Friday, June 7, 2013

Sierra Madre 3, McMansion Nation 0

Carter Castles take it on the chin
I stayed for the whole show last night and I gotta tell you, the Planning Commission did not disappoint. The wily forces of McMansion Nation were lined up and ready to do battle for 5.5 bathroom Hummer houses with walls as high as a sycamore tree, but our boys in the rolled up sleeves were there to deny them their misguided dreams. It was all very impressive. You should have been there to see this all for yourself. It really was quite an event.

The architect presently known as Adele Chang was in the hizzy to present three only modestly modified versions of what she had attempted to get approved a few times before. Yesterday evening was her last chance to get the Big 3 McMansions credentialed and on their way to fulfilling the hopes and desires of the poor slobs that had paid vast sums of dough for lots on this hillside of the developmentally damned. Yet rather than incorporate what she had previously been patiently told by the Planning Commission, Adele chose instead to once again merely rearrange the big bulk dreams of her demanding clients.

Obviously Adele was between a rock and a hard place, and because her clients apparently are utterly incapable of curbing their enthusiasm for things that just don't make it in Sierra Madre, she had no choice but to push for basically the same oversized McMansions and then accept the loss. Work can be like that some days.

What did not help Adele's cause was the number of eloquent and very well informed Sierra Madreans who turned out to voice their opposition to the McMansionization of our town. Often these speakers were questioned by the Planning Commission on their views, with the effect being that they were more like expert witnesses than folks off the street speaking their minds during public comment. It was pretty impressive.

The vote on the first two Carter Castles was 6 against and zero for, with a 4 to 2 vote on the last water warthog. Or, if you like it in one big tally, 16 to 2. A big win for Sierra Madre, and a profound defeat for Adele Chang and McMansion Nation.

The Letter

One thing that stood out in a big way last night was the effect that the City's water restrictions were having on the residents of this town. And while these restrictions could have had little influence on how the Planning Commission was to rule on Adele's big houses, they were clearly on the minds of everyone there.

The Letter from downtown had gone out Wednesday, and from what I could see last evening the effect might not have been the one intended by the City Council when it initiated this action. Though the mandated water use cutback overall is between on average 10% and 20% a year, during peak summertime usage the actual percentage could in effect be as high as 50% of what had been used during the previous summer. The result being, as one gentleman known for his advanced gardening expertise put it, a "death sentence" for everything that grows in his yard.

Somehow I think we're going to hear about this from unhappy residents at next week's City Council meeting as well. This is also something that could have an effect on the City's stated goal of raising water rates again later this year. The soon to be levied fines already being an increase of sorts.

The times could be getting very interesting in Sierra Madre again.

Fay Angus on Gray Water Recycling Systems

(Mod: A number of people in this town have been pushing the recycling of water in Sierra Madre for years. None any harder than Fay. Quite obviously the time for such a thing is now. Here is what she had to say to the Planning Commission last night.)

I would like to reinforce the comments by Marguerite Shuster and Caroline Brown that the Planning Commission ask that all new development in Sierra Madre install gray water units to capture water from washing machines, bathroom showers and sinks, etc, with this water to be used for landscape watering. Please note that gray water does not include water from toilets or kitchen sink drains which may have food particles. That is considered black water.

The City has sent out letters to residents mandating that they cut back their water use as much as 20%. Until our water shortage crisis is resolved, it should be mandated that ALL DEVELOPMENT BE PLACED ON HOLD, including that mansions on tonight's agenda. Also that the plans under consideration for these mansions be mandated to include a gray water recycling system that is approved by the City.

At Tuesday's Council meeting, I will address the need for recycling gray water and that top priority be given to placing on the agenda a report on residential gray water recycling units that would be approved  by the city. There are many systems available at manageable cost. One in particular runs $850 for a settling kit, plus $750 for a distribution system, making the overall cost $1,600 plus installation costs. Once the City has approved whichever ones they deem suitable, residents would be able to purchase and have the system installed for use in their landscaping watering.

A new home in San Dimas was built with its own gray water recycling system. Currently I am trying to get in touch with the owners to find out more about the details on which system they used.

The City needs to implement an ordinance in its building code mandating that all new construction, including the ALF, have gray water recycling systems. Arcadia is actively searching out ways to hook up to the purple recycled water pipeline that comes down Rosemead from the Whittier Narrows Recycling plant in El Monte in order to irrigate the Arboretum, Golf Course, Parks, Race Track and school playing fields. Water from this plant irrigates a beautiful huge park, soccer and baseball fields, a golf course, the school's athletic fields, Rose Hills Memorial Park and the extension line servicing the Edison and Panda headquarters on Rosemead.

