So what it all boils down to is this. When the Kensington goes to a vote, will it be a Measure V vote, or will it be just some kind of beauty contest? Apparently the way it stands now it is going to be a beauty contest. It could end up being a lot like a typical article in our local version of The Patch. "Do you like the Kensington, or don't you like the Kensington? We want to know. Please, tell us in the comments!"
But what it won't be is anything very much to do with what was written into the law here by the voters when they passed Measure V. Or at least that is the way the Planning Commission finally left it. We'll see what happens when it all goes to the City Council, of course
The evening's highlight, or maybe lowlight, was the Planning Commission having yet another besides the point conversation about what exactly constitutes a dwelling unit. And what they somehow settled upon is that if it has a place to prepare food, then it is a dwelling unit. Garbage disposals, a small sink, or even a wee refrigerator, none of that was really a problem for them. But if you put in, say, a microwave, then it does have something to do with food preparation, and therefore it is a kitchen. And that is what would make it a dwelling unit.
This, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the definition of a dwelling unit as defined by Measure V. Which is supposed to be the law in this town. I guess by the Planning Commission's reckoning what the residents of Sierra Madre voted into law in 2007 was a kitchen ordinance. You can build the Tower of Babel in Sierra Madre, just as long as there aren't too many kitchens in it.
It didn't help that the Junior City Attorney, who was supposed to be there to explain to the Planning Commission what the law actually is, kept repeatedly feeding them a lot of absurd nonsense very similar to what it is that they finally adopted. Whether this was done by design, or the guy really is as clueless as he appears to be, is a point for debate.
And then there is this. If it doesn't have a kitchen, then it is something that goes by the name of a "conjugal care unit." Which strikes me as a very odd phrase to describe a place where the inhabitants of a facility designed for octogenarians go to live out what is left of their earthly days. Maybe they meant "congregate care." But that is what the Planning Commission calls a unit without a kitchen. Which therefore isn't a unit at all. And because of all that the Kensington must now be regarded as compliant with Measure V.
So why should we even be voting? Based on what the Planning Commission decided last night, a kitchen defines a dwelling unit. Therefore there just isn't all that many of them at the ALF. That isn't what Measure V says, which is the law. This law defining a dwelling unit in Sierra Madre doesn't say anything about kitchens, kitchenettes, microwave ovens, or anything like that.
It would appear the Planning Commission believes that the vote Billy Shields is pushing for here is to approve the specific plan. Which it is not. The vote is about whether we pull a couple lots out of the Measure V zone so that something going beyond 2-30-13 can be built downtown with the voters' approval.
The final tallies were 5-0 for the CUP approval, Specific Plan approval passed 4-1, and Municipal Code Text Approval was 5-0.
Now it goes to the City Council. Which is where I suspect most everything detailed above will become quickly irrelevant. What will take its place is anyone's guess at this point.
This Evening's City Council Meeting
There are a few contentious issues, and then there are those that just aren't all that important or interesting. But perhaps the most bizarre of the bunch has been saved for dead last. Entitled "Strategic Plan From September 20, 2011, Retreat" (that is how it is written in the Agenda Report), it shares with us something called the "Highlights of the New Matrix." Which does indeed sound grand. And included deep inside this matrix of lofty goals is the following:
Submission to the City Council for consideration of a proposal to elevate the Green Advisory Committee to commission status is targeted for the August 14, 2012 City Council meeting.
The rationale for why the Green Committee needs an upgrade, at least in the opinion of a few special individuals, is based on something called the Environmental Accords of the United Nations. Which is pretty much the cut and pasted source of the Green Committee's own Environmental Accords. Apparently the hope is that by elevating this committee to commission status it will enhance the importance of all those lofty goals it purloined as well. Which is important to the pro-development community here in Sierra Madre because contained within the Accords of both the United Nations and Green Committee is something called "Action Item 8." It reads as follows:
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.
In other words, even the United Nations wants to turn downtown Sierra Madre into a DSP-style transit village. Which somehow is supposed to save the world from global warming. Hopefully they won't be sending in a blue helmeted peacekeeping force to make this happen.
Of course, the way things have been going since Josh became Mayor, the City Council won't be getting to this one tonight, either. Which means that for about the third (or fourth) time since it first started showing up on City Council agendas this one will end up being pushed to another meeting.
Sierra Madre Voted "No" On Measure A
Altadena and Pasadena (aka "the 'denas") both gave a majority of their votes for Measure A, but not Sierra Madre. Despite the support of some of this community's most august and forward thinking leaders, the vote here was 55% 'No,' 45% 'Yes.' Which is interesting if you think about it. 45% of the people in Sierra Madre who voted cast ballots against their own interests.
You have to wonder why they even bothered.