Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The ALF Meets Its Mitigated Negative Declaration

Some had said that there might be an Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) for the Assisted Living Facility (ALF), but they were wrong. I guess someone determined that such a venture in reality appraisal might be too risky in this case. So instead we have been blessed with something called a Mitigated Negative Declaration. Which to me appears to be a document where a consultant gets to make up stuff that is, to quote an email I received yesterday, a "bunch of b.s." In this case 278 pages of the stuff.

But first we need to look at something else. The following was posted on this site yesterday as a comment. It now needs to be posted here as well.

For anyone who is interested in the Assisted Living Facility Project: The 20 day public review period has already begun! The Mitigated Negative Declaration (Draft Initial Study) is now available to read at City Hall and the Library. It is also on the city's website. Please take a look at it and send your comments to:

Gregg Yamachika
Contract Planner
City of Sierra Madre Development Services
232 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard
Sierra Madre CA 91024

Or email your comments to:

The deadline is December 21, 2011. Will the City put ALF on the April 2012 ballot? Next Tuesday's City Council meeting is the absolute DEADLINE!

The consultant who wrote this Mitigated Negative Declaration was hired by the City of Sierra Madre, but we are apparently supposed to be comforted that this individual is being paid by the developer of the ALF. (This project, just so you know, is sometimes referred to as The Kensington, but we here at The Tattler prefer ALF.) But I don't see how any of that justifies the creation of a document that is so patently untrue. Or in such obvious conflict with the Sierra Madre voter approved ordinance known as Measure V. As far as I can tell, laws still carry more weight in this country than the wishes of consultants, and no matter who is paying their bill.

The most egregious falsehood contained within this document can be found on page 161. This unmitigated howler reads as follows:

The proposed project consists of the development of a 58,000 square-foot senior (assisted living) facility with 75 suites and up to 96 residents.

We have written about the "suites" versus "units" controversy several times before, but here it is one more time. There is nothing in any Sierra Madre ordinances, including Measure V, that says anything about suites. As a legal definition within our 3 square mile slice of paradise no such thing exists. And since there is nothing in our City ordinances about suites, whatever this mercenary of a consultant says about them here is besides the point. Dwelling units are clearly the description of rooms located within the downtown area of our fair town, and whether they are attached to a kitchen, or a chicken coop, is irrelevant.

So what exactly is a "Mitigated Negative Declaration" you might ask? It is the document a hired consultant would create in an attempt to undo the negative impacts of a project like The Kensington, or ALF. And the biggest problem this project has is with the law. Under voter approved Measure V you can only build 13 units on an acre of land. This was included to prevent the kinds of high density development that are so out of character with our town. So what the consultant who wrote this document did was declare that these 75 units are not units at all, but rather they are suites.

Apparently this consultant believes he can skirt the laws of Sierra Madre by merely changing some words.

This does raise interesting possibilities. If all it takes to avoid the law is to change the words used to describe a criminal action (which, in my opinion, this suite canard would come close to being should it ever be enacted), would anyone ever be convicted of a crime again? I think that the next time I am stopped for speeding I will simply tell the Officer that I was doing no such thing. Rather I was merely engaging in a Mitigated Rapid Relocation Procedure. I am certain I will be released with a smile and a handshake.

EIRs and Mitigated Negative Declarations were efforts by the State of California to help jurisdictions such as ours establish some control over out-of-control development. An effort of the body politic to protect the people from predatory developers. However, specialists and consultants popped up like mushrooms in a cattle pasture in order to corrupt this noble notion, and in this particular document we have a very fine example.

Back in September of this year Don Watts issued a statement which pretty much closed the door on the kind of nonsense found in this Mitigated Negative Declaration. We posted it back then, but I think it deserves a reprise today.

Measure V was crafted to follow the LA County Model Zoning Code, and with the wording of the Sierra Madre Zoning Code's definitions in mind. Nowhere is mentioned a unit being defined as having a kitchen. For Measure V it was determined a unit, or room, or house, or hotel suite or apartment, that was meant to house a private resident was equal to a living unit, with or without a kitchen. Further, there is no adequate definition of what a kitchen is.

