Thursday, June 26, 2014

MaryAnn MacGillivray's Tuesday Evening Address to the City Council on Moratoriums

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(Mod: As this community struggles to come to grips with the strategies available to us on the question of building and water moratoriums, it is helpful to turn to someone whose experience rings true on these matters. Here is how we can start finding our way again.)

It is within your purview and authority to implement a building moratorium and a water service connection moratorium.

There is a precedent right here in our own city for a building moratorium. Such a moratorium was put into place regarding building and remodeling in the Canyon until the Canyon Zone Committee, then in process, was completed. Folks with projects in the world may not have liked it much, but they understood the need as a common good.

You do not have the necessary tool yet to make decisions regarding building developments whether it be lot splits, housing developments, building configurations or zoning because the General Plan update has not been approved and implemented. This is by no fault of the General Plan Steering Committee. They along with many volunteers did what they were asked to do, but an intended 18 month process somehow turned into 5 years, and it is still on the Strategic Plan as everyone can see.

Resources, particularly water, but not to the exclusion of police and fire, traffic, access and circulation, noise, open space, recreational facilities and wildlife considerations, also cannot support additional development.

The City will never meet the RHNA requirements imposed by SCAG unless those requirements are mandated to be met within the proposed development.

The time frame of a 2 year moratorium is more than ample to approve the plan as the people have articulated their vision of the community looking out 20 years. It is sufficient time to develop a Growth Management Ordinance encompassing the use and availability of resources including water. This ordinance would become a part of the General Plan just as the Hillside Ordinance and Canyon Zone Ordinance are.

SCAG will continue to assign RHNA numbers despite the fact that they have no data to support the fact that this housing is necessary as assigned. If you ask how many housing units have been built to satisfy RHNA numbers in the region - they can't tell you. I know because I have asked that question many times at the HCD meetings. The answer is they are not as concerned with outcomes as they are "process."

The General Plan is the ultimate trump card. It provides substantiation for our "built out" definition, our stewardship of the watershed above us and our use and availability of resources. It is the most important tool in the arsenal to keep Sierra Madre the way it is. Which is what each of you promised to do when you campaigned for office.

A building moratorium will facilitate the process of completing the General Plan as the people wrote it.

You need no better reason.

What - No Real Estate Tax Increases?

(Mod: During the Measure UUT imbroglio last April the point was made on this blog that rapidly rising home prices would greatly enhance the amount of money being pumped into City Hall through increased property taxes. UUT lovers snorted loudly with derision. Here is an example of why they were so wrong.)


http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

63 comments:

  1. MaryAnn is right about the Moratorium that was declared in the Canyon until the Canyon Zone Committee completed its process. Sierra Madre needs to go down a sustainable path. We've lived through droughts before. Somehow, we managed to not need that MWD connection all those years prior to when it was put in place. What changed? Well, additional development for one thing. It puts too much stress on our own water supply so that a severe drought like we have now bcomes an emergency. Mr. Inman said at the City Council meeting that even the MWD connection is not a sure thing. If the buidling spree we are on continues, that means that even a less severe drought in the future will knock us into another emergency because of the increased use from over-development. That is not a sustainable path for Sierra Madre. Furthermore, the MWD connection gives us water that is yellow, smelly and unfit to drink. And I don't think most climatologists believe that less severe droughts are the future for Southern California. If that is indeed the case, and you combine more servere droughts with continued overdevelopment, Sierra Madre will eventually be in a permanant state of emergency even without a severe drought. That kind of precarious future is not very comforting. It is simply irresponsible not to take care of the existing residents first given the current state of our water supply and what's in store for us in the future if we continue down the same path.

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    1. Well said, 6:37.
      I remember hearing a decade or more ago, that there were builders and developers in town (and a lawyer who associated with them) who had the goal of forcing Sierra Madre to be annexed to Pasadena or Arcadia - thus removing any brakes on development. At the time I thought it sounded nuts. Now I'm not so sure.

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    2. I agree completely with 6:37

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    3. Seriously? What changed? Global warming and the most severe drought in recorded history for California. We have no idea if this is going to get better.

