In other words, it was just another every other Tuesday evening in the All American City from four years ago. The good, the bad, and the kinda foolish.
The meeting kicked off with some commentary on the meaning of the word "sustainability." MaryAnn MacGillivray noted that at a recent SCAG meeting, which is at the very heart and soul of the sustainability faith, nobody really had an adequate definition of that rather loaded word. MaryAnn made light of this, reading a particularly inane definition put out by one of SCAG's bigdomes. Which caused Mayor Pro Tem Buchanan to both bristle and proclaim that his band of merry droogs on the Green Committee would soon be answering that question, and to everyone's satisfaction and amazement.
Now I am certainly no expert on sustainability, though I do use my blue trash can to recycle paper products. But I did find a definition of "sustainability" on Google that I hope will help the Green Committee out. This from a website called ScienceDirect:
Sustainability: an ill-defined concept and its assessment using fuzzy logic - Sustainability is an inherently vague concept whose scientific definition and measurement still lack wide acceptance. Fuzzy logic is well suited to handle such a vague, uncertain, and polymorphous concept. In this paper, we develop a model called Sustainability Assessment by Fuzzy Evaluation (SAFE), which provides a mechanism for measuring developmental sustainability.
It might be a little presumptuous of me to draw any conclusions this early, but I suspect that the Green Committee will play it SAFE when constructing their vision of what exactly sustainability might be.
The first thing to happen of real significance was the hearing on the Canyon Zone Ordinance. To say this was a wash would be inaccurate because there was a winning party. It would also be incorrect to say this portion of the meeting was a bridge to nowhere, covered or not. And obviously anyone who thinks a life of easement awaits them because they'll be able claim as their very own the washes that run through the Canyon has yet to meet with something called Los Angeles County. But that is probably because they just don't get down the hill very much.
I'll have a lot more Canyon information on Thursday, but the highlight for me was how Josh Moran's concerns were so easily brushed aside by the adults on the City Council. Particularly his arguments about those famous house lots on Marlborough Terrace. That little bit of tendentiousness just did not have the wings to fly. Even Nancy Walsh was onto him, bless her heart.
Heritage Housing showed up to give a brief spiel on how they would take the Old Church on W. Highland and turn it into housing for the poor, or maybe the not so poor. The residents who live on Highland also showed up and expressed their anger at being completely left out of the discussion. After all, the City quickly moving towards signing a contract with a developer who would then put low income housing into their neighborhood without even bothering to ask them for their opinions was not a civil act. Or even remotely honorable.
Mayor Mosca, who of course did not care to inquire about what the residents on Highland might actually think about this, then proclaimed that he was very concerned about their opinions and he wanted to - naturally - form a committee. And Highland residents would even be invited to participate. Which will, as The Process goes forward, basically be a one-sided dialogue with the City telling these residents that low income housing must be built in Sierra Madre and that their neighborhood was chosen. And that there is nothing anyone can do.
There will be some nuances thrown in. The "CRA owns it so it has to be low income housing" bit Joe channeled will certainly be included in whatever meetings are held. Along with RHNA numbers, the "Housing Element," and all the rest of that rhythm.
The accusation by a Highland resident that this Heritage Homes contract was being rushed was denied by many sitting at the big table. Which is unfortunate, but hardly out of character. The City needs to get that contract signed just as quickly as possible because if they don't the designated CRA moneys will be taken away by Sacramento when the State Legislature acts to abolish redevelopment agencies.
My advice to the Highland folks is to delay the City as much as you can, and when that is no longer possible hire a good lawyer. The City is definitely working under some serious time constraints here, and the longer you can drag it out the better the chances are that the CRA funding needed to turn the Old Church into low income housing will be taken away by Jerry Brown. At which time the nightmare will come to an end.
Billy Shields (not the guy from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, I presume), came to speak about his company and their desire to turn the decrepit Skilled Nursing Facility into a Senior Living Community. Which Mr. Shields also called an Assisted Living Facility. There would be 90 elderly residents housed there, with the average age being 83.
Billy seemed like an on the level and sincere gentleman, with the best possible intentions. I don't ordinarily make those kind of judgements based on a single SM Channel 3 appearance, but I'm going to go out on a limb here. And isn't it ironic that after all of the many things the Skilled Nursing Facility was supposed to become over the last several years, it could now be going back to what it originally was? A place for elderly people to receive the care they need?
The last thing worth talking about was all the CRA chatter. And it took MaryAnn MacGillivray to bring the elephant out into the open. What exactly would happen to the City's CRA 5 Year Plan if Jerry Brown has his way and kills off redevelopment agencies? To which Sandi Levin replied that the purpose of this 5 Year Plan is to shield Sierra Madre's remaining CRA money from the state should this happen. In other words, this is actually less of a plan and more of a tactic.
Which means, and as we have been saying here on The Tattler all along, Sierra Madre is just like every other City trying to hide CRA funds from Jerry Brown.
Yes, I do enjoy being right.
Oh, and one other thing. This blog will never ever take the side of City Hall when it comes to redevelopment. No matter what the considerations. What is happening now on Highland is just not what our City is all about.