Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Kensington's Billy Shields Comes Down In Favor of a Measure V Vote

I don't know whether you have seen it yet or not, but the Agenda Report for this coming Tuesday's City Council deliberations on the Kensington project is now available to the public on the City of Sierra Madre website. Most of it is pretty much what you'd expect, with very little boilerplate spared. Planning geeks should feel free to go all in. Every bit of what we saw during the Planning Commission's deliberations is there, it's a veritable horn of plenty.

What is unexpected, though, is tucked way down at the very end of this Agenda Report. Found there is a July 2nd signed letter from Billy Shields stating that the November vote on his project should be a true Measure V vote. Apparently if you are a developer who is sinking millions of dollars into a project as complex as this, the last thing you would want to do is associate yourself with anything of dubious legality. Quite obviously getting into bed with some of the dicey notions of this City Hall, or our preternaturally opaque City Attorney, could put the Kensington into some legal jeopardy should something that is not called for by the law be folded into the mix.

Billy isn't that sort of gambler it seems. But ask yourself this, would you gamble your company's fortune on anything coming out of this City Hall?

The City has maintained all along that the option of deciding whether or not the Kensington is compliant with Measure V is in the hands of the City Council. This is, of course, not entirely true. Most of that matter is already covered by Measure V. The City Council is not a judicial body, and their powers to interpret are pretty limited. They can look at the evidence and see if everything fits, but they need to follow the letter of the law when doing so.

Measure V is very clear on the issues involved, including the matter of what constitutes a dwelling unit. The semantics the City Attorney has been engaging in here over the last few months are irrelevant to the Kensington situation, and hardly the kind of speculation that should lead anyone to question the legal standing of our voter approved law.

That is a matter that would, if it ever gets to that point, have to be decided in a Court of Law. Which is where it will likely go should the City Council somehow decide that it has the power to flaunt Measure V through the use of creative writing. Otherwise the law stands as it was written and must be followed.

Sadly, the dubious fiction that Sierra Madre Mayor Josh Moran and anyone irresponsible enough to follow him somehow has the legal power to arbitrarily change an existing and voter approved law through the power of parsing lives on in Elaine Aguilar's Agenda Report. Here is how that is worded in the Executive Summary:

If the City Council determines that the project is in compliance with Measure V, it is recommended that the City Council order the legislative components be placed on the November 2012 ballot for voter action.

If the City Council determines that the project is not in compliance with Measure V, it is recommended that the City Council order an amendment to Measure V be placed on the November 2012 ballot for voter action for the purpose of permitting an assisted living facility project as an exception to the Measure V density requirement of no more that 13 dwelling units per acre as allowable use in the Downtown Central Core.

Obviously missing here is what exactly the nature of the "voter action" would be should the City Council decide that it has the unilateral power to overthrow Measure V and declare the decidedly non-compliant Kensington project to be compliant. I can assure you that the chances are close to 100% that it would be an advisory, and therefore a vanity, ballot. The notion of a "voter empowerment act" being anathema to our current Mayor and those who enable him. Developer empowerment being far more to their liking. Even when the developer doesn't want it.

Billy Shields, whose attorney has talked to everyone involved with Measure V (including those who wrote it), has apparently decided not to throw all caution to the wind. Billy is now backing a true Measure V vote on his project. To me this is rather unprecedented. That a developer should be instructing City Hall on what is best and proper for Sierra Madre has got to be one for the record books. Here is what Billy has to say on the matter in his July 2nd letter to the City Council:

As you are aware, there has been a great deal of discussion about whether or not our assisted living suites are "dwelling units" as defined by the City's Municipal Code and Measure V. The Planning Commission determined that these assisted living suites were not "dwelling units," based on that definition, primarily because the suites were not intended as separate and independent living quarters, and do not contain kitchens. By themselves, these suites do not provide the resident the amenities needed to live for an indefinite time. The suites depend on those other services throughout the building such as the commercial kitchen, commercial laundry and many other public spaces. The Planning Commission's conclusion is consistent with the manner in which other municipalities regulate assisted living facilities. While we maintain that our assisted living units are not "dwelling units" under most land use rules, we acknowledge that reasonable minds in the community may disagree and still question the "density" of our project, as envisioned by measure V.

