Friday, April 18, 2014

Have the Passionist Fathers Decided to Take the Mater Dolorosa Development Money and Run?

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(Mod: I received the following e-mail from the Stop The Monastery Housing Project.com people, and the news isn't all that good. Here is what they had to say this week about some of the unhappy recent events there.)

Hi John: Here is the latest salvo from Mater Dolorosa. We had proposed to them to give the citizens of Sierra Madre as well as donors a chance to try to purchase the property before they sell it to a developer.

Unfortunately, they didn't feel the amount of money we could raise would be as much as a developer would pay them for the property. The concern now is that because they seem to be focused on maximizing their profit, we will be looking at a major housing project at Mater Dolorosa. With the water shortage and other issues, this will not be a good thing for Sierra Madre.

Attached is a copy of their recent letter. They just posted it on their website under "Property News".  I intend to send their letter along with some commentary on Friday to all of the supporters on our email list.

Because our efforts to negotiate a "win-win" solution by preserving the open space and getting them the money they needed, we now move into a different phase of our efforts. It will also be interesting to see how much the city will try to promote this project now that the UUT went down in flames.  They would probably want the additional revenue.

It will also be interesting to see how all the people driving up Sunnyside this Friday for the Stations of the Cross will react to all those sign along the way. They have to drive the gauntlet to get there and probably didn't know a substantial portion of that property - about 20 acres - is about to be sold off.

(Mod: All good points. City Hall, which is always hungry for more development impact cash, is not likely to be of much assistance in helping to preserve the last truly open spaces here in Sierra Madre. Meaning that once again we could be on our own. Fortunately we have three new City Councilmembers who all expressed concern during the campaign about the fate of this at risk monastery land. This could be their first big test in office. Here is the "Property News" our correspondent wrote to us about.)
April 15, 2014
Property Communications - Dear Friends,

The Passionists of Holy Cross Province, headquartered in Park Ridge, Illinois and the owners of the property on which the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center stands, has confirmed a final decision to develop an unused portion of this property, which they have owned since 1924.

The Passionists have our full support in this decision. This property is below the retreat house and is not used nor needed for our mission. As we have previously communicated, this sale has been in the planning stages since 2007.

The Passionists are selling the land to raise monies for the retirement and care of their aging priests and brothers and for the continuation of its global mission and their ongoing work. All monies raised from the sale of this parcel will go back to the Provincial Headquarters for this purpose.

We are now in the feasibility stage of our planning process. Based on the information gathered over the past seven years, the development will be in keeping with our neighborhood of single- family homes. This direction is important to the city, to our neighbors and to the many who come to Mater Dolorosa for the nearness to God, our quiet setting and Stations of the Cross provide.

As this property sits at our entrance and is around our neighbors, we have been conducting a thoughtful process to identify a firm that represents our values. Openness, listening and sensitivity to the environment are amongst the issues we have looked for compatibility.

We have looked at a range of approaches to divesting of the property from an outright sale as is to us developing the property on our own. We do not have the expertise to thoughtfully develop the property and feel it is important that we participate in offering our thoughts throughout the development process.

Consequently, we plan on entering into an agreement that in many ways acts as a joint venture arrangement with the ability for us to protect the serene environment through input and approvals throughout the development process.

Our due diligence process has included cordial meetings and ongoing phone conversations between a number of concerned residents, including Matthew Bryant, a Mater Dolorosa neighbor, Council Member-elect Denise Delmar and Leslee Hinton, a General Plan Update Steering Committee member. We have also received input from members of the Sierra Madre business community and many other long-time residents of our community.

While we will never be able to make everyone happy about this land being sold, we have found that once people learn the details and understand that any development will be in keeping with city regulations and will involve a very public process, they are more understanding.

The Passionists and Mater Dolorosa are in the final steps of selecting a developer to implement the decision in a manner that is sensitive and responsible to both the retreat center and its neighbors.

We commit to:
- speak with transparency and openness;
- keep the community informed of development milestones and provide updates on our website;
- support the developer in their intent to implement a design compatible and complementary to our retreat mission, our neighbors and surrounding land uses;
- work with the developer to provide information in a timely and detailed manner to representatives of the City of Sierra Madre as we move through the development process.

Once a purchase and sales agreement is executed, I will formally introduce the developer we will be working with.

Sincerely,



Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. Retreat Director

(Mod: How jamming a bunch of tract housing up there is going to "protect the serene environment" is anybody's guess. Michael Higgins could just be saying this to make you somehow feel better. You never can tell. Someone closely associated with this "due diligence process" sent in the following. I believe it is far more to the point.)

The coalition met with representatives of the Passionist Fathers and discussed at length the concepts of developing a plan to raise 10 to 15 Million dollars to acquire the property. The representatives indicated the amounts discussed were insufficient.