Is gray water safe for children to play on? Absolutely safe, or it would not be in use at the aforementioned facilities. Texas, parts of Florida and other states have massive water recycling systems.

I've been in touch with administration officials at our recycling plants, who are very helpful. If you have any questions I may be able to give you some answers.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

94 comments:

  1. the city has declared warJune 7, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    Imagine a world in which the management of a private water company failed to invest in an adequate water supply despite borrowing millions. Then, to deal with its error enacted rules that would reward it with increased rates when its customers failed to meet usage targets. Even though the customers have no access to the data necessary to monitor compliance.

    For good measure let's make the usage targets arbitrary, with July target based in part on February usage. The result: 50% July usage cuts.

    Throw in exemptions for favored users regardless of property size or number of persons residing on the property. And to complete the absurdity an exemption for the owners of the water company themselves. There would be a public hanging presided over by local politicians.

    This is what your council has done. We need a recall. Now.

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  2. Thank you to all of you who were at the Planning Commission meeting last night, and especially to those who spoke. I was extremely proud of the Commission, but the residents' work has just begun. I'm sure there will be an appeal to City Council, and we'll have to show up again. When the Hummer Homes are on the agenda, please show up or be willing to live with them looming down over us, plus another 19 if the precedent is set.

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    1. Another 24, isn't it?
      6:48 has a great point though - citizen involvement makes a big difference.

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    2. I think there are 27 buildable lots (using the term buildable loosely).The only people who seem interested in building there want enormous houses, no yards, and bunches of bathrooms, so it's great that the commissioners did not let these through. One of these kids of places here and there isn't so bad. 27 of them in rows would be terrible.

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    3. the owners of the property are complete idiots and probably brats

      the area is a known fire and flood zone

      we've got enough problems with the excessive hillside building already in place, we don't need more

      water? we don't need no stinkin water

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    4. The only people that have earned the right to post on the mega houses are those that attended any of the Planning Commission meeting on the houses or sent letters to the Planning Commission. As far as the houses go most of you are all hot air. Hopefully some of you have helped on other issues. But in this City it's what are you doing now? I really don't want your resume.

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  3. If the city council overrules the planning commission on water pig McMansions while at the same time fining the residents over their water usage there will be a revolution in this town. We have had enough.

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    Replies
    1. watch out, Nancy Bullethead Walsh will take you out

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  4. The Bloody Tower is ready for those in the water company, the developers and the greedy politicians who began this and allowed it to go this far in the first place!

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  5. It wasn't so much a defeat for Architect Chang as it was a defeat for her boss, CETT Investments, aka Hui Ru Han. and project manager Frank Chen. Hui Ru Han bought the lots in some kind of distressed real estate transaction, and she is trying to build and flip.

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    Replies
    1. I'll bet Hui is flipping right now. If I was Adele I'd leave my cell phone off.

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    2. Oh not Ms. Cheng. She's got an answer for everything.

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    3. Adele said she is working with other property owners. Perhaps Mr Not Fair from Temple City and Robert Ho, real estate agent previously Robert Ho the listing agent for the entire sub division.. I am sure everyone remember the Ho Houses.

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    4. Mr and Mrs Not Fair were not in the audience last night.
      It says a lot that the maximum number of people who come forward to defend the houses is one per meeting.

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    5. Actually Architect Chang mentioned that she was designing for some empty-nesters who also wanted many, many bedrooms.

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    6. If these were supposed to be custom homes built by individuals, why was Ms. Hui Ru Han allowed to buy the lots in the first place?

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    7. Because nobody in a position of authority in this city ever once told the truth about One Carter?

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  6. I was struck by two things the most. The pictures showed houses that have nor reason to be in the hillsides, they could be built anywhere in the flat lands of Arcadia and fit fine.
    And how much these folks don't care about nature. Wrecking trees to put up poles? Why are they even in the hillsides?

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    Replies
    1. At one point the architect actually said "Fortunately for us there are no trees on this lot." Real nature lovers.

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    2. They are in the hillsides because they got the lots at a bargain price and figured they'd make some money.

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  7. Because the only thing these developers wants is money, they'll be back.
    Were they really interested in homes, the town, and the beautiful environment up there, things would be entirely different.
    Like 1,000 square feet less different.

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  8. I found Robert Ho to be particularly amusing. He said he wanted to join our community. But apparently his terms are he gets to live in a 5.5 bathroom oversized McMansion. Otherwise I guess he just isn't that interested.

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    Replies
    1. What came through on the TV was a very weird combination of aggression and formal politeness. I don't think he really finds us Sierra Madreans all that charming.

