Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It's the 4th of July - Let's Practice a Little Democracy

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(Mod: I was given a privileged look at an e-mail exchange between Sierra Madre City Councilmember Denise Delmar and an especially eloquent resident by the name of Barry Gold. I thought it was an interesting exchange of opinions. But there was also something discouraging about this discussion as well. So much so that I thought I should post these e-mails today as a way of airing this issue out. I think you will see the point and agree with Barry's take on what has become a core problem for Sierra Madre in these last few years. That being resident participation and the lack of it.)

Dear Mr. Crawford,
First of all I am a huge fan of the Sierra Madre Tattler.  I introduced myself to you at the last city council meeting.  I hope I expressed adequately how much I appreciate what you do to preserve the precious unique quality of our city.

Late Saturday night I sent e-mails to all five city council members urging them to pass both a building and a water moratorium.

To my pleasant surprise, early this morning, I received a reply from Council Member Delmar.

Here is my e-mail to her.

Dear Council Member Delmar,
Concerning the Building/Water moratorium, the city's water shortage, and the fact that the residents of Sierra Madre do not want the three proposed housing developments, I urge you to support both a building and a water meter moratorium.

The developments would irrevocable destroy our 107 year tradition of preserving our unique beauty as a small town rural village.  For generations the residents and all past City Councils have prohibited this kind of inappropriate growth.

The suggestion to impose Phase 3 of the water conservation plan, as a solution to both the water and the building issues, is not adequate and is punitive as well.  First it will not stop developments that already have water provisions, which I think exist.  Thus a building moratorium is needed to stop those that do have water in place.

Also, the fines in Phase 3, coupled with the addition reduction in our permitted water usage is particularly punitive to those of us who have diligently cut back on our water usage.  My family has been under our City established water usage target every month since the conservation program began.

The plan to impose Phase 3 will be a slap in the face to all of us who have been doing our share and then some unless initially the fines are restricted to those who don't at least meet the Phase 1 level to start.

We really do need both the water and the building moratoriums.  Both problems are attended to that way.

No one wants to deny a person the right to build a home here.  We all love living her because of our city's unique quality.  It is no wonder others would want to live here too.  We just want their homes to blend in and compliment our rural uniqueness, and we need to wait until our water supply justifies additional homes here in Sierra Madre before issuing any new building permits.

Council Member Delmar, I believe you support the preservation of our community's uniqueness and I believe the best way to do that is by passing both moratoriums.

As conditions change in the future so can the provisions of the moratoriums change.  At this time we need to stop all new building, assess our status, and plan our future wisely.  Please support both moratoriums.

Respectfully,
Barry Gold

Here is her reply.

Mr. Gold,
Thank you for your email.  Sierra Madre must impose an ordinance or regulations prohibiting new water connections until our own water supply is replenished.  The proposed General Plan  addresses new development or growth must be contingent on the supply of Sierra Madre's natural resources. It is in my opinion, imperative all new building be  halted until our water supply is replenished and the proposed General Plan is adopted as written.

Denise

I replied as follows:
 
Dear Council Member Delmar,
First I thank you for your quick reply to my e-mail.  Secondly I am so relieved to hear that you so strongly support the immediate halt to all new building and the adoption of the General Plan as written.

The halt to new buildings eases the pressure on the water issue and the General Plan addresses the issue of future homes being compatible and in harmony with our existing unique neighborhoods.

My wife and I would like to know if there is anything we can do to help you with these issues.

Again thank you for your reply and your commitment to preserving our precious community's identity.

With best regards,
Barry Gold

Her next reply.  I have highlighted the part that troubles me.

Mr and Mrs. Gold,
As with any issue, sending an email or calling all the City Council Members with your concerns and informing them you support all means to halt for the time being any new building is the best thing you can do. To date, I have only heard from two residents.

I know there are many others yet they haven't reached out to me and I would assume haven't reached out to the others. You might encourage others to do as you have
done.

I plan on reading portions of the emails I receive at the meeting and request your permission to read part of the email you sent me.

To you and your wife, my sincere gratitude to your support on this matter.

Denise

My final reply to her:

Dear Council Member Delmar,
Again thank you for your quick response.  I will urge everyone I can to e-mail all of the Council Members urging them to support you in your effort to halt, for now, any new building and adopt the General Plan which will preserve our community's uniqueness.

Also, you have my permission to read any part of my e-mails I sent to you and use them in any way you see fit.

Barry and Judy Gold

As you can see with Denise Delmar on the City Council there is hope that we can win this uphill battle to protect our city from the well financed outside forces that see only dollar signs and do not care in the least about us.  Her support for the adoption of the General Plan is also a great thing.

