Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Builder's Remedy

Big Brother could very well be a guy named Hasan Ikhrata. He isn't really in charge, of course. Rather he is the fellow who gets to do the dirty work for the politicians in Sacramento. Which is what Big Brother always was. An enforcer. The real bosses were off playing golf, drinking, getting rich on the taxpayer's dime and dating women from the secretarial pool. Everybody else was subject to supervision.

Politicians like to maintain a degree or two of separation between their glorious selves and the consequences of the grubby laws they pass. So that is why Hasan has a job. He gets to be the guy that enforces Sacramento's policies on housing and development. The ones that say we must do as Sacramento says in our planning or face some frankly harsh consequences.

The organization Hasan Ikhrata fronts is called SCAG, or the Southern California Association of Governments. There are two things that he and his colleagues are busy working on right now. The first is something called SB 375. What this state law says is that every city in California located near mass transportation must build a lot of new housing. And in particular densely packed apartments and condos. Lots of them. Right next to bus and train stations so people won't use their cars and therefore save the world from Global Warming. Or such is the rationale.

Seeing as how people now try to avoid living in such places or taking public transportation, and in droves, you can see how this one is working out. If you want an example, go check out The Stuart down on Foothill Boulevard some day soon. Jammed right up against the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station, it looks like a production set from the movie A Clockwork Orange. The future never looked quite this tacky before.

Their other busywork is Regional Housing Needs Assessment (or RHNA) numbers. This is where the state tells cities like ours how much new development they must accommodate. You know, all those apartments next to train and bus stations. Or at least on a pretend basis if those stations aren't quite so close. And while we haven't seen these new numbers yet, the word is they will be quite a lot. San Diego has already undergone its SB 375 makeover, and some communities have been hit with RHNA numbers that are literally astronomical.

And don't you think for one minute that Big Brother isn't just telling you to build just for the sake of building. Rather he is saving the world. Really. Apartments and condos apparently are the agents of our salvation from the coming permanent heatwave.

Hasan actually is from the old Soviet Union (click here). A place where social engineering and centrally planned mass development first became celebrated. There was little tolerance with those who refused to toe the official line, either. Social Equity, as they say up north, being the common goal. Everything the same for everyone, but usually not in any good way.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union our man Hasan had to go look for a job somewhere else. His skills were no longer prized in the former Worker's Paradise. That he found his new home in California doing pretty much what he and the old gang used to do back in Moscow is quite revealing. Can it be that we have become so very much like them? And when it comes to planning and Sacramento's role in it, can you honestly say we haven't?

But most people don't want what Hasan, Big Brother, various sneaky politicians and their business partners in the development and realty trades are demanding that we do. People prefer that things stay pretty much as they are. Which is why most folks went to the bother of buying their homes where they did, and pay mortgages to keep themselves there.

Over the years there have been many such campaigns to get people to level much of their own communities and replace them with such things as low income housing, transportation oriented development, mixed use, high density whatever. And the more determined locales (read: Sierra Madre) have pretty much laughed that junk off for decades. But apparently this time things are a little different.

Sacramento has now devised coercive punishments for those cities that do not listen to them. And in the process have removed local control over development from cities such as ours and placed it into the hands of both themselves and the people they do business with. Lobbyists love this stuff. They can finally really deliver for their development industry paymasters.

Here is how the state's enforcement of its planning will over us is described in a document known as the "RHNA Primer."

What happens if a local jurisdiction is late in submitting its housing element update to HCD, or does not fully address its site and zoning requirements to address its fair share of regional housing need?

Under SB 375 localities that are more than 120 days late in adopting their housing element update may revert to a 4 year housing element cycle and communities with 8 year housing elements that have not completed their rezoning within 3 years plus any new approved extensions to address RHNA land use planning targets may be subject to two new sanctions related to approving certain affordable housing projects and compelling rezoning:

1. "Builder's Remedy" - A developer of housing in which at least 49% of the units are affordable to very low, low and moderate income households can develop on any of the sites proposed for rezoning, as if the site had been rezoned.

