Monday, July 22, 2013

1 Carter: Suddenly the Stakes Are Much Higher

The rather lush "Stonegate" waterworks 
I know we're supposed to be calling 1 Carter by the name of Stonegate. However, I'm just not feeling it. Stonegate has that certain kind of inauthentic ersatz developer marketing patina to it, so instead I am going to stick with the local tradition.

Of course, they can call their patch of ongoing woe whatever they want, but its been 1 Carter for far longer than the current developer has been hanging around here. And it will likely be called that long after they've packed up their wobbly story poles and "for sale" signage and left. Which, if things go the way they are supposed to, shouldn't be too far in the future.

As I am certain you will recall, the 1 Carter developer currently taking a stab at building something there was recently shot down by the Planning Commission. CETT Investment Corporation, from Rosemead of all places, had attempted to build 3 rather immense McMansions on the site, complete with 5 bedrooms and, more tellingly, 5.5 bathrooms. Such uni-block Hummer Houses being not only out of character with most of our community, but also in direct conflict with such Sierra Madre ordinances as the Hillside Management Zone.

Plus there is also the matter of water and our lack of it. In a time when residents run the risk of incurring significant fines for usage deemed excessive by City Hall, approving the building of such water hogs here would have been quite difficult to justify. A double standard, as it were.

But the CETT Investment Corporation was not about to let our Planning Commission get in the way of their cashing in on Sierra Madre's birthright. According to the July 3rd City Manager Report, they have now decided to take their case before the City Council itself. Here is how Elaine Aguilar reports it:

Appeals Filed On Stonegate Projects: The applicant (CETT) for the three Stonegate projects, denied by the Planning Commission last month, has timely filed appeal applications early this week. The earliest that the appeal hearings can be scheduled for the City Council will be September (August is dark), depending on the schedule of items that are already planned for those meetings. The applicant bases their appeals "on grounds that the denial is contrary to the goals of the Stonegate Design Guidelines, the goals of the Sierra Madre Hillside Management Zone and the intent of the Settlement Agreement," and that "the Planning Commission's decision was not supported by substantial evidence."

All pretty much standard boilerplate for a developer that recently discovered you cannot just waltz into Sierra Madre and build whatever is going to make you the most money. This is a community of residents who have some pretty well-defined opinions about how they want things to look. And the generic cookie cutter McMansionized row-housing CETT is trying to jam into 1 Carter just won't make it here.

Which is where things have stood up until now. But according to this weekend's Mountain Views News, apparently the situation is far worse than even we had thought. And to be honest with you I am not certain that Susan Henderson didn't reveal more than was intended by whomever it was she's been talking with. Most likely the developer. Here is the interesting part of what she had to say:

CETT Investment Corporation owns 23 of the 28 lots in the development. Five are owned by individuals. To date, the most progress that has been made are the completion of access roads, utilities and for the three (houses) before the council, some basic layout ...

Certainly THAT is some news, and it is obvious the stakes have now been raised. CETT Investment might have the three original projects going before the City Council on appeal, but there are potentially 20 additional 5.5 bathroom water hogs in the pipeline as well? Oh my.

Obviously if the City Council overrules the Planning Commission on these original three Hummer Houses, there will be little that can be done to prevent the rest from getting built as well. The proverbial Pandora's Box would have then been thrown wide open.

You might also want to look at it this way. In a week when the City Council is about to finally confirm stiff financial penalties for an overly liberal use of water by some residents, should they then decide to overrule the Planning Commission and approve so much unsustainable development here in town, it would truly be an incredible act of hypocrisy on their part.

It would also confirm the widely held suspicion that when it comes to the requirements and priorities of developers, water conservation is actually a second class issue.

The Unicorn Extortionist gets an additional 2 years in prison 

Regular readers of The Tattler are familiar with the Unicorn Extortionist. During the last City Council election cycle here in town certain local individuals decided to enlist the on-line support of this unstable individual in order to somehow curtail our blog's coverage of that election. An absurd attempt at intimidation that failed miserably. If you are not up to date with this story, you can catch up on all of the excitement by clicking here.

Last week the Unicorn Extortionist, who I am certain prefers to be known as Cyrus A. Sullivan, was sentenced to an additional two years in jail. This after a plea bargain he'd hoped would get him sprung from the pen. The website OregonLive.com (link) has some interesting coverage of Cy's sentencing, and I thought I should repost some of it here. It is quite a story.

