Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Does The General Plan Update Steering Committee Keep Dodging The Land Use Element?

You have to hand it to the General Plan Update Steering Committee. They work hard, they deal with vast volumes of extraordinarily detailed stuff that nobody much cares about, and they're not getting paid for doing it. Or at least they're not getting paid in cash. They're volunteers, so there might be some intrinsic rewards that they are looking forward to receiving. Volunteers apparently love that intrinsic stuff. I do this blog volunteer and my intrinsic reward seems to be diminishing eyesight. Which may be why I take a dim view on some things.

But there seems to be a problem on the GPUSC that has been developing over the past few months. The first truly significant divide between the 5 original members and the 4 new ones. Or at least a couple of the new ones. And that is what many consider to be the shimmering crown jewel of the General Plan, the grandly entitled "Land Use Element."

To bring the elephant out into the open, it is the part of the General Plan that just about everyone is concerned about. There are some other good and valued things for sure, but none so carefully watched as the Land Use Element. It is where preservation either gets preserved, or development gets developed. There really isn't much middle ground here. And as such it is sure to be the source of much chat and blog fodder when The 9 roll up their sleeves and get down to it.

And here is the issue. If you go back to the Environmental Impact Report of the 1996 General Plan (which is the one currently in effect), you will get to read some pretty shocking stuff about Land Use. Very not so Sierra Madre type things that will either have you scratching your head in wonder or recoiling in horror as if from an evil incarnate. Which I am here today to say it is.

Here is what the 1996 EIR has to say about the Land Use language in the General Plan of that very same year:

Impact 5.7-1: By the year 2015, the population (of Sierra Madre) could increase by 12,450 from the 1990 estimate of 10,732 residents to a theoretical capacity of 23,212.

Of course, if you're going to have an additional 12,450 folks move into town, you're going to have to build them a whole lot new places to live. Which is the point, I suppose. Here is what the 1996 EIR has to say about that:

Impact 5.7-2: By the year 2015, up to 5,224 dwelling units could be added to the City's housing stock under the theoretical capacity...

Now nobody wants 12,450 new people moving here, nor would anyone wish to see our picturesque village destroyed by the construction of over 5,000 new structures in a town that covers a rather petite 3 square miles. We'd prefer that things remain pretty much as they are. What we have always known as Sierra Madre would never quite look the same, and could end up making Pasadena look like a country retreat.

So certainly all 9 members of the General Plan Update Steering Committee, publicly proclaimed small town slow growth preservationist stalwarts all, would want to excise this nasty relic of the DSP era from the body of our new and soon to be living General Plan. It is not what Sierra Madre wants now or at any other time.

Unless, of course, you are a member of the Downtown Investors Club. Or one of their enablers on the City Council. Because a General Plan that would call for development this immense would pretty much set our town up for what they have always wanted, which is exploiting Sierra Madre and its good name for their own personal enrichment. It was the planning foundation for the Downtown Specific Plan, as it will be with whatever it is Mosca and Buchanan want to hook to all that new water infrastructure. After they sell a few bonds, of course.

Yet somehow the General Plan 9 never seems to get around to getting this job done. And, sad as I am to say it, the division appears to be between the original 5 members, and at least a couple of the more recent appointees to the Committee. The 5 original members had been working on getting the job done when their 4 new colleagues joined the GP conga line.

But you know what? Every time the Land Use Element comes up now, these couple of new members do whatever they can to delay its consideration. Certainly this would be the best time to work on it because interest in civic affairs in Sierra Madre seems to be on the uptick, and having as many people as possible involved could help to save this town from becoming just another generic adjacent Gold Line settlement.

If you were a cynical soul you might even suggest that certain mega-development advocates could be working to shift Land Use deliberations over to this summer when everybody is at the beach and won't be around to see what is going on.

There is a General Plan Update Steering Committee meeting this evening at City Hall. If you happen to be there and you'd like to take a moment to speak at the podium, might you suggest that the GPUSC get cracking on the Land Use Element thing now? Ask them what's going on with the delays.

I mean, why not just get down to doing the one thing that everyone is concerned about?

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64 comments:

  1. not surprised, but...February 1, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    5,224 new dwellings in Sierra Madre? This is in our General Plan? For God's sake get that out of there!

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  2. Good God, yes, 7:17! The have to delete that!