2. Action to compel rezoning - Any interested party can bring an action to compel the city to complete the rezoning within 60 days, and seek sanctions for failure to do so.

In other words, control over development in any City, when cloaked in the language of affordability, reverts to the developer. Who can then take any City that does not please him to Court. At which time that Court becomes the final arbiter and will also become our Planning Commission. One that apparently won't turn down anything, and within a very brisk 60 days.

Now some will say that we have things such as Measure V and the Canyon Zoning Ordinance to protect us from such predatory development. But according to the "RHNA Statutes" (California Govt. Code Sections 65584 - 65584.05) the state has taken that away as well.

Any ordinance, policy, voter-approved measure, or standard of a city or county that directly or indirectly limits the number of residential building permits issued by a city or county shall not be a justification for a determination or a reduction in the share of a city or county of the regional housing need.

In other words, the people of the State of California no longer have much control over development within the borders of their own cities. We now live in the Dictatorship of the Handyman. Our once inalienable rights to control development within our own communities have now been confiscated by Sacramento and peddled to the highest bidders. You can only wonder how many re-election campaigns were funded by BIA and CAR lobbyists in exchange for legislative votes on something as awful as this.

We have been completely and utterly sold out by our elected officials.


  1. Thanks for the update,I really needed that.It does explain why our current establishment is so cocky.Is it too late to begin a recall?

  2. So why did Joe say it can't happen here when it obviously can?

  3. Unfortunately, we have a bunch of Northern California State Legislators crafting these laws in partnership with developers and development groups, including the real estate industry.
    While being distracted by the mass entertainment industry, we have allowed these people to take over our local decision making. We no longer have control.
    Our leadership like the c4, are not only NOT willing to push back, but welcome this.
    We might as well not have local elections, and turn these people into the "City Council For Life".
    We need to drop the charade and expense of elections.
    While Maryann, Kurt and Don had the majority, they were willing to fight Sacramento to the point of pulling out of COG and SCAG, and had won major consessions from them.
    The minute we elected the c4, all those victories were lost.
    It's amazing what an election means to the people.
    Enjoy what a dictatorship is like.

  4. Mr. Maundry, we were not sold out, we were bought out.

  5. What will happen, will be people will suddenly get a voice to fight back only after it's too late to do anything about it.
    The best way to discourage this stuff is to bump up the Development fees. Perhaps tripling them.
    Nowhere in SB 375 says the city cannot charge development fees.
    Those fees can be justified easily. The residents are already being attacked with threats of bonds to pay for infrastructure development now.
    Perhaps the developers should be paying for 100% of those costs instead of the residents.
    The bonds we are delinquent on, were created to pay for increased water capacity for development, and should come out of the developers pockets.

  6. What's good for the goose is good for the ganderAugust 11, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    Require the politicians to live in the transit villages and ride the bus to and from their meetings in Sacramento. An eight hour bus ride next to a cranky child will open their eyes. Take away their government cars with drivers and air flights. Only then will this nonsense stop.

  7. Developers will not be interested in building this crap in town if infrastructure isn't brought up to at least the 1970s. And the only way that can be done is through a massive infusion of bond cash. The key is stopping the sale of any bonds. There is no law that says we have to pay for this garbage.

  8. Is there anyway that we can get Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro here to help us with our planning? I am sure they can add some perspective to Sacramento's guidelines.

  9. We don't need planners. The city was well planned years ago. We need a City Council with a backbone and is not in the back pocket of So Cal Edison, the Gas company, Real Estate interests and the BIA. We need voters who are neither naive nor stupid.

  10. It is called "calming the herd," 6:26. You need to keep the marks quiet if you're going to pull this one off.

  11. Shocking and dismaying.

  12. I like the suggestion by 7:46...stop the money flow.Hopefully with the blog and with the efforts of concerned citizens to "spread the word,we can check this madness.So much for the Soviet Final Solution towards the elimination of private property rights!