Portland man who ran controversial website sentenced to two years for threats against womanSitting in court, Cyrus A. Sullivan muttered under his breath, warned a federal judge that he would not forgive his lack of "good judgment," and flipped off the woman whom he had been convicted of threatening. 

Then, as U.S. Marshals came to lead the 30-year-old Portland man off to jail, he angrily swatted a cup of water across the table before being handcuffed and warned that he could be tased.

Sullivan, his attorney had told the judge just a few minutes prior, "has a way of expressing himself that gets him in trouble."

It also has landed him behind bars. U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez sentenced Sullivan to two years in prison for threatening a woman in a running dispute over his controversial stdcarriers.com website. The site allows people to post names of people who allegedly have a sexually transmitted disease, and the woman's name had been falsely added by an ex-boyfriend who had previously been convicted of telephonically harassing her.

Hernandez also ordered three years of supervised release after Sullivan completes his prison term. As part of that release, Hernandez said Sullivan may not use computers or similar devices without the written approval of his probation officer in hopes of ensuring that Sullivan doesn't revive the site, which has gained national notoriety, and was featured on CNN.

"I am taking it away," Hernandez said, of the website. Sullivan, however, maintained that "I will run it till the day I die."

The sentencing comes almost two years after the victim learned that her name had been added to the site in September 2011. She sought to have Sullivan remove it, but he did not for several months, according to his court-appointed attorney, Per Olson. Sullivan's policy was to remove postings only if people submitted medical records to him showing they did not have a sexually transmitted disease or if they paid him fees of up to $1,000, Olson wrote in court filings.

Sullivan's refusal to take down her name prompted the victim to fight back, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Hoar said.

She also took to the Internet in the escalating conflict, said Sullivan's attorney. The victim anonymously posted Sullivan's personal information including mental health diagnoses, which are believed to have been taken from court documents, he said.

She also anonymously put up taunting videos on YouTube that targeted Sullivan and anonymously sent him an email that included profanity, predictions that he would be abused by convicts in prison and a threat that "we can find you. We can find your family too."

The victim also contacted the state's consumer protection division, which had received numerous complaints about the website, for help in dealing with Sullivan.

But last June, Sullivan sent a series of threatening emails to the victim, Hoar said, including some on June 4 that triggered an arrest by police a few days later.

In one e-mail sent that day, Sullivan said "You just don't learn your lessons do you? Now I have no choice but to come to your house armed and put an end to you once and for all. The only way you can stop this is by removing your stalker site and paying me $10,000. You don't have a choice."

He also left a message on the consumer protection investigator's voicemail the next morning saying that he had "put in motions that will kill" the victim, whom he characterized as a "stalker," within 24 hours. He also warned him not to include the police or he too would be targeted.

It is still hard to believe that there are people here in town who actually got involved with this dangerous individual because they thought it would help them achieve certain political goals.

Yet they did.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

72 comments:

  1. When do we get to see who was involved from our little hamlet?

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    Replies
    1. Stunning. The Dirts and Downtown Investment Club members have always been two-faced and dirty fighters, but hooking up with that guy? Stunning.
      Can't wait to find out who signed the checks.

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    2. Originally I thought it was inappropriate for people to call the pro-over-development crowd Dirts, but they sure have lived up, or down, to it. Dirty tricks, dirty associates, and liars to boot.

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    3. 3;54 and we keep electing them because 90% of SM doesn't pay attention

      when we elect two lawyers who work for utility companies and they stand in front of us and lie about the UUT from conception along with a City Manager who did the same, along with the City Attorney just to bamboozle a story about water pipes because the actual news was career ending - $ 19 million dollars of debt and nothing to show for it

      what happened to the $ 19 million dollars? And why was so many Councilmembers willing to cover up the fact that former Mayor Doyle was smack dab in the middle of it and of course, what do we expect when we elected a lobbyist for the building industry

      we are getting exactly what we deserve

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  2. Rather scary to think that the Council has the fate of our beautiful foothills in their hands, since this is a political football. I can't but wonder how they could justify overturning the planning commission at this juncture in time, but then with our city attorney on their side, I think the terrible three will find a way.

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    Replies
    1. Might be a vote of four.

