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We unfortunately live in a community where our tax money is often used as a resource to assist predatory out of town interests. Which means we are basically paying for work that promotes things nobody wants to see here, such as the despoliation of the beautiful grounds of this over 100 year old monastery. A Sierra Madre landmark by anyone's estimation, yet a place that sadly finds the outside forces of a heartless and imminent destruction clearly lining up against its survival. With only the people who actually live here defending it.
The Mountain Views News, which receives thousands of dollars a year in resident tax dollars to print legal advertising and city meeting notices, is now actively promoting development at Mater Dolorosa. Not what you wanted to be paying for perhaps. And certainly not a big surprise as Ms. Henderson stands to profit personally by such an undesirable event through increased real estate advertising.
In a moment that typifies the self-serving and heavy-handed nature of her publication, Susan has now, for all intents and purposes, declared the conversation over. This without public hearings, Planning Commission deliberations, or any of the many forums that allow the people of this community to have their say in the destiny of the town they call home.
In a front page above-the-fold de facto opinion piece that quotes verbatim and extensively from the developer's press release, and with absolutely no editorial counterpoint whatsoever, Mountain Views News chieftess H. Susan Henderson-Carter-Poole published the following statements. Since they are at best misleading, I thought we should yank a few out and put them under the bright Tattler lights.
"Heals of disclosure ..."
The truth here is that discussions with the community have not begun. Or even been officially planned for that matter. There have been private and unannounced City Hall meetings with the developer, the developer manqué who is currently running Mater Dolorosa's board, City Staff plus a few (but not all) individual City Councilmembers. But the community? No. That is hardly a realistic claim.
In reality, there have been no meetings whatsoever with the people who would be the most adversely affected by a massive building project at the top of Sunnyside Avenue. The noise of truck traffic, land movers and other noisy vehicles needed to build upwards of fifty (or is that 60, Danny?) houses there would be immense. The diesel smoke and dust alone would have a debilitating effect on the lungs of the many young children and retired seniors who would be directly in the path of so unfortunate an event.
Obviously Susan Henderson couldn't give a whizzle about any of that. I suspect her only interest here is economic, just like that of all the others involved. She is probably already counting the money from the new real estate advertising she expects to come her way in exchange for her generous support.
From the press release the MVN published nearly verbatim …
That Sierra Madre's residents have been excluded from this conversation from the get-go is unconscionable. That the Mountain Views News would continue in that undemocratic a vein is nothing short of taxpayer abuse.
What this Public Relations puff piece calls "get to know you meetings" with City Staff and some of our local politicians is actually something quite different. The first step to imposing an unwanted land use project of this magnitude upon a community is lining up the support of its leadership. City Hall, which needs the cash after its Measure UUT defeat (pensions and some of the highest costing health plans in the state being an impetus for that need), wants development impact fees desperately. Certain City Councilmembers, beholden to government unions for their political and financial support, need to fund the pensions and health care plans they signed off on.
Development impact fees are quickly becoming the new UUT. But instead of taxing your utility usage, this time it involves selling your birthright to developers from places like Santa Monica and Burbank.
Susan Henderson says Mater Dolorosa is a done deal …
The City of Sierra Madre is not quite the dictatorship that H. Susan Henderson-Carter-Poole apparently believes it is. And this discussion hasn't even really begun. That Susan believes her declaration this weekend means everyone is going to shut up about this is probably as delusional a statement as has ever been published in the Mountain Views News. Which is saying a lot. The actual effect of her incredible arrogance will, I suspect, be quite the opposite.
The Sierra Madre Weekly hits one out of the park
This from an e-mail blast sent out yesterday by the good folks at the Coalition to Preserve Mater Dolorosa:
Dear Supporters: One of the reporters following our story is Shel Segal of the Sierra Madre Weekly. After interviewing Cameron Thornton, he evidently was told that Mater Dolorosa has not selected a developer which is contrary to what was in the City Manager's Report which stated that New Urban West has been selected as the developer.
Furthermore, one of our Steering Committee members was told directly by Mr. Thornton two days ago that New Urban West is presently in their 45 day "free look" period which lasts through June 30th in order to decide whether they will go forward or not.
Here is the link to the recent Sierra Madre Weekly story that was just posted (click here).
Congratulations to Shel Segal and Terry Miller for this important scoop.
My questions here are these: Was this developer ever really on board, and Elaine Aguilar totally missed that point? Or has New Urban West had a change of heart due to the strong level of opposition to their project locally? Has the likely out of his depth Cameron Thornton backtracked out of a fear of looking like he just lost his developer?
Let's hope that this "45 day free look period" has been an eye-opening one for New Urban West.