Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Developer At Mater Dolorosa Is Quietly Revealed In The Latest City Manager's Report

Try passing one of these babies through the eye of a needle
The following information was rather surreptitiously revealed in the latest City Manager's report, located on the always informative City of Sierra Madre website. Which on ominous occasions such as this one apparently serves as an extension of the development industry's public relations arm, especially within the three square mile confines of this radically under assault community. All too often this is how such things get announced here. Quietly, like it's a secret that only those in the know should get to hear about.

At least until the public relations product is properly prepared for local resident consumption. I think that is regarded as being a part of the process. This item can be viewed in its native habitat by clicking here.

Oh, and what better time to share this news than right before a three day weekend? You know, when everybody's attention is focused elsewhere?

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.

June, eh? Not so very far away. I guess we all know which side of the equation the City Manager's loyalties fall on. The difference between "due diligence" and the entire northwest quadrant of Sierra Madre being rolled under in a blitzkrieg of some billionaire housing developer's bull and diesel dust apparently being moot downtown. Just as long as they get their bloody pound of flesh, what do they care?

Now it probably would have been nice of City Hall to invite members of the community to such a meeting. After all, they are the people whose taxes enable the salaries that allow staff to live the low impact lifestyle they have become so accustomed to. But you know how that works.

The remaining big questions being, was a sustainable lunch served? And was it served with or without bottled water?

So who is New Urban West?  Here's how they describe themselves on their website:


It's good to see that they view themselves as being public relations forward. Because they really are going to need that sort of thing once they get down to the destruction of the lives and happiness of all those unfortunate enough to live in the path of the thousands of diesel truck trips and other construction traffic that will be roaring up what had once been quiet residential streets. It takes a practiced flair to successfully market someone else's personal misery from the comfort of executive suites located in Santa Monica.

But hey, at New Urban West they get that. The Fathers must be very proud of their choice.

And what exactly do they build? All kinds of nonsense apparently. Here is a screenshot that shows the dreary mix of pretentious California Generica that New Urban West blesses our world with.


Lovely pictures, of course. Ranchos, meadows, harmony groves and a lariat. So special. What these projects might actually look like once they've arisen from their choking clouds of dust and diesel smoke being another big question.

My guess is it will be a lot more Rancho Cucamonga than Santa Fe.

They can be forced to back down, however. This March of 2012 article from the San Fernando Valley Business Journal (link) shows NUWI's softer side:

New Urban West Plans To Sell Burbank Rancho Development Site - In the face of continued neighborhood opposition to its residential project, New Urban West Inc. plans to sell the former General Motors training facility in Burbank’s Rancho neighborhood to a local school.

New Urban has faced stiff opposition in its plan to transform the former GM training site into a residential community. Because the site is zoned for commercial and office uses, New Urban West would need a zone change to build residential units.

In February, the Santa Monica-based developer trimmed its original plan for 120 condominiums to 50 single-family homes, but many residents—who once defeated a neighborhood Whole Foods--still opposed the project fearing it would still threaten the Rancho’s equestrian character.

Maybe they'll be bringing some of this kind of informational literature around with them when they start going door to door in a week or so. Kind of makes them the Jehovah's Witnesses of predatory development, I guess.

You can witness this entire New Urban West collection of public relations expertise by clicking here.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com 

84 comments:

  1. Bad news - city hall has new friends from New Urban Development. Good news - Nurb Dev was chased off in the face of neighborhood opposition and zone changes. Don't both of those exist here? Or is the monestary already R1?

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    1. The property is currently zoned Institutional. The developer will need to get a zone change in order to build homes.