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    2. The council will probably avoid the political bullet, since this is an election year, and send it back to the planning commission to "work things out with the developer".

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    3. 8:42, that's exactly what Harabedian suggested with the Meaglia Monster House. No doubt where he'll fall on this one.

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    4. Right, make the Planning Commission the fall guys. That way, none on the Council will have to take a risk of losing voters. The two vacancies on the Commission are looking bigger all the time.

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    5. amazing how the level of incompetence just flows upward in Sierra Madre right onto the Council and we keep electing a majority vote that is pro-development and anti-resident

      why we keep electing Council members who could care less about the residents and more about themselves?

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    6. I for one could care less about CETT - they are nothing but a wasteful developer - wasting city time and resources that are already overworked serving the needs of ACTUAL residents.

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  3. The city council has repeatedly told us we need to cut water usage by 20% or pay the price. Are they sending that same message to developers? If they give CETT what they want, that answer would be no.

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    Replies
    1. Looks to me like some of that sprinkler water in the picture is running down the gutter.

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    2. What's the conservation number for that property? Probably 0% because it's new.

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  4. hmmmmm, how will the mortgage saleman vote in September?

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    Replies
    1. Just as his mommy tells him to.

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  5. Mommy, mommy, please don't make me vote that way, the people are starting to hate me. They stare at me when I'm in the bar.

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  6. Current City Council priorities:
    1) pleasing developers
    2) fining residents

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  7. All of Stone House was sold last fall. Anyone know who bought it?

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    Replies
    1. According to Susan Henderson CETT.

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    2. CETT is in the business of buying distressed real estate. They get good prices

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    3. Stone House, Stone Gate - CETT bought Stone Gate, not sure about Stone House - and all of it, or just some parcels?

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  8. Anyone know what they paid?
    I'm tired of hearing "Well the developer paid a lot of money" as if that makes a difference to the town.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I paid too much for my house, will the city bail me out.

      I didn't think so.

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    2. They'll send Danny after you. He is dangerous if ignored.

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    3. I don't see the city or the Council jumping to bail out a business that fails in Sierra Madre so why the concern about an idiot developer whose business in Sierra Madre is ill advised?

      as far as I am concerned the owner of the property can sit on his losses for eternity

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  9. Letter to Bruce & Elaine....

    WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR...

    ITS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO..

    FIX ALL OF THOSE 316 OLD KNOWN BRUCE INMAN BROKEN - LEAKY WATER PIPES!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Do the city ordinances mean nothing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When they are being watched over by our city attorney? Yes, of course.

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    2. That would be the Josh, Nancy & Johnny Process' choice for for City Attorney. Capoccia & Koerber vited to replace her.

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  11. How much development is going on in this town? Hard to keep track.
    the hillsides, both Carter/Stonegate and Stonehouse;
    The Kensington;
    the condos on East SM Blvd;
    14 new condos coming up on West Mariposa, close to the library;
    and what else?
    While the value of my house has dropped because of dead landscaping.

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  12. What I've come to understand in this water crisis is that the council does not care about maintaining our own supplies. It is perfectly satisfied with buying water, and sees no real problem. Are they really Sierra Madreans?

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  13. Mod, you are so right about the cooked-up name. It's a stone pillar that the city made multi-bankrupted and law-sued Galletly preserve that inspired the name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best name for that troubled piece of land would be one that gives proper credit to John Buchanan, Rob Stockly, Enid Joffe and Tonya Torres.

      Delete
  14. Any discussion about that miserable hillside development has to include the fact that the city will make bupkis on it when the property taxes start rolling in. Then city manager John Gillison explained that after the state took its cut, the property tax on Carter would be "a drop in the bucket" and that was why they were pushing another increase/bond/tax whatever it was, a few months before Gillison left.

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  15. Less than a thousand hits to 1.7 million.

    Nobody reads the Tattler.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only people who read it are those who want to find out what is really going on.

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    2. Judging by the people this town elects, that must be very few.

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  16. Here is what will happen. The City spent untold thousands of dollars in the attempt to bring the Hildreths to heel. When CETT comes before them with their 1 Carter McMansion menu, the City will throw up it's hands in despair and cave in rather than defend our interests in court. City Hall doesn't work for us.

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    Replies
    1. I don't want to be too glum, but I think Sierra Madre might be done for.

