Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tonight's Planning Commission Meeting Will Deal With Stonehouse McMansions

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Oddly enough, tonight's Planning Commission meeting is not listed on the City of Sierra Madre website portal page as one of its upcoming "Latest City Events." I have posted a screen shot of this events calendar to the left, and it shows the next listed happening being "City Hall CLOSED." The all caps word apparently being added so that you people will make no mistake about it.

However, there really is a Planning Commission meeting tonight, and an agenda plus Development Services Department staff reports for this event can be found if you dig deeply enough. Happily we did manage to unearth them and can share some of what we found here. It is quite an important meeting as many of you are aware, one that we're hoping many of the residents concerned about preserving Sierra Madre as we have always known it will want to attend.

Building McMansions at Stonehouse, and as large as 6,000 square feet no less, being seen by many as not in line with what has best typified Sierra Madre for the last century or so. We are not, after all, Arcadia. Nor should we ever want to plan to become them.

The Planning Commission agenda shows this as being the final of three main events listed for tonight. Here is how the Stonehouse matter is described:

VI. DISCUSSION
STONEHOUSE RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISION – PRE-APPLICATION REVIEW 1935  Stonehouse Road Applicant: R. Steve Austin

The Planning Commission is hosting a Workshop/Neighborhood Meeting to discuss plans for a proposed 13 lot residential subdivision (13 new dwellings) at 1935 Stonehouse Road. A Settlement Proposal Plan originally proposed the creation of 19 lots (19 dwelling units), and the applicant anticipates proposing a revised plan of 13 lots (13 dwellings), including a revision to the maximum permissible gross floor areas. The City of Sierra Madre would like to receive input from neighbors and the community regarding the anticipated revised proposal. The purpose of the meeting is for preliminary discussions only. No action will be taken at this time. This meeting is strictly for information purposes only. Public input will also be taken at future meetings.

As you can see, and despite the lack of the usual noticing on the City's website, you are invited to attend the meeting and share your opinions on this matter. Preliminary discussion or not. Coupled as it is with the similar One Carter and Mater Dolorosa proposed and possibly gated McMansion developments, you can see that this really is quite a game changer for this town.

Yesterday a commenter laid out what is at stake tonight. Here is what was said.

Tomorrow night at the Planning Commission the Stonehouse developers will introduce their plan for 13 new houses. The change they are asking for from the settlement agreement is that they want garages not to be counted in the total square feet of the houses - meaning the houses can be bigger than agreed to in the settlement agreement.

Some of the houses are required to have 3 or 4 car garages, so that's a lot of room. How big does the community want those houses to be?

This is just an informational meeting - ya know, community workshop and all that - so no decisions will be made. But it's a good time to chime in by attending or emailing or calling - the size they are suggesting exceeds the agreed upon limit.

Here is how that move is broken down in the Staff Report (link):


There is also this. If the developer plans on reducing the amount of McMansions to be built at Stonehouse from 19 to 13, does that necessarily mean the remaining ones should be allowed to be even larger than already planned?

My guess is that the developer, R."Stevie" Austin, knows that his somewhat slick moves here are a potential deal breaker, and he wants to test the waters and see what he can get away with.

How the developer might have gotten that impression is problematic. After all, one of the City's prime duties in this case would be to enforce existing agreements and laws. They could have just said no.

Right?

I guess that job now falls upon us. The meeting begins at 7PM.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

80 comments:

  1. That's a lot of water we don't have.

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    Replies
    1. and for residents who don't live here yet

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  2. City Hall is a bit too preoccupied these days to keep the website up to date. They have not posted the final election results from last April 8 on the City of Sierra Madre website, either.

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    1. Elaine will hire another consuatant to attend to the website, city employes are over worked and can't do it.

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    2. At least they've managed to keep track of their days off.

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    3. Homes over 6,000 square feet are pretty darn large. Is this what we have to look foward to?

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    4. The developer is going to try to push the envelope in countless ways. If he doesn't meet resistance, he will keep pushing and expanding and making it larger. The community neds to push back.

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    5. The city has posted the Mt. Wilson Trail Race. I thought they didn't post non-city sponsored events.

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    6. Good point. That was the reason given for not posting the Wistaria Festival.

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  3. Okay, Tattlers, I expect someone besides the usual few people to show up. Actually, tonight is crucial, because Civic Club members will be at their Installation Dinner. Put your effort into actually DOING something, instead of complaining on the Tattler the next day.

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  4. here is my question. Why didn't the Development Services people say no to these rather obvious tactics? Why did they just pass it on to the Planning Commission? Aren't they supposed to weed out the ridiculous stuff this developer is pushing?

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    Replies
    1. Development Services exists to service developers.

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    2. that is an unnecssary position in SM

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    3. Vanity government.

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    4. Its all part of being a full service city.

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  5. I think the reason this Planning Commission meeting is not posted on the city's website is because they don't want people to know about it.

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  6. As to the Stonehouse development project. Who are they targeting? If it is the Chinese they better hope they do not find out about the murder attempt and the suicide that happened April 3rd 1961 in the very Stonehouse itself. A woman was shot in the eye and blinded and her husband then shot and killed himself. Most people don't want to live in that house.

