Friday, December 21, 2012

Jim Engle: The Bottom of 2 Grand View Hills After the Water Project

Is it Water Wise Owl season yet?
Last Monday we posted something called "Water Is Always Big News In This Town" (click here), and in this article we discussed the surprising revelation that the Metropolitan Water District was planning to begin a massive construction project that would link our rather quaint little municipal water system to their Colorado River sourced fresh water ocean. An event that some in this town view with suspicion due to its potential for making vast amounts of high density "shelf housing" development sustainable. For the record, I happen to share in that misgiving.

This rather momentous occasion was revealed to our town in a rather oblique manner. Rather than discussing it during a City Council meeting, or conducting public hearings where concerned residents of Sierra Madre would be allowed to voice their opinions on the matter, or even putting relevant particulars before the Planning Commission, the news was instead leaked (so to speak) in a letter written by Public Works Director Bruce Inman. Something then sent only to those relatively few residents directly affected by the construction itself. The rest of the town being left untapped.

Here is a portion of what Mr. Inman had to say in his letter:

We are writing to advise you of a major construction project that will take place in your neighborhood early in 2013. Metropolitan Water District (MWD) will be constructing a connection between its 9-1/2 foot diameter Upper Feeder Pipeline and Sierra Madre's water system. The project will be located on East Grand View Avenue adjacent to 629-639 East Grand View. The project will be of major benefit to Sierra Madre and its water customers; the system interconnection will provide a source of water to serve Sierra Madre in the event of unforeseen emergencies.

MWD personnel will begin project preparations within the spreading basins adjacent to the project February 4. Actual constriction is slated to begin February 14th. During the period of February 21st through February 28th, the MWD pipeline will have to be emptied and water service through the pipeline to areas west of Sierra Madre will be discontinued. In order to minimize the length of the service interruption, MWD will be working 24 hours a day seven days a week during that 2/21 - 2/28 period. MWD staff will do everything they can to minimize the impacts of that continuous work, but some inconvenience will be unavoidable. The MWD work will NOT affect your home's water service. Homes within the work area along Grand View will have access at all times.

Sierra Madre resident Jim Engle received Bruce's letter and was concerned. Living right there in the heart of the targeted area, his interest was far less abstract than anything I had written here. Jim's life is going to be turned upside down by this vast construction project, and naturally there are some things he would like to know. But even more than that, he also wonders why this project is being treated by the City as such a secret. 

On December 19 Jim wrote a letter to City Manager Elaine Aguilar and the aforementioned Mr. Inman. Here is what he had to say:

Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 
Subject: The Bottom of 2 Grand View Hills After The Water Project

Bruce, & Elaine,
I have been trying to visualize what we end up with if the North Entrance to the Maintenance Yard is moved Southwest to the corner of the Yard. We will have Anita Crest, Foothill Ave., Oak  Crest Dr,  East and West Grand View, and the Entrance to the Maintenance Yard all converging  into a very small space. These streets plus the Yard emptying into Grand View would not be much more than 100 to 200 feet apart. That combined with the two downhill Grand View sides, where speeds run the range of 30 to 50 MPH and more, combine to make this a combination bound to deliver accidents. Add in the deer that frequent this location and it gets even more complicated.

If the City decides to go ahead as outlined in its letter, then traffic and speed mitigation steps will need to be employed.   Speeds must be controlled on Grand View with significant emphasis on the convergence of streets at the bottom of the"2" Grand View Hills.  Stop Signs need to be used to reduce speed on these down hills. Mr Inman I know you will defer to the "traffic studies" needed to employ signs and speeds; however, that piece of this problem should have been anticipated and brought into the equation before these changes were designed and initiated. I hope you will "walk back" and remedy this dangerous situation.

If a Public Meeting had been used to disseminate this information gathering input for our neighborhood safety, perhaps a better plan would have emerged. As it is this is an unsatisfactory design with little mitigation obvious. The City should be able to do better than this. and I hope you will take this into consideration and retrofit action.