(Mod: Apparently concerns over the "serenity of the environment," along with the rest of that rhythm, took a backseat to cold hard cash. Someone in the development world must be waving some very substantial sums beneath Passionist noses. As it is with City Hall, the needs of the community are now being kicked under the bus to fund the requirements of people who don't care very much about the effect their personal situations may be having on those unfortunate enough to live near them. Once again we are being asked to suffer the consequences of someone else's indifferent personal planning. Here are a couple of more points that were shared with me yesterday.)

1. Why sell it now.  The property existed intact since 1926, you had the great depression as well as real estate booms. There could have been plenty of reasons to sell the property then but the powers that be decided that it was important to hold onto the property.

2. Once you sell it, its gone forever.  They aren't making any more land like this.  Even though they consider it "excess" land, how do they know that they won't have a need for it down the road. The Huntington Library could have sold off their excess land when they had some financial challenges.  They managed to keep it and now we have the beautiful Chinese gardens.

(Mod: Ironic that an organization dealing with the ultimate in eternal considerations has here decided to take a more "live for today" approach. You can only wonder what is going to happen to the Passionist cause once its current guardians have sold off all of the remaining precious things passed down to them by people far better than they.)

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

161 comments:

  1. There are many kinds of church pension plans. Some are the types of plans Congress intended to exempt from the law. Others are not.

    This fact sheet describes the types of pension plans that claim to be church plans. The Pension Rights Center takes the position that there are only two types of church plans. These are:

    A plan that is established and maintained by a church
    A plan that is maintained by a church pension board
    There are other types of plans that were neither established by a church nor maintained by a church pension board that say they are church plans. These include:

    A plan established by a nonprofit organization which is affiliated (or claims to be affiliated) with a church that claims it has always been a church plan
    A plan established by a nonprofit organization which is affiliated with a church that operated its plan under federal law in the past but now has applied to be treated as a church plan
    A plan established by a nonprofit organization which had no religious affiliation that operated its plan under federal law but then affiliated with a church and claimed that its pension plan was a church plan
    Does Dolorosa have a church pension board?
    Who is on it?
    How much do they get paid?
    What type of plan do they have, and is it legal?
    Or do you not know what type of plan they have, and we are just trusting "Catholic Priests" to do the right thing?
    I'm sure that will work out fine....
    http://bishop-accountability.org/priestdb/PriestDBbylastName-A.html

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    1. Its hard to believe that the people who know and love Mater Dolorosa want to see this property sold off after all these years. While I don't think you can put a price on the land, evidently the Passionists did and now the property is sold for much more than the 30 pieces of silver that Judas was given. The land will be gone, the deer will be gone, the coyotes will be gone, the hawks circling above will be gone. The feeling of driving up there and getting away from it all for a brief period of reflection and solitude will be gone. The spectacular vistas will be gone. You have to wonder if anybody up there at Mater Dolorosa has the courage to say no and take a stand to preserve what is truly God's land. Parishes come from all over California to this sacred place. People come from all over for the Stations of the Cross pilgrimage. We can all have our memories of Mater Dolorosa....the way it was. Soon that will just be a distant memory. Merely a dream of what could have been.

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    2. Why can't they come up with a better solution? Why do they make this decision as we are coming out of one of the worst economic climates since the great depression. I'm sure that impacted on the level of donations. Wait awhile and see if your financial situation improves.

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    3. Alot of Catholics drank the kool aid on this one and are marching in lockstep with church hierarchy. Obedience is considered a virtue. It may take people outside the church to save the church.

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  2. This reads like a public relations ad.
    George Orwell

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    1. Meeting with the "local-townies" was just a check off on their list.
      Selling the property was a done deal since 2007.

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  3. "Fr Michael Higgins, a native of the West of Ireland now based
    in California, is worried that many priests and deacons
    accused of sexual abuse are being denied due process by the
    Church. "
    http://www.renewedpriesthood.org/ca/hpage.cfm?Web_ID=1106


    Higgins, Michael. San Diego diocese. Laicized. The late Bishop Leo Maher suspended Higgins in 1982 on grounds that he solicited sex from a boy in confession. His successor, Bishop Robert Brom, then acted to get the Vatican to dismiss him from the priesthood, which it did in 1999. Higgins denied the allegation and appealed his laicization to Pope John Paul II, noting that Bishop Brom himself had been accused of sexual misconduct. Brom said an investigation—not made public—had disproved the allegations against him. (Lawyer: Be Fair to Priests, Riverside, Calif., Press Enterprise, July 30, 2004; Letter from Michael Higgins to Pope John Paul 11, April 22, 1998.)

    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/irish_priests_in_us/#higgins

    http://bishop-accountability.org/priestdb/PriestDBbylastName-D.html

    Is that the same priest?

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  4. Its a sad day for Sierra Madre and all those who wish to preserve this town, those who enjoyed the special experience of getting away from it all, those who enjoyed the reflective walks on the grounds, the birds, the deer, the coyotes - all gone. I would not want to be part of the current leadership at Mater Dolorsa who will have on their conscience for all eternity that they threw this all away for 30 pieces of silver.

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    1. churches have been and will always be a business first

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    2. why not build homeless shelters up there?