      It's not a sustainable path because the environment has changed, and what was a problem about two decades out is now a problem we should have planned for 5 years ago. There are cities that already say undeveloped lots do not come with water rights, and they did that BEFORE they ran out of water.

      We are OUT of water. We are already overdeveloped. It's time to put a moratorium in place.

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    4. That's right 10:51. Global warming has changed things dramatically. It also means we have no room for error. Over-development only exacerbates the problem. There was an article in the Star News only a few days ago about a number of communities that were affected by algae in their MWD water caused by the warming temperatures. Mr. Inman said the MWD connection was not a sure thing because we are not an MWD customer. Evidently, before they allow their customers to have a shortage, they will cut off our water first. That's why we must put ourselves on a sustainable path. We can't do anything about the past but we can certainly plan for the future. If the future means continued drought conditions with occasional El Nino's, we need to be prepared.

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  2. There are too many moving parts right now not to have a building and water moratorium. You have the General Plan close to getting finalized which deals with our infrastructure and buildout potential, you have our current water emergency, and we have just hired an expensive consultant to study our water situation. Let's not make a bad situation worse. We need an immediate building and/or water moratoriium and continued conservation by the residents. Then, let's gather up the facts and make an intelligent and informed decision about what additional level of development is sustainable for Sierra Madre in terms of our water supply, infrastructure, personnel needs etc....

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  3. wow. four bathrooms. that's a lot of potential water. nice plants, too. is that astroturf?

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    1. The little creek bed that goes under that bump of a bridge is dry. Is there a drought?

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  4. Can someone please clarify how the RHNA requirements and SKAG fit into all this and what it means.

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    1. RHNA is an acronym for Regional Housing Needs Assessment. It is the amount of housing we are supposed to plan for, a concept cooked up by central planners in Sacramento to help deal with the vast new amounts of population California is expecting to see show up here some fine day. That and create place for the po' folk to live. State central planning having worked so well in the Soviet Union. SCAG, which is an acronym for Southern California Area Governments, is the government agency that actually cooks up these numbers. Believe it or not, the guy who runs it, a complete arse named Hasan Ikhrata, is actually a real living and breathing former Soviet planner. Obviously he has been made to feel right at home in today's California.

      While RHNA numbers are supposed to help the po' folk find homes in towns like ours where we don't love them as much as we should, and instead concern ourselves more with those who have actually earned their way here, it is really a fig leaf for Sacramento corruption. The whole RHNA concept is designed to help the development industries find places to build and make money. Especially in built out communities such as ours. All bought with the campaign cash bribes and favors lavished on our state legislature.

      California is vastly corrupt. Acronym nazism like SCAG and RHNA are an outgrowth of that. Oh, and it makes a lot of busy work for City Hall.

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    2. Thanks for clarifying that 7:13!

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    3. No problem. There are vast amounts of bizarre govt planning nonsense out there. You would not believe. Land use development is one of the few industries left in this state. The corruption is unbelievable.

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    4. Here is an interesting Tattler article on the amazing Hasan Ikhrata.
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2013/12/an-la-county-superior-court-judge-calls.html

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    5. One of the biggest frauds about RHNA is that what is built is never really for the poor. What happens is that units are built, there's a covenant that they will be for the poor, but that covenant is only good for a year. The year passes, and the unit is market value. Developers fight any longer covenants.

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    6. what happens if we just tell SCAG to take a hike and just ignore the organization?

      John Buchanan is a big supporter of SCAG who published once that it thinks SM should have a population center of 18,000 + in our quaint little town.

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  5. 6;37We have never had a a drought like this since the 50years I lived here

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    1. there's not a drought if you are a developer or own the laundromat in town

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  6. MacGillivray, like Crawford continuing to fight for the people of Sierra Madre!!!
    Thank you.

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  7. So let's see. MaryAnn wants to finish the General Plan and take care of unwanted housing demands that way. Mayor Harabeidan wants to impose Phase 3 water restrictions and fine residents for using more of the wet stuff than he thinks they should. Which solution sounds like the better one for you?

