|Do you want fries with that?|
Me? I've taken to calling the unhappy site One Cratergate. But whatever name you choose to hang upon it, the very unnecessary process surrounding that place just grinds on and on. Yet another instance where our city's elected officials either neglected to honor their legal and moral obligations to the people of this town, or decided to go for the money instead.
Tonight the Planning Commission will conduct what is being called a "workshop" to discuss some of the flagrant design flaws with the architect of the currently proposed three McMansions for One Cratergate. With many more just like them in waiting in the wings should these be approved.
This workshop is the result of the denial of these projects by the Planning Commission, the applicant’s appeal to the City Council, and the council deciding to send the projects back to the commission rather than doing anything too meaningful about it themselves.
The residents of Sierra Madre have done a great job identifying the legally based protections that are in place here for hillside locales like One Carter. All the City Council really needed to do was implement the protections that already exist in our city's laws by backing up the Planning Commission's decision on this McMansion situation. But for whatever unexplained reasons they chose not to do that.
I take little pleasure in saying this, but the real law in Sierra Madre is, as always, money. City Hall wants the development impact fees building McMansions at One Carter would bring. That number being somewhere in the $1.1 million range, or $43,000 in impact fees per each of the 27 planned homes. There are currently pensions and especially city employee retirement health benefit packages to fund, which we the taxpayers are now paying some of the highest rates in the state to provide. All because those people who supposedly work for us need to feather their nests, and our City Council lacks the integrity or will to oppose them.
This is what is really guiding a lot of the decisions being made downtown these days. From water rate increases, to the 25% utility tax increases on the ballot for April, to the many fees associated with development and life in general here, it is all about financially propping up what has become a very expensive city government. And rather than protect the unique character of our village, we're being sold out instead for cash.
It really is a lousy deal for those who actually live in this town.
Can the Planning Commission make a negative finding on "Stonegate" and actually see it get backed up by the City Council? After all, this CETT - Adele Chang McMansion situation has been going on for longer than Noah Green has lived in town. A final decision is going to have to be made some day.
And even if the Planning Commission again does the people's business properly and honors our hillside regulations and ordinances, is there any guarantee that their decision will be respected once these McMansions are appealed back to the City Council for the inevitable next round?
After all, had the City Council wanted to, all they would have needed to do the last time these projects were before them was to just say "No." Because that is what the Planning Commission had decided.
Instead the City Council created this unnecessary process, some of which plays out tonight. Which to me indicates that they are actually in favor building these McMansions at One Carter. You know, because of the money that would bring in.
Quite possibly the City Council's loyalties are with this city's employee organizations, and not the citizenry. They just don't want anyone to think that is actually the case. So on and on (and on) it all goes.
The Planning Commission meeting is tonight at 7. A lot of people are going to attend.