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    3. sorry, the homeless shelters are planned for Eat Montecito.

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    4. There must be something that can be done to prevent this travesty from happening. Does anyone have the names of the Board of Directors for Mater Dolorosa who made this decision so that we can contact them and implore them to change their minds?

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    5. I wonder when Jesus went into the desert to pray whether he would have been more comfortable praying next to a housing project?

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    6. Looking at all the cars parked in the area of "excess" land that is "not used or needed for our mission" by people making the annual pilgrimage on Good Friday, I was wondering where they will park in the future? Or are they going to cancel that event to pay for the retirement plans for aging priests. Just ask'in.

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  5. I love the line in the Passionist's letter when they say: "The property is below the retreat house and is not used nor needed for our mission." Its almost like the Father Higgens hasn't never taken a retreat there. He's telling us that having a large housing development right up against the Garden of Seven Sorrows won't make a difference to the retreat experience? That when you drive up that long road passing the deer and coyotes and hawks to get away from our crowded city environment makes no difference to their mission? Well, why was it important to their mission to keep the property intact for all these years as mentioned by the Tattler. The almight dollar seems to be the altar that they are worshiping now.

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    1. They will have to rename it the Garden of Eight Sorrows. The 8th one being the visual and noise pollution of all those homes, cars, yards, people, etc living their lives RIGHT NEXT TO that garden.

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    2. As someone who attended the Stations of the Cross and saw firsthand the young, the old, the sick, the healthy, the rich and the poor make this pilgrimage, I couldn't help but be very sad that the present leadership decided after almost 90 years to sell off the land. I asked someone who had a nametag and was obviously connected to the Monastery about all the signs lining Sunnyside and he told me its "....just the neighbors who think they own the property." Looking at all the people and all the cars, it didn't seem like it would be only the neighbors who would be concerned. In the very next sentence, this person revealed to me what we can expect the end result to be. He seemed somewhat troubled when he told me how the Passionists sold off a portion of their Houston retreat center and how its now "ringed by castles." I said that was too bad but he said they still have the retreat center. After lookng at all the cars parked on the big fields, I asked him where all the cars will park once a housing project occupies the fields. He told me that "we'll have to figure that out.". Folks, its never going to be the same. Once they start building the mansions, that will be our last trip up there. I'll try to remember it the was it was described in the brochure they handed out: "Located on 80 acres of foothills", "Open fields and groves of trees", and "a breathtaking view of the San Gabriel Valley", Yes, it won't be the same. They wil also have to change their brochure.

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  6. LIke with most things, I suspect there is more to this story. The ostensible reason stated in the letter for selling is to pay retirement costs for aging priests and continue their mission. How would it sound if they said the reason was to pay off massive legal judgments for pedophile priests. We will all pay for the sins of our Fathers.

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    1. What a horrifying tragedy if true.

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    2. Also add the decline in church membership.

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    3. I suggest that you Google "Passionist and sexual molestation"
      Interesting reading

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

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  7. We could purchase the land out of our general fund if we contracted for police services. $1.5 million saved per year, 10 - 15 years, harabdian park forever. Or we can continue to have our very own police department.

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    1. 7:06. This is a great idea!

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    2. Ballot question:
      Do you favor preservation of the Mater Dolorosa land with city funds, or do you favor continuing to pay for the highest employee health plan benefits in CA?

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  8. I feel sorry for the neighbors surrounding the property as well as the people on Sunnyside which now changes from what is essentially a cul de sac to a major traffic artery. Can you imagine the trucks, noise and mess that going to go on for years. The project will also need to punch another ingress-egress point through at either Grove/Carter or Crestvale.

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    1. I don't feel sorry for a few that I know because when Measure V was being debated they were anti Measure V and had the attitude that it wasn't close enough to them to matter

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    2. Absolutely true. When I walked up Sunnyside to gather signatures to save One Carter, the family at the very top, west side, told me that they supported whatever the City Council wanted. It turned out that they were members of the Congregational Church.

      Talk about "what goes around comes around."

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    3. You can't assume they don't care. There's always a few idiots but most people do care and realize that we are one city. As One Carter goes, so goes Mater Dolorsa until the development mindset of McMansions reaches into every neighborhood in Sierra Madre. We need to put the past aside and stand with those battling One Carter and the Monastery regardless of where you happen to live. United we will stand and divided we will fall.

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  9. How can they build a massive housing project when we have a water shortage? They'll never get that approved.

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    1. This is a city that pays employees $36,000 union negotiated health plans. They'll take the money.

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    2. They claim they have their own water supply. Humm

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    3. God told them to sell

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  10. This has been a long time in the making. Mater Dolorosa packed their Board of Directors with development-oriented people, they stopped the annual fiestas and they put up the gates making it very difficult to get inside. Contrast that with the Sierra Retreat and that retreat Center up in Santa Barbara run by the nuns which is much more open to people enjoying their sacred grounds. They realize in those other places that their openness also furthers their "mission". Its naked greed operating here. If anything, the priests should decline the money for their "retirements" and put something else first besides themselves.