Please note here that nowhere does Billy actually say that the "dwelling units" in his proposed Kensington project are anything but that under Sierra Madre law. We can all certainly recall that the Planning Commission was for dwelling units before they were against dwelling units. And phraseology such as "consistent with the manner in which other municipalities regulate living facilities," and "under most land rules," while certainly true, is legally irrelevant to what is being discussed here. They have no legal applicability whatsoever to our laws. Which is why Billy comes to the following necessary conclusion:

Early in the public review process we recognized this would be a critical question for many and for that reason requested, and the City Council agreed, to place the matter before the people of Sierra Madre for a public vote. In an effort to avoid a dispute over this definition, assuming the City Council is inclined to approve this Project, we believe that it would be best for all concerned to characterize the matter before the voters in November as an amendment of Measure V. In that regard, we propose the following language for your consideration.

Proposed Ballot Language:

"The Sierra Madre Voters Empowerment Ordinance (also known as Measure V) is hereby amended with regard to two parcels only, located at 33 North Hermosa Avenue (APN 5768-019-043) and 245 West Sierra Madre Boulevard (APN 5768-019-041), to allow the development of the assisted living facility, as described in The Kensington (Assisted Living Facility) Specific Plan, dated _________, 2012, on file with the City of Sierra Madre, not to exceed two (2) stories, not to exceed 30 feet in height, and not to exceed 75 assisted living suites, comprising 60,100 square feet of space, at the 1.84 acre site."

There really are only two choices available to the City Council. Follow the letter of the law and put the Kensington on a true Measure V ballot this November, or break it. And should they decide that they can somehow get away with breaking the law on behalf of certain favored special interests, it would fall upon the people of Sierra Madre to remedy the situation.

Stealing the peoples' vote is a serious issue in the United States. After all, this is not North Korea.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

66 comments:

  1. Kim jung shnizl...July 7, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    Wow! This is not north Korea hahahah chucklechucklechuckle guffawguffawguffaw yer so you clever, ya know what else isn't north Korea Sparky?...every country in the world that's not named north Korea..what a dope!

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    1. Moranistan?

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    2. Return the cow, 6:41.

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    3. New troll in town? When it comes down to it, Steve wasn't very funny.

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    4. Emperor Josh, El Supremo of Moranistan.

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    5. The Royal Guard of Moranistan will have DUI checkpoints up all over the Kingdom this weekend. If you plan on getting drunk, be green. Walk. Or at least stagger.

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  2. Thank you Billy Shields, and thanks to all of you who worked behind the scene to help him understand the importance of Measure V.

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  3. Wow, what is 6:41 coming off of? Maybe a tough nite at the OK Corral, well it's not ok 41, go back to bed.

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  4. Glad to see downtown dirts are up early. The Lucky Baldwin business must have been off last night.

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    1. Don't you know "josh moran" is the grand poopah of Sierra Madre?
      Actually very much in common with the foolish grand ruler of N. Korea, they are both idiots, laughable creepy jerks!
      Sad, one is the "mayor" of Sierra Madre.

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  5. Thank you John Crawford for alerting us to this. Not all that often we get any facts from our local "paper". The Tattler is really our only link with the truth.

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  6. Yes, thank you Mr. Crawford. The information given us through the local papers do not reflect the views of the residents of Sierra Madre. I'm going to be at the council meeting on Tuesday.

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  7. Mr. Shields knows how this works--in Manhatan Beach (or somewhere out there) he has another project in the works that requires a vote in order to change the zoning from school use to ALF type use.

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    1. I get it that Billy is here for the bucks - but still, he and his crew have gone to the trouble to even provide the appropriate language for the ballot. That lawyer time wasn't free.

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    2. It's in Redondo Beach, and it is very much the same:
      http://www.easyreadernews.com/50513/knob-hill-bid-redondo/

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  8. You have to give Mr. Shields credit. He is doing his a fine job of working with the city laws. Unfortunately, it seems that the city, via its attorney, is trying its best to circumvent the law.

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    1. It looks to me like the city wants to use the Kensington to put down Measure V, and Shields wisely wants no part of it. Reading between the lines, this is an admonishment to City Hall.