Many have said that it is vital that we fill the council chambers to overflowing at the July 8 council meeting.  Delmar tells us that it is equally important to flood the council member's e-mail in boxes with our feeling as well.

Is there a way you could help with the e-mail project?

Here are the e-mail addresses of the five council members.

COUNCIL MEMBERS E-MAIL ADDRESSES:

JHarabedian@cityofsierramadre.com
JCapoccia@cityofsierramadre.com
rarizmendi@cityofsierramadre.com
ddelmar@cityofsierramadre.com
ggoss@cityofsierramadre.com

I know you have a lot to read so I apologize for being so long winded but I thought you would be interested in my e-mail exchanges with Council Member Delmar.

Respectfully,
Barry Gold

Mod: When the Founding Fathers set this rather successful experiment in Democracy up, the assumption was that the people would care enough about their own lives to participate, thus assuring that the will of the people would inform each and every decision their elected representatives made. When you read that a Councilmember has only received two constituent e-mails regarding what is perhaps the most important issue to face this community since the DSP and Measure V, you really do have to wonder what is going on here. The 4th of July is this Friday. Let's practice a little Democracy.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. People need to participate in the affairs of this City. We are running out of water and the MWD also seems to be in a precarous state itself judging by the fact that this drought extends throughout the entire state. As Mr. Inman said at the last meeting, the MWD can cut us off any time they want presumably after our contract with them expires in 2015. Sierra Madre must be a self-sustaining ecosystem. and not dependant upon other people or entities for their most basic needs. We need a building and water moratorium to assess where we are now and where we need to go before we put any additional stress on our existing wells.
    If you can't attend the July 8th meeting, spend 5 minutes, that's only 5 minutes, to send an email blast to all the City Council Members. Make your voice heard! There can be no more important issue facing Sierra Madre.

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    1. get busy and negotiate an extension to that contact now, not later when the mwd may cut us off.

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  2. Instead of writing to the Tattler (although you can do both if you have time), write to our Council Members. Mr. Gold supplied the email addresses. That's the people who need to know that we want a building and water moratorium now. It doesn't have to ba a lengthy dissertation. Make it one sentece. DO IT NOW PLEASE!

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    1. Here is an idea. When you email a Councilmember, forward their response here so that I can post it. This way everyone here can analyze that response and give the community a better indication of how things are going. This is the biggest issue since the DSP in my opinion. Why hold back now?

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    2. I sent my e-mail, how do I get it forwarded to you?

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    3. I sent one too.

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    4. Forward your emails to sierramadretattler@gmail.com

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  3. Thank you Mr. Gold.

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  4. Mr. Gold has been a one-man gang at Planning Commission Meetings and the City Council Meetings. Regardless of what happens, he can have a clear conscience that he fought the good fight. I hope the rest of us can say the same thing at the end of the day.

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  5. If our City Council Members are going to make the hard choices on this issue or any issue in the future, they need to be backed by the community.

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    1. I do not see how the community can back any Councilmember who would vote for the McMansions. Support must be earned, never granted.

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  6. From everything that I've read, this water situation is going to get worse. We can't rely on other people for our water needs. The MWD is stretched to its limit. For once, let's plan for the future and not allow over-development to turn an emergency into a castastrophe.

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  7. I hope the City Council takes the right course of actions and enacts the building and water maratorium. That's the prudent and responsible thing to do. Forget politics as usual for once and forget the special interests. This issue is too important to get it wrong.

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  8. I would not want to be the council member who votes against the moratoriums and then have the drought get worse or the MWD run into some kind of a problem. That council member would be drummed out of of office, taken to the town square and mocked at noontime. Why would any council member want to take that chance. You really can't go wrong with the moratoriums. Sure, a few people may be upset. But look, if things improve, you can always lift moratorium at the prudent time. Once you've allowed over-development to deplete our water supply, you can't take it back and every resident would be affected. I would not want to be in their shoes if that happens and they voted against the moratoriums.

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  9. One of the best things about the July 8 City Council meeting is that after it is over we will know exactly where each Councilmember stands on overdevelopment. All five promised that if elected they would stand with Sierra Madre and oppose just the kind of out of control development that we are faced with today. We are about to witness one of those rare "moment of truth" meetings. It should be a very interesting evening.

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  10. A building moratorium is possibly going to be the subject of lawsuits. Don't invite Council members to show they have prejudged the issue before a public hearing and a vote because a judge may later on say that they should have been recused for prejudging.