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    1. Harabedian's plan is that of a bratty lawyer

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  8. We all know the problem. We just need to try to understand the best solution for Sierra Madre. There's the Phase III, there's a water moratorum, a buildng moratorium. We need expert advice on the best path. The thing is we can always lift any of these options at any time. Maybe we shouldn't get bogged down in all the details. Just put them all in place, gather up the information we need and then make the best decision.

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    1. A stand alone water moratorium is Phase 3 water restrictions without fines and punishments for the residents. Why Harabedian thinks residents need to pay fines in order to restrict development in the midst of the worst drought in California history being the big question as far as I am concerned.

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    2. Works for me, 7:33

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    3. We have an emergency.
      We need all three.
      1. Phase Three will require more conservation. It will also stop new water meters. The council can decide whether or not to impose fines.
      2. The Water Ordinance will have more teeth in it. It continue to be in place until our water supply is refurbished. This may take several years.
      3. The Building Moratorium is needed so the General Plan and EIR can be completed.
      The City needs to stop and catch its breath. Once plans are developed for our resources and infrastructure, everyone will be under the same set of rules.

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  9. While I wish MaryAnn were on the Council right now, we have to appreciate her being willing to give her best advice and recommendations based on her vast experience. With people like MaryAnn, we can make the right decision. These issues are too important to get it wrong.

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  10. MaryAnn is just brilliant.

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  11. One of the things I appreciate most about MaryAnn is her ability to get to the heart of the matter in a few words:
    "It is within your purview and authority to implement a building moratorium and a water service connection moratorium."
    So, council, take action on it!

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    1. But don't the residents need to be punished for using water that the developers need?

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    2. Absolutely..We live within an oligarchy where opportunistic Vassals serve their Masters in undermining their fellow Vassals for a price.

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    3. Mary Ann speaks honestly and to the point! The City speaks with forked tongues!

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    4. "Brevity is the soul of wit".

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  12. Well said 8:35.
    We have an emergency.
    We need all three.

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    1. Talk or write to all of the council members. They are there to represent YOU and your wishes.

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  13. Please be careful about bundling all 3 parts together. The Phase 3 fines and restrictions are an attempt to get the bundle of all 3 actions rejected by the residents.
    To solve this mess we need as much support as possible -so begin with a Building/water meter moratorium .Work onward from there as necessary.
    While P3 may be necessary ,it is a trap by the pro-development crowd to sink our Moratorium effort. And reading the comments here they may have managed to get us to divide the town and ruin our valiant Moratorium effort. Clever !

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    1. I agree. The 3 dudes could have done the right thing, or at least been honest. Instead they chose to do this. Not a great day for Sierra Madre. Or anybody for that matter.

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    2. Phase 3 is a problem for a lot of reasons, but most alarming is the fact that Mayor Johnny was selling it like a telemarketer hawks Oxi-Clean. He kept repeating his big catch-phrase: 'no more water hook-ups'. But Phase 3 isn't the only way to stop new water hook-ups. And sadly there's no reason to believe that the Mayor and some others on the Council have the town's best interests at heart.

      Phase 3 puts the burden on current residents. Far better to start with building and water meter moratoriums. Predatory developers are the clear and present danger. Not residents.

      By contrast, Mrs. MacGillivray's presentation was reasoned and clear. She inspires far more trust than the Ding King up there on the dais.

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    3. Phase 3 will go a long way in justifying a building moratorium. Remember, when MaryAnn and John Capoccia went to SCAG and argued against our housing numbers, SCAG denied our request because we hadn't even gone to phase 3 yet to justify a water shortage. So, yes we need to have phase 3 as well as a building moratorium.

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    4. How about implementing all three but remove the penalties from Phase III for a period of time to give the residents a chance to adjust. Everyone should feel the pain - not just the existing residents. I don't want to tighten my belt and incur penalties to make more water available for more housing projects and development and for future residents. Make sure the existing residents are taken care of first.

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    5. I agree. Fining residents after two successive overall rate hikes and all the other crap they have been put through is beyond out of touch. It smacks of arrogance.

