The audio was not working on the KGEM computer feed, which means that all I got out of Josh Moran's inspirational talk was a moment of silence. Which I assume was followed by another moment of silence. However, I found no real peace in this.
After angrily shaking my fist in the direction of Monrovia, I called the Gemsters (several times) and asked them what's up. They assured me that their finest technicians were working on the problem. The sound never did show up. Something which led to my kids losing their evening's X-Box session after I moved my operation over to the TV set. It was a lesson in life's vagaries for the boys, I'm afraid. I can only hope that they were not emotionally scarred by this loss.
MaryAnn MacGillivray spoke about how the General Plan Steering Committee is looking for volunteers to participate in gathering data to support a vision for the City. The data they gather would go to the consultants as they write the Technical Background Report, or TBR in acronymic. Photos of cityscapes, landscapes, tree shapes, historical landmarks, whatever it is that you as a volunteer might love about this town could then be included. Things that you would hope will last and be shared with those who follow us to this slice of paradise upside the foothills. Plus noise censors are going to be used, with devices to be placed in the yards of volunteers hoping to monitor their noisy neighbors.
(Debbie Sheridan later spoke from the podium about next Monday's General Plan volunteers' meeting, to be held at City Hall. There will be pizza served, which is how they get you for these things. The stuff is like the bait in a mouse trap. After Debbie finished discussing that meeting, Joe Mosca said, "Good job, Deb!")
MaryAnn also spoke about the COG Executive Committee meeting about RHNA. She noted that we are not the only City faced with a RHNA impossibility. But all is not lost as there are cities that might actually want our low/mod income housing numbers. MaryAnn is hoping The COG will step up here and help cities like ours engineer RHNA swaps that would allow other cities to assume our numbers. Who knows, The COG might actually do something useful.
Nancy Walsh named 8 different meetings (we counted) that she attended over the last couple of weeks. However, outside of attending these meetings, she had little to say about what went on at them. Beyond the fact that she was there, which I guess was plenty in her mind. Nancy did note that the COG meeting she went to lasted from 8AM to 1PM. Hopefully she brought a seat cushion and an iTouch.
Joe Mosca made the startling announcement that his office hours will be whenever you want them to be. This was a follow-up to his previous announcement regarding the many phone calls and emails he had received about the inconvenience of his previous office hours. Maybe his long and lonely hours spent feeding the pigeons in Kersting Court are over, and with new hours someone will want to stop by and talk to him. Anybody know any Jehovah's Witnesses we can send his way?
Josh Moran noted that events in the park are a lot of fun. He also pointed out that one should not bring explosives, ammunition or radioactive materials to the E-Waste Collection event coming up soon.
John Buchanan attended the Mayor's breakfast, which he liked. He also said nice things about Fire and Policemen, thanking them for keeping us safe. No word leaked out anywhere from the secret negotiations taking place between the Police Officers Association and the City.
Public Comment was next, which, as Joe might put it, is where the public comments.
Bill Coburn stepped up first to give the cheery news that the Gourmet (don't call them roach coaches) Truck Rally will take place Saturday somewhere around Memorial Park. I see half a dozen of these things parked in front of my office everyday, so obviously I haven't been feeling the frenzy over this one. However, if the idea of eating off a lunch truck on a hot August afternoon appeals to you, then have at it. After all, it was your tax money that helped subsidize this event. Local restaurants will be there to hand out coupons, which properly boiled can be eaten. But unlike these out-of-town lunch wagons, they will not be permitted to sell any real food.
Chuck Taper (Tapir?) is a Monrovian that used to live here in Sierra Madre. And now he wants to buy a building. Which is good for him I suppose, except for the problems with parking. He was hoping to somehow get the same "in lieu" deal that Dr. Sami and the Congregational Church got for being there first. Which obviously he isn't going to get. That chicken has already crossed the road. Besides, Chuck doesn't look special enough.
A woman from the Air Quality Management District stepped up to the podium. The most notable part of her appearance being that her name is Rainbow. There was no pot of gold.
Someone whose name I didn't catch, but lives in the at-risk neighborhood near Stonehouse, stepped up to let the community know that Capital Source, the latest developer to not build a house at One Carter, has been slacking off on its brush abatement duties in the area. This denizen had complained to the Fire Department about the matter, who suggested it be taken to the City Council. After this was effectively relayed, Mayor Buchanan said, "Hunh." No word yet if Joe will cite this as yet another reason to cut developer fees.