    I never knew that, and I'll bet most people didn't.
    I'll bet you that Bart Doyle was behind this!

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  3. The General Plan Committee's job is to listen to the people. This is the people's document. So far the "people" have not been showing up. There are only a few hardy souls who attend the meetings. Since the meetings are not broadcast, the only way to know what is going on is to be there.

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  4. The newbies don't want to discuss the land element because it would force them to finally show their cards. Their business cards all read "sponsored by the Building Association" and the "Downtown Investment CLub".

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  5. That outrageous figure comes from the EIR. That was consultant created, while the general plan was citizen created.

    There are plenty of people around who worked on that 1996 general plan. Wonder what they have to say about that number in the EIR?

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  6. The EIR consultant analyzed the material contained in the 1996 General Plan and calculated what the effects would be. That consultant seems to believe that the 1996 General Plan has a very open ended outlook on housing and population density. If this actually panned out our new nickname would have to be "The Foothill Calcutta."

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  7. Assuming the Empire State Building is about 3,000,000 square feet, and a green apartment is about 400 square feet, if we could just build one similar skyscraper here, using Howie's, evg, the post office and some adjacent under-utilized land, we could have an additional 7,500 dwelling units here, with room left over for the Buchanan Library.

    To comply with Measure V, just count two storeys at a time.

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  8. Impact 5.7-2: By the year 2015, up to 5,224 dwelling units could be added to the City's housing stock under the theoretical capacity...

    This is as shocking as the water/rate/bond debt/218 violation! This is what the Doyle gang wants to do to our little Sierra Madre!

    The General Plan Committee meetings should be TELEVISED on Channel 3!
    DEMAND IT, residents, DEMAND IT, before it's too late and they pull over another fast on on the people of Sierra Madre!

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  9. The General Plan Land Use Element needs to be put front and center.

    Period.

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  10. They'll have to get to the land use stuff eventually. They'll run out of other stuff!

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  11. Land Use is a loaded issue. The Johnny Joes want it to be considered during the summer when no one is around.

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  12. But 8:03, according to the GP watcher @7:42, no one is around anyway.

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  13. My hat's off to anyone who does any volunteer service in the political arena.
    Especially the original committee who was treated so badly by the council nitwits.
    If you try to help out in politics with the pro-development crowd around, you might as well paint a big old bulls eye on your back.
    It wasn't always like this.

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  14. Why not JohnnyJoeJoshie?After all, Moran has such a conflict of interest it's wacky that he even ran for council.It's the fulfillment of the California Realtors Association's dream that he won, but sloppy city government.

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  15. Looks like there are some people concerned about the issue here.

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  16. How about the Triple J Ranch?

    "Wranglin' for Realty"

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  17. It's easy to post comments.

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  18. This is absolutely horrifying!

    What must we all do to stop this from being left in the GP?
    The regime knows they probably have a majority to leave it in.

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  19. if a nuclear launching pad or 8,000 seat convention center or a 15 story highrise by happenstance was in the general plan, would this manipulated committee of Moran, Mosca and Buchanan plants be discussing them?

    no, they'd be removed as a inappropriate vision for the city and against the will of the citizens

    however, as it has been suggested all along, there is a small narrow contention of residents who are developers, utility company employees, real estate agents, mortgage sales people, construction dudes (ala Lambdin)etc that are systematically pushing Sierra Madre into oblivion and embracing SCAG's vision of what it has decided for Sierra Madre because it benefits them and this group will just move on like Borg's from Star Trek after they have consumed all of our natural resources of charm

    the housing empire has been the driving force behind the fraudulent hysteria marketed by Mosca and Buchanan when they railed that the city water pipes were exploding like kettle corn and it was really about building an water infrastructure to accomodate a doubling of our population, remember that these two "civic" leaders lied to us and lied repeatedly until caught

    now I think we should add a combo bowling alley, strip club and funeral parlor and name it Lucky Lane Stiffs, can that be added to the General Plan? we can put condos above it.

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  20. I still marvel at the complete lunacy of Josh Moran touting that when he was running and once elected he had every intention of planting his friends and alike minded supporters on City Committees, regardless of who else volunteered or qualifications

    It is sort of refreshing to have a Councilmember publically admit that he was going to and enjoy screwing over those he was elected to serve

    Given the history of Moran when he called for a boycott of businesses that advertised in a paper supporting Measure V, his screwball ethics are a perfect fit with Mosca and Buchanan

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  21. Moran is the reason poor tired old John Buchanan will have to run for a third term. Even JB knows he can't leave the city to that cranky miscreant.