Sincerely
Jim Engle

The City's response was written by Bruce Inman, and it focused solely on those issues dealing with where certain aspects of project were going to be located. The issue of a public hearing on these matters has yet to be addressed by City Hall. Or anything else for that matter. Here is Bruce's somewhat pithy and narrowly focused reply:

From: Bruce Inman  
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 
Subject: RE: The Bottom of 2 Grand View Hills After The Water Project
Dear Mr. Engle-

Thank you for the feedback. Please note that my letter calls for the location of the new entry to be opposite the intersection of Grandview and Acacia, 415 east of Sycamore. As measured on Google Earth that proposed location is (measured centerline to centerline) 550 feet west of Oak Crest, 666 feet west of Foothill, and 235 feet east of Camillo. Note that in moving the entry 415 away from Sycamore, we are alleviating an existing problem  such as you have described; the entry to the facility immediately adjacent to the s’ly intersection of Sycamore and 220 feet from the northerly intersection of Sycamore.

Sincerely,
Bruce Inman    

Those few logistical matters aside, I am not certain that Jim Engle's concerns have been addressed. Why is it no Public Hearing has been held regarding what is going to be a very large and quite disruptive 24/7 project? There are other issues as well. Is the purpose of this hook-up truly just for emergency purposes? It has been almost seven years since the City Council discussed this matter, with none of those serving at that time still involved in our municipal government. Doesn't something as large and frankly controversial as this deserve at least as much City Council attention as the chicken question received a few weeks back?

Remember also that back in 2006 this was one of the signature events leading to an attempt to recall former U.S. resident Councilmember Joe Mosca (click here). Some of those misgivings about this project still remain.

It also raises the issue of who makes the call on such projects. While the link up with the MWD was approved in an abstract sense by the City Council in 2006, what about all of the rest of it? The exact location, along with the nature of this very large construction project, plus the concerns of Sierra Madre residents actually living there, has never been publicly discussed. As far as I can tell it isn't even mentioned on the City's website. Was all of this really a City Staff call? To be noticed to only a small portion of the public in the form of a warning letter from Public Works?

That hardly sounds democratic to me.

The residents of this City deserve to be heard. Especially those who are being called upon to face the brunt of the Metropolitan Water District's undefined "minimized impacts."

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. Just read the reply from Inman to Engle. So there will be massive amounts of activity on the east side of Sierra Madre, but the project extends over to Oak Crest and even further west? Wow! Lima becomes Oak Crest. Seemingly, this is a huge project. Why no EIR?

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    1. That is the question of the day. This is being done in a very surreptitious way. Certainly not out of character for City Hall, but it does send up some warning flags.

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  2. Well, it is a relief to be posting this morning... do you think we're in a new world where we were transported at the stroke of midnight with all of our shortcomings?

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  3. Yes. welcome to the new world, same as the old world.

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    1. I think they did it with mirrors

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    2. There are a lot of folks all across the country who are all prepped up with nowhere to go.

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    3. The day is not over...

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    4. Is it safe to say we made it yet?

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  4. The public meetings were held right around the time Joe Mosca got elected.

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    1. It was Mosca's vote that helped get this passed. It was the first of his many acts of betrayal. A shallow narcissistic man who thought all of his lying would get him a political career. It didn't.

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  5. Just watched the Neuroblast vid. How could that man win a council seat? Vapid doesn't even begin to describe his remarks. Such an evasive liar.

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    1. Flat out creep. A little sneak.

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    2. How many times does he use the word "process? Like 30 times?

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    3. Process and uh were Joe's go to noises.

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  6. The timing is impeccable!The ALF project gumming up SM BLVD for 16 months or more coinciding with the stealth water project predicted to bottle up traffic on Grand View.Our City has displayed again it's contempt and arrogance towards the residences they are SUPPOSE to represent and serve!

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    1. There's another great bit of timing - Orange Grove is being repaved in February.

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    2. Terrific.....the timing is genius..not!

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    3. I thought the closure & repaving was going to be on Baldwin, south of Orange Grove, north of Foothill.

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    4. Arcadia is redoing Baldwin. About time!

