmers Market should be out in the open.

Leslee Hinton/Community Services, Recreation & Parks, Library: Leslee noted that that "several people came up and wanted to see the new General Plan." People didn't understand that this was still a work in progress being developed with residents' concerns and input. Here are the attendee comments she jotted down at the Forum:
1) Some wanted more parks.
2) Some wanted fewer parks.
3) Someone wanted a "pocket park" ripped out.
4) More adult recreation.
5) Solar panels on pumps to cut down on the cost of water.
6) Many comments from residents who liked the Library the way it is now.
7) More community gardens.
8) One person wanted an ordinance to keep cats indoors.

John Hutt found the Forum to be "fantastic." He liked seeing new and different people and found the interactive peripatetic format to be to his liking. What he heard:
1) Concern and caring, diversity of solutions offered.
2) Not having so much development that would cause more traffic.
3) No stop light.
4) More parking, no in lieu parking or parking meters.
5) Economic development in downtown.
6) Lingering anger over Measure V and DSP.
7) Encourage business friendly environment.
8) A "little hotel" would encourage economic development downtown.
9) A neighborhood versus a real town.

Ken Anhalt/Public Safety thought that the "interest was very good, very satisfying." People made these comments to him:
1) Downtown crosswalks are dangerous.
2) If cars are parked on the street above Windsor Lane emergency and trash vehicles can't navigate.
3) Approximately a dozen people complained about water issues.
4) Overall people seemed very positive about Sierra Madre.
5) There were so many people in attendance table signs could not be seen.

Colin Braudrick regretted missing the Forum and he has received a steady stream of communication from those residents who attended.

Teryl Willis/Treasures, Seniors, Dark Sky was pleasantly shocked at the turnout. The people she spoke with said the following:
1) Congratulated the Outreach Team for getting the word out.
2) Residents spoke about creating historic districts.
3) Complaints about St. Rita's bright lights at night.
4) People were very glad to have a chance to have their voices actually heard.

A subcommittee was formed that would include Denise Delmar, Ken Anhalt, Wendy Davis and Anita Delmer that would use the comments and suggestions received at the Town Hall Forum (along with e-mails and items from the City Hall suggestion box), to begin work on the guiding document. This would be known as the Visioning Principles Report (or Viper). This subcommittee will begin meeting in the next few weeks.

The big challenge that was put out is how best to create the next Town Hall Forum. The bar is now set high and this presents a certain creativity challenge in designing. April or May would be the likely time for this next event, with a venue to be chosen in January. Ed Miller, John Hutt and Colin Braudrick will work as a subcommittee and come back with the theme.

Community Outreach Program - The Committee reviewed information and came up with the following:
A) Stakeholder have been identified and Communications Team outreach will be performed by Team Liaisons. Much more will be heard about the "Stakeholder Ambassador Program"when unveiled at the next Town Hall Forum.
B) Local artists will be challenged with creating a logo design which would complement a yet to be identified slogan for the GPUSC. An honorarium of $2,500 will go to Friends of the Arts on behalf of the artist whose design was selected. Logo will be presented at the next meeting.

Work Program: At this time the Committee reviewed Chapter 3 of the 1996 GP, which covers Hazard Prevention. In particular Fire Safety along with Floods and Landslides. Procedural issues were also discussed at some length. Seismic Safety and Noise being identified as the next to be discussed.

Auto Aid versus Mutual Aid was discussed by Mayor Mosca and Chief Heydorf. Heydorf wanted more equipment, Mosca talked about more training. Nothing was resolved, though the discussion lingered.

Brief remarks were made by Public Works Director Bruce Inman about floods and landslides especially in light of the current situation with the debris removal at Santa Anita Dam.

Later concerns about the slowness of the Work Program's progress were heard. In the future this portion of GPUSC meetings will be moved to the beginning of the meeting so that efficient progress can be made in what is basically the nuts and bolts of the operation. The need for more frequent gatherings was agreed upon, with Sunday "Special Meetings" being agreed upon as a good solution. The first one would be held on Sunday, February 13 from starting at 1 o'clock.

