Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center: A 40 Unit High Density Housing Project On Consecrated Land?

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(Mod: There was a meeting of concerned residents last night. I didn't go because I only found out about it at the last minute, and opted to eat dinner instead. I should have gone. Fortunately a good friend did go, and she was kind enough to bring me the handout distributed there. Long story short, the Passionist Fathers are believed to be in the midst of helping turn a significant stretch of the Mater Dolorosa land they currently control into a 40 unit housing development. Which, should it happen, would be the largest development project here in Sierra Madre in decades. This would also be a tragic event for many in the area. The Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center plays an important role in the spiritual lives of thousands of local believers, and witnessing as much of its beautiful and timeless grounds are turned into a housing project would be a devastating experience for many ... The handout consisted of a "Mountain Views News" article, and two letters. I thought I should post the two letters here.)

From: Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center
Date: November 19, 2013

Dear Neighbor of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center

You may have read recently in the Mountain Views News a story regarding possible development of a portion of our property. We had hoped to communicate with you before any news story appeared. In any case, because you live close to our property, we feel you deserve some word directly from us.

The Passionists of Holy Cross Province with the Board of Directors of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center have begun exploring the sale of a portion of our property for development. The portion being considered is the open field parcel located immediately north of our gates on Sunnyside Avenue.

We undertook our planning process because as good stewards of our resources, we have to plan ahead in order to care for our aging Passionist priests and brothers, and to strengthen our various ministries in the United States and elsewhere.

Our planning process is in its preliminary stages. Any comment or speculation about how this parcel may be used would be premature. As plans begin to take shape, we promise to keep you informed and to listen to your input.

We can assure you that the quiet setting of Mater Dolorosa and its retreat ministry will in no way be diminished by the sale of this parcel. Our retreat center is healthy and our ministry strong and vibrant.

We will likely see change coming to a portion of our property. What remains unchanged is that we want to continue being good neighbors of Sierra Madre, as we have been for 90 years.

Sincerely,
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P.
Retreat Director

(Mod: No matter who employs this controlling term, whenever you hear the word "process" it is fairly certain that you are not going to be told much that is useful. At least until the "process" has run its course and it is too late to do anything about it. I also question the use of "parcel." If this is to be the 40 unit housing project many believe it will be, then the land being exploited for that purpose can hardly be called a parcel. Unless, of course, this is to be a highly dense housing project of the kind favored by SCAG and some of the other central planning state bureaucracies. Which then means it will be aggressively out of character with the neighborhood surrounding it …  Here is the second letter.)

Attn: Archbishop Gomez
From: The Coalition to Save the Monastery
Date: November 25, 2013

Dear Archbishop Gomez,

There is a rising groundswell of concern about a plan to sell a portion of the Mater Dolorosa Monastery in Sierra Madre. My wife and I have been coming to this monastery for over 20 years. It has been a special place of solitude, serenity and spirituality that has been a great source of solace to us over the years. From the feedback I have been receiving from people, many share in these sentiments.

While you will realize some financial gain from the sale of a portion of the property, that benefit will only be temporary. However, such an action would permanently change the character of the monastery forever. Once it is sold, it is gone forever. Mater Dolorosa is a refuge, an oasis amidst our current frenetic and oftentimes coarse society. The land surrounding Mater Delorosa is what makes it special. The vast open space is a refuge not only for people, but for wildlife of all types. As you ride up the long driveway you seem to leave civilization behind and enter a sacred place where time stands still. The monastery needs that buffer of land. To remove the land changes the whole complexion of the monastery for those that reside there, and for retreatants who hunger for the spiritual experiences found in that special place.

I am also concerned about the effects of the protracted battle that would be waged by those against and those in favor of this plan. Mater Dolorosa is one of about ten landmarks listed in the Sierra Madre General Plan. It is inextricably linked with the history and culture of Sierra Madre. Aside from the people who will forever lose the essence of what made Mater Dolorosa special, those who live around the monastery will also be adversely affected. Those homes on the border will see a significant decline in property values. Those living nearby will also see increased traffic and congestion - the opposite of everything that Mater Dolorosa represents.

Whatever financial reasons caused certain people to consider such a decision, I know there must be alternative solutions short of carving up the monastery. And what is going to happen five or ten years down the road when more money is need for some particular purpose? Do you sell off another chunk of land and move the gates even further up the hillside? This becomes a very slippery path.

On behalf of the Coalition to Save the Monastery, we humbly ask that this decision be reconsidered. If anyone would like to discuss this further, please contact me. We will shortly have an informational website and email address for all of those who are concerned.

