|Built out lumber|
1) The meeting got off to a robust start as a resident explained how voting made her tired, and could the City Council please take this heavy load off the shoulders of the poor overburdened residents of Sierra Madre? Mayor Harabedian replied that such a thing would be possible if the City Council decided to make it so. Of course, it would mean the end of Sierra Madre's colorful locals only elections as everything would get lumped in with all that awful state and federal slop. Maybe the purpose is to dilute the influence of a certain portion of this town's motivated electorate? People who only vote during presidential election years generally know nothing about local issues, and are more likely to vote for taxes.
2) Great comments from Matt Bryant about the secretive meetings taking place with the Mater Dolorosa developer, New Urban West, and City Staff. Matt went on to ask if these meetings could take place in public since they would affect so many of those in the community. People who are not likely to be offered fresh crumpets and coffee in the City Manager's office. Mayor Harabedian weighed in by saying Matt's comment was not given at the appropriate time. No comment on any secret meetings, however. He didn't seem to want to go there.
3) Danny Castro rose to speak at the podium about the definition of a bedroom. I would have thought that a bedroom would be any room you might fall asleep in, but planners are never quite that practical. On the surface of things this reminded me a bit of the Kensington debate over what differentiates a unit from a suite. I was prepared to get sore about it, but apparently this is not really a bad thing. In the coming wave of potential high density community destruction in Sierra Madre, parking will be difficult for developers to provide. Closely defining bedrooms could mean developers will struggle to accommodate the amount of parking all those new cars will need. Mayor Pro Tem Capoccia chimed in about the effect this might have on impact fees. Which, in my opinion, are quickly becoming the new UUT.
4) The UUT Oversight Committee took about 3 minutes at the podium. The City tried hard, but couldn't get rid of this committee a few months ago because it was put into place by the voters. People who were told the UUTOC would matter and protect their stake in the draconian 2008 utility tax increases. It didn't. All we got out of it was years of absurdly high utility taxes and a yearly UUT fan dance by well meaning but largely naive committee volunteers. I number among them.
5) Item #4, the General Plan Build Out numbers, arose from the Development Services crypt. Danny Castro kinda fumbled around with this for a bit, all under the very watchful eye of the City Manager. Rachelle Arizmendi and Denise Delmar both brought up the very good point that those arbitrary 60 Mater Dolorosa McMonster units should not be included in any General Plan equation because that site is not zoned residential.
Councilmember Goss asked whether the 60 Mater Dolorosa McMansions penciled into Danny's edgy EIR documents would harm the city should the New Urban West lawyers decide to go after us someday. The City Attorney said absolutely not, but who believes her? Would you buy a used car from a Colantuono attorney?
MaryAnn MacGillivray informed the City Council that putting the EIR before the General Plan was "bass akwards." As usual, MaryAnn laid it out in a remarkable way. Her main point being the people spoke up during the General Plan run up, and what they wanted was slow and gradual growth. Not an explosion of McMansions at Mater Dolorosa, One Carter and Stonegate. Or ridiculous planner gibberish, for that matter.
6) Many residents came up to the podium and made impassioned speeches about the impending huge growth of development in this town. The City Council looked a little taken aback at the force of the conviction of those who spoke. It was an impressive turnout, and resident speechmaking carried the day. The City Council backtracked and did not vote on the numbers as presented in these general plan build out numbers.
7) My one disappointment is the City Council or City Staff did not discuss the "secret meeting" it had with New Urban West. Despite being asked that question directly by two concerned residents, and more than once by one of them. No one at the dais uttered a word. I guess they didn't want to have to verify that claim.
For the record, and since The Tattler was mentioned, the following is from the City Manager's Report that was released over the weekend. The intended audience being the City Council.
UPDATE REGARDING MATER DOLOROSA PASSIONIST RETREAT CENTER
Jerry Pearson, Cameron Thornton, and representatives from New Urban West met with City staff this week regarding their future plans for the development of the lower portion of the Mater Dolorosa property into single-family residential development. They informed staff that an agreement has been signed with New Urban West to develop the site, and that New Urban West will begin “due diligence” starting in June, and will begin community outreach in June - meeting with neighbors door-to-door, contacting stakeholders as well as Planning Commissioners and City Councilmembers to introduce themselves. New Urban West anticipates an application submittal by Fall of this year.
Did you get an invitation to that meeting? Did you get yours for the meeting scheduled for tomorrow? Neither did I. No crumpets for us.
8) The San Gabriel Valley National Recreation Area came up for consideration. Why would we want to give the Feds any more control over our mountains than they already have? Parks are nice and all, but what would the consequences be? Why would we want to give up control over a portion of Sierra Madre's jurisdiction to what might turn out to be some Federal boondoggle? The trust is no longer there as far as I am concerned. Government is not the solution to everything. Quite the opposite if you think about it.
Many spoke. It is a big issue and one that many feel strongly about.
At this point I got up and left for home. I have an early day and need the sleep.
Fill in the blanks if you wish. Or not.