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    2. The developer is schooling the city council and city staff on how to follow and implement the law. Of course the developer's strongest motivation is to avoid delays brought on by legal fights that things like breaking the law generate. But it's actually a win-win. Not sure the city staff has that concept in place.

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    3. You have to wonder how far Moran et al will go on this.

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  9. The developer is a serious businessman who is trying to get something going in Sierra Madre. I suspect that when he is alone with his people the words he uses to describe how our city administration works are not very complimentary. Sad to say, but our city hall is just a no class operation.

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  10. It seems we have a cancer infecting our City Government. It transcends the periodic Council Member changes and surfaces when the City Manager and her facilitator City Attorney want special interests to prevail over the wishes of the citizenry and settled law. One can only guess what sub plots have put the fortunes of Sierra Madre into devious and perhaps dishonest hands.

    Measure V, One Carter, StoneGate, Water Tax, Prop 218, and now Kensington are the most recent examples of special interests trying to subvert our town to money making schemes. One can only guess what has transpired or changed hands to effect the Kensington decision.

    We have so many rocks to turn over it is hard to know where to begin.

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    1. City Hall is parasitic. They take our tax money and use it against our interests. All of the things you list here are examples of that in action. This is corruption, plain and simple. It must stop!

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    2. A few people worked behind the scenes to help make this come about. No money was transacted, it was more a threat of legal action that would hold the project up. I for one have always liked the concept of the ALF, and while I am upset that the planning commission forced them to add the commercial shops thus making the project so much larger, I would have voted no if it was a beauty contest only and not a measure V amendment.

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    3. And for another point of view, I am glad there will be some retail to break up what would be a great big institutional wall. The facility will be bigger and uglier than people think, with or without the retail spaces. But that said I am for it anyway, and even more so now that the developer is advocating following the law.

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  11. Bring on the vote for Measure V and lets get this Kensington project underway. Tired of looking at the decay of this towns buildings.

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    1. If city hall didn't interfere as much as they have this project would already be voter approved and halfway to being built.

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    2. Right you are, 10:41.
      The delay, the colorful and contorted shenanigans, have been created by city hall, not by the residents.

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  12. Interesting to find an ethical developer...an oxymoron....thank you Tattler for letting us know the FACTS are the truth.

    And, it is utterly pathetic that the first 4 comments reflect a power play of a person (people) who cannot accept the truth that a builder will follow the law. We are living in the midst of the worst gang of mafia white thugs who rule with their rules and care nothing about anyone but themselves. Their darkest days are about to explode.They cannot keep their unethical control much longer. Despicable.

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    1. Good post. They're so bad that even a developer is holding his nose.

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  13. Nothing about this in the Mtn Views News. Nothing on The Patch or Coburn's site, either. Pretty much a total clamp down on this story. Amazing.

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    1. The RTIQM (Room Temperature IQ Media) isn't participating in this one.

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. Advisory vote? Not in this town. Not after we have had councils that made terrible decision like Stonehouse & Carter, or the Downtown Specific Plan. The councils lost the right to an advisory vote some years ago.

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    1. I wonder if C&L thinks there might be an advisory lawsuit...

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  16. I think that Colantuono and Levin must not have read Measure V. It's written in English, it defines the terms, spells out that you can't change those definitions, and then says city hall city council city whatever cannot monkey around with it. So they had to ignore what was on the paper. Colantuono and Levin must have dedicated tons of billable hours to try and come up with so much obfuscation and confusion with something that is essentially so clear.

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    1. They're trying to bamboozle the residents. A real City Attorney would have explained this during the very first meeting on the Kensington. Instead we got a ridiculous amount of nonsense.

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    2. The city attorneys are just living up to what they bring to Sierra Madre - turning on the will of the majority of the residents.
      This is what they've always done - fail to protect our laws.

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    3. MacGillivray has gone to the podium several times to read the law to the Planning Commission and at the last council meeting the council was reminded also. The law is clear and so id the intent.

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  17. Interesting interview with John Capoccia on Radio Fishbowl. John is incredibly well-versed on a lot of important topics.