Please respect the wording of your zoning code, it is what it says.

To the current City Council: All I can say at this time is beware of what you are doing in relation to the law, it cannot do anything but hurt your reputations. And you will be leaving it to administrators who will have to work in a hostile environment, caused by your disregard of the laws.

The one thing that confuses me the most is why is City Hall going to all of this trouble to avoid Measure V? Even to the point of possibly breaking the law? All that really needs to be done is to open this project up to a vote of the people, who I am fairly certain will vote ALF into existence. This is not necessarily an unpopular project.

It really is kind of baffling.

The GPUSC Showdown That Wasn't

Apparently City Staff didn't get their paperwork in order in time for the long awaited showdown over Floor Area Ratios (FAR). The windstorm distractions getting in the way of the production of paper ballast for this event. The General Plan Update Steering Committee instead engaged in a spirited debate over things most of us don't really fathom all that much, but at least the increased density issue is no longer on the table. That item was voted into oblivion in November.

And we are more than good with that.


  1. In three months there will be a city council election. I will vote for and fund any candidate who stands up and firmly requires a public vote on this project, and stops this project until a vote occurs, as required by MV.

  2. Just because they have decided the ALF does not require an EIR, does not exempt them from being voted on per Meas.V.
    The Planning Commission needs to determine whether the project needs variances, conditional use permits, and also, should follow the law recommending Meas. V.
    Unless, of course, they don't believe in our laws anymore, and plan on leaving town..., sort of like Mosca.

  3. Tattler has helped me see better,,,,December 7, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    Maybe the high winds in Sierra Madre shredded the sails on the Mitigated Negative Declaration to the point where the home owners will be able to see through it to the truth. Bart's boys are in for a rough see.

  4. PROTECT YOUR HOME VALUEDecember 7, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    It's critical that everyone reading this blog stands up and fights to protect Measure V....NO MATTER WHAT THE COST OR THE EFFORT.
    It's your property values at stake here, not to mention your right to honest government!

    Additionally, ANY candidate needs to sign a document promising to protect Measure V.
    There will be hidden Mosca types running, that's a given. Hey, it's worked in 3 elections I can remember.
    Make sure your vote is not misguided.

  5. It is baffling, Tattler, that city hall is running from the vote. Such a better choice to face the situation clearly and say, hey, we've got a great project here and we know it will go forward much more successfully with the community's blessing on the ballot.
    More than baffling - crazy.

  6. Oh, the crimes that have slipped through under "Less than Significant Impact" categories on Environmental Impact Reports.

  7. My favorite consultant word is mitigated.

    How about if Sierra Madre mitigates the impact of paying for consultants?

  8. What exactly does this City Council have to gain by obstructing vote on the ALF? Obviously it will pass. So what exactly is the problem? Why would they go to such absurd lengths?

  9. Hi tatts, did you see the transit village story in the SGV tribune?

  10. Chief Black KettleDecember 7, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    it's the power of the printed word that makes all the difference in the world. When asked by written missive the Sierra Madre Building Department answered negative declarations during the1 Carter era such questions as "in a heavy rain event isn't there a possiblity of Baldwin becoming covered in a sea of mud?" To this question the mitigated declaration response was "no". It's irrefutable logic like this that makes the whole process highly suspect.

  11. From today's PSN:

    "Other people named in that lawsuit, including former Sierra Madre Mayor Bart Doyle, are allegedly associated with 'a network of sham entities' that Leung and Lang created to 'avoid liability,' according to the lawsuit.

    Click on my name.

  12. 8:16
    You ask a great question.
    I have an's not baffling or crazy at all. The purpose is to compromise Measure V, so they can get rid of it.
    I plan to vote for the project, but the key word is VOTE. If we don't vote, yes we get the project anyway, but we also give the opening to do away with Measure V, that we worked so hard to win.
    Measure V was a God send. It saved our property values.
    We must save it. If the ALF project is good, we'll vote it in. Simple. It's just a shame we have such a dishonest city government.