The issue on scheduling again seems to be the requirement of having time-challenged and meeting-rich City Staff present to carefully monitor the nine committee members. Which seems rather paternal to this observer. I honestly don't see any of the people on this Committee as potential pencil thieves. They all seem like good and upstanding citizens capable of bearing this great burden without professional supervision.

In One Sentence: Three hours and 10 minutes of the peoples' business was conducted at a most stately and convivial pace.

Bonus Coverage - Interesting article over on The Patch this morning. "Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association to Investigate Sierra Madre Prop 218 Process." Looks like Mosca's mismanagement is starting to draw a crowd. And is anyone surprised that Sandi Levin is saying that everything was done correctly? What is she going to do, come out and say she screwed up? Click here to read more.


  1. Which brings to mind that old adage..Too many cooks spoil the soup.

  2. Please note the money for the logo is going to the Friends of the Arts not the artist. The Friends of the Arts will use the money for community benefit. No artist will have a financial gain. The logos will be presented at the next meeting.

  3. The bonus coverage is great news.

  4. The City has tooooo many stupid committees ie green, UUT , etc taking up valuable staff time. But that is probably the plan.

  5. Looks like there is a swarm building over the goofy Mosca Council's mismanagement of the prop 218 process. Anyone surprised this doofus is getting this city into so much hot water?

  6. 7:35 - I amended the article. One of the plusses of publishing online.


  7. Not a real lawyer, but played one on tvDecember 9, 2010 at 8:01 AM

    Who side you on Patchy? AAARHHGG!!!

    Patchy said:
    "This part of the proposition may put the city on solid ground legally and could be its saving grace."

    Prop 218 says:
    SEC. 5. Effective Date. Pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 10 of Article II, the provisions of this article shall become effective the day after the election unless otherwise provided. Beginning July 1, 1997, all existing, new, or increased assessments shall comply with this article. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following assessments existing on the effective date of this article shall be exempt from the procedures and approval process set forth in Section 4:
       (a) Any assessment imposed exclusively to finance the capital costs or maintenance and operation expenses for sidewalks, streets, sewers, water, flood control, drainage systems or vector control. ****Subsequent increases in such assessments shall be subject to the procedures and approval process set forth in Section 4.*****

    It seems to this pirate that we are talking about a "subsequent increase" here, it being 2010 not 1997.

    But nice try.

  8. Patchy needs to remember the old adage, "A friend to all is a friend to none."

    Take a side Patchy! Ask permission of the corporate office if you must, but come down somewhere. This is a town filled with people who aren't afraid to stand up for their beliefs.

  9. Aguilar: "The City Attorney has said repeatedly that the City is in compliance with the Prop 218 process as it pertains to the water rates."

    Did somebody just get thrown under the bus?

  10. 8:09. Mosca said almost the same thing about relying on the counsel of the City Attorney to Brenda, the PSN reporter. She reported what Mosca said about relying on the City Attorney in an online article. Then mysteriously, Brenda removed Mosca's quote.

    I'm with you 8:09. Somebody got thrown under the bus.

  11. 8:01 you're right and I'm not sure why the Patch (JS is a pretty bright guy) didn't catch that one. The exemption is for assessments existing as of 1997. The assessment at issue here would not take effect until July 2010.

    JS, you might want to correct that mistake in your article.

  12. Divorce rate 50% despite congregational optimismDecember 9, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    When the preacher says "speak now or forever hold your piece," you can't actually go up to the altar and explain the deep problems with this marriage.

    It's how the Fallacy of Ceremony works. The ceremony itself prevents the truth from being aired.

    That's the way committees work.

    Change the game.

  13. Gee what a surprise. Ed Miller, Mosca's buddy, reports that "residents" want low income housing on Montecito and think that there should be mixed use development in the downtown in the midst of the worst economic decline since the great depression. Ed, are you leading the charge to rescind Measure V?