Matthew N. Bryant

(Mod: You can sign me up.)

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

104 comments:

  1. The irony of Henderson breaking this story is that she will side with the eventual developer in a heartbeat.

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    1. If Josh Moran, Nancy Walsh, John H. were not enough of a disgrace.....we have Harriet Susan Henderson....con artist/crook giving the low information voters the "news"?????
      What the hell is wrong with us?

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    2. I'm sure she told all the homeowners just how concerned she is. That was she can find out what their plans are and report back to Bart.

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    3. Don't you think she was tipped off by some of her developer pals, 7:15?

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    4. Amost all of us are living on land that was developed in the 50s and 60s if it was not for that most people on this Blog would would not have our houses to live in . I was here in the 50s when there were 5 large nurserys in town and lots of old homes on very large lots so if you house was built then or later you are just the normal progress of how realestate works

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    5. It is quite understandable for people to try and defend a lifestyle that they love. Property values are a part of that. Ugly stack and pack development on once pristine monastery grounds would kill the northwest corner of this town.

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    6. 9:48, there are people (and from the looks of it, they are in the majority) who do not like nature. In their eyes, big houses are far more beautiful than anything found in the natural environment.

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    7. It would increase the value of the properties around it not kill the northwest corner

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    8. if Josh Moran does not recuse himself from any and all discussions with this project, we need to sue the city t get him out of the discussions

      for heaven's sakes, the guy sells home mortgages and can influence this process for his own family and business


      it was bad enough when we had utility company employees on the Council, but Josh can benefit himself with being involved - I won't trust him at all

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    9. Susan is just running her scam - as long as she convinces advertisers that she is providing them with a cheap advertising source, she can keep getting away with her dream of being a media mogul. Sort of like her dream of having two law degrees lol

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    10. 12:57, there is that point of view, and it is a ritual pronouncement in the development community.
      For some it is true; for others, the loss of open space, wildlife habitat, and watershed protection is a disaster.

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  2. When it comes to real estate, nothing is sacred.

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    1. In real estate, as in the building industry generally, profit is sacred. They think that they can buy heaven.

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  3. It is thier land and as long as it meets the zoning there is nothing we can or should do about it

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    1. Yes, neighboring homeowners should just give up their rights as property owners and meekly knuckle under. That is real what real freedom is.

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    2. Right, because there is unlimited water now that we're hooked up, and who wants a small town anyway.

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    3. 7:19 is presenting the legal position. Consider the 40 macmansions a done deal.

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    4. I wonder if the Tongva people agree it's the Passionist's land.

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    5. As we saw in the ruin of the hillsides at Carter/Stonegate, the Native American tradition, and the existence of wildlife, mean nothing in this city. At least not in terms of actions. There's plenty of words.

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    6. Who is 7:19's lawyer? Susan Henderson?

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    7. I hate to see land developed and loose open spaces. However, the land is private property and the owners can do with it as they wish as long as they follow the General Plan and zoning.
      If the people living near by the monastery are unhappy, then they should attend the Planning Commission meetings when the General Plan Land Use chapter is discussed and get it changed. All of the neighbors have had this opportunity for the past few years and not one person said a word. Now they are upset. Too bad.

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    8. The property Land Use is Institutional

      The property is Zoned Institutional

      General Plan L36.4 Allow for the re-use of large institutional properties (over 20 acres), recognizing that such parcels in urban areas are unique and shall be considered eligible for future conversion to other uses including, but not limited to, public recreational facilities and low density housing, subject to appropriate regulatory and zoning processes.

      Before anything is built or subdivided there will be many public hearings.

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    9. This is high density development all the way. No developer is going to pay $15 million dollars for a "parcel" so that he can build 6 houses. We're talking one big packed development here.

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    10. It really makes no difference what it says in the general plan - any council can wave a wand and change it.

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    11. 11:48, exactly why the community should insist and possibly sue to recuse Josh from all decisions or discussions - he is biased or certainly appears to be and anything he votes on has the potential to benefit him financially

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    12. So if Josh has been making decisions for years that have harmed the city, presumably hurting everyone's property values including his, doesn't that show he doesn't base his decisions on personal profit?

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  4. so the monastery needs a large endowment to keep going. Maybe we Sierra Madreans, if we want to keep this parcel pristine, can contribute (substantially) to that kind of a fund.

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    1. The Realtors are up early today.

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    2. No, but here is an idea. Since the city needs money so badly, maybe they should sell off some of their property. Certainly would be more dignified than constantly begging for more taxes.

