Friday, January 21, 2011

The CRA Church & Glenn Lambdin's Call For Its Preservation

Don Watts wrote yesterday about how City Hall is attempting to keep its $1.6 million in CRA money out of the hands of Governor Brown by razing the old Christian Science Church site at 186 W. Highland. Basically what would be accomplished by this is we'd lose one of Sierra Madre's original and historic religious structures, and end up with low income box housing smack dab in the middle of what is now a very nice single family residential neighborhood. Not so good a deal. We'd be better off just turning the cash over to Sacramento.

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 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, 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.

Happy Friday!


  1. Whoda thunk we'd be lining up with Glen Lambdin and rooting for Patch? Tattlers, it's a small world and we've awakened with strange bedfellows!

  2. Wow!
    1000 page hits a day for our Tattler!
    It keeps increasing!
    This will really help when we need broader coverage, as in KFI radio talk shows and L.A. Times.
    Congratulations, Crawford and posters/readers.

    I have a tip to new posters.
    You have to hit the post comment about 3 times.
    When you submit a post, make sure you hit it 2 or 3 times until the little red mark clears and the notice that you have been posted shows up.
    It's easy once you get used to it.
    I've posted prematurely more than once, and not had my post come up, on one occasion, screamed at the moderators, when it was my impatience!

  3. "Your comment will be visible after approval".

    Came up on the third hit. :)

  4. Guardians of the CornJanuary 21, 2011 at 7:08 AM

    Step away from the turnips and put your hands up!

  5. Firey Eyed PreservationistsJanuary 21, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    I agree with 6:56 am to a point. But as one who has witnessed Glen Lambin's construction track record I am taking his lofty pronouncements about preservation with a mighty heaping spoonful of iodine free salt. It was our august Mayor Lambdin, with the help of his mentor Bart Doyle, who brutally eviscerated the Cultural Heritage Commission before the eyes of an astonished public and then dissolved the Commission. That's the kind of SOB you're dealing with here.

  6. What an interesting position: preserve the Church and deny the existence. My that Glen Lambdin is a confused sort.

  7. Most atheists are very confused. Even the most adamant denier of the divinity of the Lord mouths the word God just before his plane ploughs into side of a mountain.

  8. What do the Arcadia Woodlands and the Old Church
    have in common?

    Destroyed for development.

  9. 7:49! " denier of divinity! L.O.L.,give us something to work with?????

  10. I, for one, when asked by Glenn Lambdin, to support the saving of the church from the CRA ax 'transformation-to-housing' went with him to a CC or a PC meeting when he made his pitch for preservation. I am always on the side of preservation and was aghast when the Cultural Heritage Commission and the previous Tree Commission were dissolved. But I do remember trying to help save the historic church on Highland at his request.

  11. The god Bal, do you not remember Lambdin piece about how he lost his faith and is now an atheist? From his own words, that one. Dig through Coburn's site. It's in there. I think that may be one of the last "columns" he wrote.

  12. Head on over to Coburn's site, 8:03. Reading Glenn's mighty struggles with the Lord is Biblical in its scope. There are at least 3 columns on the topic.

  13. Figures Lambdin would be an atheist.
    I'm sure he is such an ego maniac that he truly believes his superior intellect can PROVE their is no DIVINITY????

  14. I think we should all pray that we survive a year of Mosca as Mayor.

  15. "We have taken DNA samples from the cauliflower and can now prove conclusively that the person who committed this atrocity is also responsible for the thefts at the EVG station."

  16. Museums don't draw much activity or support, and require tons of donations and volunteers. One way to take that kind of vision to another level (in the existing church) is to structure it as a non-profit museum/research operation with a community center run by the City. The main sanctuary is always just great for presentations, meetings and dialogues, jazz and chamber music, holiday festivals, etc. The biggest reason for this is restoration of a prime historic space in a structure. This area can be rented by the City for a fee to groups and corporate entities.

    The other rooms can be adapted for small history exhibits and study rooms that let residents research online and in the collected materials. Set this up in partnership with a research organization and tie into the library databases as a remote secure research area. A small membership fee structure could be established for research activities. Residents can donate their collected archival materials here as well. Some libraries and community centers have even incorporated small outdoor cafes run by an operator out of the existing kitchen (I believe Pasadena Main Branch does this).

    The point is, it should be a center that serves the community and is able to generate enough revenue to be self-supporting under a non-profit structure operating as an independent extension of the library. Many cities have small older buildings that are "recycled" this way into second and third lives, since they can be repaired and upgraded over time for less expense than a new building even with ADA adjustments (restrooms and ramps).