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    2. Ho has a mighty big problem on his hands. He's got some of the premier lots way on top of the butchered mountain, and no doubt has visions of Kinneloa East. Gonna be hard to get the palatial mansions he must want. And his perspective was revealed when he was scornful of these first three big hulking things being called mansions.

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    3. I think he looks down on us. And with his One Carter McMansion high on the hill that is exactly what he would do.

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    4. Wasn't he the Realtor for the One Carter lots at one time? I recall his name being on the sign up there. Did he get fired?

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    5. 7:42, I think his 6 months just ran out, and Capital Source Bank moved on to other realtors. Apparently Mr. Ho was his own only good customer.

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    6. Obviously he has a fool for a client.

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    7. Maybe we can sell him that bridge in Pasadena.

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    8. Ho is another liar peddling BS

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  9. Another great picture Mod. But like the architect's, it shows too much open space around the castle. The worst thing about the Carter development is the cheek by jowlness of the Hummer houses.

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  10. I'm just very relieved that these Macmansions were turned down. I really hope that Sierra Madre doesn't turn into what we see all around us.

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  11. Too bad some of the Planning Commission guys can't be given the City Council seats of Nancy, Josh and Johnny Process. Some of our best leaders are not in the best leadership position.

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  12. It's OK with me if they build there. But what's wrong with 2,000 square foot house? Why do they have to go to these huge extremes?

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    Replies
    1. Such ego...its OK for them to build if its a 2k home...that you approve...give me a break

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    2. The planning commission said basically the same thing, Aristotle. They have big egos, too?

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    3. 7:50 here, and let me clarify:
      I am in favor of private property rights and developing. But there are reasons to chose one site over another. When I want to develop a 5,000 square foot house, I don't plop it down in a community that is sensitive about the environment or the size of a structure. In case you haven't noticed, you can build whatever you want in Arcadia with very few restrictions. ll you need is the money to do it.
      This is not the appropriate site for these houses because of their sizes. If the developers want to make a profit, they should instruct their staffs to design houses that fit the site and fulfill the regulations. Then the commission will not, cannot, turn them down.

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  13. More than once the spokeswoman for the developer emphasized that the new mansions would use less water than the average older home in Sierra Madre.
    So the conclusion would be water will be used, but not as much as it would be if we had a time machine and went back 100 years to build.
    I think they don't understand the concept of a water crises.

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    Replies
    1. Mr. Ho, is that you? Doing damage control?

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    2. They were just improvising out of desperation. Very little of what they said made sense.

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    3. Building the 5 bedroom 5 bath homes would be a disaster for our water supply.

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    4. more than once the spokeswoman for the developer just threw cr@p against the wall to see what would stick

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    5. For the size lot we have, we were told we could not get a building permit to add on another room. We have a 3 bedroom 2 bath house. Are there special rules for McMansion developers?

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    6. Yes, 9:25 am. They have special dispensation from Pope Joffee, who's City Council approved the project.

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    7. Are there ever, 9:25!
      Look at all the city staff and commission time that these people have wasted, trying to stuff Hummer Houses into those small building pads. And I find it very hard to believe they didn't know they were violating city conditions. In fact the same architect was turned down when she brought forth the humongous house for the bank.

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    8. Chang's argument about the houses using less water than older houses was ridiculous. Adding houses means using more water, period.

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  14. Planning commitee have egos also. They are not correct. there vision is outdated

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    Replies
    1. Ah, the onslaught of pro-One Carter MacMansions! Strong hint of architect/developer/real estate promoter behind a whole barrage of posts the last couple of days! They're reading! Maybe they'll get the message that they're not welcome with their megamansion water consumer boxes in Sierra Madre.

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    2. From now on this guy is known as GCI. Grammar Challenged Idiot.

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    3. I can't tell if grammar challenged is actually making all the errors intentionally or not. Could it be legit that it's someone without enough knowledge of English?

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    4. Wisdom can shine through the worst language difficulties. What shines through GCI's posts is something entirely different.

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    5. 8:08, their vision is outdated? Why, because they don't violate city policies to enable mansions from the 1980's to proliferate like weeds on the hillsides?

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    6. The Sierra Madre Planning Commission does not have "outdated vision." It's water hogging monuments to conspicuous consumption that are outdated.

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    7. C'mon, you guys heard Adele. Modern families need five bathrooms. Apparently modernity is afflicted with incontinence.

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    8. Need an example of what Sierra Madre is trying to avoid? Look north from the 210 Freeway toward the hills behind Ralph's. Four, 5, 6, even 7 thousand square foot edifices. And Mursol continues to build 7K plus homes north of Foothill in Arcadia. Spec houses are once again affordable. Prepare for the onslaught.

