|Note the date change ...|
So how exactly did this City's Development Services gang gum this one up? Since the matter involved an actual zone change to a more densely packed multi-family style of housing, and therefore not merely a CUP, they were supposed to notice a larger radius around this proposed project. You know, just in case anyone in the area didn't dig the vibe and would want to kvetch about it. And who wouldn't?
I guess that is why they put erasers on pencils. Oh, and make white-out for repairs to improperly noticed Development Services signs.
The Staff Report has a concise Executive Summery for this momentous little project, and it is a fine place to start. Of course, if you want to read the whole thing in its original setting, click here and have at it. But since I am undoubtedly executive material, I am going to go with this brief synopsis:
The applicants, Parker and Barbara Williams, are proposing a General Plan Amendment to change the land use designation of the property at 215 N. Baldwin Avenue from RM (Residential Medium Density) to RH (Residential High Density) to match the existing R-3 zone. The applicants are also proposing construction of 2 (two) 900-square-foot one-story multi-family dwelling units and a 530-square-foot garage. The proposed construction would be added to the existing 2,145-square-foot-residence and 740-square-foot garage. Pursuant to Sierra Madre Municipal Code Section 17.76.030, all R-3 developments require approval of a Conditional Use Permit.
As an aside, if you are the kind of local politics minded person I am, you will recall that this "existing residence," though quite empty in 2010, was the happy home to a number of Josh Moran for City Council campaign signs.
Anyway, as kind fate would decree, it just so happens that a member of the legendary Tattler Research Team is familiar with some of the past affairs of Parker Williams, and was able to supply us with three rather fascinating documents. The first article comes to us from the Pasadena Star News (link), and it is dated June 16, 2007. Here is what this piece reveals for us:
Housing project to proceed: 2 developers pleaded guilty to bribe offer
ALHAMBRA - The city plans to move ahead with a senior housing complex despite the fact two of its developers pleaded guilty to trying to bribe a councilman for his support on the project.
City officials say the proposed building stands on its own merits, and that the backgrounds of the developers, former Mayor John Parker Williams and his partner Frank Liu, are irrelevant.
The two pleaded guilty June 8 to attempting to bribe then-Councilman Dan Arguello with an envelope stuffed with $25,000 in cash to support the project. The Planning Commission voted 7-3 in May to approve the complex as attorneys were preparing to go to trial.
"The Planning Commission had specific instructions that the status of Parker Williams was not to be a factor," said Mayor Gary Yamauchi. "We're allowing the project because we felt the project was good for the city."
The 51-unit housing development is slated for the corner of Woodward Avenue and Monterey Road. Developers typically submit building plans to the city six to nine months after Planning Commission approval, said Director of Development Services Mike Martin. From there, it takes another three to four months for construction to begin.
Some in the community have expressed reservations about proceeding with a project that will possibly enrich convicted felons.
"How's the city going to look when a former councilman gets approval on a project while being investigated, and then he pleads guilty?" said Efren Moreno, a former councilman and Arguello ally. "Shame on Alhambra."
Council watcher and resident Mike Lawrence said he found it disturbing that the project went through with eight variances despite "the cloud that was hanging over it."
"The city needs to be much more open and transparent with all the development that goes on," he said. "This one was exposed but one wonders how many are coming to light."
Williams was arrested in September 2004 on charges that he offered a bribe to Arguello outside Charlie's Trio on Main Street. Arguello had contacted the District Attorney's Office and cooperated in a sting operation. Liu, believed by authorities to be the source of the money, was arrested the following March.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office released a couple of interesting press releases about this matter, and I thought we should post each in its entirety. The first is dated March 9, 2005 (link), and it reads this way:
Business Partner of Former Alhambra Council Member Charged in Bribery Case
The business partner of a former Alhambra council member was arrested today on charges he was part of a conspiracy to bribe the city’s vice mayor in connection with a proposed senior housing construction project in the West San Gabriel Valley city, the District Attorney’s office announced.
Frank Liu, 71, (dob 10-2-1933), was arrested at his business in Los Angeles by investigators with the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. Liu is a business partner with John Parker Williams, 67 (dob 7-20-1937), who was arrested in September following a month-long undercover investigation by the Bureau of Investigation.
Liu and Parker, who is also a former Alhambra school board member, are charged in case No. BA 270669 with one count each of conspiracy and one count each of bribery. If convicted, they could be sentenced to a maximum of four years each in state prison.
Alhambra Vice Mayor Daniel Arguello, alleged victim in the felony criminal complaint, cooperated with District Attorney’s investigators during the probe.
When investigators arrested Parker, they recovered $25,000 in cash that allegedly was to be used for a favorable council vote on the proposed project. The money was recovered following an Aug. 18 meeting between Parker and the alleged victim at an Alhambra restaurant.
Deputy District Attorney Anthony Colannino of the Public Integrity Division filed an amended complaint and will prosecute the case.
Liu is being held on $25,000 bail. And arraignment date has not been set.
Parker returns to court March 22 in Division 38, Foltz Criminal Justice Center, to set a date for the preliminary hearing.
The other love letter from the District Attorney's office to Parker Williams is dated June 8, 2007 (link). Here's the news it shared with us all back then:
Former Alhambra Council Member, Business Partner Plead Guilty in Bribery Case
A former Alhambra councilman and his business partner both pleaded guilty today to one felony count of trying to bribe a councilman three years ago in exchange for his support on a senior housing project, the District Attorney’s office announced.
John Parker Williams, the 69-year-old former councilman, and his business partner Frank Liu, 73, both pleaded guilty to Alhambra Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench, said Deputy District Attorney Sandi Roth with the Public Integrity Division.
Judge Lench sentenced Williams to three years state prison, suspended, and placed him on three formal probation and ordered him to serve one year in the county jail. He also was fined $1,000. Williams was ordered to surrender for his jail sentence on July 9, Roth said.
Liu also was sentenced to three years state prison, suspended, and placed on three years formal probation. He was fined $10,000.
On Aug. 18, 2004, Williams met Alhambra’s Vice Mayor Daniel Arguello at a Main Street restaurant and asked for his help in getting $600,000 in city money for a senior housing project that Williams and Liu wanted to build. He also asked Arguello to help waive about $80,000 in permit fees for the proposed project. Williams then handed $25,000 in cash in a manila envelope to Arguello, who was cooperating with the D.A.’s Bureau of Investigation.
Small world, isn't it?