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    1. Yes he is, 12:55. And he is reasonable. Shockingly reasonable. The man is a gifted problem solver.

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    2. There was an awkward moment during the interview. Capoccia was about to go into the things about the Green Committee he has trouble with, and Goss cut him off. Said it was a topic for another time. It was weird.

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    3. I remember quite well Capoccia's point about the Green Comm. when it came up at the last council - it would be an additional expense when we are trying to reduce expenses.

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    4. Goss actually asked Capoccia if he thought a Measure V vote was necessary. It is the law, Gene. Of course it is necessary.

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  18. Goss is a bit of a hypocrite. At the end of the his show he talks about how he is "trying to bring decency back to political dialogue," yet he plugs Henderson's paper every chance he gets. He has an agenda, just like everybody else.

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    1. Decency is a lovely quality, as long as it doesn't hide deceit.

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    2. Hunh. So then why did Goss let Moran go off on Koerber?

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    3. Begs the question, who's indecent?

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    4. Goss's approach is very similar to Mosca's. If you agree with him, you're civil. And if you don't? Then you are "one of them." Same old same old.

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    5. Poor Gene. The only people who listen to his show are Tattlers.

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  19. I thought Koerber was going off reality

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    1. If we get into the larger issues of climate, we'll never get anywhere except polarized.
      I actually think climate warming is real, scientifically documented, and it's man-accelerated, but am heartily opposed to the UN Accords masquerading as my very-already-Green community's guidelines.

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    2. To say that building a transit village in downtown Sierra Madre is going to somehow help save the world from global warming is insulting. Sierra Madre is a green town already. Turning it into an offshoot of Pasadena will not make anything better.

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    3. To make it really frustrating there are things for a Green Committee to do that would be very valuable. Fundraising for buying open space, community gardening on city owned walkways, serious education about garbage and recycling - there are lots of good things they could get up to. None of them involve the United Nations.
      They should focus on what is in front of them, be folded into the Sierra Madre Environmental Action Council, SMEAC, and strengthen it.

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    4. The Green Committee was the baby of John Buchanan, and it's mission is clearly development. We didn't hear one peep from that crowd when Antonovich was butchering old growth oak trees in Arcadia. It came up in a City Council meeting and all Mosca and Buchanan did was look at their hands.

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    5. There were people from the green committee as will as others from sierra madre at the gate of project protesting and stayed until threatened with arrest at which time all but the tree sitters left .

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    6. Where was John Buchanan? And why did the Green Committee not issue a statement condemning this ecological disaster?

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    7. If you read the papers or watched the tv news you would have seen the articles , statements and pictures of the protest

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    8. But did the Green Committee issue a statement?

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  20. Yes, Koerber's comments were very reality based. Unfortunately the green committee, which attempts to posit itself as being science based, is actually working off of the developer agenda. If you read their "Accords" you will see that at its heart is high density transit village development. The green is just there for design.

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  21. The letter from Shields is great, and things are looking good - but we need to keep our legal war chest up anyway.
    Just one of the conditions of where we live.

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    1. Right. Never underestimate Moran's desire to undo Measure V. That is why he is here.

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  22. Wow. I just looked over this agenda on the City's site, and they really buried Billy's letter. It is also very hard to read, like it was copied on a different machine. One that doesn't work very well.

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  23. What freaks me out on the agenda is the little closed session item - looks like the POA is going to sue us again. Unbelievable.

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    1. To think that some tin-eared pols in this town actually bragged about being endorsed by these guys.

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  24. The ALF for Alzheimers and others, is proposed to be built in the commercial area of down town, so yes: there should be commercial use included with the proposed project. If measure V is followed: 2 storeis/30 feet in height (from either finised grade or natural grade measurement) and not to exceed 13 units of living space per per person or couple (?).
    This 1ST test of Measure V reguarding any new development going in to the downtown area, which indeed does exceed the outline of the ordiance protecting the downtown area, does need to be voted on by all Sierra Madreans. This town is defined as a village; not an over built version on Pasadena.
    In 20 years (or less) this town or village should become vibrant and a location that homeowners and visitors enjoy as that of piece of Mayberry which is also able to sustain.

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