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  11. They should sell off that whole church thing up there. Does the city have any rights to the spring that is still putting out water? Who gets that water. A lot of questions but for me they can bulldoze that whole place down and put up apartments. It won't matter because Sierra Madre has lost that small town atmosphere that we moved here for. The city has failed to maintain our excellent water, I have now put in an expensive water filter. Sierra Madre's City Hall has taken every advantage to increase size and revenue. The downtown businesses have always taken presidents over the residents and look at what we have now on Friday and Saturday nights. If enough residents move out that just means more money for City Hall. It's obvious the Police and Fire want more money and a bigger force as they have thrown in with the City Manager and have their picture on a card pleading for more money. You can't fight City Hall so try not to worry about it and just go with the flow. The townies have been running City Hall for years, if you want to see who the townies are just look at the local news paper, you see their names in that paper all the time. This town is history so save your money and energy and enjoy what you have today because it is going to be gone tomorrow. I know your thinking we have a new council coming in but t will be more of the same, money talks and City Hall listens.

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    1. Agree 7:24
      It's just naivete to think otherwise.

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    2. One thing's for sure, they should not be allowed to intercept or take water that could go into replenishing the City's wells. We need to unplug the connection to the Metropolitan Water District and get rid of that smelly, yellow water that makes it seem like you don't flush your toilet. If you want to take a bath, you have to run the water for 30 minutes just to get to the non-yellow water. Talk about wasting water. Putting a big housing project up there guarantees that the connection will be a permanent one..

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    3. They shouldn't be able to divert water that will be replenishing our wells. There has to be a law against that otherwise everyone would go ahead a drill a well.

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  12. Everyone has to band together to stop this outrage. How short-sighted can you get. I predict that after a few more legal judgments against the priests and/or mismanagement of money, the retreat center itself will have a for sale sign on it. These folks are getting out of the business of saving souls.

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    1. Perhaps we are now in the position of having to save their souls.

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    2. Send a contribution to the coalition so they can spread the word and purchase more signs.

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  13. If you build only single story homes that land is worth only $7 million. The only way it's worth more than $15 million is if you build two story monsters packed in tight.

    So they claim they will "speak with transparency and openess" so the first question is "how much did you sell it for?"

    The selling price will tell you what they intend to build there because the larger the price the more square footage of housing they will need to build to get a return.

    They also hint that they will be a co-developer. Most likely the sales contract will have a floor price based on 26 or so one-story single family homes with an upside if they can convince the council to allow 36 McMansions.

    Finally, it is not an accident that they name "Council Member-elect Denise Delmar" as someone they had an undocumented "phone conversation" with. This is a warning that they consider Delmar to be conflicted out based on their version of what was said on unprovable "phone conversations".

    They will come forward with a plan for 36 McMansions. Screams will be heard and garments will be torn and they will settle on 12 McMansions and 12 single story homes.

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    1. The Naked Noah campaign attacked Delmar with the same idiotic ploy. I wonder if there is any connection.

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    2. I am sure there is. The Monastery owners have been working with our local development geniuses for a while now. That connection is easy to make. Noah was a part of that.

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    3. Denise has resigned from the steering committee. When she was on the steering committee there was no project on the table.

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    4. The 14 single story homes will be at the top of the development so they don't block the Monastery views...the 12 two story McMansions will be at the south end of the development where they will have less impact on the view.

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    5. You have got to be kidding, only 26 houses! There will be a minimum for 40 houses built. If you are paying between $20 and $30 million for the land, 26 houses (14 being one story) ain't going to cut it.
      They need lots of small lots and big two story houses to make a profit.

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    6. Ask for 60, settle for 40.

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    7. Just looking at the numbers being put forth, something just doesn't seem right. $15 million dollars for 20 acres is $750,000 per acre of raw land. There is clearly something else going on here. Water rights may have something to do with it, just like One Carter, but I smell something much more sinister.

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    8. Mater Dolorosa and the Developer will attempt to cram in as many houses as possible so they can squeeze out every last cent. They will also be wheeling and dealing in trying to pick off their opponents one by one by throwing a bone and there. The neighbors shouldn't fall for it. They will need to stick together.

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    9. Spend 15M for it, build one house and sell for 35M, cool 20M profit, would that be ok?

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  14. Any lawyers in the house know if prescriptive easements were created in all those years when everybody just walked around that property before the fences and gates went up? That went on for years and years. I bet that's one of the reasons they put the gates up a couple of years ago to try to regain control of the property.

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  15. The dominoes are starting to fall in Sierra Madre. Look at the mess of One Carter. Now its the Monastery land then its more tearing down of older homes in favor of McMansions. You can't stop progress. Sierra Madre is going to turn into Arcadia - just give it time. Mary's Market - its old - tear it down. Redevelop the Canyon. Put a two-lane highway in there. Give it time. That's our future.