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    6. To 12:57--We don't have to 'justify' bullcrap. There's nothing magical about Phase 3--unless the Three Development Stooges can use it to hoodwink residents. Phase 3 is a political trick. SCAG is a toothless boogeyman. First we need the building and water hookup moratoriums. Then, we'll see. No more dancing on the string of political scam artists. Residents need to call the tune now.

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  14. I want my good water back.I walk through town daily some folks have sprinklers on and water all day,mostly the same people.We need phase 3 restrictions and more enforcement. What ever happened to the "enforcement lady?" I now would appreciate her much more than I used to. Lawns and Avocado trees have no place in a dessert or desert!

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    1. Yes, but linking water restrictions of the kind you speak of and a moratorium on new water hook ups for development are two very different issues. It is unfortunate certain members of the city council seem to be going down that path. It will only create division and bad feelings in town.

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    2. 10:08 is correct. It was a very cynical thing to do.

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    3. You won't get your good water back until the basin water level is up which means probably 5 years and a couple of really good rain years. In the meantime, we all need to do our part and conserve the water we do get, yucky or not. I tore up my lawns 4 years ago when the City asked us to conserve, stopped flushing every time, and save my heat-up shower water. But, I'm not giving up my avocado tree, period.

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    4. We have a water emergency that will only get worse whether we have an El Nino or not. Everyone will have to share in the pain - the existing residents with the Phase III Water Use Restrictions and perhaps penalties at some point and the developers with the water meter and building moratoriiums. We all will feel the pain. I know one thing, I sure as hell will not save water to replenish our wells so that developers can then waltz in and take adavantage of my belt tightening.

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    5. I think if you try to fine people over water that has turned yellow you will have an uprising in this town.

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    6. 10:08 states " Yes, but linking water restrictions of the kind you speak of and a moratorium on new water hook ups for development are two very different issues"
      I don't recall anyone stating as the council meeting the 3 items are in any way "linked"?
      Is it 3 issues 3 separate votes?

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    7. You need to go to the city website and look up Phase 3 water restrictions. That is what is being discussed here. After you have looked this information up please come back and apologize for being kinda dumb.

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  15. Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.
    Andy Grove

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  16. An additional 7k from this sale in tax revenue against a million dollar projected shortfall. It's chipping away at it, but it still seems like crazy math that the new revenue will come anywhere close to replacing the old.

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    1. 10:52, increased property tax is EVERY YEAR, duh. Plus 0-2% increase to boot.

      At my house, when our income is flat, we don't spend more money. The increased City spending can be attributed primarily to increased wages, pension costs and gold-plated medical plans.

      When property tax revenues are increasing 2% a year (even if NO properties turn over), that's increasing income, EVERY YEAR.

      60+ properties have turned over in the last 6 months, an average of 10-11 per month.
      To call it "crazy math" sounds like the teenager who say his allowance (just increased) still isn't enough.

      It's not the city's money, d*mn it. It's the taxpayers.

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  17. Here's the issue that is really concerning me:

    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20140313/arcadia-sierra-madre-in-water-fight-over-raymond-basin-boundaries

    Two wells, at a cost of 2.8 million were built in 2001 and 2007 within the zone that a court adjucated only we can access. We have 4 wells total, and if I am correct, all of them are located over by the baseball fields on the eastern border of our water rights area, which is very close to where Arcadia's wells are located.

    Now we are importing water from Arcadia. At more expense. And water that is subpar. We've spent millions on treatment plants to deal with the idiosyncracies of our water, water we can no longer access because our wells are dry.

    Both Pasadena and Arcadia draw on this aquifer. It has been a historic fight in the past about how much to draw out per year. If you google Pasadena, you'll see they have, within the last decade, complained that they weren't drawing out to the limits of their rights and therefore were "losing money."

    Now, I don't want to start a war with Pasadena and Arcadia. Arcadia has spent big money on the shared resource that is the Santa Anita Dam, getting it rehabbed so that we can all enjoy more water input into the Raymond basin (that is, if we should ever see this thing called "rain" again.).