  17. Hey Tattler, I heard the city manager say 1.7 million - not 1.6.
    I know you swells think it's all the same, but one point seven is considerably different than one point six.
    And we're not mentioning the hundred thousand here and there for this year's this and last year's that.

  18. That extra $100K was a kick back for me.

  19. It's just businessJanuary 21, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Here's a question for you: would the low income housing actually be, in reality, low income housing? Or would it be housing built with a lot of wiggle room by a predatory developer who would then hook up with a realtor who would take it over and charge what the market would bear?

  20. Luxury condos of course, 8:59. Let's be real here. The
    name of the settlement will be "Old Church Estates."

  21. We're putting low income housing a stone's throw from the elementary school.

  22. I'm encouraged by the interest in saving the building, r.e. adaptive reuse.
    Alternative #1:The building can be left standing and retrofitted for life safety, and ADA concerns.
    Also, because it could be nominated as a historic resource, there is a provision in the ADA to allow for the building not to be fully compliant. It could then be used by the general public, meetings, wedding chapel, etc.
    The large parking lot behind it, could be considered for some small scale housing (senior low income?)
    with a reduced parking CUP. Something that developers would find as an incentive.
    at least 10 small units could be added.
    Of course, it would need public review, zoning review, to see if it could be done in a socially responsible manner.
    This parcel is owned by us, the citizens, and we should be listened to. It's not a privately own lot, so we have a much greater responsibility to craft a well thoughtout plan.
    I don't think even the likes of the current council would want to be known, or proud of those who destroyed an historic resource.
    The city should be actively pursuing an historic designation.
    Alternative #2 If people don't care enough about it tear it down, and build eggcrate units.

  23. If politics in Sierra Madre teaches us anything, it's that every issue is a mix of good and bad, every participant has got more than one aspect to his or her political leanings, and we're a pretty crazy bunch. Support the idea, don't focus so much on the person.
    Lambdin, atheist or true believer, thug or mayor, destroyer of the historical commission, is right about preserving the church.

  24. Look everyone, obviously the city wants to develop that property asp, to avoid Jerry Brown's confiscation of CRA funds.
    If that were not the case, that being DEVELOPMENT is their primary concern....why the rush?
    They would have public debates about what the people wanted to do with their property.

  25. Disgusted with the snobberyJanuary 21, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Oh please, 9;04. Do you think that all low income residents are unfit to be near a school or even located on former church property? By any current criteria many of us are low income and yet we're allowed to rub shoulders with our betters at Beantown. Do you really think the homeless and bag ladies will be flocking to Sierra Madre for the 10 low to moderate income units? Do you think children from low income families don't attend Sierra Madre Elementary?

  26. The CRA money would be a great start to rehabbing the church property for community use and incorporate some small bungalow style housing that recreates an earlier traditional housing format. Win-win.

  27. With RHNA numbers becoming unenforceable there is no reason why we can't do something like turning this "old church" into something of use to all the community. I think we can win one for everybody here.

  28. @ Anonymous 8:09 [and others in agreement] -

    Clearly you hadn't actually READ what Glenn wrote in his articles, instead you manipulated his words to the benefit of your own rhetoric & propaganda.

    Shame on you, for your slimy deceit.

    Taken DIRECTLY from "Losing My Religion: Conclusion" By Glenn Lambdin:

    "As I mentioned two weeks ago, I am now a heretic because I can no longer logically believe in the historical doctrines of a faith that I followed for twenty years. What I am not, though, is an atheist. I now believe that God is far greater than the god these ancient holy scriptures created."

    1. Tell Glenn to go back to Thailand and dream to became the holder of the kickbox word championship.

  29. He's only a heretic? That is very disappointing.

  30. Lambdin used a loaded word to refer to his personal journey through faith, hence the fistfight over his exit from a particular brand of theology. There's many, many Protestant and other persuasions out there that are fundamentally deist, and not about strict biblical interpretations that mainstream Catholic and Episcopalian churches insist on.

    They're rapidly losing congregations as a result.

  31. Nice,10:04!Now glen is telling us his faith is "logic" . thats worked for all mankind hasnt ? AhHA HA HA!!!!!

  32. don't wanna burst your bubble but...January 21, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Remember if the church is no longer sited for low income housing, the City must ID a new location for the RHNA Housing Element. So folks where do you suggest? Cathy Child's property on Montecito? It would be best if the City did not put out an RFP. It does not need to issue one. Elaine is pushing for it.

  33. The Great Reckoning is now upon us.

    That is all I have to say.

  34. Who cares what Mr, Lambdin thinks about God, gods, no god, lotsa God or any variation thereof.
    The point is can we save the church?