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  22. It's ironic that Hollywood is making a movie about the Three Stooges.

    We've got them here.

    Moe Mosca, Larry Buchanan, Curly Moran.

    And Nancy Walsh will make a cameo as Shemp Walsh.

    nuck nuck nuck

    poke us in the eye of ethics Moe Mosca.

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  23. Buchanan cannot run for a third term, I heard there was a shortage of industrial strength hair spray

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  24. The 4 newbies were very carefully selected.
    Wendy Davis, an attorney for Edison and a co-worker of John Buchannan is there to push the SB375 agenda.
    Ed Miller and John Hutt are to take care of the residental and commercial development.
    Colin Brodrick is to watch out for the Police and Fire Fighters.
    They will act as a unit to cover each other's backs.

    The first words out of their mouths were we need consultants.

    They all refused to look at the Land Element that was being worked on when the started their rein.

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  25. SM dodged a bullet - so farFebruary 1, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    The Downtown Specific Plan also had a "built-out" limit - but that was only for downtown. That Environmental Impact Report, the one that John Buchanan and Joe Mosca fought so hard to keep from the public, anticipated some problems on 'built-out", but that sure is the direction we were headed in, with Buchanan at the helm.

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  26. Oh goody 9:12, do you think they would ever have the nerve to turn the attention to rezoning the residential areas for multi family development?

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  27. Oh the shoulda, woulda, counda clause. I assure you that EIR report is very tweaked. If not a figment of a building groups imagination or machinations. The transit village statistics were pure fantasy. Time for a redo. The world changed November 2008, a new report for post Nov 2008, should be done. With all our housing stock, still on the market in SGV, and recovery not expected for another 8 years. That EIR isn't worth the paper it is written on, and besides was probably conceived of by a bunch of phonies who had offices at Ontario Airport. With names like McKennea, Moon, and Jones. What firm did the EIR report anybody tell me?

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  28. There is so much deception in how the City deals with the residents
    now. Nothing ever seems to be above board. It wasn't always like this
    In Sierra Madre. The City and the people used to work together. Now
    they just talk bureaucratic gibberish and ask for more more more.

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  29. when the housing market exploded, we had a bunch of Santa Monica wannabees move into Sierra Madre, overpay for their homes and because they'd never fit in or be accepted in other cities, they gelled together here and are hell bent on changing Sierra Madre

    It is staggering how much, how easily and how often this Council lies to us.

    This Council is supposed to be our neighbors but they certainly don't act like it.

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  30. Lot's of powerful special interests would
    love to crack this town. Unfortunately some
    of our elected officials work for them.

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  31. also local, also oldFebruary 1, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Sierra Madre has always been a kind of simple place, not fashionable, not trendy. That's why it still has a sense of itself, and that's why we fight so hard for it.

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  32. Developers, Realtors, unions, politicians, utility companies, they all eat out of the same pot. And there is no place in their world for small independent communities that have the nerve to fight back. The same people who are wailing about Brown's long overdue demolition of CRAs also want to be able to call the planning shots in places like Sierra Madre. They are corrupt and greedy, and have no place here.

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  33. The only reason those people listed by 11:21 are in town in the first place is because they ran out of other places to go. Good old SM, we were at the bottom of developers' lists because we were boring, and we put up a fight. BIA Bart had a lot to do with changing that. Put out some City For Sale signs.

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  34. I learned a lot from the California Realtors Association booklet, "Defeating Slow Growth Initiatives at the Local Level."

    Who in their right mind would want to defeat local slow growth in Southern California?

    Somebody who's into the last days thing? Wants to bring about riot n' ruin?

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  35. 9:53
    The EIR for the 1996 GP was Impact Sciences, Inc -Thousand Oaks, Ca. They have an office in Old Town Pasadena 234 E. Colorado just steps from the Goldline.
    Surrounded by mixedup use, congested streets, and the Goldline. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. doesn't get much greenier.

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  36. Nah, not the Apocalypse. Just greed. It clouds people's judgement.

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  37. Sir Eric, I think the general plan committee has been doing a good job, and I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Town Hall Form at the YAC, as did hundreds of my neighbors. The committee is making progress, and I'm grateful they agreed to take on the task.