  13. Soooo how much for a condo in the Sierra Madre Commons, when they level Taylors lot, and take it to the next corner to the east? 4 storys of Monrovia likeness, I can't wait. The bus stop is right accross the street. It's going to be awesome!

  14. Now that the state controls local policy, our city council can concentrate on the really important stuff, like food trucks, farmers market subsities, folk dance festivals, and elephants for the 4th of July parade.
    You know,...the really important stuff.

  15. In regards to the Builder's Remedy (BR):

    These "ant colony" type low income housing, such as we see by the rail stations....
    How many of these low to moderate income buyers are going to qualify for loans in this collaped economy?

  16. Email 2 friend the blog link everyday with a note saying "thought you might be interested"

  17. Why wait, 9:19? There are literally thousands of unsold condos on the market right now. Have you checked out Monrovia Commons? Those never sold. And don't let the fact that condos lose their value much more quickly than homes in a downturn. How about you just hop on the bus and take it to your dream home somewhere else? There are plenty of opportunities out there. Just look for the colorful balloons and flags.

  18. joe mosca and john buchanan are the frank mccourt's of sierra madre

    unwelcome and looting the city

    massive unwarranted egos of children in adult bodies

    brats - spoiled brats

    and poor businessmen

  19. I'm re-registering as a DemocratAugust 11, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    If Mosca runs against Holden, I want to be able to vote for Holden.

    Can you imagine another phony crook like Mosca getting into the already polluted Sacramento Assembly?

    Fiscal conservatives......FIGHT BACK, any way you can....I know times are tough, but support Mr. Holden, if this Mosca creature decides to enter the race. NO WAY.

  20. Here comes Section 8August 11, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    In regards to the post by BR is BS

    They won't be able to qualify, so these aboninations they are building will turn into crack houses and gang invested.
    Section 8's.

  21. No way Mosca will beat Holden. Holden is a household name in Pasadena, and he has been on the City Council there for 22 years. Pasadena has 10 times the population of Sierra Madre. But what would be nice is if we can help Mr. Holden carry Sierra Madre. After that there would be no possible political recovery for our fibbing little friend. He would be finished.

  22. No, not Washington DC bounce....DEAD CAT BOUNCE TODAY ON THE DOW JONES!

  23. Let's go door to door, if we have to for Holden, Sierra Madre.
    Patriots, let's go!

  24. this just in, BR is BS, those "ant colonies" you describe are not low to moderate. They may be cheap construction and shoddy workmanship, but they are very pricey indeed.

    I'm not worred for the likes of Sierra Madre - when was the last time Muirsol built a low to moderate project? Or any of the other Bob's in town. The Montecito LLC had to have an entire 3rd story to pencil out their development at prices far exceeding moderate.

    The sky is not falling, at least not today.

  25. I'm saving my pennies to contribute to the full page ad telling the entire San Gabriel Valley what a turncoat Joe Mosca has been to the residents of Sierra Madre. From his out and out lying, to his allegatiions of racism and homophobia when it looked like he was going to go down in defeat, to his never explained infamous attendance record at the meetings for which he was liaison on behalf of the citizens of Sierra Madre.

    The man is a poster politician for greed and incompetence.

  26. Sierra Madreans for Holden. All parties, all political persuasions. United in their desire to Dump the Chump.

  27. This kind of legislation is blatantly illegal under constitutional law, but nobody's filing the big lawsuit because of the money the big cats make at everyone else's expense. It has its roots in Prop 13 (Sacramento tax diversion) and encroaching legislation that allows unregulated group homes in R-1 zones as well as second units without a CUP. The state has been forcing dense development for years and now we're seeing the destructive results of those policies. The water's been heating up for a long time (and now we're running out of even THAT). It's now hitting a boil.

