Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Yet Another Bad Night For Tax Me Madre

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Let me ask you this. If the roles were reversed, and those who supported the water rate increase needed to have a lot of people mail in 'Yes' ballots, would they have been able to get over a thousand of them submitted? I very seriously doubt that would happen.

What this means is that close to 25% of the Water Company's 4,000 plus customers are so entirely angry with the lousy job being done there that they filled out and signed their names to Prop 218 paperwork, and then mailed it into City Hall. You could take this as an indication that they have not been having a quality customer experience. Or maybe they are just tired of funding this city's constant recoveries from self-inflicted financial disasters.

It is also hardly what anyone would call a big vote of confidence. And certainly the taxpayers do not seem to be in the kind of mood conducive to the passage of Measure UUT in April. What over 1,000 protest ballots should tell anyone is that a lot of this community's most aware and likely to vote residents are not very happy right now. Add their family members, people who were not allowed to cast ballots on the water rate hike, and you have quite a few votes. In the 30% voter turnout environment expected for April's City Council election, they will be the majority.

I certainly would not want to be a pro-tax City Council candidate in this election.

Of course, only a few members of the public showed up last night to this City Council meeting to discuss the water rate matter. Basically because it would have been pointless to do so. After all, if our City government was really interested in the public's opinion about a water rate increase, wouldn't they have put the question on the ballot for this April's election?

Something no one there cared to do because they clearly understood that the outcome might not have been as favorable for them.

By favorable I mean anything that guarantees significant amounts of money being removed from the public's pockets and given to City Hall. I'm not sure anything else gets taken seriously there anymore. It really is only about money now. It is just about all they do.

What Prop 218 assumes is that 100% of the eligible voters are in play, and that enough of them could potentially cast enough "No" ballots through the mail to defeat a water rate increase. However, and as it is in many places, we live in a city where often less than 30% of the folks vote in local elections. Something that makes the level of resident participation needed to win in a case like this almost impossible.

In a Prop 218 election, it isn't a majority of voters that wins. It is a majority that includes people who haven't voted in a local election in decades. Plus anyone who is not an officially designated ratepayer is weeded out. The odds by design are obviously stacked in favor of the taxer, and not the taxed.

So they got their water rate increase, and all the City Council members warmly thanked the residents for supporting it. Even though each of them must have known that by choosing Proposition 218 as the vehicle to get this water rate increase done, they made the public's ability to express its supposed support far more difficult than if they had put this issue on a ballot.

I will assume this means that each of them understood that they were thanking people for something that most likely doesn't even exist. After all, isn't that why they did it this way? More proof that you really do need an advanced degree in Orwell Studies to properly understand City government in this town.

This City Council also approved "zoning" for homeless housing in Sierra Madre. With Josh Moran going so far as to claim that nobody would ever build this stuff here because the costs here would be prohibitive. I guess Josh, or anyone else on this City Council for that matter, has never seen websites like this. Or this. Or this.

It is state and federal government grant money paradise out there for homeless shelters. Perhaps they did know that, but preferred that you didn't. Maybe it is a secret that only developers should know.

And despite the fact that all five Councilmembers ran for office promising to maintain Sierra Madre as a low density town, they all voted to approve a housing element to the General Plan that will open this burgh up to quite a lot of high density infill development over the next eight years.

It is all quite predictable, I guess. What else would you expect from a city government that only cares about raising rates, fees and taxes?

Is it any wonder that so few have faith in City Hall anymore?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

68 comments:

  1. I will be contacting as many as I can regarding the new UUT. Local government is taking advantage of us and using the law to circumvent the people. City hall needs to be held accountable. It's just not right. We don't need anyone voted on council who is an attorney or works with the chamber of commerce. These people have a career they are working on or are trying to get more money for the business in town. I'm curious of how much $ has been spent in the last 10 years to help down town business? Remember, squeaky wheel get the grease.

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  2. Helping our down town business by bringing in more customers is wrong. Sierra Madre is a town of only 11,000 people, just how many businesses can we support. The real problem here and it's never mentioned are the property owners. Property owners keep raising the rent and "you wont believe this" making the renters pay for all repairs. In a lot of the stores the owners have it in the contract that the renter will pay for things like new roofs, air conditioners, and any up keep. This is one of the main reason businesses are leaving town, because the long time owners want to squeeze every penny out of the renters. The Chamber of Congress should be working on that problem and not be asking city hall "the tax payers" for more help and $. Let's get real here and not ask the home owners to pay for this problem. When city hall workers go home they aren't seeing how crowded the down town gets at night and on the week ends. I support local business when I can and I also listen to the renters and what they see are their problems and it's the building owners, not the home owners.

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    1. Good post. You make some valid comments.

