|What's it all about, Alfie?|
I understand why these folks are in favor of this thing being built. It provides a solution to the blighted structure currently occupying that site, plus when the dirt starts to fly it will employ a lot of construction people here in town. Once completed it will be a major source of tax revenue, which I am sure the City will find some way to use. I don't think City Hall has ever met a dime they couldn't spend, and quickly. It will also bring lots of business into town. The amount of people employed at the ALF alone will fill help shift large amounts of the two major products produced here in Sierra Madre, lattes' and tacos.
And then, of course, there are all of those people who will dutifully troop into town every so often to visit the facility's 96 inmates. Since any beloved parents and relatives will need to be rather wealthy in order to live at the ALF, they will be popular. Face it, who in their right mind would ever want to neglect a rich family member once they have been checked into God's Waiting Room?
These are all powerful arguments for supporting Measure ALF, and I'd be less than honest if I told you that I wasn't feeling them. But there are a couple of things that have been bothering me. Issues involving the ALF that just do not quite pencil out. Two of them to be exact. And I can't shake them.
So here is the deal. I will cast a "yes" vote on Measure ALF if someone can satisfactorily answer the following two questions. Set my mind at ease on these matters and I will gladly lend my support to this enterprise. Otherwise? No big deal. It is likely to pass no matter what I say.
Question #1 - Water: At our most recent City Council meeting in-house wise man on all things infrastructure, Bruce Inman, stood before God and Nancy Walsh to proclaim that the City of Sierra Madre is just a year away from completely running out of water. Shocking news, and had anyone been paying attention it could have sent shock waves through the community. As it was even the Looney Views News didn't pick up on it.
Ask yourself this. How is it that during a time of what should be considered a severe emergency for this City (which is what the prospect of running out of water should be), how can we actually be contemplating the building of something that would become by far the largest water user in town?
If this City should ever actually run out of water you will find yourself kissing around half the value of your home goodbye. Nobody would even consider buying here. This is very serious stuff. Do you realize how many sheets and other assorted bedding alone will have to be washed daily to keep up with the needs of 96 very old people? That is just the start.
The question here is how does The Kensington plan on guaranteeing itself the water it needs without putting a further burden on what for us is a very challenging situation? Why would Fountain Square invest so much of its new development money here when the City of Sierra Madre has for all intents and purposes proclaimed that it will have run out of water by this time next year?
Question #2 - Ballot Language: Another question that needs to be asked is why does this ballot measure identify the rooms at the ALF as "assisted living suites" rather than what City of Sierra Madre municipal code calls them, which are units. Measure V, which is based on City law as it currently stands, permits 13 units per acre. This is to prevent the over-develoment of our downtown area through excessive density. Yet Measure ALF identifies this project as being made up of "suites." My question here is why was this done? What exactly was the legal point? And if this Measure passes, does it create a legally binding precedent of some sort? One having considerably more weight because it was approved by the voters?
What is worrisome here is that during the Planning Commission and City Council run-up to this item being placed on the ballot, there was an awful lot of discussion on the "units" versus "suites" question. With the City Attorney involved racking up vast chunks of billable hours discussing just these two words. Yet I do not recall anyone involved at that time explaining exactly why this distinction was so important. Despite all of the oxygen that was burned up in this long and involved discussion about these two words, that part was never cleared up.
I don't know about you, but I could not vote for Measure ALF if there was even a suspicion that it might in anyway change how City codes are interpreted on the matter of downtown density. And I would hate to think that the purpose of this ballot language swap was to undercut Measure V by setting some sort of voter precedent.
So that's it. Answer these two questions, clear the air a little bit, and I think we'll be fine. I'm sure it can be done.
Is the Cop Union Gearing Up to Sue Us Again?
One week we get a mailer from these guys offering Mother Moo coupons and a free movie, the next week they're suing us again. I'm beginning to think that the SMPOA (or is it SMPA?) must suffer from some pretty radical mood swings.
This from the agenda for next Tuesday's City Council meeting:
Anticipated Litigation Pursuant to California Code Section 54956.9b(3)(C)
A point has been reached where, in the opinion of the City Council/Agency on the advice of it (sic) legal counsel, based on the below-described existing facts and circumstances, there is a significant exposure to litigation against the City Council/Agency.
Receipt of Claim pursuant to Tort Claims Act or other written communication from Sierra Madre Police Officer's Association threatening litigation (copy available for public inspection in the City Manager's Office).
I think the applicable metaphor here would be "digging your own grave."