    Vote out the legislators who created this monster and vote in people who will repeal this thing.

  28. Fire everything in office. Replace them with actual human beings.

  29. The way things are going with the economy low cost housing might be too expensive. No cost housing - tents - could be the way to go.

  30. It is so comforting that Joe is telling us all will be well... like all the other times he has told us not to worry.

    What a liar.

  31. I like the idea of supporting Mr. Holden.
    Let's all just do it. Send his campaign a small donation (or large) that you can afford.
    Give up going to the phony "farmer's market" and send a donation to the Holden campaign.

  32. Too many unethical members of the development/realty industry have proven themselves to be greedy beyond measure and destructive to the well being of communities.
    Giving them even more ability to destroy for profit is insane.

  33. With SB375 the developers got themselves the best law money can buy.

  34. It's a dying industry 12:25, and that makes them desperate. The winnowing out is going on, and those who still standing will be doing the rebuilding and recycling building that will have to take place, all on a much smaller scale. Can't happen soon enough.

  35. Who knows, there may be other candidates running. We're way premature to think Joe is in the race.

  36. I'd rather be WAY premature and keep Joe Mosca from even getting his foot into the race than wait until he's declared and has his voting block lined up.

    Joe Mosca is a liar and a fraud.

  37. No way the Dems select JoeAugust 11, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Joe won't be in any race.
    He is an inept narcissistic sociopath, not unlike most career politicians.

    The Dems are notorious for making bad choices, but even they are not foolish enough to select Joe Mosca as a candidate.

  38. There is a big push in California by Gay activist groups to nominate and elect Gay candidates. There is a lot of money available and a motivated base that will work very hard. Do not underestimate a Mosca candidacy for Assembly. The word among Democratic Party circles is Joe is hard at work. This is what he has always seen himself doing, and he knows that he needs to do it now.

  39. Right you are 1:12.
    Even after Mosca flat out lied, denied and never admitted his proven betrayal, he was elected a second time here.
    Heaven help us, twice, he won.

  40. Mosca lies so much I even question whether he's gay or it's an act. No kidding.

  41. The California Supreme Court agreed Thursday to review the state's redevelopment overhaul and delayed most provisions until it can decide the matter.

    Cities and redevelopment agencies sued the state to block a June budget plan that eliminated about 400 agencies but allowed them to reopen if they contribute funds to schools, relieving the state of $1.7 billion in education costs.

    Gov. Jerry Brown wanted to eliminate redevelopment agencies altogether in his January proposal, but he and state lawmakers ultimately agreed on the two-bill package (Assembly Bill X1 26 and AB X1 27) that gives them an option to pay and survive. Cities challenged the plan as unconstitutional, citing voter-approved laws that prohibit the state from taking money from local governments.

    (link above)

  42. Hopefully the demolishing of redevelopment agencies bill stands, and the buy in bill is declared unconstitutional.

  43. It just shows we have the cash to throw away in our general fund for Redevelopment, which makes me wonder why we need a utility tax.

  44. even the gay community will consider Joe Mosca a fraud

    please, what kind of person BORROWS a dog for a campaign photo?

    a fraud, that's who

    there are plenty of honest gay prospects out there for political office, the last thing the gay community is a known and well documented liar, fraud and opportunist undermining the larger picture

    also there's the pesky personal snippy comments that Joe has been documented puking out of his mouth, such as telling a senior citizen to "get a life" when she dared question him

  45. Joe is NOT your typical classy, well educated, sophisticated adult gay man. He has no character and any decent person knows that.

    Sierra Madre will vote for anyone but JOE the Liar and we will pour money into any campaign that beats Joe. Sierra Madre residents who voted for joe are not the big time. Pasadena will see through the blindspeak of joe the shmoe.

    And, on another pathetic note, we have to get rid of Josh the phoney baloney who wants to be a movie star and make money and lives at the Buck. Another incredible embarrassment.

    Josh, go plant grapes.