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    3. I would be happy to donate to the monastery.

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    4. Sure you would.

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    5. We could have bought 1 carter at one time for 3 million and we didn't . We would not now spend the money to buy their either

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    6. We could have bought 1 carter at one time for 3 million and we didn't . We would not now spend the money to buy their either

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    7. Let the residents pass a parcel tax for the next 50 on their property that would go to buy the property.
      $200 a year per parcel would net about $900,000 to buy the property.

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    8. We wont pass a Parcel tax , we could have done it for 1 carter

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    9. I find most realtors to be annoying

      don't most realize that plastering a picture of themselves everywhere most likely alienates buyers?

      some aint that attractive

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  5. Father Stack N. Pack

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    1. No stack and pack there - it'll be high market value, as high as the market can bear. Maybe half acre lots?

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    2. 40 units? That is big time packing. Though you are right about the pricing.

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    3. hope they make exits onto several side streets or the traffic on Sunnyside will be a nightmare

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    4. 40 units on 20 acres.

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    5. Quite a parcel.

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  6. Stonehouse, Carter, the Monastery - what's next? Bailey Canyon? Don't believe in "protections" for a minute - all it takes is a 3 to 2 vote from a city council to approve something like this, to amend any 'General plan' that might prevent it.
    The only thing that coalition can do is to build a legal fund and hire a lawyer.

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    1. Josh must be in a swoon.

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    2. What could they accomplish with a lawyer? 37 houses instead of 40?

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    3. It's absurd that so much land is not subject to property taxes. Why do we have to subsidize religions?

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    4. Don't Josh and Susan and Mayor Mean all live within the 500 foot rule of this land?

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    5. I think you are right. Check on the resident of Josh and Nancy (Susan is way down the road and would not vote for a zoning change in any case.)

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    6. Bailey Canyon parking lot and some of the lower park area (up to the debris basin ) are LA Co property under "lease" agreement with the city. Several parcels further up until you get to the boundary with the National Forest are owned by the city Sierra Madre Mountain Conservancy has conservation easements on this city owned land.

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    7. what's next - downtown - that is the same objective as before.

      it was only a few years ago we had two Council members on the paid leave from utility companies working us to build almost 150 condos downtown, give away city parking lots to developers and tried to build a water infrastructure to sustain that level of development.

      downtown is the next project for somebody, some yahoo developer out of Glendale will buy the Howies lot and demand and sue us till 60 condos are built there - which was John Buchanan's vision when he was on the Council

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  7. First Fire the City Manager, we cant afford the mismanagement any longer. Replace the The police with the sheriffs. Take the saving and buy and new park, call it the Monastery Park. That is the only way the save our precious resource.

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    1. I heard the asking price was $15 million.
      This is not the first opportunity for the town to wake up, find grants, buy some hillside land - and it was much, much cheaper before. Won't happen.

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    2. Best suggestion yet!

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  8. This is from Wikipedia, Passionists:

    "The members of the congregation are not allowed to possess land, and the congregation collectively can only own the community house and a bit of land attached to it. They rely completely on their own labor and on contributions from the faithful in order to maintain themselves financially."

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    1. It's not personal. It's not about the members of the religious order.
      It's about the God in America - money, and private property rights.

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    2. So maybe the congregants should sell their homes, donate the proceeds to the congregation, and ensure that the locus of their numinous experiences remains preserved.

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    3. Please elaborate 8:34.

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    4. In America, Money is God

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    5. So you're saying that the First Commandment is

      "Money, the almighty dollar, is the lord thy god. Thou shall have no other currencies before me (though the pound sterling, euro, and bitcoins may be acceptable depending on the exchange rate.)"

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    6. the letter from the Monastery was lame - imagine a religion selling off it's property to maximize it's revenue cause I would imagine this was the plan all along when the land was originally purchased

      they are just cashing in - like a good business - so much for humility and service

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    7. So 1:19. Are you offering to cover the monastery's expenses so that the land can remain vacant?

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    8. 1:42 - This is the most idiotic canard of the day. Nobody is required to pay anyone bribes to keep them from destroying our town. Though I can understand how appeals to the conscience might confuse you.

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  9. There is no point in communicating with anyone from the monastery itself. They'll sell, and be out of the picture entirely. The developer/s will be who the neighbors will wrangle with.

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  10. This has been in the works for at least 15 years.

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    1. It was just waiting for the hook up to metro water. Let the development begin!