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    2. It does not appear to be a straight zoning change which can be very difficult for developers to get past. Jerry Pearson and Mater Dolorosa with the collusion of others who were probably not aware of its ramifications were able to sneak some very damaging lanugage into the General Plan for Institutional land users:
      "ALLOW FOR THE RE-USE OF LARGE INSTITUTIONAL PROPERTIES (OVER 20 ACRES), RECOGNIZING THAT SUCH PARCELS IN URBAN AREAS ARE UNIQUE AND SHALL BE CONSIDERED ELIGIBLE FOR FUTURE CONVERSION TO OTHER USES INLCUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO PUBLIC RECREATIONAL FACILITIES AND LOW DENSITY HOUSING, SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATE REGULATORY AND ZONING PROCESS."
      In the Nov. 16th Mountain Views News article that broke the story about a housing project being contemplated for Mater Dolorosa, Elaine Aguilar is already conceding that they are allowed to do it. Danny Castro has said that this language opens the door for them to do it. The first question is how did that lanaguage get in there in the first place. Of all the parcels in Sierra Madre, wouldn't you want the large institutional landowners that have the most land and the most impact on our city to be given the most scruitiny by our Planning Commission and City Council. Why would we want to agree in advance to give these large landowners more latitude to do something that can have a big impact on the city. The language is awful and confusing. Let them apply for a normal zoning change and if its a good project, let the City Council, Planning Commission and residents support it. Again, why tie our hands in advance with that kind of language. If anyone can shed some light about how that language sneaked in there, let's hear it. I suspect Mater Dolorsa was very instrumental in getting that language in there and then it slipped past the scrutiny of the present General Plan Committee at a time when no instituttional landowners were planning anything.

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    3. I was told by an attorney that the General Plan trumps the zoning laws. The developers know who to exploit the loopholes and drive a truck through it. You can bet that once Mater Dolorosa went from a religious organization and turned into a retirement and benefits organization for the benefit of today's class of priests, they have positioned themselves to go forward with this massive housing project.

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    4. The General Plan that we all must abide by is the 1996 one. The new one has not been approved yet.
      If the monestary is listed as institutional in the 1996 GP and there's no tricky langiage along with it, it's institutional.

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    5. I think the "tricky" language is from the 1996 General Plan and was just carried forward into the new plan. I suspect that nobody realized the significance of that language because Mater Dolorosa hadn't tipped their hand when it was being discussed. When you think about it, of all the properties for which you would want the Planning Commission, City Council and Residents to have the most discretion about whether or not to approve a zoning change, you'd think it would be for the big institutional landowners where projects would have the most impact. Why would we want to insert language that ties their hands in any way for a lawyer to exploit. That's how city's get in lawsuits. Somebody knew what they were doing and the purpose for that language being inserted there and I guarantee you it wasn't the resident who wanted that.

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    6. All these secret meeting amongst Mater Dolorosa and Elaine and Danny Castro over at Ctiy Hall. They are too cozy with the developers and actively colluding with the developers.

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    7. They should not be meeting behind closed doors with the Planning Commission and City Council. That may be a violation of the Brown Act. They want to line up support before the developer starts spending money on their due diligence. I don't like the possibility of a back room deal.

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  2. This stinks:
    "contacting stakeholders as well as Planning Commissioners and City Councilmembers"
    They need to do that in full public view only at public meetings.
    And isn't the whole town a "stakeholder"?

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    1. One of the early steps of "the process" is lining up the support of community leadership. City Hall was easy because they have a stake in the money side of the deal. Next is the City Council, though I am certain Harabedian and Capoccia are nestled comfortably in the developer's pocket already.

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    2. So is Goldstein, Desai, and Pevsner.

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    3. Mater Dolorosa has been working this thing for years. Jerry Pearson has been their point person. HIs wife works over at St. Rita's. Jerry has been working with City and other agencies for years right under our noses to set this up for what they are now proposing to do.

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    4. So they will go "door to door" to gauge the neighborhood opposition. Its more like divide and conquer. That's the modis operandi of these developers. If the neighbors and others fall for this tactic, then they deserve what's coming to them.

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    5. I agree about Pevsner, but most definitely not Desai. He has been an exemplary commissioner - knows the subject and asks perceptive questions.

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    6. There must be a building moratorium right now until we can sort out the consequences of all this development. You have the Kennington, One Carter, Stonehouse, Mater Dolorsoa, lot splits, McMansions - on and on it goes. This town is going to be ruined and its going to happen quicker than any of us thought.

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    7. I agree on the building moratorium. Its the only way to stop this. Then have a referendum of the residents. You can't get a water meter in Cambria because of the water. Our situation seems similar.