    BTW, who are these residents

  14. back to the GPUC, they are frustrated it is taking so long to go through the first assessment, but Elaine keeps saying they can't meet more often because Danny is tied up with other things. As a result of the stretegic planning meeting where it was decided to hire another planner to take over for Danny so he could concentrate on the general plan after the canyon zone update was finished, they hired another planner. The canyon zone update is finished. Yet, Elaine insists that Danny is too busy to have two meetings a month except, she insists they can have it on the Thursdays scheduled for the planning commission if they don't meet. One of the most productive members on the committee is Teryl Willis, and she can't meet on Thursdays. So, no plans are being made to find an alternative day. This is all b.s. Why do they need Elaine, Leticha, Danny and Scott at every meeting? In fact why do they need Elaine there? Why not just Danny and Scott and a secretary to take minutes? A waste of time, money and effort.

    And, what is the employee they hired to free up Danny doing? There is really not that much planning going on in Sierra Madre that we need two planners.

  15. I don't believe the city was in compliance with Prop 218!

    They need to be called out on this!

    If we let this slide, we lose our rights and we will eventually lose our town, not to mention a good bit of our money $$$$$$$.


  16. Conspiracy Theorist - and damned proud of itDecember 9, 2010 at 8:47 AM

    The Jarvis people have now given the Gang of Whoopie Cushions the opportunity to reinstate P218 without having to say it is because of Kurt Zimmerman.

  17. Thank you Howard Jarvis GroupDecember 9, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    It is a wonderment that the Jarvis is going to investigate the handling of Sierra Madres Prop 218 misuse. They have wanted to argue this to court and they have the bucks to do it. On the Jarvis site, there is a great article on pushing the interpretation of the law, they have always felt misuse of Prop 218 in regard to vote versus notification by mail, god knows we saw how the rules were changed to accommadate it's passing. This is great news if they take this as a case. They have been looking into finding the right one to refine the nebulous Section 5 A listed above and require a real vote on water increases.

    If you go to the site, there is a wonderful article that is too long to copy and I have tried to copy and paste it there but the site won't let you. It is a must read...

  18. Howard Jarvis on Prop 218December 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    And thank you, 9:07!

    SECTION 5. LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION. The provisions of this Act shall be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes of limiting local government revenue and enhancing taxpayer consent.

    Comment: The purpose of this section is to ensure that, in the event of any ambiguity, the rights of taxpayers will be the paramount consideration.

    Yoo-who, Miss Levin, the rights of the TAXPAYERS, not the POLITICIANS.

  19. Sandi has been bluffing all along. Nobody at City Hall thought that the kind of protest over the water rate hike would ever happen. They thought that we'd turn in around 50 signed protests and go away. So Levin and the City Council mailed their sloppy Prop 218 process in, confident that nothing would happen. But instead we came close to 2,000 signatures and even after City Hall stole the protest and our rights from us, we've still fought on. You think the Jarvis people don't want to go up against their biggest enemies Colantuono-Levin over this? Think again. Our City Hall's flawed approach on this matter could have far reaching implications.

  20. Way to go Sierra MadreansDecember 9, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    Back slapping and handshakes all around Walkers, Protestors, Tattlers, and Speakers! Especially Sir Eric for keeping the protest alive in the hearts and minds.

    And, Patchy, you are to be commended for your coverage of events besides cookie sales and Chamber Mixers. Keep up the good work!

    It's only just begun, Water Rate Protestors! Much is simmering behind the scenes. Chances of Buchanan and Mosca creating a legacy on the backs of future generations may be lessening with each day. We can not only hope, we can be assured that the protest movement is not weakening but strengthening!

  21. Someone contact John and Ken Show.

    Crawford? Zimmerman?

  22. On Committee / Commission Meetings. Use the Prop 218 precedent. Call the meeting for the convience of the members, and if the
    notified City Person doesn't show up, at the discretion of the Chairman, count the missing City Employee as a "no or yes" vote, Chairmans' choice.

  23. so what are the chances that the mountain views news will come down on the side of the city and council, against the protestors and the jarvis folks?

  24. I posted my comments on the Patch regarding the fiasco, Prop 218.

  25. I was happy to read that the Woodlands/Oak Tree outrage was put on hold, at least for the time being.

    Thanks to all of you who protested this latest attack on us, by greedy developers and politicians.

