|Chair Pendlebury & his courage cushion|
Of course, this was just a test meeting. An opportunity to air out such shimmering ideas without the developer having to worry about it being on that rather pricey City of Sierra Madre fee clock. A freebie as it were, just to see how this goes over with the locals. Which, of course, it didn't. And while no "on the record" decisions were made by the Planning Commissioners, most members did voice some misgivings and skepticism about allowing off the grid garages.
Look at it this way, if one Hillside Management Zone developer is allowed to go with the Garages Galore Plan, what is to stop the other HMZ developers from doing the same? It could open up some very unfortunate floodgates.
I suspect the enchantress Adele Chang would certainly want to add some off the grid garages to her creations as well. My guess is she would probably proclaim the idea to be absolutely brilliant.
Besides, the garages not counting for McMansion square footage thing, isn't that akin to certain folks enclosing their porches and claiming them as rooms? I certainly hope we all understand how that is not sound planning policy.
And even though garage square footage wouldn't be counted as part of a McMansion upon its conception, do you really think that when the time comes to sell that big slug of a house the owner won't sneak that extra square footage into his real estate prospectus? Despite what the developer's attorney might have said a decade or two previously?
Ah well. Another development LLC to mess around with. Unfortunately for our purposes here, much of what we heard last night probably won't come back before the Planning Commission. It just did not impress the target audience, that being those solemn souls up on the dais.
However, I am certain R. Stevie will be back with some new and exiting concepts that we will all be able to have some fun with as well. Especially when he tries to explain how 6,500 square foot McMansions are a way of showing your love for nature. He gets paid a lot of money for his fine ideas, so everyone should be prepared for some LULUs. Or "Locally Unwanted Land Usages." Just in case you are non-acronymic.
A Bad Night for Nancy Walsh
As was pointed out by one astute commenter last night, the Planning Commission just couldn't make the necessary findings for Nancy Walsh's Hart Park House storage room. As such they unceremoniously dumped the last remaining accomplishment of her single term in office. Alas.
A lot of folks stepped up to the public comment microphone last night and spoke out about how overdevelopment is threatening our community. I thought I would post two of those talks here. They need to be read and appreciated for what they are, impassioned statements in support of a way of life under siege by big money developers, people that want to cash out on our birthright, and run.
Good evening Mr. Chairman and members of the Planning Commission. As a 52 year resident of Sierra Madre and a three term member of the City Council, I have seen all of the development that has taken place. Some good and some not so good.
What I have seen recently is that there is development proposed that has the potential to ruin our small village. Remember that whatever is allowed always sets a precedent to influence development in the future. I realize that change is inevitable, but we have the opportunity to make worthwhile changes.
Every candidate for a position on the City Council, and as far back as I can remember, at one time or another said that they want to preserve the unique identity of Sierra Madre. I think that for the most part all of us as residents feel the same way.
Each of you as Commissioners have the opportunity to make Sierra Madre a better place. I ask that each of you be diligent in avoiding mistakes in approving development that will in effect ruin this community forever.
I’m here for two reasons. First, for an altruistic reason. I want to support my neighbors who are the most immediately affected by the Stonehouse project. I will let them talk about the details of how this project is going to have an adverse impact on their enjoyment of their homes as well as perhaps the value of their property.
The second reason I’m here is for a more selfish reason. I know that these kinds of projects don’t just affect my neighbors. They affect me and everyone else in the community. Whether its One Carter, or this project at Stonehouse or the massive housing project that will soon be coming to Mater Dolorosa, they all have a consequence for the community and that consequence is a cumulative one.
One project in and of itself may not break the camel’s back but as they start to add up whether it’s the big projects or a lot split or tearing down older homes to build much larger homes, eventually every resident will be affected.
I’m talking about increased traffic, congestion, pollution, then we start needing traffic lights and then when you go to Beantown to get a cup of coffee, you are having to put coins in a parking meter. And before you know it, you wake up and Sierra Madre is now indistinguishable from other over-developed cities.
Speaking for myself, I chose to live in this town because it is different from these other cities.
You also have the water shortage. Governor Brown declared a state of emergency. Sierra Madre’s own wells are dry and we are relying on what was supposed to be a temporary connection to the MWD. I have to ask why in the world are we going on a building spree when we know we have an acute water shortage. Yet here we are moving full-speed ahead with massive projects like The Kensington, One Carter, Stonehouse and soon over at Mater Dolorosa.
I would also be curious to know if there is any department at City Hall that says to the Director of Development Services that maybe in light of all this, we ought to slow down or maybe stop development all together until we solve this crisis. I’m not sure that the residents of Sierra Madre want to ration their water and pay higher water rates so that Sierra Madre can turn into Arcadia.
As nearby communities like Arcadia, South Pas, Pasadena and San Marino reach the limit of their build-out capacity, Sierra Madre will now be in the cross-hairs of the developers. That’s the reality of what we are facing.
I would like to ask the members of this planning commission to listen to the concerns of the neighbors here and even though it may not be in your backyard, understand that if this trend continues, soon it may be a house next door to you that’s going to be torn down and replaced by some massive house that’s not in keeping with the neighborhood or a housing project near you that’s going to turn your quiet street into a highway.
The only way to control and stop this is to have stringent building standards and even consider a building moratorium so that we can catch our breath and the community can have a dialogue about what they want their town to look like because, after all, it is our town and you folks are supposed to represent us and the folks over at city hall are supposed to work for us.