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  16. If you want to test if their deeds match their words ask them two simple questions:

    1) What are the selling terms (sales/development contract please)?
    2) Do you consider Delmar to be conflicted out?

    They will refuse to answer either question and you will have your answer as to whether they really intend to "speak with transparency and openness".

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    1. I think they prefer to speak of God and serenity. That is their hiding place.

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    2. The corrupt people who prey on Sierra Madre fear Denise Delmar. And well they should.

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  17. The planning commission had a lot split last night so a developer called Seven Central LLC could tear down a single story home and build two McMansions at 520 N Michillinda.

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    1. That's right next door to Enid Joffe's house.

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  18. For all those going up to the Monastery for the Stations of the Cross today, wave goodby as you drive by the "excess" land that is "not needed nor used for our mission." If you happen to see any deer, coyotes or hawks, wave goodby to them too. Then try to imagine the same drive through a big housing project filled with 2-story homes one of which may be having a big party or blaring their stereo as you drive by. Father Higgens is right, nothing will change will it?

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    1. We get lied to a lot.

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    2. enthusiastic catholicApril 18, 2014 at 8:48 AM

      not by our church

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    3. I guess all these children your church assaulted were shown the truth by the nice men not wearing undies. I know as a neighbor (since age 5) of your Mater Dolorosa their truth all to well........

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  19. I believe that each of the two new lots will be over 14,000 sq. ft. Each.

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  20. A full court press is on.History may not be on the Developers side.The future remains clouded.Stall them as much as you can!

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  21. In the organizational days of the Sierra Madre Mountain Conservancy a letter went out to all the owners of hillside property to determine their future interests in selling at fair market value, willing buyer-willing seller, lands in the foothills destined for preservation: passive open space for watershed, viewshed and wildlife protection. The inquiry was answered by the Passionist Fathers that no, they were not interested in selling to the Conservancy for open space as they "needed to keep the property in their 'portfolio.' "

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  22. This news wounds my heart. Truly, it is a Good Friday for Sierra Madre.

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  23. The attorneys are all smiling, oh boy, the $$$$ will flow and look who is going to pay.

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  24. I think it's really sad that the leadership has decided to break up the property that has been kept intact for 90 years. I wish they would reconsider their decision.

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  25. Mater Dolorosa was like an oasis in the midst of the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. There was some room and open space to connect with God and nature. What is that worth?

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    1. Ask the Maters, they'll tell you what it's worth.

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  26. I urge the leaders of Mater Dolorosa to step back and reflect on this decision to sell off a portion of the land. What about contacting some wealthy donor and have a large monument sign at the entrance to the Monastery that has the donor's name on it that would remain there in perpetuity, like "The Bob Hope Family Memorial Green". What a naming opportunity!! Is somebody out there? Please help!

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  27. Right before holy week, alot of signs disappeared ...why?. The Passionist community is an old group. I venture to say average age is 80+, with no newbies coming in..why keep all their properties? Trust me they are loaded with real estate! Cut the bs, they own it, they can sell it. I hope my family can move soon.

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  28. People. People. Housing is going to be built. It is private property and they have a right to build on it just like you have a right to tear down your house and build a new one. The idea that you people think you have a right to tell people what to do with their own private property after Sierra Madre passed Measure ED is appalling.

    They will come in at 36 houses and then settle at 26 houses. It's done.

    Mind your own business.

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    1. The Passionists claim to speak for God. They are held to a higher standard not only by our Heavenly Father but by the people they allegedly serve. The church is our business!

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    2. 9:13 Sorry you have an issue with free speech.

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    3. 9:13 -- homeowners are stakeholders in this debacle as well. They have a right to be heard, and have their concerns addressed. We are not slaves to the whims of shady devleopers or greedy landowners.

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    4. I'd like to ask one of the adjacent homeowners to show me the document where they were guaranteed "no development next door" when they bought their house.

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    5. I'd like you to show me a document that states owning a home in Sierra Madre means you have to give up all of your rights.

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    6. You don't have a right to tell me that I can't build housing on my private property as long as it is lawful.

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    7. I'd like to ask 9:13 a question who I'll presume owns a house somewhere. Your neighbor owns their property right. Its private property right. If they want to re-zone their property and build a 4-story hotel next to your property, you tell me that you're going to keep screaming private property rights. Get real. Mater Dolorosa may have the right to make the attempt to re-zone and destroy the property. Neighbors and others have the right to protest as would you if your neighbor tried to build the 4-story hotel.

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    8. 10:47 - which do you think is your worst attribute. Ignorance or stupidity? Maybe both?

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    9. Any of the neighbors, can you get a document to the Mod to answer 10:29s question?

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    10. I don't need or care to see that.

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    11. They are looking at 40 + houses. Nothing less will pencil out for the developer.

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  29. There is no longer a water shortage. That was fixed by the convenient hookup to the unlimited water source. We were fleeced, the water hookup was only to provide for development.

    Plus the Catholic church has had to pay out so much money to cover up for their indiscretions.