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  3. I think it is called a tripple net lease and is common all over the place not Just sierra madre

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    1. It does help explain all the empty store fronts.

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    2. If the rents are too high, then the owners won't find a renter. They'll lose more money in the end.

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    3. Most of them own lots of properties, and in many different towns. They can afford to hold the line on their high rents. They don't care.

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  4. Why did the city push the rate increase until March 1? Is it so people won't star getting their jumbo water bills until after Measure UUT is voted on?

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    1. Where do you see that?

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    2. Agenda Report, item 2, 4 pages in, top of page.

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    3. Oh yeah, there it is. I'm stunned. No, really.

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    4. Say what you will about our city manager, she is crafty.

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    5. Slick would be the word I'd use. Sad that we pay her a $150,000 yearly salary to feed us bull crap.

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    6. Slick, crafty, wily, sneaky, canny and devious.

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    7. That is why the dirts love her. She has all the necessary virtues.

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  5. There you go, triple net lease could be whats killing our down town. Thank you 6:22 for that info. Looks like SM down town cant afford triple net lease. Guess the building owner wants the place to get run down so the down town specific plan can start up.

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  6. Some one is racking in the dough by selling BULL nose rings, the city council uses to put in the residents noses to lead them around by.

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  7. The people who support the homeless shelter need to offer their neighborhoods, their streets.

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    Replies
    1. Why do we pay to have a city government if all it does is rubber-stamp Sacramento mandates?

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    2. It doesn't work that way, 7:57. There are state requirements for where the shelters are located, and that includes access to transportation. The advocates tend to live in areas where no shelter will ever be built. Easy for them to say they support it, because they'll never have to live with it.

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    3. Amen 7:59 check out SB33 currently winding its way through the CA legislature. It will create a 5 member panel of unelected folks that will approve bond funding for projects without a vote of the people!
      Couple this with AB32, SB375, and SB1 and all that "sustainability" nonsense and the citizens will have no power to do anything except acquiesce to the mandates of the "anointed" in the government.

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    4. They care deeply, but only from afar. I say put the shelters in the canyon.

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    5. What should be done to help the homeless, then?

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    6. How about a national health care plan that includes mental health.

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    7. This homeless housing mandates is part of big government making the burbs pay for the inner city. Like an indirect tax to spread the misery. More are on the way, you can count on it.

      They will tax us to fund homeless shelters. Don't worry, it will be "sustainable"!

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  8. I don't know how many water customers there are, but if 1848 represents 51%, then the number should be around 3,625. That means that it's actually a bit above 25% of their customers who essentially gave a no confidence vote.

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    1. The 51% would be the people who didn't have a clue.

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    2. Among the 51% there were @975 water department customers (with @1,035 meters) who most definitely had a clue.

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    3. Really? I'd break it down 51% no clue, 25% clued in, 24% S&M.

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  9. CITY HALL must be feeling pretty good today!

    They again... screwed the property owners & city residents who paid their salaries!

    WE THE RESIDENTS ... have a big surprise coming for CITY HALL!

    MARCH is the month which we will uncover our new project!

    best regards

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  10. I am begining to think you need a time out , The city did not Screw over anybody It was just a result you did not like and maybe " we the residents " is just you a resident

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    1. Over a thousand people sent in Prop 218 protests, Time Out. Wake up from your nap.

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    2. Dirts are really lousy at commenting.

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    3. One resident with 1,033 water meters to his name?

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    4. Hey Mod, I knew you were well off, but that's a whole new level of property ownership!

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    5. A lot of them are super soakers.

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  11. Let's follow Councilman Korber and have a building moritorum.
    first fire deverybody in Development Services.and tell people no new building!

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  12. John, the Water Department is a public utility. The way Sacramento has mandated it, prop 218 is the only way a public utility can raise rates. They couldn't have put it on the ballot in April unless it was a non-binding public opinion poll. A whole bunch of people I have talked with who sent in their ballots said they did so because of their yellow or orange water, and didn't think they should pay more for tainted water. Most people have no clue. Even fiscally minded Koerber supported the rate raise because it was the only thing to do to save the water department.

    As for the housing element, had you won your race for City Council, you would be sitting in a like chair as Chris is now. As he said, I'm voting for the Housing Element because the State says I have to, not because I like it and think it's good for Sierra Madre.

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    1. I'd have voted no. Sometimes ethics and morality plays a bigger role than surrendering to big governemt and its central planners. As we all know much of what goes on in Sacramento is pay to play, and quite honestly I'd hate to lend my name to that. A much better approach would be to line up some other cities where this junk is equally unpopular. Once that ball got rolling I think we just might get results that are far more positive than what we witnessed last night. To me it looked like a surrender, and after years of struggle.

      Point taken on the Prop 218, though I would have asked that it go on the ballot anyway. Even as an advisory vote. People deserve to have a say. Prop 218 severely limits that.

