|Why Sierra Madre remains great|
Let's look at this another way. The last remaining unbuilt areas in Sierra Madre are One Carter, Mater Dolorosa and Stonehouse. That is pretty much all we have left. The threatened McMansion developments being planned for these three places are now being pushed through by City Hall as fast as their little minds can take them. To the city your birthright as a Sierra Madrean is little more than an easy way to fund things like $36,000 a year health care plans.
To you as a resident of this town these places are likely a part of a sacred trust. To them it is just something else to sell out on so that they can retire at 50 and get as far away from this place as possible.
City Hall might be living off of your taxpayer dime, but that hardly means they care a whole lot about what you believe is important. And you are not being dealt with fairly because the city isn't concerned about anything that doesn't favor their interests. Somehow the employee became the boss, and the obligation to produce is now on you.
There are four stupid City Hall tricks that have been put into place downtown for tomorrow's City Council meeting. I thought we should take a minute to talk about them. The city does not intend to play fair on the issue of a moratorium on development here, and they are doing everything they can to put a stop to it.
Here is how:
1) The Mayor does not care to hear from you: You would think that a city claiming to be as dedicated to transparency and citizen involvement as this one would welcome residents hoping to speak out on an issue of importance with wide open arms. Yet you can see by the City Council Meeting Agenda I have posted below, the Mayor has scheduled the discussion on a development moratorium to almost dead last. Counting the Consent Calendar there are 13 items ahead of the moratorium discussion. This was done intentionally. The idea being that after listening to these far less consequential matters for a couple of hours people will grow discouraged and leave.
2) A Councilmember will be absent: One of our newly elected City Councilmembers, Rachelle Arizmendi, who is as dedicated to the right of Sierra Madre's residents to be heard on the matter of development and the water crisis as anyone, has a family obligation. This is a longstanding commitment, and something the Mayor and City Manager have known about ever since Rachelle was first elected to the City Council last April. Rachelle is a likely vote for a development moratorium due to both the water crisis and the fact that the General Plan is not complete. Not complete largely due to unhelpful roadblocks being put into place by City Staff. Yet this is the night the Mayor has now picked to discuss the development moratorium. Try and guess why.
3) Building Moratorium vs. Water Moratorium: A reader who knew something posted this observation yesterday: "You are being told what you CAN'T DO by the City, but of course they are lying to you by omission because you aren't being told what you CAN DO." What the commenter was talking about is the staff report on a development moratorium put together by City Attorney Teresa Highsmith (link). In that report Ms. Highsmith informed us that any building moratorium would by law have a limit of two years. Which is true. Yet the City of Cambria had a moratorium in place for more than a decade, starting in 2001. So how can that be? Easy. Cambria's moratorium is a water moratorium, not a building moratorium. Somehow the City Attorney neglected to highlight that possibility quite as thoroughly in her staff report. A lie by omission? You tell me.
4) The EENER dodge: While the city is doing what it can to discourage you from speaking your mind at tomorrow night's City Council meeting, there is a place where they would prefer that you go. And that is the EENER Commission meeting taking place at City Hall on July 16. They really do want people to show up there instead to talk about the City's water woes. Now there are people on the EENER squad that I respect. Caroline Brown for one. But by and large you could go to Arnold's Hardware and talk to the fine collection of shiny new doorknobs on sale there and get more out of it. You also need to ask yourself this. This EENER meeting on July 16 has been lavishly publicized in articles printed in the Pasadena Star News, Sierra Madre Weekly and the Looney Views News. Yet not a single one of those publications wrote anything about the development moratorium being discussed at tomorrow night's City Council meeting. So why heavily hype a relatively minor meeting not taking place until the middle of next month while at the same time ignoring one of the biggest issues to come down in Sierra Madre since last April's election? I suspect you know.
Here is the agenda for tomorrow night's City Council meeting.
I'll see you at City Hall tomorrow night. 6:30pm is the time. Remember, there is also an open public comment opportunity at the beginning of this meeting as well. As good a time as any to discuss the unfortunate order of this meeting agenda. Don't let stupid City Hall tricks discourage you from being heard. You are smarter and tougher than that.