    But we AL need to protect this resource. It can't be Sierra Madre by itself figuring out a solution. And if Arcadia's illegally sited wells mean that ours run dry during a drought, that issue needs to be resolved. If our wells get to a certain critical level, they should be required to take them offline. Or some other type of solution.

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    1. Sierra Madre won that, by the way.

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  18. Interesting 11:11!

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  19. QUESTIONS FOR THE CITY HALL IDIOTS?

    1) When is City hall going to "Fix" the water quality flowing from the horizontal wells? that's free water - there is no electric pumping costs?
    Why has city hall failed to conserve that water and repair the horizontal wells?

    2) Arcadia has water to pump!
    When is Sierra Madre City Hall going to deepen our water wells?
    or at least drill a new well on Orange Grove & Baldwin Ave - across the street from Arcadia's well which produces water?

    3) When is Sierra Madre City Hall going to Quit Commingling Water & Sewer Money deposited in the city halls General Fund ?
    General fund Monies can buy toilet paper, the Water Enter prize is illegally buying toilet paper? why?
    "The Water & Sewer Enterprise Must have there own Checking Account and yearly audit"

    4) Why does Sierra Madre residence have to pay more for water and conserve water, when the same water is being pumped and sold from the same reservoir to Arcadia residents at the same old prices?

    It should not take a Rocket Scientist to answer these few questions!

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    1. As explained before, 1) Sierra Madre is not comingling the water monies into the general reserve. Sierra Madre has its own water company which operates separately from the city. 2) Sierra Madre can't deepen our wells, they are at bedrock. 3) Sierra Madre as well as Arcadia is allocated a certain amount of water to be taken from the basin. 4) Sierra Madre has its own water company and therefore needs to run it as a business. Therefore, it costs more money to run the business than Arcadia. Sierra Madre is paying more for the water, since we are buying it from the MWD. It apparently takes a rocket scientist to understand the answers considering these questions have been answered several times before.

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    2. With almost $20 million in bond debt, much of it due to making interest only payments, the assertion that the Sierra Madre Water Company is being run like a business is a bit of a stretch. Too bad they didn't bother to do the business-like thing and reinvest some of their money in things like pipes. Then the water wouldn't be multi-colored and even turning toxic.

      Oh yes, and bedrock. Nooooooobody can ever drill through that. Except in those places where the folks have the expertise, talent and wisdom to do so.

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    3. We may strike oil if we drill through the bedrock! As"The Beverly Hillbillies" and we can load up the truck and all move to Malibu...

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    4. The water company has been informed by consultants that if it drills through bedrock the spirits of the damned will be freed from the fiery furnaces of Hell.

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    5. 3:38 - the pod people live beneath the bedrock. That is why we can't drill for water there.

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  20. Do as Clem Bartoli and MaryAnn, both former mayors suggested. Put everything on hold until the new general plan is approved. It's pretty simple.

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    1. Please be advised....
      1) the general plan has nothing to do with Arcadia Residents ....
      a) pumping and using unlimited water supplies belonging to Sierra Madre residents,
      b) having no water us age restrictions as to Arcadia residents water us age,
      c) the Arcadia residents failed to have 60% water rate increases,
      d) the Arcadia city hall failed to receive "Free Water" and charge Arcadia residents 160% water rate increase?
      2) Is the city of Arcadia Commingling Water & Sewer Income Monies? Who Cares?

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    2. I can see some one is not happy!
      Please let me help clarify your statements!


      1) Sierra Madre's general plan has nothing to do with Arcadia Residents ....

      2) Arcadia over pumping and using unlimited water supplies effects Sierra Madre residents,
      a) Arcadia residents have no water us age restrictions,
      b) Arcadia residents pay for Arcadia / Sierra Madre (common reservoir water) at old water pricing,
      c) Arcadia residents have had No water rate price increases!

      3) FACT -
      a) effective Jan 2014.... Present
      Sierra Madre city hall "receives Free Water from MWD,

      QUESTION -
      a) WHY is Sierra Madre City Hall fleecing residents by charging water rate increases in excess of 160%?

      4) Is the city of Arcadia Commingling Water & Sewer Income Monies? Who Cares?

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