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    Replies
    1. and every winter you can hear the woman wailing in the wind

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    2. Can Feng Shui fix this?

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    3. I hope the "they" you are referring to are developers and investors. If you are referring to a race or culture you are by definition a bigot.Not all "the Chinese" are afraid of ghosts and want mansions.
      And yes I have heard the cries in the night also!

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    4. When we shipped off all our manufacturing jobs to China, we also bought a lot of merchandise back from China. So now we have a case of our loss of jobs and income, coming back to us in the form of impressive wealth. Kind of our money coming back to us and biting us in the ass...again!
      Has nothing to do with bigotry. Washingtonians and Oregonians were real pissed off at the California wealth coming into their towns as well.
      The key is, as a newcomer, to be respectful of what you are moving into. However, this new wave seems to know nothing of respect. And the greedy developers and real estate bloodsuckers don't care to explain. If you look at Arcadia below Orange Grove, you'll know pretty quick who they are.
      Money is power, and we live in a time where very few will have most of the money. The rest of us can continue watching Fox. News or Msnbc, and fighting each other...checkmate!
      I love Sierra Madre, have lived here almost 50 years. It's going to take one hell of a fight...

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    5. Love your comment Rock Lady. Right on the money!

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  7. Hey, if you agreed with the proposals from "A Draft Guideline for Community Preservation" then show up in large numbers tonight for the Planning Commission meeting and get involved in preserving this town. Don't expect somebody else to do it for you. We all need to help.

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  8. Some years ago, before changing the name from Planning and/or Building Department to the Development Services Department we had a building inspector, Steve Pock, and an assistant, Sally Ann Mallen, who would tell would-be builders/developers simply: that will never be approved here (meaning ‘by the Planning Commission’).

    That saved the citizens and the builders and the developers a lot of time, trouble and headache.

    That all went away under Bart Doyle. The City Council “decided” they wanted a Development Services Department. City Councilmember, Kris Miller-Fisher found this out when she was at a function on the west side where she met Ann MacIntosh who said she had been hired by the city to help get rid of Sally Ann. There was a big push to get rid of Steve Pock, too.

    Ever since, the citizens have been put through the development ringer and hung out to dry as we cycle our way through these professionally trained planners who have no idea how to function in Sierra Madre with what the citizens want.

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  9. The Poet Don'tknoweateMay 15, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    First came the ALF,
    Now I'm gonna ralph,
    As the new reign of terror begins.

    Try as we may,
    Much to our dismay,
    The march to develop won't bend..

    They have the money,
    It isn't funny
    How easily temptation wins.

    Fresh out of the diaper,
    The mayor needs a wiper,
    And you're elected my friends.

    Backs to the wall,
    You'll fight city hall,
    Like Daniel in the lion's den.

    Don't be alarmed,
    You'll not be harmed
    Only those who choose to pretend

    Will be offered up.
    Enough is enough,
    Of this McMansion trend.

    Either the council compliath
    Remember David slew Goliath
    Your political ambitions will end



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  10. If there are fewer homes at Stonehouse, there would be less water consumption and less traffic. But on the other hand, that would mean less property tax revenue for the city every year, and less development impact fees.

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    1. 6 less houses = > $250,000 in lost development impact fees. Half of which is legally required to go to improving water infrastructure.

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    2. We don't need any $$ for water infrastructure, do we?

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    3. It's mostly going for raises, pensions and $30K health benefit plans anyway. They just mention things like pipes and sidewalks once in a while to baffle the less swift among us. You know, Noah Green voters.

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    4. They're not $30,000 health plans, they're $36,000 health plans.

      OR $3,000/mo. health plans. THAT is a LOT!! of freaking money.

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    5. What do you get for a $36,000 a year health plan? Medivac for a papercut?

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    6. House calls.

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  11. The Planning Commission meeting has now been added to the city's menu of daily events ... nobody reads The Tattler.

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    Replies
    1. That explains the 2.3 million hits.

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  12. Can't go to the planning commission tonight but hope someone pays attention to lot #5 which will definitely tower over the next door neighbors back yard, Also, no expansion of floor space on any of the lots. Also need to mention that there has to be some sort of condition that lots 11, 12, 13 would not be further subdivided - ever. What we have now would be a family compound which might not be too bad, but to put further homes on that portion should not be permitted.

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  13. that's so odd. i wonder why this information about meetings is so hard to find.

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    Replies
    1. If they put paid notices on The Tattler then people would know.

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    2. Protect Private Property RightsMay 15, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      @ 12:31 - This is nothing new. Sierra Madre City Hall has always played games like this with noticing the public.

      The previous city manager mismanaged Carter 1 so poorly you and I will be paying the $1MM + in legal fees for their shenanigans for a very long time. Hopefully the city AND RESIDENTS will act more responsibly this time. The fact remains, this is PRIVATE PROPERTY. It is not YOUR property, and whether you like it or not, there will be development.

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    3. So you are saying that those folks with their property have greater rights in Sierra Madre than I do with my property?