    Delmar especially is vulnerable because of her membership in a committee whose stated goal was to "STOP THE MATER DOLOROSA HOUSING PROJECT." In this email she again has made a decision before the public hearing. Judges don't make decisions before trials. Play it safe, exercise some discipline and give the enemy nothing.

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    1. Pure nonsense. You mean we should all tremble in fear because Adele Chang's buffoonish lawyer might sue us. Go look up his record. He is one of the most lawsuit happy shysters in the valley. They will sue us anyway. We as a city should never be the kinds of cowards you advocate. Shame on you!

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    2. Since when is a dialogue with a concerned resident something a council member can be sued for?

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    3. Making decisions based on the threat of lawsuits is partly what got us in the mess we are in today.
      8:29, learn a little history lesson about the town.

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    4. In order to sue, wouldn't the city council have had to make some promise to the developers without a public hearing?

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    5. So what did happen at those private meetings anyway?

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    6. Delmar made her views very clear at the last Council meeting. She didn't say anything in her email that she didn't say at the meeting. The other council members also stated their views openly and clearly. This doesn't mean they can't change their mind during a public meeting. Delmar asked for a moratorium to give the city time to discuss and pass the general plan update and to let our water supply replenish itself. She didn't say she wanted a moratorium to stop Mater Delorosa from building.
      The phase 3 was not her idea, but she did agree it would be helpful.

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    7. 8:29 sounds like a lawyer attempting to invent fallacious reasons for getting himself a payday.

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    8. They're starting to circle the foothills. Like vultures.

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  11. I drove around the city yesterday to look, again, at all the proposed sites. I also ran across 2 McMansions that I had not been aware of. So out of place, communal driveway, same rock, same sameness. These 2 houses in no way reflected the surrounding neighborhood. As July 4th approaches, perhaps we need to reflect on what it is to. E an American. Perhaps in embracing diversity we have lost something that should be dear to us. I have written our council. I received an immediate reply from Ms. Delmar. Perhaps Ms. Arise didn't is still out of town. No acknowledgement from the other 3. As I drove around Sierra Madre yesterday I was rewarded by the sight of all the lovely homes. All unique, all the reason I moved here. Some of these homes are up for sale and I cringe when I think some May be torn down. What happened to starter home? Why all the need for houses so big? I was captivated watching a deer and her fawn grazing in the open spaces that are left. A drive through the canyon is like another world: serene, peaceful, unique. Please take a stand not to have hillsides carved into pads for ugly houses with no yards.

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  12. I also sent all 5 council members a short note about lack of water on Sunday. Received 1 reply...........

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  13. Email to the council members sent.

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    1. And Denise Delmar has replied with thanks.

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    2. John Harabedian and John Capoccia have now both replied as well.

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    3. What did they say?

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    4. Everyone basically said thank you for contacting me. John Capoccia added in a bit about considering my views after careful deliberations.

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    5. So the Mayor Pro Tem wasn't considering the things you wanted until you wrote in? Sounds like he had already made up his mind.

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    6. Sounds like they can't win. You complain that they don't respond. When they do, you don't like their response. What do you expect them to say that they haven't already said at the Council Meeting

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  14. I'm sick of developers and their supporters, on or off the city council, or city employees, scaring the residents of this city with the threat of lawsuits by the developers.
    Look,
    We have zoning laws, the Mater Delarosa is zoned for INSTITUTIONAL only. We have hillside management zoning laws which protect us from over development.
    There is NO COURT in the US that will rule against a city council who sticks to their zoning laws, regardless of developer threats or actual law suits to force them to cave into demands for development zoning changes.

    Do not be intimidated by this!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks for the reminder...don't be cowed by lies and falsehoods. We have the power to stop this nonsense!

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    2. You would think that certain people at city hall would have realized by now that these kinds of stupid tactics do not play well in Sierra Madre.

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  15. as long as the city moves forward with development there is no water crisis in SM

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    1. Makes perfect sense in an alternate universe kind of a way. The solution to the acute water shortages experienced here is to create a greater demand for water.

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  16. Remember when the Downtown Investment plan was stopped cold by Sierra Madre Residents for Responsible Development WON Measure V?
    We did it then, we can do it again.
    No Water No building....if you lost money in development schemes, like you did in 2007......tough luck. You gambled you lost get over it.

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  17. Belgium 1 USA 0

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  18. Tim Howard is awesome. Nice to think about something other than our city's problems!

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  19. Tim Howard is the Jonathan Quick of soccer.

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  20. I will put forth a referendum to make Sierra Madre a free drug free zone next council meeting. I have the support of influential people on the "counsel" Thank You

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    1. I can see how getting up the private lives of other people would appeal to you.

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    2. They're planning on setting up a concentration camp in the canyon.

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