    Thanks to Crawford and Brown for bringing it to the attention of Sierra Madre residents. It IS our ISSUE as well, so we must remain vigilant!

  26. MaryAnn was right. Joe Mosca is not competent to serve as Mayor. Now we're getting sued because he thought he'd be slick about raising our water rates. This is awful!

  27. Joe Mosca is not competent to serve the public in any capacity!

    I disappove of anything Joe Mosca "fights" for on our behalf.

    Actually, I disapprove of Joe Mosca's residing in Sierra Madre, period!

  28. Remember when you read Patch, the writer's first appearance in city hall was to stand at the podium and try to substantiate slanders against MaryAnn MacGillivray and Kurt Zimmerman.
    That wasn't enough to figure out whose side he was on?

  29. Personally I won't read a patch article unless it is mentioned by a Tattler, and then, well as Groucho Marx put it, "You've got to watch this guy like a hawk . . . and then what have you got?

  30. Don't forget Coluantano and Levin were brought into Sierra Madre by Bart Doyle for the express purpose to help him with the DSP, mortgage the city, create bond debt, increase the water storage capacity to meet the intended population increase. All to be paid for by the residents.
    It's time for Levin to start packing.
    Unfortunately, we have the gang of four who would be the ones to pick who would fill her shoes.
    I think Buchanan should leave himself out of that process, seeing how he is part of the Doyle wreckage that got us into the mess we are in.
    Perhaps he should leave with her?

  31. The Gang of Four got intoxicated on their victory and thought it actually meant something other than that they won through a filthy smear campaign against principled and intelligent people. Like the dufuses they are, they merrily proceeded to the rate heist, not realizing that their shameful victory had galvanized their opposition, and woken up more than a few people as to their incompetence.

  32. I'm grateful to the volunteers who work on the general plan. Couldn't pay me to do it.

  33. their pants are on fireDecember 9, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    The city was supposed to give in the notice "The reason for the proposed fee or charge"
    They gave a tag along reason that IS NOT EVEN GOING TO BE TAKEN CARE OF as THE reason.
    The rate theft won't pay for the pipes.
    It's only enough for the bond.

  34. That GP committee is probably going to be damned if you do, damned if you don't, all the way through. Everybody's got to recall that they're trying to save the city half a million dollars.

  35. Can I have Bruces rusty pipe for a souvineer?
    Perhaps we could get it mounted and auction it off to help pay the legal fees for the coming lawsuit...HeHe

  36. Kudos to all you citizens who have step forward to take an active role in the "process". For too long the city have been hijacked by those who have seen the town as something to loot.
    You folks are the leaders of tomorrow, and once this latest group of manipulators have been put out of office, you will have won a stunning victory.
    I am proud of you.

  37. 12:26, you cannot have the pipe until the court cases are done.

  38. That is quite a career that old pipe is having. From false prophet to state's evidence. Someday we'll have to put it on a pedestal and set it up in Kersting Court as a warning to future Sierra Madre politicians about the importance of being honest.

  39. Old War Horse, Maybe we could have it bronzed with a plaque saying dedicated to the John Buchanan library then?

  40. I cannot figure out what Attorney Levin was thinking.
    You might disagree with her stance on different issues, but she is a good attorney. Much smarter than the majority of the counmcil.

    How could/did this sloppy work get by her?

  41. Levin has repeatedly maintained that the notice was adequate.

    That will be for a judge to decide.

  42. The city attorney's demeanor the night of the final count was different. In a very subdued voice she explained to the council that they were free to carry out their increase up to the numbers specified in the notice. She was so quiet that it wouldn't be surprising if the audience didn't hear it. There was just something different - can't say exactly what.

  43. Of course Sandi is going to say the prop 218 process was handled correctly. She's the one that handled it. What is she going to say, that she screwed it up? It's like asking the chef at a restaurant if the food is good, or the owner of a car company if his vehicles are top quality. I think she was talked into cutting corners by Mosca and Buchanan. They didn't want to talk about water bonds because it would embarrass their cronies from the shenanigan days. This is comedy, friends. This bunch is falling all over themselves from sheer incompetence. They're in line now for a very big fall.

