Like many people who have problems they wish weren't a part of their lives, City Hall in the end is a victim of itself. In particular with its significant levity problem. They just don't seem to know when they are being ridiculous.
The latest commedia assurda took place during the Strategic Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday. Gathered there were all of the usual (and unusual) suspects, with the topic this time being the Green Committee. In particular their upcoming role in the rapidly approaching new order.
Apparently one of the goals of the larger portion of the City Council is to upgrade the Green Committee. Elaine Aguilar and the guy who just can't go away fast enough, John Buchanan, have somehow decided that it is time this committee should be permitted to sit at the same table with the big people. And in order to do that properly they would need to be transformed into a Green Commission. Commissions being so very much more important than Committees.
Along with this name change would need to come a definition of their new and greater powers as well. What the nature of those new powers might be is amongst the vital business that awaits the next City Council.
But get this. The rationale for why the Green Committee needs to be upgraded, at least in Elaine and Lingering John's opinion, is based on something called the Environmental Accords of the United Nations. I kid you not! Apparently the UN is going to be recognized by them as an important authority here in town on matters such as community planning and development. With the Green Commission being the portal through which this world-wide organization for peace and understanding will speak to the people of Sierra Madre about their role in the universal brotherhood of man.
Who knows, perhaps next week Josh Moran will be chosen as our new mayor while sporting an U Thant Bouffant. You know how trendy he can be sometimes.
At this Strategic Planning Commission confab there was quite a bit of discussion about the definition of "sustainability." With the upshot of this conversation being that both Ms. Aguilar and Johnny Stay Lately avowing that the City Council somewhere along the line adopted the UN's Environmental Accords as official city policy. Even though the UN guys have yet to actually adopt these accords themselves.
Nobody recalled such a thing happening here, however. And you would think that turning a significant portion of Sierra Madre's governmental moral and policy making authority over to the edicts of the United Nations would have been considered a serious matter, and people might remember that event having occurred.
The Green Committee's Environmental Accords were presented to us a month or two back by the GC itself. And you may recall from a previous article here that their version of the "Accords" were pretty much wholesale cut and pasted from those of the United Nations. If it was a high school report project, they might have gotten into a bit of trouble for a lack of originality.
However, as a Commission, and armed with the immense powers that will be bestowed upon them by a one vote majority of the next City Council (the Sid, Nancy and Fancy Faction), this Green Commission would then have an opportunity to help prepare the way for the enactment of these Environmental Accords.
Now don't get me wrong. I personally don't have anything much against the United Nations. They send Doctors into the worst hellholes on the planet, they supply armed peacekeepers to keep crazy people from killing each other over nothing, and they ship food and water into places where millions of people have little to eat or drink. These are good things, and they should always be commended for doing that.
But I have to ask. Why exactly is the United Nations doing butting into our business? Has California fallen so far that we are now viewed by the UN as a problem area in need of their assistance? Like Haiti?
And here's another question that needs to be asked: What is it about the UN's Environmental Accords that is so important to Buchanan, Aguilar, and soon to be Mayor Josh? And why do they want to make this proposed Green Commission the doorkeeper? Rather than, say, the General Plan Update Steering Committee? That apparently, if Josh and Elaine have their way, this Green Commission would soon replace?
If you go to the website of an organization called Green Cities California, you will be able to find the UN's Environmental Accords. You can access them by clicking here. And what you will see there are a lot of the usual topics that environmentally concerned folks care about. Which is fine. I too enjoy trees. But then, right in the middle of it all, is a topic that might sound very familiar to a lot of the people who read this site.
Urban Design: Action Item 8 - Adopt urban planning principles and practices that advance higher density, mixed use, walkable, bikeable and disabled-accessible neighborhoods which coordinate land use and transportation with open space systems for recreation and ecological restoration.
And that pretty much solves the mystery. As with everything John Buchanan and those who tag around after him, it always comes down to development. High density and mixed use development was at the very heart and soul of the Downtown Specific Plan. And at that time the justification given was that the population of California was about to explode, and people would need places to live. Something that we know now was an incorrect assumption.
And now, apparently, what we are hearing is that this exact same kind of development is necessary because it will help to solve the problem of global warming.
Which is, of course, absurd. Razing downtown Sierra Madre to make room for a few hundred condos and attached knickknack and snack shops will have no effect whatsoever on global warming. Rather it would do what it is intended to do, make money for the big utility company the current Mayor works for, and all the Realtors Josh Moran is owned by.
As is usually the case in California, if you want to sell something to the great unwashed you need to express your wishes in apocalyptic and salvational phrasing. As an example, the kinds of development these people want to put in our downtown isn't merely cheesy high-density housing, it is, per Sacramanto State Bill 375, an attempt to save the world from ecological disaster.
Of course, it actually is something quite different. That being just another in a long line of attempts to peddle awful development to a town that definitely does not want it. And honestly, I doubt this one will have a much greater chance of success than any of the others. "Green Commission" and all.
What's It All About? Last Night's Planning Commission Meet & Alfie
The Colantuono & Levin Fog Machine was in full force last night in its starring role as the Great Measure V killer. You know how things like democracy and voting just irk the corporate and governmental elites they support. Once again proving that our tax money is being used against our interests, with City Hall and the current City Council in cahoots to enable just that.
Things discussed, briefly described: Danny Castro said that the Planning Commission and the City Council must be done with Alfie before the end of July. The clock is ticking. Ballot language would be needed 90 days before the election so ballot it can be submitted in time.
City Attorney Whatsisname jumped in to claim that the Planning Commission needs to reconsider the dwelling unit versus suite thing once again. This despite the fact that the PC has already dealt with this phony issue. According to the C&L Department of Legal Obfuscation it is this matter that determines whether or not ALF is subject to Measure V or not. Which is disingenuous nonsense. They, along with those they actually work for, just don't want people getting a Measure V vote on a development project.
The golden moment arose when the handsomely compensated C&L Attorney claimed that if the ALF doesn't meet the requirements of Measure V, as he and not the people of Sierra Madre define them, then it cannot go to a vote. He then proposed that the City amend its General Plan instead of going to a Measure V vote. Which is crap and will end up embroiling Sierra Madre in a nasty lawsuit. Which, of course, would profit C&L greatly.
The ever helpful City Staff will be coming back on May 3rd with something they call a "decision tree." Meaning they plan on setting the agenda and parameters for the PC's decision making process on the matter. The Planning Commission asked for specific directions on what they need to do, and all the wrong people are plainly eager to help with that.
Not a good night.