There are, of course, far better ways to spend that kind of money. And if City Hall cannot find any of them, maybe they should just give us our money back? After all, it was taken out of our property taxes. Divvy it up and every family gets a new car. Or at least a bicycle.
Another way would be to spend some of that CRA money to fix up the Old Church and turn it into a Sierra Madre Historical Museum. Currently most of our museum kind of stuff is stashed at the Sierra Madre Library where it takes up a considerable amount of space.
The best effect of turning the Old Church into a museum would be to give this community a great place to discover and learn about its history, while allowing the Library to get back some of its lost rooms. In the process obviating an argument for the new McLibrary some lost souls in our community want, saving us around $7 million.
Now Glenn Lambdin, writing for Bill Coburn's now mysteriously moribund Sierra Madre News.net site, penned a series of 4 articles on the importance of saving the Old Christian Science Church at 186 W. Highland. This series of articles began running in late 2009 when the threat was not quite as great as it is today. Glenn also believed that this Church has historical significance for our community, and that it ought to be saved. He even contacted Federal and State agencies in hopes of having it designated an historic site.
I can't recall ever hearing how that particular gambit turned out.
Here is how Glenn concluded his series of articles on saving the Old Christian Science Church at 186 W. Highland:
The City bought this property with the intention of creating affordable housing. It would be very disheartening to see a developer butcher or demolish the church only to slap up a few housing units in its place. Once upon a time American architecture honored the very (Christian Science) institution that it housed. I believe that the Church building can be creatively altered for an affordable housing project that maintains the historical elements of the building, honors the past, and makes way for the new. A historical designation will certainly help.
I personally think a museum would be far preferable. We have a very active Historical Society in town that would certainly put such a space to good use. But that said, perhaps there is some common ground here on saving the Old Church from the wrecking ball. It certainly deserves a better fate than being destroyed because City Hall needs a place to hide CRA money from Jerry Brown.
Somebody asked a very good CRA question yesterday
Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers are the bureaucratic vehicle by which such ogreish organizations as SCAG cram unwanted housing requirements down the throats of little cities like ours. It is a wretched and hugely expensive process for all the cities involved. Much of the housing demanded by SCAG, along with the State and Federal types that back it up, is of the lower income persuasion. And the way cities can help pay for the creation of such stuff, while also getting the State and SCAGs off their backs, is by using CRA money to make it happen.
But what if Governor Jerry Brown succeeds in taking away all that CRA money? How are we supposed to meet our RHNA requirements then?
Perhaps another blessing that comes with Jerry's demolition of the old CRA monster is that we will now be able to ignore all that RHNA nonsense? After all, if the State takes away the money used to pay for at least part of that stuff, how are cities like ours supposed to get our RHNA numbers going on? This is actually starting to look better all the time.
Did the SMPD's crazy prices kill off our Farmers' Market?
Over on Patchy's site there is an article about the demise of Sierra Madre's Farmers' Market. In this piece our favorite one-eyed pirate quotes Director of Community and Personnel Services Elisa Weaver this way:
"We understood the problem that the old location was out of sight," said Weaver. "But if we move to another location where we have to close down our streets we would need to hire Police Officers at $100 an hour, which the Commissioners felt was to expensive for the City's budget.
She does have a point. $100 an hour to guard cabbage is a fairly steep rate.
Now I have said this before, and as you know I am never shy about repeating myself. I work in the music business (or what's left of it), and I stage retail events all over the world with artists signed to the label. Some of them, like T.I., Bruno Mars, Rob Thomas, Jason Mraz, Lupe Fiasco or Kid Rock, draw very large and boisterous crowds. Much bigger than lettuce and carrots normally do.
And when I do events in Los Angeles County I always hire off duty LAPD. And I never pay even half the hourly rate the SMPD gets for working events here.
$100 an hour to guard vegetables is just plain nuts. And this is just another indication of how out of whack the money arrangements in this town are.
Speaking of Patchy, it's time for another Aol/Patch Watch Report!
Patch fans should avert their eyes because the news I am about to impart is not very hopeful for our little outpost of that vast Aol empire. According to a report from Atlantic Magazine, only a relatively small amount of all living souls are feasting their eyeballs on Aol/Patch content.
AOL's Patch: $50 Million for 3 Million Unique Viewers ... Just last year, AOL spent $50 million building out the site to eek (sic) out a meager three million unique visitors. The average post garnered about 100 pageviews and a 500 pageview story was considered "a wild success." For comparison, take a look at Gawker.com, which displays every story's stats. As I write this, the top story on the front page has more than 118,000 pageviews, while a story picked at random is likely to have at least a few thousand views.
Now to bring this down to a humble Sierra Madre level, this site I'm working on now is averaging a little over a thousand "page views" (or "hits") a day this month. We'll be a little over 30,000 by February 1st. Which beats Patch's national per site average by an at least a five or six to one margin. And nobody ever paid a dime to get us to this level. We just type a lot, refuse advertising and use a free hosting service.
Whereas Aol, with its $50 million dollar initial outlay to get 500 Patch sites up, running and staffed, apparently paid over $16 a page view. Which in the corporate sense is a very bizarre squandering of otherwise investable treasure.
How Aol ever plans to make money off this Patch thing is beyond me. Cute kitty pictures and all. It will certainly take a hell of a lot of "Taste Of Sierra Madre" ads to cover that kind of nut.