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    2. Mayor Josh Moran followed by Mayor Nancy Walsh followed by Mayor John Harabedian. None of them competent, none of them capable of saving this city. Sadly, you may be right.

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    3. Absolutely right 11:13.
      There is no end to the city's willingness to sue, except if it involves developers. Then it's "Oh no, we couldn't do that, it would cost too much money."
      Defend our rights to control development? Nah.

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    4. Can't you just hear it now?
      "There are some restrictions but no problem. Just threaten to sue and you'll get everything you want! Here's the card of the lawyer we use."

      Delete
  17. no water, no town

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. big hat, no cattle.

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    2. nu-uh, 11:27. New town, dependent on the MWD. Such high cost water importation, only the rich need bother to try and live here. New town.

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    3. Sierra Madre will soon have one of the very first waterless water companies.

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  18. The town is being developed beyond its capacity to take care of itself. Given that, 11:17, I think you're right.
    New name - Arcadia West. Or Pasadena East.

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  19. The new, might-have-closed-escrow owner, of Stonehouse, came to a neighborhood meeting at the Kiea Lane cul-de sac a few weeks ago where the fire department held an info meeting on brush fire protection safety. Family guy, from San Marino, just wants to build his house (of 8,000+ sq ft--this he didn't say that night, but heard it from another source) and a couple more (no doubt same degree of exagerated size) to coax his kids into relocating back to live near mom and dad. He brought bags of oranges from the grove of trees that Mrs. Heflin planted. I didn't remember to take a bag so I can't report on their taste.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have heard the same rumor about only three houses on Stonehouse, all huge. Would they be better than the tract that was proposed?

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    2. does the dam still need to be built?

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  20. There are some interesting and sobering parallels between Detroit and Sierra Madre.
    Decades of mismanagement, excessive borrowing,neglect of infrastructure and corruption among incompetent managers.
    The question is if we just wait for a bad bankruptcy like Detroit or file bk early and salvage something for the future.
    Development is not the answer - that is one of the traps that got us in the water supply crisis.
    My neighbor -a landlord says there is no crisis from his perspective -just jack up the rent to cover the fines -what incentive does he have to do otherwise? That is an indication of how mis-managed the water crisis is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell your landlord that the EENRCS will be recommending water meter restrictors to the city council, just exactly for people like him.

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    2. Will there be a network of EENRC spies to keep the Commission properly informed about unsustainable activities in town?

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    3. I think the water bills will do that for them.

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    4. Get ready for those smart meters the city is spending so much money on.

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  21. There is No ! parallels between Detroit and Sierra Madre

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    Replies
    1. There is 1 big parallel. Gross mismanagement.

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    2. 2nd parallel is more bond debt than the city can afford to pay back.

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    3. It is funny watching the City Council tap dance around the water bond debt. Koerber brings it up and the other 4 just clam up. I guess they don't want to make Bart mad. It is supposed to be a deep dark secret that he almost single handedly killed the water company.

      Delete
  22. Beware the accumulation effect of the public pension.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we have doug hayes to thank for the calpers mess.

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    2. Instead of having a fully-funded private City pension. Wow, that worked out great!

      Delete
  23. I want to know who sells these hillside lots and does such a poor job of informing clients about what to expect in the planning and design process. If I had bought a lot up there, and then found out that the city cared so much about what I wanted to build, I'd sue the damn realtor for misleading me.

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  24. These lots were purchased from the financial institution that foreclosed on Galently and gang.
    The developer/purchaser read all the documents and figured the city would buckle under. It is not up to a Realtor to tell a client what they are able to build. The developer knew what they were purchasing.

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    Replies
    1. It is damn sure up to a realtor to tell any potential client that there are legal documents in the form of a settlement agreement, a set of guidelines and a relevant city ordinance that applies to the lot.

      Delete
    2. Re 5:06

      4:25 said the purchaser read the documents. In fact one buyer from Temple City said he read the documents.

      Delete
  25. 10:14 pretty good summary, but include the smaller stuff too. Two houses on 215 Baldwin where before there was only one, same thing on Windsor, something like that on North Santa Anita - the joint is jumpin. You would think we have water.

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  26. The person your describing sounds more like City Council member's to me!

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  27. What's the maiden name of Sullivan's Mother, who renewed the domains?

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