    And when it comes to selling property, money talks and bullshit walks. I would have sold too if I had a willing buyer that had money. Trying to fundraise for the property would never work.

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    1. You sound a little jaded and cyncial 9:19. There's alot more here than just the money. Although for the Passionists of all people, it seems to be the money.

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  30. Every neighborhood "stakeholder" kook who uses the term "greedy landowner" should have his home seized by eminent domain and paid 10 cents on the dollar for it and have it bulldozed and turned into a park....because greed.

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    1. Good to see Kim Jong Un is commenting today. Kim, would you feed them to dogs as well?

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    2. I don't think neighbors are the ones who want to carve up a Sierra Madre landmark that has managed to remain intact since 1926.

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    3. Do you think we could use eminent domain at .10 on the dollar? Good idea.

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  31. put up alot of low end housing and serve a greater purpose

    section 8 houses would work and God would be happy

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    1. Pleasing God is hardly the issue here. Money is. Using God to justify a sleezy real estate deal is going to cause trouble for certain individuals when they have their earthly exit interview with St Peter.

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  32. Actually I would rather have sec.8 neighbors than McMansioners a much more diverse crowd.

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    1. You would rather have Section 8 housing for neighbors than million dollar homes with well kept and manicured lawns that invariably will increase your property value?...UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

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  33. I thought priests take a vow of poverty. Now they want to have retirement packages like city employees. They selfishly give up their true mission to serve god in exchange for many millions of dollars. The coalition that tried to buy it never had a chance. They tried to appeal to the better angels of people's nature but instead were facing naked greed. If it does get built, I hope some neighbor plays Stairway to Heaven at full volume. Maybe that will enhance the new "mission".

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  34. Aside from the destruction to the property itself, displacing the wildlife, impacts on the neighbors, increased traffic up Sunnyside, Grove/Carter, Crestvale, the water shortage etc. etc. etc., this housing development would also be the tipping point for Sierra Madre now going in a new direction of McMansions like Arcadia. The changes to this town will all love will only accelerate.

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  35. Anybody know the affordable housing requirements with such a project?

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    Replies
    1. The point is moot. The Passionists are not concerned with caring for the housing needs of the poor. They just want to make some big bank.

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  36. Who wants another acrimonious development fight. Just fold up the tent and let the inevitable happen. This might be way over on the northwest part of town but its coming soon to your area too.

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  37. How will all this be remembered in history? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Madre,_California
    ...the end of Heritage/Cultural Preservation...sell-out to be like every other nearby community...devaluation!!!!!

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  38. The property is owned by the Passionists in Chicago. They don't give a damn about Sierra Madre. The Board of Directors was stacked with pro-development people. Father Pat was sent away to Detroit and they brought in Father Higgens who hasn't been here long enought to give a damn about the property. They will hire an outside developer whose only motivation is to maximize their profit and then they get out of town. That's will launch a public relations campaign and bring in as many willing dupes as possible within the town to support the project. That's the plan.

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  39. Occupy Mater Dolorosa.

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  40. I bet they try to hire a local real estate company to handle the sales. Let the sellout begin. Any real estate agent or real estate company that associates with this project should be blacklisted.

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  41. They should just sell the whole property including the retreat center. Its going to happen eventually anyway because they are going out of business. They will eventually use up the money from the sale of the land and then sell some more "excess" land. Before you know it, the retreat center is for sale but, by then, the property will be substantially diminished. I say sell the entire property right now intact to people who will be better stewards then the present leadership.

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  42. The present Board of Directors who made this decision should be really proud of themselves that they have managed to accomplish what no other Board managed to do since 1926. All those 2-story homes will be a fitting tribute to their leadership and vision. Congratulations. I hope as you drive by these homes each time you visit the retreat center it will remind you of your lasting gift to posterity. If you have any conscience, maybe that will cause a few sleepless nights. But perhaps once the development project is completed, you won't be serving on the Board or visiting the retreat center because your purpose for being there was fullfilled.

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    Replies
    1. This will be Sierra Madre's first gated community.

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    2. Pearly gates?

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  43. The stopthemonasteryhousingproject.com website gives some good information about the history of this thing. If you get on their email list, they are pretty good about giving you updates.

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  44. If the people rise up, this thing can be squelched. Too many problems with a massive housing project.

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  45. This is all very sad. To lose this jewel in Sierra Madre is a real tragedy.

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  46. Why can't the city buy it and expand Bailey Park which is right next door?

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    Replies
    1. The city doesn't have money, it has our money, so the question is...Buy it with what?...not my money, sorry, not one red cent of my money will be used to purchase that private property, find some other sucker to throw away their money.

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  47. The future of our town is riding on the One Carter decision. If the City allows oversized homes on tiny lots at One Carter it will have to allow them everywhere - including at the Retreat Center where our family walked the Stations of the Cross once a month, but have not done so since being locked out by the "brothers."

    More importantly, the town will be subject to the in-fill effect, as lovely homes sized to their lots will be knocked down and replaced with oversized McMansions.