  44. low income housing in Sierra Madre are 600K condos

    what they want are a condo mixed use where they promise low income but in reality, like the SNF & Howies fiasco projects, only a couple of the condos are lower priced and are alot smaller and the idea is to flip them and flip them until the prices are higher

    all I know is that Mosca, Buchanan, Moran, Walsh and some city staff flat out lied about our water pipes and impending disaster and when the smoke clears, Buchanan has included a 7 million dollar libary to be financed with the increase water taxes

  45. channel 3 watcher when it's workingDecember 9, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    What Lawyer Levin said was that the notice was adequate because it got people to ask questions for more information.
    Anybody see anything like get tax payers 'to ask questions' in the prop 218 text?

  46. I think that us Sandi's way of saying, "Yes, I know I don't have a leg to stand on. But what else can I possibly say? That it's a legal gray area?"

  47. What I think happenedDecember 9, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Sandi usually lays out options. I bet she laid out the possibilities to Buchanan and Mosca and they picked thru to come up with something very different from Sandi's recommendation (after all they're lawyers too, right?), gave it to Elaine and said this is what we want done. By the time the bastardized version got back to Sandi it was unrecognizable and she was stuck defending it. That's my guess.

  48. Closest thing I've heard that makes sense 3:34.

  49. The notice got questions asked all right, chief among them, what the hell are they talking about needing so many million dollars in repairs????
    Yeah, that was a good one for discussion.

  50. In a perverse sort of way, Sandi did exactly the right thing - got us to asking questions. One lead to another and next thing you know we found the answer, bonds! We a hair's breadth from suing the city and the Howard Jarvis folks' interest has been piqued. Thank you Sandi Levin.

  51. 2:42, that low income hustle is a state wide shenanigan tactic. Karen Warner during the housing element product presentation explained that there are covenants on low income housing, cuz there is not enough incentive for developers to build them then. What happens without covenants is exactly what you describe. Developers and realtors went absolutely crazy with profit lust in that last couple of decades.

  52. You know, the laws that prohibit bank robbing are also to get people to ask questions, too.

  53. Perverse it is 3:59, and even perverser because Sandi's error will be defended with our money.

  54. Sorry, too many sugar cookies at the office party, Karen Warner explained that there are NOT covenants on low income housing. In short, it's a farce.

  55. Wish we could have made Colantuono responsible for the damage he did.

  56. 4:16, you know what's even more egregious? The City Council tell the truth, renotice a reasonable rate increase and it would most likely pass. No lawsuit. No harm. No foul.

  57. Post-Fire Habitat Restoration and Recovery
    Thursday, December 16, 2010
    9:00am - 4:30pm

    * New Venue *

    Descanso Gardens, Van de Kamp Hall
    1418 Descanso Drive
    LA Canada Flintridge, CA 91011-3102

  58. Not just a reasonable rate increase, but even more, the one that MacGillivrey suggested that will be harder but more successful - with the promise of no new bonds.
    She had handed a significant victory to them on a silver platter and they were so belligerent that they couldn't see it.

  59. When MaryAnn uttered the words "no new bonds" the hair on Buchanan's head went up like a porcupine.

  60. Yes indeed, the no new bond words made Buchanan sputter and exclaim like my old aunt at the sight of a hussy at a church social "How dare she!!!!!"

  61. Just received an eblast from the City outlining the new water rate ordinance. In one part it states "The ordinance will also introduce tiered water rates, which will result in slightly higher water rates for those customers using higher amounts of water." They failed to mention the fact that the meter rate will also be tiered based which will not have any bearing on the amount of water you use.

  62. Ah yes, if you have a one inch meter you have to pay more for it, regardless of the amount of water you use.
    One of the more outstanding absurdities in this botched council effort.

  63. What does a red dot mean?

  64. Got to give them credit for trying. The city eblast that helps hammer the nail in the coffin for the taxpayers regarding the water rate hike includes the cheery grant news:
    Sierra Madre Public Library Awarded $15,000


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