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    2. Add this: some cities want development, want the stack and pack, want the transportation hook-ups, and probably even want the homeless shelters in specific areas. Some cities WANT this stuff. Why aren't they given the RHNA numbers they want, the money for the homeless shelters they want, and the cities that say no thanks be left alone. I don't get it.

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    3. The cities that want development probably won't be the pay-off for the developers.

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    4. They want Sierra Madre. And the good news for them is the long wait is finally over.

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    5. I like the idea of the water rate hikers having to submit yes ballots to win. The rate hikers would be lucky if they got a hundred.

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    6. It's all about Darrell Steinberg getting projects for his developers via Sacramento, nothing else.
      Has nothing to do with actual housing.
      I've seen the guy in action at symposiums, he's the go-to guy for that.
      It's just a legal shakedown by developers.
      The fake RHNA numbers are key to the whole thing.
      And that's why the Hollywood plan was thrown out - no actual growth in the community.

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  13. If you zone it they will come.

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  14. Thank you, Mod, for providing the links to the grants. They are a real eye opener!

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    1. I spoke to a jogger who was passing by my house late yesterday afternoon. He yelled out, " When are we going to vote on the water issue? I gasped and gave him the information . He stated that he thought the 218 voting was going to be on a regular county ballot. He then stated that his City letter was at home in a pile on his desk.

      I thought sadly to myself, how many other residents just tossed the "official ballot" or didn't get around to returning it?

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  15. Small city democracy is dead. Nowadays we just elect consultant driven Sacramento blaming bobbleheads. Their top priority is to assure you it is not their fault. The other one is to get more of your money.

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  16. The Prop 218 process could have happened in the same room as the election. Water rate payers could have been handed a form to sign or not sign. Out of town owners could have been given the mail in option. It would have gone down in flames.

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    1. I agree. The water rate vote was manipulated. I'm sure the consultant our city council loved so much told them exactly how to do it.

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  17. yes, the situation is truly bleak.

    soon endless lines of residents of the gargantuan old folks home on their way to the oldest place in town will be navigating smelly panhandling hobos - excuse me, homeless citizens - seeking money for a fix. sadly, this will result in more crime, strengthening SMPD's demand for even more than the 53% of the general fund they presently take from the city. which will be used by the parasites at city hall to request a UUT increase in april - wait, they've already done that.

    under these circumstances we have only one hope. ALL CAPS GUY, save our city!

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    1. You could Move

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    2. Not a bad idea. Before this city implodes and your property values go into the tank.

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  18. Patch.com laid off hundreds of employees 2014/01/29 Wednesday morning, without apparent warning, meaning that most of the network's local websites will cease to produce news, local or otherwise.

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    1. I wonder if anyone will notice.

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    2. http://jimromenesko.com/2014/01/29/hale-global-lays-off-patch-employees/

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    3. It's taking a long time for Patch to die.

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    4. They're zombie Patches.

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    5. Tape of how Patch employees were fired.
      https://soundcloud.com/jim-romenesko/sounds-from-wednesday-morning

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    6. Ach. Such a lack of concern for the employees who served them so faithfully. Jerks.

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  19. Athens is going to give away free compost. But to be honest I think I got enough last night.

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  20. I think one of the most unfortunate aspects of the 218 process is the fact that it takes away one's right to privacy in the voting booth. I wonder how many more residents would have turned in a ballot if they could have turned it in anonymously? I suspect there is great peer pressure among the various organizations in town, and the pressure is to NOT turn in a protest form. It isn't really fair that a water customer has to protest "openly". Once a person signs the form, he or she can be subject to social criticism.

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    1. Yes. The city now has signed proof that you wanted to deny it money. Expect tickets.

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  21. Thank you poster 3:27pm.

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  22. In response to a question about what to do with the homeless? Why not ask to have all of the unoccupied federal buildings put to better use accross this nation? along that same thought or line. In this case high speed rail lines, I thought I just heard that Gov. Brown and (Federal Monies) are being crossed checked for playing faviorites with developers. Hey Gov. Brown, why not help out the homeless instead? Then small towns would not have to continue to clean up big government messes.

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  23. It all about the money. The next big development on the horizon is over at Mater Dolorosa. City Hall will line up right behind them. It will be up to the citizens to stop it. One by one the dominoes will start to fall. First One Carter, then Mater Dolorosa and before you know it, Sierra Madre is transformed into Arcadia. Its happening right before our eyes. Whether its inevitable or not is up to us.

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    1. Keep Stonehouse in mind too.
      Carter/Stonegate is now in the hands of a Planning Commission sub committee. What happens there will then happen at Stonehouse, and then, everywhere else.

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    2. The city wants development fees. They only care about money.

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