    Keep your eye on One Carter and be ready to sell.

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    Replies
    1. Everyone has to stick together on this thing. As 11:58 points out, one thing can be a precident for something else. One Carter is the first line in the sand. If we don't succeed there, we draw a new line at the Monastery project and make our final stand. If the Monastery goes, I think its going to be over for us.

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    2. I bet Danny Castro and the people at the city are salivating over this project. They don't care if the town is ruined as long as they can get the development fees and bring more money into the city's coffers to be used for higher salaries, benefits and pensions. All this while a sizable portion of the community is sleeping. The only lines of defense to this are the People, the Planning Commission and the City Council.

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    3. We have three good council members coming in Arizmendi, Goss and Delmar who all want to preserve this town and are skeptical of over-development. Delmar was on the Steering Committee for the Coalition to Preserve Mater Dolorosa and stepped off once Mater Dolorosa decided not to allow the citizens and donors to buy it. Arizmendi also seems to want to limit growth and preserve the town. Goss stated on his website that he lived on Sierra Keys right near the Monastery and took his kids there. Capoccia is a bit of a wild card on things recently so you don't know what he'll do. Harabedian is in the pocket of the developers so no help from his. Overall, its about as good a city council as we could have in place with this issue rapidly coming up.

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    4. Interesting that they waited until after the election to give their decision to go ahead and develop. Isn't this property zoned institutional and won't they have to go to the planning commission to get it changed, or will it come to the Council. If it comes to the council will all three new council members have to recuse themselves? Who knows how this thing will come down.

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    5. No one will have to recuse themselves because none of the three were elected officials at that time. People running for office enjpy the same free speech rights as anyone else.

      How did this canard get started anyway? Is it an Arcadia Realtors invention? The crap they churn out.

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  48. The only chance people have of stopping that property from being developed is to keep it zoned Institutional. If the City Council votes to change the zoning to Residential......game over.

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    Replies
    1. We should not feel any obligation to allow them to change the zoning. With the water shortage alone, this project should be stopped in its tracks. While there is some language in the General Plan that allows them to apply for the zoning, there is also language in the general plan about preserving open space. For a lot of reasons, open space should trump over-development.

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  49. What can City Council do to prevent this? If this requires re-zoning does this require City Council to approve? Or planning committee?

    Neither the monastery development nor one Carter nmcmansions need to be foregone conclusions. If we get organized, we can prevent this. My votes in the last council race were based exclusively on the candidates I thought would prevent both situations. We know that Delmar opposes both, Arizmendi claims to be against both and not sure where Cappocia stands. We need to get those two council members to take firm stands against it. Goss too, he was told a good story but appeared to be deliberately ambiguous which is suspicious.

    The council needs to be put under tremendous pressure. Even many of the Yes on UUT people likely don't want to see development on the monastery.

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    Replies
    1. Goss knows the development impact fees will go to fund union employee benefits. He'll fold like a cheap suitcase.

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    2. Goss specifically mentioned his concerns about the Monastery on his website having lived on Sierra Keys for many years. He enjoyed the good times when the Brothers allowed people to enjoy the property. Goss may surprise us on this and end up being the stauchest advocate for preserving that land.

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    3. Sure, and Goss might become a financial whiz. But that's not the way to bet.

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  50. Money is God. Just ask the Koch brothers.

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    Replies
    1. Or George Soros spending over $1billion for leftist efforts and Agenda 21.

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  51. Any Councilmember who votes to rezone Mater Dolorosa will be subject to a vigorous recall effort. End of conversation.

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  52. Oh yes! The people of this town have done wonders with recall efforts in the past.

    I'm sure the elected officials that are going to betray you, are quaking in their boots at the thought of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joe Mosca hired a very expensive attorney. It was kind of cute, actually.

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    2. We have a good city council right now. Other than Harabedian and Capoccia, you have some solid people who will not cave in to the developers.

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    3. I wonder if anyone on the Board of Directors at Mater Dolorosa opposed selling the land. If no one did, you know they stacked the Board with people who don't care about Mater Dolorosa and what it represents to so many people. Anyone who loves Mater Dolorosa could not make a decision to sell off the property.

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    4. 3:01 -- How'd that Measure UUT thing work out for you last week?

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    5. @ 3:34 PM

      Wake up fruit loop.

      You're talking apples and oranges. You people are too lazy, too cheap and too stupid to ever get someone recalled. With all the hidden agendas of various people in your little group, it seems like the only thing sustaining you is the idea of being "the loyal opposition."

      How many more times can you get co-opted by moles and operatives of the development industry and still believe that you are effective at anything in the political arena?


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    6. OK, Toughie. But how did that Measure UUT thing work out for you? Oh, and would you like to attend a party? We are holding a 10 year celebration of nothing being built at One Carter. It's being held in the Ahlswede Room at the Hotel Shirley. Right down the hall from the DSP Lavatories.

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    7. Will Bart "Nothing I Ever Touch Lives" Doyle be there?

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    8. I remember Ahlswede. He was a chip off the old block.

