Much to my enduring amazement an obviously agitated Mayor Harabedian came rushing into my presence. This being a surprise since usually the guy just ignores me, preferring instead to spend his precious Council Chambers recesses talking to people who share his opinions about the special qualities of This Year's Mayor (TYM). Which is just fine with me. I personally enjoy the quiet. There is so little most people have to say that improves upon it.
However, Mayor Harabedian appeared to have a special concern last night. He apparently needed to know what I was going to write on this blog this morning about his solution to the demand of the many residents present for a building (or is that a water) moratorium. That being favoring Phase III Water Restrictions over a water moratorium. This was surprising since in the past he had expressed the opinion that nobody reads The Tattler. Himself included.
What I told him is that I believe he is merely playing politics with this issue. Phase III Water Use Restrictions are going to be extraordinarily unpopular in this town. They call for additional 30% per property water use reductions on top of those already made, and back that up with stiff fines.
Which, in my humble opinion, is tantamount to yet another water rate increase. Phase III fines, added to the nearly 100% in increases from the last two water rate imbroglios, being a bit excessive. Even for Sierra Madre.
Also, why is it that the first reaction of City Hall is to call upon the residents to make even more sacrifices than they already have? Is the City angry at us because our opposition to three big McMansion developments could possibly cost them millions of dollars in Development Impact Fees? Is this getting in the way of the $36,000 Cadillac health plan benefits they seem to favor?
There is a lot of energy in Sierra Madre right now over McMansion development. Nobody wants to see Sierra Madre sold out like that. Especially when the sole consideration downtown is how much money City Hall will make off of the applicable development impact fees when these 6,000 square foot multi-million dollar nightmares are built.
My take here is that Harabedian, along with The Great Tax Fighter and the hopeless Gene Goss, are all puppy perky over Phase III Water Use Restrictions for the very worst of reasons. Their politically driven hope here being that the people of Sierra Madre will quickly grow tired of both the fines and demanded sacrifices, throw up their hands and decide that even McMansion development would be preferable to having to endure much more of getting phased.
A nice way to kill a movement. At least in their eyes.
Just so you know, a Water Moratorium, which would halt the installation of new water hook ups, doesn't include hitting the townies up for significant fines and punishments when they don't comply with draconian 30% use reductions. In other words, you will not be the one called upon to make all the sacrifices. The whack on the snout with a rolled up newspaper will instead land someplace else.
If you think about it, it is as if you are being punished for opening your mouth about over-development. Or using too much water so development can't happen. Or perhaps even for failing to pass Measure UUT. Something that is so very City Hall these days. Blaming the residents being preferable there to being blamed themselves.
And does a water moratorium really have anything to do with fining residents for not reducing their water consumption by 30%? How do you logically make a connection like that?
My unsolicited advice for Mayor Harabedian? Two points.
1) Serve the people.
2) Always tell the complete truth.
Claiming that Phase III Water Use Restrictions are the solution to Sierra Madre's problems helps accomplish neither of those goals.
It is nice that there would be no more water hook-ups. Make no mistake. But why undo the good in that by then beating up the residents and ratepayers of this town? Haven't they suffered enough with two successive rate increases in just the last few years, while now also having to endure water the color of old false teeth? Now you want to fine them as well?
- The black suited lawyer for the One Carter developer strutted up to the podium last night and tried his very best to be scary. An effect that was probably lost when the room burst out into laughter more than once. However, the last laugh was probably his. Phase III Water Use Restrictions would be music to his ears. One Carter already has water hook-ups. Suddenly the property there is worth a lot more. Rumor has it he and Adele danced the night away.
- Mayor Harabedian, perhaps fearful that he might not be thought well of, discussed how the previous City Council had carefully considered water hook up moratoriums. Yet none of the knowledgeable City Council watchers that I spoke with after the meeting could remember such a conversation ever happening. Do you?
- Is it just me, or did Terri Highsmith make a 180 degree turnaround last night? Go back and reread her staff report on building moratoriums, and then compare it with what she said at this City Council confab about a Water Moratorium. We've either gotten to her or she caught Phase III mania just as (umm…) spontaneously as those three Councilmen.
- The residents of Sierra Madre made a great showing last night, and deserved much better from their City Council. They will now need to come back and do it all over again. Hopefully that will help our elected officials get this right.