  13. I smell shenanigans. There has to be more to it.

  14. Read the "Specific Plan" for the ALF.
    That is where all the demons hide.

  15. The real issue could be Measure V. The ALF is being used by Buchanan to help him settle a score.

  16. Hizoner, Foghorn Leghorn still has his panties in a bunch over measure V

  17. Foghorn must hate all the phone calls he still gets from the "smart money" that invested their retirement funds in the DSP.

  18. Just build the damn thing...LETS GET ON WITH IT!!

  19. Tell City Hall to follow the law and it will happen.

  20. Absolutely right 12:53. Put it on the ballot, give the city government the opportunity to show that it is law abiding, and let's go!

  21. I wonder if Billy Shields has figured out how Buchanan is screwing around with his project ...

  22. I can't figure any of this out. Is it a profit driven time frame that is the problem? So the developer finds the spot and needs the project to be at such & such a stage at a given date, and there isn't enough time to get the ballot together?
    It just doesn't compute to be sneaky and speak with a forked tongue when they could win playing fair n square.

  23. That is the big mystery. They could have had the water rate hike easy as pie had they just told the truth. And the ALF would sail through an election. So why do they have to lie so much?

  24. Good memory, Chief at 9:20.

    There's no danger in scraping the hillsides anywhere in any circumstances.

    My Bachelor's degree in Earth Science and my $30,000 from the developer will back me up on that.

  25. I wonder if the Pasadena Unified School District has thanked us yet on sending them our finest citizen, Bart Doyle. Quite an honor, especially in light of all his good deeds in El Monte.

  26. Who owns the property Fountain Square Development West wants to build on?

  27. Emil Fish and Richard Kale. They bought the property as a DSP investment. Some say this whole ALF thing is just a ruse to get the DSP out of the grave and walking again. The DIC has been waiting a long time for something to happen.

  28. And would the Messrs. Fish and Kale be local?

  29. if for some reason a hotel chain wanted to build a 400 room...I mean "suite" hotel up in One Carter, I guess that would be okay.

    More BS from John Buchanan.

    It sure does stink up the room when he speaks his methane jive.

  30. so if I understand correctly, the city really doesn't care what the majority of the people voted on and what we expect, they are all giddy to bow down to yet another developer....zzzzzzz

    remember when they were kissing the rear end of Dorn - Platz ?

    jeez, aren't these Councilmembers supposed to be our neighbors and actually care about the city?

    I voted for John Buchanan but will never again vote for him, not after he lied to us about the water pipe and his nauseating end run attempts around Measure V

    A bum in lawyer clothes.

  31. Edison is getting awful press these last few days. Antonovich just beat the bejeezus out of some poor little fellows that were sent there for that purpose.

  32. When it comes to development, John Buchanan has got to be the suitor most likely to get left alone on the front step looking at the door knocker. I wonder if it has ever occured to him that all this BS he constantly pulls has never got one single building built in this town. Not one. He ought to try telling the truth once before his term is up. He's tried everything else.

  33. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot - this project is desired by everybody - except if there is dishonesty in handling the proper procedures - then it's a fight.

    It could be that Buchanan etc just like fights.

  34. I think Buchanan has Nixon tendencies. He thinks the world is conspiring against him so in his paranoia he feels he has to make stuff up to throw everyone off his trail. You know where that got Tricky Dick, right?

  35. still read newspapersDecember 7, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    9:45, don't you think it should read:
    "Other people named in that lawsuit, including former Sierra Madre Mayor Bart Doyle, recently appointed by the Sierra Madre Council majority to the PUSD Redistricting Task Force, are allegedly associated with 'a network of sham entities' that Leung and Lang created to 'avoid liability,' according to the lawsuit."

  36. Bart Doyle, useful round eye fool for a Chinese crime syndicate.

  37. I don't think it's funny that our representative to the School Board for our area is obviously in association with criminals.

  38. What is even less amusing is that this person with such obvious criminal connections has the strong support of 3/4s of our city council.

  39. You got that right, 4:33.
    Absolutely stunning that the people of this town allow this creep any input in our city.
    Hasn't he done enough damage to last us decades?