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  38. The absence of any real discussion on the Land Use Element
    does not concern you, 12:02? I think everyone agrees that
    the YAC event was a huge success. But that doesn't mean
    people should stop discussing the issues.

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  39. 12:02, you've forgotten the mantra of Sierra Madre public participation:
    no good deed goes unpunished.

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  40. In the name of civility we really need to let the Land Use discussion go away. If it creates discord then we should leave it to City Hall to take care of.

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  41. Interesting moods on the threads the last few days.
    If anyone has something positive to say, they better keep it to themselves for a while.

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  42. Some find a discussion of substantive issues to be positive, and some find it threatening. Different strokes for different strokes, I guess.

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  43. I can't tell if we have a troll (always likely) or if its just some disagreement - but the thread ain't on topic anymore!

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  44. Can we talk about the Land Use Element? Or do we just cue the DJ for yet another play of "Feelings?"

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  45. I'll put in a request for my big hit, "Crazy"

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  46. So, what's the topic today? Just got on. Am finding it much too nice. Let's shred some issue!

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  47. Civility doth overflow

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  48. I don't want to read this thread anymore.
    It's gone bad, trolls?

    We don't need to hear all the personal attacks, we are well aware of the character flaws of some of the local politicians.
    Let's stick to the issues.
    See ya' all tomorrow, hope it's a more productive thread.

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  49. Back to the Land Use Element... there are 9 people on the committee - can't somebody agendize it for the next meeting? I like the idea of scheduling it for the upcoming Sunday session - the one where they are locked in a room for four hours with no talk about the next town hall or artsy f***** presentations. How many months are left on the timeline? Let's get some movement in this update. Exlax all 'round!

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  50. The Land Use Elephant is going to be a jumbo issue no matter how you trumpet the issue. But it is time we let it out of it's trunk.

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  51. Sometimes civility flows, and sometimes it oozes.

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  52. Crush the mellow of the EIR Impact Sciences, IncFebruary 1, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    11:39 Corporate is Oakland, there is a Cammarillo office and the Pasadena office is where I got the most contained web site, they like water, and water hookups, Amazingly under water projects is where they choose to put the bios of most of the " who we are, not in the "about us" under principals although there are a few there. They helped Valencia. They helped the Americana (white elephant) in Glendale. I don't see much meat just fluff, no degrees in this or that just "valuable experience" but now in retrospect if you search Impact Sciences, Inc Pasadena, you can peruse the web site they do not mention Sierra Madre, and some of the principals and/or jobs might be folks or pieces that could be used as Talking Points toward throwing out that EIR report. Seems like everybody they helped was redevelopment or water industry oriented. As it stands their reports did not do much to help the folks they did "help" In fact they are now crying Helllppp!!!!!

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  53. Anytime Barry Manilow is invoked, it's oozing.

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  54. A Copacabana is not appropriate land use.

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  55. 12:25 has got to be kidding," let city hall take care of it"February 1, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Old Kentucky, don't let a few snipes get you down. They only come out when they get nervous.
    I imagine there are a lot of nervous snippers out there, between the pending water rate litigation and the holey EIR report. Use your truthometer, the one the big guy gave you.

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  56. 2:36, I recall hearing many. many complaints about an inadequate job being done on the EIR back in the days of the 96 plan.

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  57. you nailed it down ,we need this needs to be on the next agenda , this way we can find out what commercial needs mr. hutt was talking about in November
    I will be there count on it

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  58. FYI it says in your 1996 general plan that the EIR report should be replaced within 15 years, so from 96 to 2000 then another 11 years, that EIR report is 15 years old, and a new one is in order.

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  59. The General Plan Committee agreed to discuss the Land Use Element of the Genreral Plan Sunday Feb 13 from 1 pm to 5 pm. There will be a new EIR for the new plan. Everyone is encouraged to attend the meeting and give imput. The Committee also voted to The General Plan survey on line in the near future.

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  60. Why would anyone volunteer to help out in this town when all they get in return is lies whispered behind their back. We are a community and we need to stay united, instead of creating petty divisions. It is ridiculous to think that the four new members on the GPSC are pro-development plants. I know three of them and they are all good guys who truly love this town. In the end, the more you bad mouth them, the less credible you are.

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  61. You got it, 2:34.

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  62. Elected representatives are fair game - but not their families.
    And volunteers are not fair game at all.

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