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    8. Desai hasn't seen a code that is unfavorable to the building and architects industry he has not tried to change

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  3. Of course they go to their loyal supporters first - which is City Hall. The neighbors and other residents are at the bottom of the list. The represents a continuation of the process of turning Sierra Madre into Arcadia. Mater Dolorosa representatives have had continuous meetings with City Hall for years now, I'm sure. As the Tattler points out, this can be beaten back as was seen in Burbank. I guess it comes down to whether Sierra Madre residents want to preserve their town as much as the residents of Burbank.

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    1. Why do you think Jerry Pierson was at each and every General Plan Update Committee meeting? Plus, I suspect the Mater Delorosa reps already had the developer in their pocket before the coalition even made their proposal. This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The Fathers at the Retreat can't be very proud of their organization right now.

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    2. Agreed, 11:56. This has been a done deal for a while.

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  4. Cameron Thorton and Jerry Pearson sure seem to have put alot of energy into moving this project forward over the years. I'd like to know their "stake" in this development going forward. It doesn't seem like its for purely altruistic reasons.

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    1. Jerry Pearson is the smooth-talking promoter of this develoopment and has been for years. He has been trying to ingratiate himself with different people - all for the purpose of moving this development forward. I'd like to know his background and what he has to gain by this project going forward.

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    2. I heard that Jerry Pearson was part of the General Plan Commission relating to community outreach. I doubt if he was there looking out for the interests of Sierra Madre. He doesn't even live in Sierra Madre. He was looking out for Mater Dolorosa and its planned housing project.

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    3. Who is Jerry Pearson anyway?

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    4. Mater Dolorosa saturated their Board of Directors with development-oriented people who have experience in this. They are dispicable people who only care about the money.

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  5. What a sad day for Sierra Madre, for the residents and even for Mater Dolorosa. While its been talked about for awhile now, it finally hits home that they have chosen to take the "30 pieces of silver". Whether it was two thousand years ago or today, greed hasn't changed much.

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  6. Don't the residents of Sierra Madre realize that City Hall is actively promoting development. Our tax money is literally being used to pay people to ruin the very town we live in. Go figure.

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  7. I love the way this news dribbles out during the Memorial Day Weekend to minimize the impact of the bad news.

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  8. The urgency of forming a city-wise group to stop development is all the more pressing now. The residents have to band together. A few neighbors opposing this development will not work as the neighbors are finding out at One Carter and Stonehouse.

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  9. Mater Dolorosa is simply doing what they did to their Houston property which is now ringed by McMansions. The current crop of Directors at Mater Dolorosa and the Priests out in Chicago are trying to accomplish what no others have done since the property was acquired in 1924. I'm sure they went through financial ups and downs back then including during the Great Depression. The only difference is you had a different breed of priests then. They cared about their mission and promoting the gospel and less about their own "retirements."

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  10. You can bet the money is not just being used for the priests' "retirements". They recently had a fundraising campaign for that and achieved all or most of their goal. In this case, Sierra Madre is going to pay the price for the sins of our fathers - and you know what I'm talking about.

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  11. How can a large housing project even be considered in light of this water crises. I guess I can understand Mater Dolorosa and the developer considering it because pure greed will always trump everything else. What I can understand is the collusion of Danny Castro and Elaine over at City Hall. I take that back, I can understand that. They want to pad their resumes by being able to say they succeeded in transforming the city before they go on to their next job. They also want to reap more revenues to increase their own salaries and benefits. So what I can't understand is why the Planning Commission, City Council and residents in a preservation-oriented town would ever allow this to go through,

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    1. We have no water folks! This is crazy!

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  12. The developer is going to try to pick off the neighbors one by one. That' the strategy of "community outreach". In some cases, they try to buy their support by throwing a bone the neighbor's way. Only if people resist these enticements, can Sierra Madre prevail.

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  13. Once again, its an outside developer who comes into the city, makes their profit and doesn't have to live with the carnage and the consequences.

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    1. Sierra Madre is going to go the way of Arcadia unless the residents draw a line in the sand. That being said, if the residents want McMansions and these exclusive areas of the city sectioned off from the townies, then let it continue by all means. Let's also ration our water and pay higher rates so that we can be good neighbors to our future neighbors.

