For this post we decided that rather than taking on the entire list, we'd concentrate on just two items instead. The first because it is extraordinarily important, the other because it is both unintentionally hilarious and an entirely inadequate response to the situation it attempts to address.
Item #7 - Discussion: Proposed Canyon Zone. Recommendation that the City Council provide staff with direction and direct staff to return with any revisions to the proposed Canyon Zone at a noticed Public Hearing.
The Proposed Canyon Zone Ordinance has now been held up by a handful of local contractors/developers for several months over the following five points:
1) Permeable surface area for all parking pads.
2) What is counted as Building Floor Area.
3) Floor Area calculation (building floor area limit) for smaller lots.
4) Impact of the Angles Plane Height calculation for smaller lots, and
5) Exclusion of easement (flood control channel) from the computation of the floor area.
Here are some of the inconvenient facts that correct what are basically political tactics from a very small special interest group attempting to claim from the G4 City Council what they believe are debts owed to them for support and advocacy during the recent election.
Basically the maximum building floor area decreases as the lot gets smaller. Of the total 512 Canyon parcels, 338 parcels would be able to achieve the minimum building floor area of 1,250 square feet, or 64 percent of all Canyon parcels. Over half (67 percent) of the parcels in the canyon are 6,000 square feet or less. Over one-third of the Canyon parcels (34 percent - 174 parcels) are 3,570 square feet or less. The question is whether the 174 parcels (3,570 square feet in area or less) should be able to yield a greater building floor area limit. If so, an option is to allow a maximum building floor are limit of 1,250 square feet for all parcels that are 3,570 square feet or less.
Of the 512 Canyon lots, there are 58 lots that are 30 feet wide or less, 11% of all. The question that should be discussed is whether narrow lots, specifically 30 feet wide or less, should be permitted two-story construction, or whether lots that narrow should be limited to single story construction.
Of the 512 Canyon parcels the flood control easement passes through 60 parcels, or 12 percent of all Canyon Zone parcels. There are other examples throughout the City, outside of the Canyon Zone, where a County flood control channel runs through residential parcels, including many examples of access easements which are also excluded from the computation of allowable building floor area. The intent of this exclusion is that it is highly unlikely that a structure, more specifically, a habitable structure, would be built over a flood control channel or access easement. By inclusion of the flood control area in the computation of allowable building floor area, a larger structure would be permitted in a smaller space. The County has stated that a habitable structure would likely be denied should the property owner apply for a permit to build over the wash. A garage or bridge may be considered for approval and has been approved in the past, but each project application would be examined on a case-by-case basis. An example of how including the wash easement into the computation of floor area is:
Lot Size 3,240 square feet
Flood Control 940 square feet
Maximum Allowable Floor Area (excluding channel) 819 square feet
Maximum Allowable Floor Area (including channel) 1,134 square feet
For whatever reasons the City Council has been foot dragging over these last several months, seemingly debating the rights of the property owners to live in relative peace and safety with their neighbors versus the rights of realty people and builders to maximize their profits by building the largest possible structure on the smallest footprint. The proposed Canyon Zone Ordinance has the seal of approval from the Planning Commission. The Commission had been brought back into session before to justify their recommendations, and will once again be present during this discussion to give their reasons for coming down on the side of the residents.
11 percent of all Canyon lots, 12 percent of all Canyon Zone parcels, 200 additional square feet on a lot size of 3,240 square feet? 27 years, 5 previous Canyon Advisory Committees, none ever succeeded in adopting an Ordinance. Should cronyism prevail Canyon residents will again be denied their rights so that Glen Lambdin, Greg Prout and Tim Hayden can service their need to build in a manner that personally profits them most.
Item #8 - Discussion: Consideration Of Water Oversight Committee. Recommendations that the City Council provide staff with direction regarding the duties and responsibilities of a Water Oversight Committee, and the Committee appointment process.
This is, of course, reminiscent of the UUT Oversight Committee that I served on a year or so back. The idea being that after having socked the tax payers of Sierra Madre with a huge utility tax increase to benefit the salaries and needs of the Sierra Madre Police Department, the affected would really feel better if five people spent an occasional evening at City Hall looking at paperwork filled with items, costs and corresponding numbers to make sure that nobody was spending these new funds on of kegs of beer or bags of donuts.
I can assure you that no beer or donuts were bought with UUT funds while I was watching.
Now that the Water Rate Increase has been, at least for the moment, voted into existence, this old donkey of a sop to the rate payers has been dragged out of the shed one more time. Proposed by Councilmember Josh Moran, we're supposed to feel empowered because 5 people will once again look at spreadsheets to make sure no beer or donuts have been bought on the afflicted water rate payers' dime.
But there is bit of a problem. Since the City Council has been so completely unclear on exactly what the water rate increase was actually for, how would this committee proceed? Is it water pipe repair costs they'd need to check? Bond debt servicing that they'll be looking over the books for? Maybe it depends what month it is.
I mean, pipe repair expenditures would be fairly easy to monitor because the hardware is finite and copper. But debt servicing on bonds?
If, as reality dictates, that it indeed is bond debt servicing despite all that the Fibbin' Four were putting out last spring, what exactly would this oversight committee be looking for? Checks to the folks holding our water bonds?
I'm not so sure this has been all that well thought out. But then again, maybe John Buchanan forgot to tell Josh that this particular water rate hike isn't about those rusty old pipes any more.