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    5. Goodness, yes. We need smooth streets to race around on.

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  7. "Mr Inman I know you will defer to the "traffic studies" needed to employ signs and speeds; however, that piece of this problem should have been anticipated and brought into the equation before these changes were designed and initiated. "

    And that same cart-before-the-horse error happens repeatedly with city staff. Wait til the residents around that area see the violations of construction time and activities, and find out the city staff has neither the ability nor the desire to correct them.

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  8. How is all this new water going to flow through the old rusty pipe?

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    1. An excuse for some additional boondoggling!

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  9. In one City Council meeting I recall Kurt Zimmerman poking fun at John Buchanan over the issue of development and a lack of water. Buchanan's reply? "We'll find the water."

    They found the water.

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  10. ME< ME> ME: ME I want my way and I do not care what you say I will do what I already planned. Mosca was a plant? Nah... Let's plant more stupid to convince ourselves that the public is stupid and we can lie and believe our own lies. "Nancy, tell em this.." "Josh, have a drink and tell them that," ......Then put it in the paper. It does not have to be true. No one knows. Confuse and spin and smile.

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  11. They're mainlining water to Sierra Madre's development junkies.

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  12. What sex is Water Wise Owl?

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    1. Out on a limb here but in the absence of nail color and lack of eyelashes I'm going with male...

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    2. A very annoying one. Paulie Goosebumps, but if he was a bird.

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  13. I am glad to see all the end of the world talk did not put an end to all the uninformed and hateful posts on this site

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    Replies
    1. Uh oh. A unicorn.

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    2. Click on my name to see what's in the cupboard!

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    3. Looks to me like you're the one bringing the hate, 10:33.

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    4. People like 10:33 are shallow and narcissistic and tend to assign their own personal faults to others.

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    5. Like a Mosca soul mate.
      There are still people in this town who love Joe and believe everything he tells them. Everything.

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  14. Sometimes when people commit to someone, it's just too hard to see it was a mistake, an error in judgement.

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    1. Yeah, but in the long run, it's harder to keep fooling yourself.
      Anyone who doesn't realize Mosca was a habitual liar is kidding themselves.

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    2. Yes, so they dig in their heels and sink into the quicksand

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  15. After several years of indiscriminate lying Joe's dreams came crashing down when realized that the Democrats had chosen Holden over himself for the Assembly. So he quit the City Council and on his friends in Sierra Madre and left the country for better opportunities. He never really gave a damn.

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  16. Was an EIR done on this pipeline project? If so, has anyone actually seen it?

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    1. That's a great question, 3:32.
      I know the council before Joe's kicked the hook-up around, Bart Doyle claimed it was a terrific idea that was allowed to lie fallow at Sierra Madre's risk, and he was exasperated the night they fell for it, with a "all these years this great opportunity etc etc" - but an EIR? Not that I recall.
      Any other long in the tooth types remember?

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  17. This project was a brainchild of Bart Doyle. It was billed as a protection against "emergencies" and people either bought that description or were complicit in the lie. The swing vote on this was Joe Mosca and his vote on this project revealed his true agenda--it was the night he was sworn in. On that night many of those who worked hard to get him elected found how just how he had mislead and betrayed them.

    Thinking through this project, there was never any emergency aspect to it. The project was all about getting more water into Sierra Madre because that is the limit on growth. Density, here were come! And once again the infrastructure that will benefit nobody but the developers will be achieved on the backs of the taxpayer who will be paying for all this.

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

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    1. I guess it stands to reason that obviously if you limit or restrain the availability of water to one source you would have to limit the usage or run the risk of spreading the available supply to thin, but also you limit your source of obtainable water to one source, zero redundancy, zero backup, zero alternatives, not a very sound plan for a resource that has been proven in the past to be a somewhat critical commodity in a community requiring it for survival. I find it comforting knowing that we will have another source for water. Merry Christmas!

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    2. The one thing that has kept this town from being turned into a generic replica of every other Overbuilt city in the SGV is the limitations of water. Did you know that?

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  19. Dear City Council, this should be agendized....

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