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  14. Email stopmonasteryhousingproject.com if you want to help. That's a start. Although that group may be folded into a larger group attempting to resist development in general as Sierra Madre continues its transformation into Arcadia. It will happen one McMansion at at time and then in larger leaps forward at places like One Carter, Stonehouse and now at Mater Dolorosa.

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  15. There is absolutely no reason the residents had any business being at the meeting between the retreat representatives and city staff. If you do not want to see a big development you are going to need to talk to the Planning Commissioner and the City Council members. Goldstein and Capoccia have already said that they will not fight the Catholic Church or risk a lawsuit. You need to give money to the coalition. You need to attend and speak out at every meeting.

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    1. Yes, there is a very good reason why the residents should have been at that meeting. It is our town and we pay for it with our taxes. That a small group of out of town apparatchiks are planning our demise and we can do nothing about it is nonsense. Nor do I give a damn what Capoccia might think.

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    2. Then why aren't the residents present at all meetings when someone wants to build? They sure were present for Dr. Sami's catastrophe. Too many people think they have certain rights because they pay taxes when in reality the only right you have is to protest the project and try to influence your representatives to see it your way. Join the coalition.

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    3. Why is City Hall colluding with people who want to build a housing project that the vast majority of residents in Sierra Madre do not want?

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    4. City Hall is a beast that has assumed a life of its own. The people there are looking out for their own interests and not the interests of the residents who pay their salaries. That's the nature of how government works. We are the willing dupes that allow this to continue.

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    5. If Goldstein and Capoccia have already made up their minds, then they need to recuse themselves from the discussion. It is the duty of all public officials to listen to what the public has to say before they make up their minds.

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  16. Although discouraging, Sierra Madre can take its lead from Burbank and start pushing back , Let's show the developers what Sierra Madre residents can do when we come together..

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    1. In the same way this city came together to oppose the water rate increase....and lost?

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    2. How's that Measure UUT working for you?

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  17. Gee, I thought the Passionists were going to give us the results of their careful search for an appropriate developer. Did Elaine speak out of turn?

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  18. The can be beat.
    See article http://www.sfvbj.com/news/2012/mar/07/new-urban-west-plans-sell-burbank-rancho-developme/
    There was so much opposition to a proposed development in Burbank they decided to sell the property.
    Shows what can be done.

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  19. I think New Urban is a great choice they care about the communities they help and are very concerned and knowledgeable about environmentally sensitive areas such as the unused portion of Northwest Sierra Madre

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    1. Nothing says green like 40 mcmansions crammed into a relatively small amount of space. Give me a break.

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    2. Thank you New Urban PR person - probably a lwyer in the style and manner of Mosca and Buchanan. "unused" indeed.

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    3. Sorry 8:51. That kind of bs only makes people laugh these days.

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    4. We must remember that the hand of the Passionists is being guided by our Lord and Savior. Perhaps we should step back attend the churches of our choice and pray for understanding of Gods will in this matter.
      WWJD?

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    5. I believe that Jesus Christ is God. I also believe that most of the middlemen only speak in their own interest.

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    6. I'm not sure Judas Iscariot was guided by the hand of God. It was more likely guidance from downstairs rather than upstairs. After so many Priests around the world almost destroyed the Catholic Church and religion in general because of their actions against the most vulnerable among us and then trying to cover it up which caused the evil to continue, now they are using the money from the sale of Mater Dolorosa to either pay off legal judgements or fund their own retirements. I'm sorry, but either way, please don't suggest that God's hands are guiding this.

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    7. 8:51, ridiculous comment.

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    8. "unused portion of Northwest Sierra Madre."
      Are you kidding? "unused portion"?! There is no "unused" land, as anyone "environmentally sensitive" knows. You are talking about diminishing wildlife habitat, and should these greedy developers get at it, diminishing wildlife. The cumulative loss at Stonehouse, Carter and the monastery is a deadly blow.

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    9. Its just a matter of time before we need stop lights and parking meters.

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    10. "New Urban" is an appropriate name for this people. Let's take pristine areas with wildlife and slaps down some asphalt, concrete and McMansions and create that "New Urban" environment that no body wants.

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  20. I'd rather have a cemetery put there than houses, I swear....

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  21. Christ said, In my Father's house there are many mansions, He didn't say anything about McMansions!