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    9. Didn't Mur-Sol have a bad experience on Auburn? Or was it Grove? In Sierra Madre. A couple of years ago. Trying to divide a flag lot into three buildable lots. PC (and maybe the CC) turned them down. They took their hammers and went to Arcadia.

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    10. Me thinks Robert has been posting.

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  15. It amazes me that Sierra Madre has such a great planning commission and such good resident participation. It just might be possible to keep the McMansionization at bay.

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    Replies
    1. Our people were out in force last night.
      Remember, we are the same people who stopped the disaster DSP. A gamble the greedy dirts lost.
      We are the same people who stopped an outrageous water rate hike.
      We are still active and organized and have some of the smartest people in town to plead our case.
      Thank you Sierra Madre Residents for REASONABLE DEVELOPMENT.

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    2. 9:08 That is not true.
      The community was NOT out in force. The only people there were the regular speakers that really care about the hillsides. The speakers as always were knowledgeable and brought up issues that the PC may not have thought about. Like the trees

      This will be appealed to the City Council and the community better show up.

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    3. The Commissioners were struggling mightily to find a reason to turn down the three applications. Thanks to the diligence of a couple of the citizens, they found it. Trees. Thanks, you two.

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    4. I agree 9:49. Only IF we are out in force will City Hall deny these Hummer houses. Why is it always the same few who have to speak? By the way, we learned something else, according to Chang that if you have a three car garage, YOU are living in a McMansion. Guess I better let my husband know how conspicuous our consumption is!

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  16. May we bid adeau toHui- Adele and our esteem CC?
    Both are walking a very thin line.

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    Replies
    1. Not yet they will be back.

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  17. the city letter, I burned it and then put it out with 4 gallons of water

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  18. Where was the planning department a few years ago, when they allowed Mur-Sol to build on Santa Anita Ct. and Perkins.
    They built Arcadia type mansions that have nothing to do with the general look of those neighborhoods? And now the CC is going to squeeze us with water usage fines, and at the same time allow 20 units per acre in special "up zones" !!!
    They're out of control... Time for a recall movement to begin. We did it with measure V...it's time to throw these bums out!!!

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    Replies
    1. Perkins is not in Sierra Madre

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    2. 9:28 is right anyway. Santa Anita Court is in town, and MacMansions are being built here.
      Thank your lucky stars if it's not next door to you.

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  19. Chief Black KettleJune 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    i can hear Bart Doyle laughing his a** off as he reads these comments riight now. "water, water every where and not a drop to drink".

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  20. Orange County has had a water reclamation facility in operation for years. That's how it should be done. In 1976 the OCWD began treating recycled water with reverse osmosis and then blending it with other water and injecting it into the Talbert Gap to stop the flow of seawater into the local basins. It was the first time recycled water was used for such an application. Many studies have been conducted, and results show that this project is safe and effective.
    http://www.wrd.org/water_quality/recycled-water-groundwater-recharge.php

    Article about the implementation of the OCWD system and the fact that LA County is looking into the same kind of large-system water recycling.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/02/local/me-reclaim2

    Sierra Madre has a different problem of local well water supply, and once this battle is over, should work with the County to implement rainwater surcharge of the aquifers, probably mostly by adopting City of LA program guidelines
    http://www.lastormwater.org/green-la/low-impact-development/residential-solutions/rain-barrels-and-cisterns/how-to-install-a-rain-barrel/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, wake up. Sierra Madre adopted the LA City guidelines a few months ago. Are you one of those "green" committee members?

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    2. What LA City Guidelines are you talking about? The city water conservation update effort goes back to Nov. 2011 and the latest CC staff report that I can find before what is going on now is Jan 2012. In 2012 they were referring to something from the state called 20 by 2020 and I have to look that up. I think it goes way back longer maybe 2008 whern they first declared the no washing of sidewalks/driveway, no water at restaurants unless the patron asked for water, no lawn watering between 10 am and 4 pm, no fountains unless the water was recycled, and more? Same guidlines you can find on Azusa's website, another one of our four cities in the San Gabriel Valley Water District (us, Azusa, Montery Park and Alhambra).

      Just drove through Monrovia, looks like no water rationing there: spirnklers on at noon along Hillcrest.

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    3. 11:12, I will repeat myself:

      "should work with the County to IMPLEMENT rainwater surcharge of the aquifers"

      ...which is apparently not being done by the City of Sierra Madre.

      People need to understand what's involved with these practices, as well, hence the posting.

