Sierra Madre monastery declines $10 million offer for 20 acres of unused land: To prevent what some residents called over-development, a citizen coalition offered to pay Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center about $10 million for about 20 acres of vacant land.
Since January the Coalition to Preserve Mater Dolorosa and Stop the Housing Project has communicated with the retreat center and its owner, Illinois-based Passionists of Holy Cross Province. Earlier this month, however, the owner of the 88-acre retreat center declined the Coalition’s multimillion-dollar offer.
Matthew Bryant, spokesman for the coalition, said the decision disappointed him. He was worried the property by Sunnyside Avenue and Bailey Canyon Park would morph into an enormous housing project.
“It’s not in the best interest of the neighbors or the community at large,” said Bryant, who lives along Mater Dolorosa’s western border. “It wasn’t just disappointment; it was kind of sadness. Right now so many things are changing. We thought the one thing that wouldn’t change is Mater Dolorosa.”
The Passionists of Holy Cross Province has owned Mater Dolorosa since 1924 and dedicated Mater Dolorosa Monastery in 1932. The property has provided retreats for men since 1926, according to its website. The center later opened to the larger populace.
The potential development is still in its nascent stages; eight developers submitted proposals, said Cameron Thornton, chairman of Mater Dolorosa’s Board of Directors. It would be a minimum of three years before the project — if it happens — even breaks ground, he said.
“We do not have a specific design that is set (for the single-family homes),” Thornton said. “We’re going to invite as much feedback during the entitlement process as we can, and we will be reaching out and having public forums. ... The entire process is one that has been thought out very well.”
Residents who oppose new development can point to the 32-acre Stonehouse and One Carter project, which has been in the works for more than a decade. Elisa Cox, the city’s spokeswoman, said this project has gone through multiple owners and has been the object of a lawsuit. Although the property was graded in 2007, only one of the properties has broken ground.
(Mod: 2014 is the 10th Anniversary of nothing ever getting built at One Carter. Outside of perhaps the Downtown Specific Plan, One Carter is the very worst City Council decision in the recent history of our community. That these two decisions were basically the work of the same two former Mayors is not coincidence. Both had Gene Goss and Noah Green signs in their yards earlier this month. No surprises there, either.)
Tonight is the City Council Reorganization
Get there early if you want a seat. Judging by the Corfu invitation list, the Harabedian camp will be bringing in a lot of folks for their celebration of all things Johnny Mayor. And while there are three new City Council members to be seated as well, there are priorities.
Tonight will also be the last gasp of the Civility Party. With the single four year terms of Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran ending this evening, we will now have a City Council with no member having served for more than two years.
I recently put together and posted a list here of the problems the Civility Party has had in governing this town. I've since edited it a bit, and figured I should share that with you today. It's been a rough four years. We are coming out of a particularly difficult era in this City's history, and hopefully this will help folks understand that.
The Top 10 Failures of the Civility Party
1) Water rates increased twice. Twice because they couldn't get the math right the first time. $10s of thousands of dollars were needlessly paid to a second consultant to fix the mess caused by the first one.
2) The highest utility tax rates in California were put on the ballot twice in two years, failing both times. Residents were told various tall tales by the city about their double-digit utility tax rates. Few of which turned out to be completely true, and accordingly were disbelieved by the majority of voters.
3) Many downtown businesses closed, and those storefronts remain empty today. This despite $30,000 in taxpayer money being spent on something called a "Market Demand Study."
4) Our Moody's water bond ratings dropped three times, despite over 100% in combined water rate increases. A problem the water rate hikes were supposed to correct, or so residents were told by this City Council. Currently our water bonds remain rated "junk."
5) Our water ran out. SGVMWD replacement water, which the city is paying near ransom rates for, turns several different rainbow colors and kills pet fish.
6) Health plan costs for select city employees rose to some of the most expensive levels in the entire state of California. This while residents were being told that costs at City Hall had been cut to the bone.
7) The Tree Commission was killed off for no apparent purpose. What was left got folded into something called an EENER. The insulting reason given for this is it would save city staff time.
8) The EENER Commission, after months of meaningless politically correct posturing over just how "green" and "sustainable" Sierra Madre is, goes on life support after Chairperson Paul Alva suddenly quits. No move is made to replace him. Somehow the city survives.
9) Out of the three people elected to the City Council in 2010, none remain. Joe Mosca resigns for reasons never fully explained and leaves the country. Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran decide not to run for reelection rather than face questions about all of the above.
10) When the City needed leadership and guidance during the Bob Matheson/Child Pornography Affair, this City Council did nothing. Instead they quickly shifted all responsibility over to the SMPD, who then also did nothing. Two Councilmembers actually denied ever having known Matheson. Photos soon emerged showing that they were not telling the truth.
(Mod: We plan on "live blogging" tonight's City Council reorganization meeting. Join us at 6:30 if you like.