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:
City of Sierra Madre Development Services
232 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard
Sierra Madre CA 91024
Or email your comments to: email@example.com
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.