Here it is in a nutshell. Our oldest son is about to enter high school. We applied to quite a few private schools and, being a smart kid, he was accepted to all of them. The bad news is each of these fine institutions of a little bit of higher learning is quite costly. The one we were leaning towards, The Webb School in Claremont, would have cost us a cool $40,000 a year. Ties and meals not included. It is just too much.
Both Lorrie and I are the product of perfectly sound New York metropolitan area public school educations. Lorrie has two PhDs, and I ended up in the music business. Which makes the results 50-50, a decent enough average for the real world. And so, faced with some fundamental financial challenges, and not all that impressed with the private school educations our sons have received up until now anyway (as examples, neither can speak Latin or code computer programs yet), we decided to go out and tour some public high schools.
And that is how we discovered San Dimas. The high school there, which we fell in love with, has won just about every award the state can throw at it. The Middle School is equally celebrated. They offer everything real schools should, have extraordinary athletic programs (the San Dimas varsity baseball team has been scouted by professional teams with names like Dodgers), and in a lot of ways stack up very favorably with their private competition.
Interesting fact. Most private schools in the San Dimas area cost far less than their counterparts in the Pasadena region. Why? Because they have to compete with San Dimas's public schools.
The financials also add up. Homes in Sierra Madre, because the big development jackasses weren't allowed to wreck this town as they have so many others, are going for absurdly high prices right now. Our little cottage on the north end of Grove Street went for far more than I ever dreamed possible.
People want to live in towns that offer authenticity and character. Sierra Madre has all that, and people are willing to pay out the nose to get it.
If you check out the Redfin website you'll find a chart that shows Sierra Madre is one of the 5 hottest real estate markets in all of Los Angeles County. We didn't get this way by building the Downtown Specific Plan, or listening to the selfish complaints from the usual suspects in the Canyon.
It happened because slow growth Sierra Madreans stood up to some very big money, and won. The homeowners of this town owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
Generic SCAG housing, which has harmed property values in so many of our neighboring cities, never happened here. At least not yet. But, given the pressures being exerted upon this community by people who only care about the dough they'll make by cashing in your birthright, this might not last. Three potential McMansion developments, various large and densely packed infill nuisance projects, the growing atrocity that is the ALF, plus imported water that kills cats and fish, all of that needs to be taken into consideration.
Nothing lasts forever, especially when you don't want to fight for it.
The differential in home prices between Sierra Madre and San Dimas is still fairly large. With the equity we picked up from the sale of our small house here we were able to get something far more spacious. Our new home is located at the end of a long driveway that winds up the side of a hill. It is surrounded on three sides by wooded land, and from the fourth we have a view that on a clear day goes on forever. All at about half the price a similarly situated home would cost here.
So what will happen to The Sierra Madre Tattler?
There are critics of this blog who are of the opinion that since I'm moving out I must stop doing this. Nothing could be more ridiculous, even from them. My wife is keeping her practice right here in town, and I have many great friends in Sierra Madre that want me to keep this project moving forward.
Besides, as far as this blog goes, I can pretty much do as I wish. The only time I listen to critics is when I want to find out which opposite way I should go.
I think that in time The Sierra Madre Tattler will start to take on a more regional perspective. Living 20 miles down the valley from where I am typing this now will likely do that. But the change will be gradual, and I don't plan on forcing anything.
Also, this blog has become something of a brand, with a readership that is hardly limited to Sierra Madre alone. 2.3 million hits and 103,000 reader comments are numbers indicating that there really is interest out there in what we are doing. Why stop now?
There is a lot going on in Sierra Madre today, and I believe it needs the kind of coverage this blog has always given the place. I know the town, and I know the material. Besides, this is the Internet after all. Who can tell where anything is actually coming from? And really, does it really matter all that much?
We might be moving down the road, but The Tattler is going to stay right here. I expect the transition to be seamless.