|Allen Graves: Did he say what he said he said?|
At least for now. I think. Instead engaging in a kind of process that would take into account things like the money that would somehow be lost if we didn't build hulking massive blocks of McMansions at Mater Dolorosa, One Carter (or whatever they are calling that sadly abused place these days), and Stone House. Something Allen claimed would cause the loss of city employees that we might actually need someday. Which was an interesting observation in itself.
Trading Sierra Madre's last remaining open spaces for more City Hall employees being problematic for some.
There are other tangential issues that concerned Mr. Graves as well, all of which he apparently believes would be reason enough to delay the imposing of moratoriums designed to prevent the further abuse of our last and precious water resources, along with what remaining options are left to us.
Here is how Attorney Allen Graves depicted his Tuesday evening remarks in the comments he left here on The Tattler Thursday. He was responding to some of the criticism he had been taking on this blog, much of it in reaction to the mention he'd received in the Pasadena Star News that day (link).
The questions of his "anonymous" inquisitor are included here as well for context.
Allen Graves July 10, 2014 at 3:31 PM
Hi everyone. Allen Graves here.
A friend told me I should look at this blog. Not sure why she said that – it hasn’t been fun at all.
Seriously, though, I do want to clarify few things:
First, I strongly support the moratorium. I am shocked that the Sierra Madre codes do so little to require water conservation in new buildings or to support it in existing buildings. Putting the brakes on issuing permits until we can come up with a rational system was clearly the right thing to do.
Second, I am concerned that we have done nothing to make a financial plan to support the moratorium. Despite what you may have read here, we really will lose permit revenue because of this. I have no idea how much, but I’m worried mostly because we use that money to pay staff, and we will need staff to implement and enforce better, more restrictive rules. I never thought we should reject the moratorium because of the cost, I just said that we should figure out what the cost is and make a plan to ensure that we can still effectively make and enforce limits on development with our smaller income. Nothing would make big developers happier than to see us lay off the staff who inspect and regulate existing building sites because we didn’t have a plan to deal with the lost revenue.
Third, I think we all need to get ready to push our City Council hard to make real improvements to our codes. This moratorium is a victory for all of us, but it won’t last forever. We need to act fast to develop and implement rules that will stop massive houses on unsustainable hillsides, recognize our limited capacity for growth and favor infill and adaptive reuse in the limited space we do have.
So no, I’m not a fan of big development and I don’t for a moment want to see us sell out our amazing town. I do believe that my city should balance its checkbook just like I do. I want my City Council to watch the pennies and know how much every vote costs. Protecting this town is worth spending money on. I just wanted to know how much we are spending and make a plan to use our limited resources to make real changes that will stop destructive hillside development and promote a sustainable town for all of us in the future.
Anonymous July 10, 2014 at 3:44 PM
Is that how you think you came off at the meeting?
Allen Graves July 10, 2014 at 3:57 PM
At the meeting? Sure. I spent most of my time talking about the need to quickly implement stronger limits on water use and development.
In a newspaper that was looking to create the appearance of some opposition and conflict where very little actually existed? Not so much.
Anonymous July 10, 2014 at 4:09 PM
You do realize that new housing starts in Sierra Madre are minimal, and that is really the only thing that would be affected by the moratoriums that were put into place on Tuesday, right? In a built out town new water hook ups would obviously be minimal. Lot splitting might bring a few. What is substantially more imperiling to employee security in Sierra Madre would be the sunsetting of the UUT. The question of those employees you felt that we might still need was raised by those supporting Measure UUT. A majority of the voters apparently didn't care that much. I suspect the same voters would not believe demolishing our last remaining open areas in order to save those jobs would be a good trade off, either.
Allen Graves July 10, 2014 at 4:37 PM
I don't know how many of these permits we issue in an average year. I wish that had been covered at the City Council meeting. I completely agree that the lost fee revenue is NOT a reason to allow more development. It is a reason to make a plan so that we keep playing the bills. One concern is that the money from the fees might be specifically earmarked for staff wages so even though it is not much money it could be disruptive if not dealt with ahead of time.
So I think we agree about smart controls on development, I just want to maintain fiscal responsibility at the same time. Protecting our town and watching our budget are not conflicting goals. We just need to get all the numbers on the table and make sure we have money in the right places to control development without waiting your tax dollars.
Anonymous July 10, 2014 at 4:46 PM
So what was your take on Measure UUT?
Allen Graves July 10, 2014 at 6:52 PM
I do think our city needs to be fiscally sound in order to protect ourselves from damaging development. As I understand it, One Carter got where it is today at least in part because the city could not afford to keep fighting the lawsuit over that project. There will be lawsuits from the moratorium we just passed as well, and we need to be responsible with our finances in part to make sure we can defend the moratorium in court. Ignoring the fiscal impacts of our policy decisions is no less dangerous than ignoring the drought.
These developers play hardball. We now have a City Council that will stand up to them, but they need a sound financial house to that.
And we do also need our city staff. The moratorium is an opportunity, not a solution onto itself. We need to seize the opportunity and make permanent rules that protect our city. We need our city employees to help at every phase of that rulemaking. If we can get the City Council to appoint a committee that will act quickly and firmly, it is the staff that will study, report, and help draft the rules that will keep our hillsides safe.
Two years will go by before you know it, and the rains may come even before that. We must work together to install the rules and policies that we need before the moratorium expires. So yes, I will speak up for city employees, city finances, and anything else that we need to turn our great ideas into actual rules that protect our town.
I promise a long line of out-of-town developers at the permit window on the next rainy day. We need to be ready.
Anonymous July 10, 2014 at 7:49 PM
What was your take on Measure UUT?
Allen Graves July 10, 2014 at 8:32 PM
Thank you again for the kind comments. There is now at least a small chance that my wife will let me attend another city council meeting.
With regard to Measure UTT I don’t have a position because I have not learned enough about the issue. I did a lot of research on the moratorium before I decided to support it. (And before I expressed the concerns that have caused so much comment here.) I haven’t done my homework on the UTT yet so I will withhold judgment until I can develop an opinion based on facts.
In general I love my city and I believe that its fair to ask people like me to pay my fair share. But I am concerned that the money be spent well (I think it is often wasted), and I’m concerned that the burden of taxes be borne by people who can afford it. I’m really hesitant to tax people who are just getting by in order to fund a government that is overpaying for nearly everything.
So where do I stand? I don’t know. I have an old-fashioned desire to know actual facts before I open my mouth. I guess that would make me a pretty lousy politician hunh?
Let's go to the video tape, shall we?
So, what do you think?