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  53. The institutional zoning designation was happily accepted by the monastery as it suited their purpose and now it dosen't. There is no reason why the city should change it ever. Our city council has to stand up for their decision back then and make it stick now. Does the Passionist Fathers headquarters in Chicago have an account for lawsuits? Wouldn't that eat in to their ability to finance these needed retirement programs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They don't need to spend a lot of money on attorneys. They'll just sit back and let Collantuono and Levin take care of it, at our expense, as per usual.

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    2. Correct. We pay for the lawyers that protect them from us.

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    3. The City Council is going to have to resist the advice of the city's own attorneys. That advice will usually be to allow unmitigated development.

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  54. Were is Ms. Archetect Chang...what's the latest with the One Carter debacle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adele is home feeding the baby snakes she wears in her hair during Planning Commission meetings.

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  55. Has anyone seen the Stop the Monastery Housing Project signs being taken down. It seems that alot have gone missing lately. I hate to point fingers but hopefully no pro-development people would stoop that low.

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  56. It seems to me that the Catholics ought to be the maddest about what's going on over there and all those who make the annual pilgrimage on Good Friday for the Stations of the Cross. The Muslim equivalent would selling off a portion of Mecca.

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  57. This is heartbreaking. As someone whose property lines the retreat property I can tell you first hand that they do not treat their neighbors honestly or considerately. The sale of this land was decided awhile back and their meetings with the coalition were a pr ploy to quell the firestorm of bad press. I don't believe they were ever going to consider anything that took more time, get them any less money or consider the community in any way. This is a sad, sad time.

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  58. Rubes. Talk will get you nothing. Act. Harabedian and Capoccia have to know they will be booted out of office if they ever vote in favor of anything unreasonable. Get into the neighborhood and collect signatures on a petition.

    300 or more signatures will scare the crap out of them.

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    Replies
    1. 7:35 is obviously visiting from the other side of the Michillinda Curtain. Pretty bossy, if you ask me.

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  59. Easy to collect 300 signatures. 1500 were collected over the period of a month, that included the week-end of the Mt Wilson Trail race where signatures were collected on the sidewalk, on a petition (presented to the Planning Commission and the City Council) to protect the hillsides from the first developer who had big plans on the land around the Chantry Flat Gate at Arno Dr. Three women did it all, Caroline Brown, Verna Chilton and Ruth King.

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  60. The big wheels just keep on rolling and city hall is behind them all the way.

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  61. Here is a web site that will help explain how Sierra Madre can save money: http://www.civicbusinessjournal.com/city-manager-seminar-sheriffs/

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  62. I doubt that they can build what many are calling McMansions. We have a 4000 square foot limit on floor area in Sierra Madre. For those who doubt that, look at the houses at 1 Carter. They are not allowing more than 4000 square feet. 4000 square feet is not a mansion. The houses in Arcadia are often 6000+ Sierra Madre does not have the code in place to allow for huge places.

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    Replies
    1. Even if they are not going to build houses over 4,000 square feet, all that means is that they will build more smaller houses in order to squeeze out the last drop of profit from the development. Either way, it could end up being one of the largest housing project Sierra Madre has ever seen.

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    2. Their are still requirements on maximum lot coverage. Read the code, it allows 35% coverage on a lot - so if they made the maximum house of 4000 square feet the lot size would be 11500 feet. This has to include garages and accessory buildings.

      I am not against profit, that is a good thing. You are not going to see high density development, its not permitted per our code. The character of the city will remain as it is.

      I seriously doubt it will be the largest housing project the city has seen.

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  63. The coalition needs to find some fighters to get in the trenches and slug it out with the Developer. It will be David vs. Goliath. I'll put my money on David again. The developer doesn't realize what he is stepping into. One Carter has gone on for 10 years and counting. I say, "Bring it on!"

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    Replies
    1. If One Carter follows the exiting code per house size and setbacks they would have been built by now. They have chosen to ask for exceptions and have not been successful. If a property is zoned you can build on it, per the existing code. Its not a David vs. Goliath fight, its a fight to change their zoning rules. And, I doubt they will win.

      If they submitted plans that were in agreement with the code, they would have been built and occupied by now.

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  64. In light of the above comments and general feeling about development in Sierra Madre, I think the Board of the Monastery should step back and reconsider alternative ideas and ways to raise money instead of selling off a chunk of their property that has been there since 1924

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  65. Maybe the Passionists should consider selling the entire property to another order of the Catholic Church, an order that would agree to preserve the property and guide retreats.

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  66. I wonder how the Self Realization Fellowship is able to preserve their beautiful properties like the Lake Shrine in Santa Monica and their property in Encinitas. There is no charge to visit these beautiful places. Like Mater Dolorosa, they are a place of refuge for us city slickers.

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  67. The City of Sierra Madre should just buy the property. Negotiate a deal and be done with it. How much open space is left in Sierra Madre?

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    Replies
    1. Lets propose a 100% UUT to make this happen! NOT

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