    We all need to prepare to fight for the right to vote on a project that doesn't comply with Measure V. Regardless if you want the project or not. Measure V SAVES property values. We must protect it.

    We all need to fight for the current city council or the next city council to approve the GENERAL PLAN, Denise Delmar and her team are SAVING SIERRA MADRE. They are saving our small town character, the reason we all moved here.
    They are saving our property values.
    Insist that Denise SUPERIOR committee has more sense and expertise than the hired consultants the gang wanted in place to try to steer towards pro-development.

    Anyone who doesn't start supporting these issues asp, is either really stupid or has some financial interest in a downtown project such as the DSP, that would destroy our town.
    It's not too late, if you were misled, a lot of us were, but we aren't anymore, thanks to the Tattler and men like John Crawford, Don Watts and Kurt Zimmerman and of course our very own favorite councilmember, MaryAnn MacGillivray.
    These people, and the GPUSC are fighting for us all.
    Stand behind them, get out and work, volunteer for them, and prepare to write a check, if needed for legal action.
    We can and will win, but we need all good people to help us!
    Please take a stand.

  41. Here is what I sent to the City Planner:
    I wish to comment on Appendix C, “Traffic Impact Analysis”, and the Specific Plan’s proposal for 43 on-site parking spaces for the Kensington ALF, which will be completely insufficient to meet demand for a facility of this size. Based on our experience with a similar facility nearby, at least 58 on-site parking spaces would be required. Without sufficient spaces, employees and visitors will be forced to park on nearby residential streets or may try to park in the Frontier Hardware or other business parking lots, with a permanent and unnecessary negative impact on Sierra Madre.

    Page 33 of Appendix C states: “Since parking requirements are not specifically defined for the proposed project land use, it is appropriate to evaluate the project’s parking demand based on review of observed parking demand at other assisted living facilities.” We agree that such an evaluation would be reasonable, but, based on our experience, the conclusions presented are not an accurate reflection of “observed parking demand”.

    For the last 18 months, we have been daily visitors to an ALF in San Gabriel, with facilities for assisted living and Alzheimer’s care and very comparable to the Kensington ALF. This ALF is licensed for a maximum of 74 residents, or 23% fewer residents than the 96 proposed for the Kensington ALF.

    However, this local ALF has 45 on-site parking spaces, 2 more than the number proposed for the much larger Kensington ALF. Based on our daily experience, the 45 parking spaces are barely sufficient to accommodate normal traffic flow and prevent visitors to the ALF from parking on nearby residential streets and seriously inconveniencing neighboring residents. For the Kensington ALF, 43 on-site parking spaces will never meet demand. Such grossly insufficient on-site parking would have a significant negative impact on Sierra Madre.

    Based on our experience, “observed parking demand” at an ALF includes the following, which Appendix C has not taken into account, but which should be taken into account by all relevant Sierra Madre city entities when the MND is considered:

    1. Residents in assisted living can have their own vehicles, which will permanently occupy parking spaces.

    2. The ALF will have its own vans or minibus which will also permanently occupy parking spaces.

    3. The 96 residents will have family members and friends visiting who will also require parking.

    4. The estimate of “approximately 25 employees” on site at any time does not take into account shift changes, when 50 employees could be on site simultaneously, or employee meetings.

    5. The estimate of “approximately 25 employees” on site at any time also does not take into account the many vendors and other people working at an ALF:

    • Many residents will have private individual, full-time caregivers who will require parking.
    • Residents will have regular visits from a variety of medical personnel who will require parking.
    • The ALF will have other contract personnel, such as the hair stylist or entertainers working on-site, who will require parking.

    5. The ALF will receive food deliveries from large refrigerated trucks, and regular visits from other vendors, all of which will require parking.

    All of these are real-world parking demands for an ALF and must be considered in determining parking demand for this ALF in Sierra Madre. In our experience, at a minimum, the demand for parking spaces at an ALF is equivalent to 60% of the number of residents. With 96 residents, the Kensington ALF would require at least 58 on-site parking spaces, in order to avoid a significant and permanent negative impact on the surrounding streets and Sierra Madre residents and businesses.


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