|Not immediate enough, Mr. McDonald?|
In case you are not in on the joke, this unique specimen of a newspaper is our City's adjudicated weekly, and remains so pretty much by default since there is no other paper in town. To be an adjudicated publication in Sierra Madre, or any city in the once Golden State for that matter, you have to prove that your rag is actually a registered business in the town it serves. And only then can you be the paid carrier of the city's legal tidings.
Of course, putting such notices on the city's website could be done for free, but Sacramento's lobby bought adjudication laws state that in order for a legal notice to be truly legal, dead trees must be involved. So we're stuck paying "The Looney."
Since the LVN is the only fishwrapper we have, it therefore receives thousands of dollars in taxpayer money yearly to run our city's legal notices. In exchange for that generosity we got Naked Noah's candidacy for City Council, strange and irrational support for the last two failed UUT increase ballot measures, a disturbing Paul Tanaka endorsement, and a weird assurance from Harriet Susan Poole Carter Henderson herself that McMansions will be built at Mater Dolorosa. No matter what the residents of this town might have to say.
California state law at work, and yet one more instance where your tax money could be used for more rational purposes. You know, rather than things like enabling Susan's delusions of political relevance. That is, if we were actually permitted to do so.
But I digress. Here is what City Manager Elaine Aguilar states will be included as advertising in the Looney Views News this weekend. You can get this information here at no charge to the taxpayer.
WATER EMERGENCY - PUBLIC HEARING NOTICES TO NEWSPAPER
Attached are the three public hearing notices that will be appearing in Saturday’s newspaper. The City’s legally adjudicated newspaper is the Mountain Views News. The notices pertain to the three water emergency actions that the City Council requested at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.
- Resolution Implementing Phase III Water Conservation
- Urgency Ordinance Declaring the Existence of a Water Shortage Emergency and Imposing a Moratorium on the Issuance of New or Additional Water Service Connections in any Zoning District in the City
- Urgency Ordinance Establishing an Interim Moratorium Ordinance Pursuant to Government Code Section 65858 on the Issuance of all Building Permits and/or Granting of Discretionary Approvals for Construction of New Development Requiring New Water Service Connections
This will probably leave some with the impression that all three of these items will be carefully weighed at the next City Council meeting, which is scheduled to take place on July 8. However, as those who watched the most recent City Council meeting know, only the Phase III so-called "Water Conservation" measure stands much of a chance of being enacted.
Despite the lack of a public hearing having been conducted on any of these three options, both Mayor John Harabedian and Councilman Gene Goss have already let it be known that they will likely not vote for either of the two true building moratoriums, and instead prefer something that involves hitting the residents with stiff fines should they not decrease their current water usage by 30%.
Can this be a kind of punishment? One being levied by City Hall because of the widespread preservationist opposition to three McMansion developments in town? Development that certainly could prove highly profitable to certain downtown government interests, such as city employee unions? Stranger things have happened here. California leading $36,000 a year City Hall health plans for instance.
When you consider that the residents of Sierra Madre have been forced by City Hall to endure two water rate increases in four or so years, along with infrastructure so badly neglected and decayed that it turns imported SGVWMD water into various unhealthful colors, you'd think levying any further costs would be in bad taste. So to speak. But such self-awareness seems alien to Harabedian and Goss, and neither apparently has any problem hitting you with what would be a de facto third water rate increase, and in a short period of time.
The Pasadena Star News article is called "Sierra Madre considering stricter measures in face of continued California drought," and was written by Zen Vuong. There are a few quite interesting moments, and I thought I should point them out. If you wish to read the entire thing (and you should), you can do so by clicking here.
Richard McDonald, attorney for the developer of Sierra Madre’s Stonehouse lots, said it would be unfounded for the Council to vote in favor of a building moratorium and characterized the move as draconian.
“You have a number of people in the audience who are anti-development, who want to use a building moratorium to stop development,” he said. “As the city attorney told you in the beginning, you can only impose a moratorium if there is a current and immediate threat. And when your district manager is telling you you’ve got two years of water and a contract with MWD to provide you with any more that you need, and there’s no evidence of anything from MWD not providing you with what you need, then you don’t have a current and immediate threat.”
It seems extraordinary that Richard McDonald, attorney for the unidentified forces wanting to build McMansions at One Carter, believes that what is going on in Sierra Madre today is not an "immediate threat." If it isn't, then what would be? Bubonic plague? A small device nuclear war?
It is also rather myopic of Mr. McDonald to believe that this is all due to our having run out of the water we once used for all of our needs. The terrible condition of our badly neglected water infrastructure alone should be reason enough to shut down development for years. According to our newly hired water quality consultant, you might not even want to drink the stuff in a month or two due to nitrification or "blue baby syndrome."
That seems pretty current and immediate to me.
But whatever his reasons, a two year water availability window would seem to be enough time to build McMansions, sell them at a handsome profit, and then get out before the whole mess goes down in flames. And for him that apparently is business as usual.
What is comical here is McDonald then attempts to disparage concerned residents as being "anti-development." In his mind that being a very bad thing.
What these Sierra Madreans are actually trying to do is prevent the heartless exploitation of their hometown by outside big money interests, people who see a precarious two year water supply as reason enough to justify building a destructive hillside swathe of 5.5 bathroom jumbo McMansions.
I am not certain the attorney is aware, but sustainability really is a big issue in California these days. You are actually supposed to have what you use. And besides, wouldn't disclosure laws require the developer to discuss the absence of water with the potential purchasers of these elephantine "modern family" barns?
Then again, as a hire possibly representing expatriates of an at times hostile foreign economic power, chances are good that he doesn't give a damn what happens to Sierra Madre. McDonald is likely providing cover for folks who just want to exploit an asset, build their multi-million dollar McMansons, make a profit and then clear out. What happens afterwards being of absolutely no concern to any of them.
City Councilman Gene Goss said the public shouldn’t put water discoloration, water conservation and anti-development sentiment into the same box.
“We have to be very careful about trying to mix these issues just from a good, solid, clear public policy perspective,” he said. “I think it’s obvious that we the citizens have let the ball drop. We have not conserved enough water.”
Again we are witness to the myopia of an individual who doesn't seem to grasp the sustainability issue. And isn't that what this Phase III so-called water conservation thing does? Link development with water conservation?
Questioning the wisdom of widespread McMansion development during the worst drought since records began should not be treated as if it is an irrational or thoughtless act. In most communities this would be regarded as civic sanity. You don't pack in additional housing when the water supply is barely adequate for those living here already.
But what's even worse is blaming the residents for something that is not even their fault. After having endured two water rate hikes, and then water the color of old teeth, to then say they haven't been doing their part is, well, highly out of touch.
To demand that residents then cut their water use by an additional 30%, or face stiff fines for not being able to do so, seems almost unconscionable. But apparently that is the disconnect going on here.
Goss and Harabedian said Phase III would prevent new water hookups, which is also what a more highly regulated no building moratorium would do. Capoccia said he’s OK with just enacting Phase III as long as the Council self-imposes discipline that a building moratorium would have done.
It would be nice to think we have a city government that recognizes a lack of water as being a good reason to not go on a 6,000 square foot McMansion building boom. And that any effort to curb such a thing during an extreme environmental emergency need not be accompanied by sock it to the resident financial punishments.
But then again, we have a very strange city government.