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    4. PPPR (3:09) needs some ice cream. The heat is making him/her grouchy.

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    5. Property owners have no rights when it comes to other property owners having rights.

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    6. Protect Property RightsMay 15, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      4:14 - The only ice cream I am thinking about is the kind with nuts, like some of you who post here acting like you can dictate other people's property rights. For those of you who have lived here for many decades, like me, I happily say, "Good riddance" to these eyesores in town. The upside, is that it will actually increase your property values. There are many, many homes here in the flats and in the hillsides that have over 4000 square feet.

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    7. Propitty Wronger - According to Redfin Sierra Madre is one of the 5 hottest real estate markets in LA County. This is because the people of this town control community planning and keep it out of the furry hands of wild jackasses like you.

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  14. September In MayMay 15, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Hot enough for ya?

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    1. We can be cold as the falling
      Thermometer in December if you ask about our weather in July.

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    2. So what the heck!
      You're welcome!
      Glad to have you with us!
      Even though we may not ever mention it again!

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    3. How hot is it?

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    4. Its so hot when I rode by Boot Hill all I saw were open-toed shoes.

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  15. Years ago there was a 4 lot split request on a hillside parcel. The Planning Commission said the plan was incomplete and sent them away for a do over. The developer said they didn't want to spend the money on all the pre-planning, said it was too costly with the real expectation that the project might not be approved anyway. Their last hurrah was to then ask for only 3 lots--see we are really being reasonable, only 3 lots, not four lots...! but they went away and the Mountain Conservancy bought the 20 acres for open space.

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  16. http://www.wysk.com/index/california/azuza/vtnl69k/ginkgo-stonehouse-ii-llc/profile

    Search around with this for awhile and you get to another different named LLC, housing development linked to these names that ceased to exist in 2005. Up for business, out of business, changed LLCs and who are we dealing with now.

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    1. Don't be lazy, pull up the staff report and all the information is there. When you read the staff report, you will have an intelligent question to ask when you go to the Planning Commission tonight.

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  17. Some great resident speeches tonight.

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  18. Go Clem Bartoli! Passionate and well prepared remarks on keeping Sierra Madre, Sierra Madre.

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    1. Always liked Clem. The speakers tonight were great. Our thanks to you.

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  19. Nice crowd here tonight at The Slough. Very impressive!

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  20. It sure makes a difference when people are in Council Chambers. Danny is stammering.

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  21. So the Planning Commission couldn't make the findings for the Nancy Walsh storage room. They just dumped her biggest "accomplishment" of her Council term. Karma? You be the judge.

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  22. With such a big topic as the Stonehouse development, it really should have been the only thing on the agenda.

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    1. It's a money topic for city staff. There is a payday in it for them. Big pensions, big benefits don't come cheap. So they did everything they could to bury it. Didn't even notice it on the city's webpage.

      Why do they still work here?

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  23. The McMansion Archipelago is now being pushed by the Director of Development.

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  24. Butter doesn't melt in the mouth of Danny Castro. The whole garage thing just got trashed by the Planning Commission, and then Danny says, "It is also important to note…"

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  25. So if this garage fraud passes anyone living in the HMZ can build all the garages they want, and with no city over site? What a horrible thing that would be.

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  26. The lawyer for the developer would like to thank city staff. Well, he should. They worked so hard for him.

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  27. Hey, the developer spokesman wants to make the Stonehouse thing more like Sierra Madre. Ok, start with 2,500 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes. That would do it.

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  28. Stone House LLC Attorney Hair Hat is reaching for an Adele Chang level of absurdity.

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  29. A tree screen! Right out of the Adele Chang playbook!

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  30. If one developer is allowed to go with the Garages Galore Plan (GGP), wouldn't that open the floodgates for all of the other developers in the HMZ to go with the Garages Galore Plan as well?

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  31. Garages not counting for square footage is akin to folks enclosing their covered porches.

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  32. I am so happy that helmet hair is going to follow all the HMZ rules.....like he has a choice?

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    Replies
    1. They're not building McMansions, they co-existing with nature!

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  33. Goofy rationale from the red helmet. The original development was really bad. Ours isn't going to be as bad as that.

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  34. Good point from MaryAnn. A building moratorium should be put into place until the General Plan is complete.

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  35. Councilmember Koerber's had brought before the council while he was still on it a discussion of whether the city should go to level three on water conservation which would have included a building moratorium, but it was decided by the council not to go to that level. I do think it was determined to review this decision again in six months. it would be nice to bring this to council again.

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    1. A late note I know, but Council Member Delmar requested Tuesday night that the building moratorium be brought back asap. She has really done her homework and found that what our Attorney stated at the meeting Koerber pushed for a moratorium was incorrect. It is a possibility to have a building moratorium based on lack of water.

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  36. why not ask the developer to place the unbuildable portion into conservancy?

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  37. Another night when the Planning Commission and the residents showed how smart and ethical they are.

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  38. Why not pave the HMZ and put up a parking lot...

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    1. Is that you Adele?

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    2. Yes its me and Joni Mitchell. We could do it in a French motif car park...

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