The 4th of July Parade Committee then marched to the podium to receive its award certificates for giving this blog some of its best reader traffic ever. If it wasn't for the 4JPC and Tai the Elephant the month of July probably wouldn't have been anything special for The Tattler. But because of them we set a new record for "hits," and for the first time ever received national attention for our reporting. Oh, and the whole unfortunate mishegas over the picking of the Grand Marshall? We probably shouldn't forget that, either. What a God awful mess they made of things this year. But they certainly did have some value as many people in town got to learn some important lessons about elephants and animal cruelty.
The price for repairing the City Hall roof came down $50,000. Josh Moran was exceedingly pleased about this, proudly noting that the new price was "not to exceed" $200,000. Or $50,000 less than in the previous round of bidding. Which he apparently hoped would be taken by a grateful populace as an indication that he is tough about holding the line on spending. MaryAnn and the Mayor, who know lots of things that Josh does not, were far less sanguine. Both noting that we are talking about a roofer here, and things could easily change. To which MaryAnn also added, "You have to wonder about how much these bids dropped from the first time."
Danny Castro, also known locally as the "Hero of the Canyon" by some, stepped up to give his views on our lofty solar panel fees. In particular those that grace the rooftops of businesses. Or at least some hope they will someday. Our local instance of the AOL Patch world empire had been attempting to whip this up into an issue of some controversy in town, and only stopped doing so when it became apparent that their readership prefers articles dealing with nail salons.
The Sierra Club had stuck its nose in our business about commercial solar panel fees, and it was revealed that our fees in this case were apparently higher than those in other cities. Which means that we must hate the planet. They have a different rubric for assessing these fees, and to cut this accounting mercifully short the City Council began the process of adopting it.
Joe Mosca, however, who was truly on a linguistic roll last evening, asked that if we used the Sierra Club's "fee calculator" for assessing commercial solar panel charges, "aren't we adopting somebody else's regime?" Not sure if there is an answer to that one. While Danny was attempting to make sense of Joe's new wisdom on the matter the SMTV3 camera remained on Joe, which was unfortunate. It became obvious that Joe was unaware that he was still the sole focus of TV attention.
We covered the SCAG & RHNA "12 Factors" story last Saturday, and if you wish to read some in depth and exceedingly wise reporting on the matter, I suggest you visit with the issue there. You might note that we had identified this as 13 Factors, which is because of the catch-all one that SCAG had added at the end of the related documents on their site. Which is there just in case any crafty city comes up with something SCAG didn't anticipate. That one was not included in last evening's discussion as it was somehow left off by City Staff. Maybe Staff didn't anticipate any craftiness, or had decided that if any was displayed they wouldn't stand for it.
MaryAnn MacGillivray, who is far more comfortable with complex issues than most of her colleagues, noted that SCAG (which is basically a Sacramento planning sock puppet tasked with doing the dirty work of forcing cities such as ours to incorporate lousy development we don't want), spoke up and said that it is, "impossible what they are asking us to do." That being to incorporate huge amounts of high density development. Joe Mosca then oddly noted that "Sierra Madre was never a target for TODs (Transit Oriented Design)." Odd because that is precisely what SCAG has in mind for us. Sierra Madre being well within the Gold Line "transit corridor" parameters set by SCAG as the standard for potential TOD victimhood. MaryAnn responded that we should make sure that SCAG knows that we aren't a target.
Joe then went into the longest spate of uh-ing we've heard from him in quite some time. After he had finally pulled himself together he proclaimed that we should "link our protests to the housing they would ask of us." What did that mean? My guess is he was a little irked over the possibility that a Transit Oriented Design discussion might be included in our answers to the 12 (or 13) Factors, and that he didn't want any of that sort of thing in there. For what obscure reasons we can only guess. Fortunately nobody appeared to be listening to him.
MaryAnn then pointed out some of the punitive damages that could be visited upon our little City should we displease Sacramento in our willingness to surrender our birthright to them. In particular is something known as the "Builder's Remedy." Which means that any Bob the Builder with a burning desire to erect crap development in Sierra Madre could drag the City to Court and demand that we rezone within 60 days. And every site the builder would identify as the apple of its eye could then be claimed as a place to be built upon, and would then be rezoned by the Court (not us) to suit his needs. And at our cost. This development version of an old Wild West "Hanging Court" is now California law. More proof that millions of dollars in development and Realty lobby money bought them some real sweet percs from our corrupt corporatist state government.
The meeting wrapped up with the City Manager then discussing the next City Council "retreat." I'm not certain anyone was listening to her. But if you care, then wave your arms in the air.