  35. @ Zen FleshZen Bonds -

    I've read your posting over & over. Unfortunately I can't, for the life of me, understand wtf you're trying to say.

    Nice job.

  36. I have been questioned about my lack of attendance at city council meetings, and I think this would be a good time to explain why that is. I believe that God does not go everywhere. Instead He chooses to avoid certain places. And should death catch you in one of the places He is not, then you cannot go to heaven because only God can take you there. I do not believe God goes into the City Council chamber.

  37. Daniel you know whereJanuary 21, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    It's not so bad in there 10:56.

  38. 10:27, but maybe without the CRA, SCAG has to back off and the RHNA will be HISTORY.
    Too much to hope for?
    The thing about picking a spot to carve up is getting the agreement of 100% of the people who live there. Without that, it's just another form of invasion.

  39. We're in Sierra Madre folks.

    Unless someone or some group of people decide to lead the fight for the church, it's toast.

  40. Did I say I thoroughly enjoy the writings of our elder statesman, Don Watts? Lucid, well written, and to the point. Thank you Don.

  41. "This parcel is owned by us, the citizens, and we should be listened to."

  42. The city manager is just doing what all the city managers in California must be doing - trying to keep the money.

    Now if the council would get on board with a preservationist/senior housing plan, save the church and use it for the community, provide housing for some of our seniors, the city manager would no doubt do her best to make that happen.

    It's the council that should lead this effort.

  43. When Spinach AttacksJanuary 21, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    The $100 per hour cost of guarding green vegetables is justified because the produce there is very fresh. I don't mean because they are all newly picked from the garden, certainly they are. It's just that they are very disrespectful and need to be watched.

  44. Zen FleshZen BondsJanuary 21, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Dear:10:21,Moo or if you will Mu. Its a Zen kine-ah thing.

  45. Maybe we could do a Farmer's Market and open air political roundtables. We could invite Sarah Palin, maybe Frank Gaffney. Jerry Brown could join in and they could all tour the Church afterward. Buchanan and Mosca would get their pictures taken.

    That'd justify the $100 an hour SMPD and get some network news and cable trucks parked on Baldwin, don't you think?

  46. Don't forget you veggiesJanuary 21, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Don't need a farmer's market.

    We have plenty of choices where to shop.

    Trader Joe
    Fresh and Easy
    PHS farmers market
    Monrovia farmers market
    Sierra Madre School with farmers market delivery

    Plenty of places to get our fruits & veggies.
    We grown our own "Nuts" in Sierra Madre.

  47. There are a heck of a lot of reasons why we shouldn't have a farmers market in Sierra Madre and it mostly comes down to finances. The cost of the police at $100 per hour is the least of our worries. The City would be subsidizing the farmers and any organization that wants to sponsor them. We should be fiscally responsible and buy our produce at Taylors or if you have to have organic, Whole Foods.

  48. For the size and breadth of Sierra Madre's Farmers Market it was just barely folksy and not very useful when it came to putting fresh produce on the table. Starting at 3 p.m. and ending around 8 p.m. on a Wednesday made it impractical for lots of folks. Also, they added food booths and for the cost of asphalt rental they were competing with the likes of Ugos who has put in hard cash to make a very nice restaurant for our town, ditto Charcuterie (I haven't been to the only place since the current owneres ruined the Maggy Wong's Chicken Salad with processed presssed chicken meat). Too bad we can't get a Henrys in town. They acutally started at a fruit and vegetable stand in Irvine years ago on a country road when that part of Orange County was rural. That is my recollection of it anyway.

  49. There must have been a reason Martin Luther "walked", Henry VIII "balked", Englishmen, Irishmen,& Europeans fled in droves.
    Something about heretics and the religion in power persecuting those non belivers and non conformists. Religion is such a warm and fuzzy thing. Heaven awaits the faithful, don't cha think?

  50. Cultural PreservationistJanuary 21, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    So proud I did not vote for MEG and voted for Jerry Brown. He knew what he was doing. Now
    let us preserve the Church and make it a public building and think of the wonders our children could be learning from a museum across the street from their very own school.

    8:48 you are absolutely correct. Please form a committee before anyone of the G4 hires a consultant.

  51. Sorry EL Monte kid. The previous FM did not pay one cent to the City except for their business license. The was no rent paid. They made promises of money and school programs but those promises were never made good.

    The estimated cost for the City if they subsidized a FM is about two thousand a month. Police or blockades, no parking signage, garbage disposal and toilets. $24,000 a year doesn't make sense for lettuce and grapes.


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