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  22. Stonegate, Stonehouse and Mater Dolorosa coming down at the same time is too much of a coincidence. This had to have been coordinated. Did City Hall assist in that?

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  23. A Pox on all their greedy houses!

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  24. What about some local news coverage at next city meeting from KCAL 9 or KTLA 5 ? We have a lot of industry people living in this town. If Huell Howser thought the monastery was TV worthy why not the news??

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  25. Would anybody be up for a coordinated rally at City Hall or some such place to say to to all this development. That's what's its going to take to stop the madness.

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    1. We need to recall a councilmember. Any one who votes to rezone the monastery is fine.

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    2. I would , 11:26.. Time is a crucial element before more choices get made that slip by us..

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  26. 8:51 AM is obviously troll baiting, but let's dice it up anyway: New Urban doesn't 'help' communities, they ruin them. And just like that ancient 'unused' forest nearby that was bulldozed overnight, so the site could be 'used' to dump mud, the land at Mater Dolorosa is now being used for very important matters relating to the mental & physical health of the people of Sierra Madre. Namely, unobstructed foothill vistas, wildlife propagation, chlorophyll development, and bee pollination. Among others.

    Message to New Urban: we kind of like "Old Rural" style better out here. Open space, low density style. And even though the big private party celebrating Little Mayor Johnny-Pants probably included some handshake deals to develop the daylights out of this little village, the public debate is just starting. So we'll just have to wait and see how much help the town is willing to receive from the concerned folks at New Urban.

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  27. imagine the developer salivating when they meet a couple of our Councilmembers - could have been worse with the last Council

    Harabedian just tells them to do whatever they want it's okay with him

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    1. Harabedian and Capoccia will carry the water for the developers. We have to hope that the new guards keeps their campaign promises. I think Goss will surprise us on this. He's not a big development guy and specifically mentioned Mater Dolorosa on his campaign website with a heartfelt testimonial about what the property means to him.

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    2. With Johnny's mommy the principal at St Rita School. You know darn well how he will vote.

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  28. This development can be stopped because you can't underestimate the power of the people. That is if the people care enough to do something about it. If Sierra Madre can't get worked up about what is now happening at the Kennsington, One Carter, Stonehouse and now Mater Dolorosa then its a lost cause. It will then be only a matter of time before you can't tell the difference between Sierra Madre and Arcadia.

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  29. I'm sure when these developers "walk the neighborhood", they will have some Mater Dolorsa person like Jerry Pearson alongside them and maybe a local resident to add some credibility. Don't fall for it. People are now surprised at what is happening at the Kennsington and didn't realize how big it was going to be. The developer's only purpose is to maxamize their profit.

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  30. We will hae our work cut out for us but don't underestimate heart power.

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  31. Bolinas and Cambria have figured it out - no new water meters. That means existing water meters are enormously valuable. Preservation and financial gain. They have set the legal precedent, so let's follow.

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  32. City Hall thinks this is all about their financial survival. We need to teach them that there are some things that are a lot more important.

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  33. Sierra Madre should have established a water hook-up moratorium at least a decade ago. What a waste.

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  34. Let the rapping of the land begin, little or no water precious little electricity and sewer space to go around but some how the city of Sierra Madre lets a flim flam company build more homes on smaller parcel of land then ever before. In order to complete the requirement's of enough water for these new houses or apartment the developer and city needed a steady source of water MWD or was that DWP the city hooked up for water?

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    1. The MWD pipe was always known as Bart Doyles project to ensure ever increasing development. The greedy among us don't understand the words "built out."

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    2. I don't like the idea of "secret" meetings between the developers and City Council members and Planning Commission members. It stinks to high heaven. They are trying to line up support beforehand. These meetings should not be allowed. Do it out in the open in front of the public and in front of the cameras.

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  35. don't settle for short term money our resources are strapped with this on going drought
    more development means long term problems for our priceless small town

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    1. true, but we keep electing short term thinking Councilmembers

      and those who are focused on their own agendas such as political dreams and aspirations or those who seek positions on the Council to benefit their employers (ie utility company lawyers) or their industry (construction owners, building lobbyists, commercial bankers or mortgage salesmen)

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