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    2. But wait. Isn't that hook up temporary? Oh, that's right. They were lying again.

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    3. Please the hook up has never been temporary only the use of the water , if the wells come up and the rain increace then we will not need to use water from the hook up . . but the hook up will be there if we need it

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    4. You know, I've been thinking about selling my bridge. Are you in the market for one?

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    5. 8:47 you see black helicopters, too?

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    6. 11; 14 Yes i might be in the market for one , if it is in a good location and priced right I will get many offers
      and yes they have been talking about this for many years before the market turn down

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    7. That is the good thing about a bridge. If the market goes down again, you can charge people per jump.

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  11. Develop natives sacred land.... The curse that will fall on them, will be fast and ugly.

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    1. Development of native lands typically curses developers with extreme wealth.

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    2. true 9:58, that's what America was built upon

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    3. This land was stolen from the Native Americans, and now it's being sold to the Chinese.

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    4. You mean the good stewards of God's land are selling it to atheistic communists?

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  12. The cynicism of some of the Realtors in this town is so ugly.

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    1. overpaid for what they do. if I meet someone or know someone that is a realtor, I tend to avoid them. have that clammy aura about them - always fishing for a commission

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    2. I think they scour the obituary pages looking for sales opportunities.

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  13. All of us here when we go to sell are property will try to get as much as we can for it . If somebody tells you they will give you more money because they think they can put a bigger or more houses on it will any of us turn it down , I think not!
    And No I am not a realtor. People sell and make money builders buy and try to make money and other people by them because they want too no one is forcing anybody . We fight for the guy trying to build a Wine Bar on Monticito and dont like the city telling him what to do . what is the difference

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    1. When are you going to try and build a nuclear power plant here? Or an oil refinery. People have rights. You can't just walk all over them.

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    2. 10:43 exactly what rights are you talking about?
      The neighbors and city residents do have the right to purchase the property. They do not have the right to block the sale.

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    3. False dichotomy 10:43.

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    4. Dumb use of a big word, 10:55.

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    5. Must be a slow day down at the Prudential.

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    6. I think they are having an Open Field at the monastery this weekend.

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    7. Either that or a fanny growing contest.

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  14. Yes, residents have no say in how their communities are to be developed. We live in the Realtor Reich.

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  15. puuuuuhlease Father, save the BS spin "as good stewards of our resources, we have to plan ahead in order to care for our aging Passionist priests and brothers, and to strengthen our various ministries in the United States and elsewhere"

    yeah, God is growing new land everyday, right?

    why not expand your facility and take care of your aging priests and brothers - playing the "sympathy" card - nice touch

    since it's gonna happen, at least do the right thing and cover the costs of the city to handle this big pain and awful timing, we already have an overwhelmed city staff and this development will cost the city major $ just to process

    so, if you are really "good stewards" you'll do what is right or otherwise just another "developer" in my opinion

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  16. Hello. there are development fees of around 45,000.00 per unit that will have to be paid.

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    1. Oh perfect joy. We get to turn areas of incredible natural local beauty into pension funds for the likes of Officer Potato Salad.

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    2. $1,800,000 will pay for a lot of streets and sewers. Cha-ching.

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    3. So you want to cash in the Mater Dolorosa monastery for a sewer?

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    4. Development fees and property tax is all Elaine, Bruce, and Karin can see

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    5. If they are going to put up junk MacMansions, like the 5 bedroom 5 and 1/2 bath doozies a developer is trying to stick on Carter, it's not worth it.

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    6. City Hall is having a pension fund raising drive. Everything is for sale.

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  17. Got a cold call from a Chinese real estate agent, asking me when we planned on selling our house. It's on folks....

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    1. I get a 4 or 5 letters a year.

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  18. ooooooh, its on! Realtors cold call all the time, and what do you mean by "it's on"

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    1. Like you don't know what I mean! You and your real estate pals are going to ruin this place. I've lived here for over 40 years and never had a call from anyone asking when I plan to sell. Give me a break your developer tool...

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    2. When you get a call from some of these Realtors in town, it is definitely a cold call.

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  19. I believe Matthew Bryant is the son of Dan Bryant who use to own the Prudential Office in SM before he sold it to Reni Rose and partner, so you have a Realtor against the development at the Passionists, hmmmm quite a conundrum, eh?

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

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  21. If we all love the property as much as noted here, then we all need to BUY the property in order to keep it the way it is. Everyone in Sierra Madre can pitch in and make it happen. You can't take away a property owner's rights without compensation. Not everything in life is free.

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