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    4. 11:12, there was a multi-page in the agenda packet a few months ago re: LA City Guidelines. Pictures of landscaping, etc. The discussion at City Council Meeting was that the regulations needed to be submitted to Sacramento asap, so the Council voted to take the Los Angeles City Guidelines and modify them to Sierra Madre. It was voted on by the Council 5-0.

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    5. poster at 1:37, I hope you mean REcharge, not surcharges. The City has raised enuff fees and taxes already.

      How will rainwater REcharge help us now? No rain expected until December or January, based on the usual SoCal climate.

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  21. As always only the very few people came out last night and only those same few will walk for the recall. When will all the people who post here really come out and get up and speak?
    It really takes a village.
    Wake up.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's a hard truth that people will usually only participate when they see clearly a direct relationship between participation and the quality of their own lives.
      But that's what so scary about the mansionization push. It's easy to dismiss it at Carter because the property is up north and out of sight - but when it's the lot next door, it's a different thing.
      Well it could oh-so-easily be the lot next door. That's the part many people don't seem to get.

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    2. Wait til next Tuesdays council meeting.
      The landscape death notices may inspire a whole new batch of citizen involvement.

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    3. Pitchforks and torches are coming back into style.

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    4. Want to recall the entire City Council? Can't recall one or two when it was the whole Council that voted on the water restrictions. I for one will have no part in a recall, I did once fighting for Jan Maddox, and again fighting to recall Mosca. It takes time and money and there has to be a very, very good reason. The water situation is not a very, very good reason to recall the whole council. We are not Bell --- yet.

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    5. Respectfully disagreeing, but in southern California, water is and always has been a just casus belli.

      If I may ask, how do you know we are not Bell, yet? And why wait to find out? A lot of damage can be done in the meantime.

      It's understandable if you don't want to take part in this fight, but others are always ready and able to join a good cause. The tree of liberty does have to be refreshed from time to time, right?

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    6. Not a good reason?

      Then where does the line in the sand get redrawn?

      When is there ever a good reason?

      This is why these louts have gotten away with some much already.

      There strength will grow and your will weaken.

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  22. Can anyone think of another business where the business owners profit margin is such a concern to others, besides the owner?
    Why do development decisions reference the money a developer has paid, or will potentially make?
    It makes no sense to me.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you Robert. Keep moving.

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    2. 1:39, what?

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    3. 12:42, it's a freakish condition that exists in the development industry and I don't know why either. When developers approach potential marks, uh, clients, they start poor mouthing immediately and don't stop until projects are done and it's ready to start the next round of poor mouthing.

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  23. Robert Ho said he had two lots, #1 and #9, at Stonegate. Yes, he was listed as the sales agent for the properties at one time. This is exactly what was NOT supposed to happen: developers for flipping. Each lot was to be individually bought and custom homes built for the owners in keeping with all the regulation of the Hillside Management Plan and the General Plan and the Development Guidelines.

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    Replies
    1. There are many places where people would welcome these houses. Sierra Madre is not that place.

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    2. Very true. McMansions would put Sierra Madre into the McToilet. Regarding both property values and quality of life.

      And if this CC intervenes on the Mansions' behemoth behalf, they should henceforth be known as: "Mayor McLoo and The Privy Council."

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  24. Whoever wrote the piece below has rendered a service to all of us.It succinctly summarizes the outrageous situation. Crawford has the right solution -default on the bonds ,bankrupt the City and give as many functions as possible to private contractors who would be competent & accountable -both sadly lacking from the City!
    How else to stop the insanity?

    The City has declared warJune 7, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    Imagine a world in which the management of a private water company failed to invest in an adequate water supply despite borrowing millions. Then, to deal with its error enacted rules that would reward it with increased rates when its customers failed to meet usage targets. Even though the customers have no access to the data necessary to monitor compliance.

    For good measure let's make the usage targets arbitrary, with July target based in part on February usage. The result: 50% July usage cuts.

    Throw in exemptions for favored users regardless of property size or number of persons residing on the property. And to complete the absurdity an exemption for the owners of the water company themselves. There would be a public hanging presided over by local politicians.

    This is what your council has done. We need a recall. Now.
    Reply

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Long overdue! We need a change of direction from pandering and genuflecting to the Development interest towards serving the interests of the Residents!It is outrageous our water is held hostage in order to enable special interest to pursue their agenda of grandiose developments at Citizen expense.Besides a much needed Recall,a contact to the Attorney General of California with documents revealing the past and ongoing malarky offered by our City might be beneficial as well.

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  25. “Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

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  26. No justice, no water.

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  27. Only a scholar like MLK could say something which could connect history from decade to decade and the past to the present. Thank you 4:55.

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