Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Pasadena Star News: Sierra Madre Puts a Stop to Development Amid Fear of Running Out of Water

What, me worry?
Mod: Our Star News colleague Zen Vuong was at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting, and as is her careful reporting style she managed to get down on paper the points of view from a lot of different folks, and from all sides of the debate. Which is a good thing. Because now I have the names and statements from some of the people I found particularly annoying, yet didn't exactly catch who they were. A lapse on my part, I know.

That is the downside to the "live blogging" thing I do at City Council meetings. I am so busy reading and clearing comments that I miss some of the interesting things that are going on. Like the names of people who are speaking from the public podium that I don't already know. And when you consider that we had more than 200 comments by the end of Tuesday evening's slam shebang, it does put a bit of a strain on my peripatetic attention span.

Zen titles her article "Sierra Madre puts a stop to development amid fear of running out of water," and you can link to it here. I could just rip the whole thing and post it on my blog, but that would be wrong in a lot of ways. There is also a great slide show of pictures on the Star News website from that meeting as well. You will see people there you know I'm sure. Even yourself if you were in the house.

I've linked to that here. The picture of Mayor Harabedian above is just one of those shots. But do go and check all of this out. Web traffic is money for sites like that. Support local news journalism because we need it more than most people know. Plus it also helps to show that covering the affairs of our little town is worth the bother.

Here are a couple of passages from Zen's article that I thought we might discuss.

Despite legal protests from developers’ lawyers and expert advice to keep water conservation voluntary, the City Council delivered a triple whammy this week to anyone seeking to develop property in Sierra Madre.

About 125 people came to a Tuesday night City Council meeting, and about 30 of them sat or stood in an overflow area. Councilman Gene Goss said he didn’t think the council would deal with anything more serious than this topic during his tenure.

“It’s not that they’re anti-development or pro-development, but if they hear that they’re being asked to make major sacrifices like cutting down their water use ... they get upset when they don’t see everyone having to make those sacrifices,” Goss said. “This to me is about equity pure and simple.”

I don't buy the idea that concerning ourselves with a huge disjointed swathe of largely unwanted McMansion development extending from Michillinda to Santa Anita is a politically incorrect thing that needs to be downplayed to protect the sensitive. Nor is the suggestion that people are basically acting from self interest alone necessarily accurate, either. There is that, of course. But I would also like to believe the people of this town are a little bigger than that.

Water shortages and other inconvenient effects of the worst drought in California history can only be made worse by building large blocks of 6,000 square foot hogans with enough bathrooms in them to efficiently relieve a football team. I don't see how you really can decouple the two issues. They are one in the same.

That might offend some concerned lawyers and local Bob the Builder types, but there you go. Water use matters. Sustainability matters, too. And creating an even greater demand by building ominous looking water hog housing that will rely on our local water company, which is essentially waterless, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

In three unanimous decisions, the council voted to move the city to Stage III water conservation (30 percent) as well as to enact two moratoriums for issuing building permits, for approving construction that would require new water service connections and for adding any water hookups. All three decisions went into effect Tuesday.

Those outcomes didn’t seem certain after a June 24 City Council meeting.

This is a very interesting point. In comments found on this blog some noted that all of the City Councilmembers had arrived at a cheery outcome as one, and that they all need to be congratulated on their selfless concern for both the community and we the people who happily crowded into that room.

But the reality is it took a lot of time and hard work on the residents' part to convince at least two (perhaps three) Councilmembers to do the right thing. And left to their druthers they might have done something not quite so agreeable.

To support this contention, here is a revealing passage from the Star News article that covered the June 24 meeting (link). Note the difference in tone.

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.”

Goss and Mayor John 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.

Blaming the residents, or citing Phase III financial penalties as a "best practices" solution to our water woes, were not things that were heard at Tuesday's meeting. And it took an army of the people to make those gentlemen to see the light. You have to wonder why it took so much work to get certain of our elected officials to embrace the truth.

And quite frankly, should it have been this hard? What were they concerned about that kept them from getting it right the first time?

Here is another passage from Zen's article today that we can discuss if you like.

Resident Allen Graves said the best way to get a round of applause in Sierra Madre is to oppose development.

“No one has given us a hint about how much money we’re going to lose,” Graves said.

This rather cynical canard showed up in the comments here yesterday as well. I found myself wondering if perhaps Mr. Graves himself had come here to visit with us.

Look here pal, this money we are supposedly going to lose has never existed. It would come from building houses that are at this moment only a gleam in Adele Chang's eye. This isn't about existing home repair permits or fees from building a new room for junior. It is about building brand spanking new water hog McMansions in the midst of the worst drought in recorded history.

At the meeting Mr. Graves went on to rhetorically ask how many employees might have to lose their jobs due to the loss of this money. But since this money doesn't exist yet, and has never existed throughout the history of Sierra Madre or anything else, how is anyone going to lose their job over it? It has never been in anybody's budget.

This is an air bear of an argument.

I found Mr. Graves to be a bit disingenuous. And just in case you are wondering, Mr. Graves is a Pasadena lawyer. He'll help you sue your dumb boss if such is your desire. Here is something you can find on the web:


Maybe I should call him and sue The Tattler for back pay. Here is one more passage before I clock out of the blog office suite.

Frank Nicholas, an attorney representing CETT Corporation, the owner of the Stonegate property development, argued the council did not have the proper grounds to declare a water shortage emergency. He delivered a letter written by his colleague, Richard McDonald.

“There are a number of potentially significant environmental impacts associated with enacting any of the moratoria proposals which require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act),” McDonald wrote. “First, there is the fire danger created when vacant properties cannot obtain water hookups. Second, there is the fire danger in the existing developed properties potentially converting to brown fields with increased dry and dead vegetation.”

This is the dude that caused so much guffawing when he tried to convince those assembled Tuesday that there is no water shortage. And just to show you that the humor kept a-coming, consider this. Those vacant properties that are purportedly a fire danger because they "cannot obtain water hookups" have never had water hookups before. Not in the entire history of the Planet Earth. Yet somehow they have survived.

And let me ask you this, did the Garden of Eden have water hookups? Outside of the tears of angels? Hard to believe these guys get paid some pretty good money for making stuff like this nonsense up.

Oh snap, I guess I should probably include this one as well.

Although Phase III should include penalties, the City Council rescinded water conservation penalties in November 2013 because imported water from the San Gabriel Valley MWD loosened rust from old pipes and caused some residents to have odorous, yellow-orange water spewing from their pipes.

Water fines will not return until November, when the council will likely revisit the issue and consider the state of Sierra Madre’s water quality.

Even if fines are implemented again, the city won’t tack on a Utility User Tax to it, City Manager Elaine Aguilar said.

Have their ever been utility taxes on penalties or fines before? Do we pay utility taxes on parking tickets and library fines? And here is a frightening thought. Are utility taxes ever assessed on utility taxes? Creating a kind of eternal tax coil of dunning that none of us will ever live to escape?

Now I am worried, too.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

132 comments:

  1. One agan the Tattler has it right. However, Goss and Harabedian should be given more credit for evolving on these issues in light of not only additional informaton inclulding the letter Goss read from the MWD but also the conecerns expressed by the residents. I want my representatives to sometimes adjust their position based on these factors. The politician who doesn't listen to his or her constiuents is the one I'm most concerned about.

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    1. My concern is about what held the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem back. What influenced them to believe the two moratorium proposals were not good, and then at the next meeting wholeheartedly embrace them? It is quite a mood swing.

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    2. I'm hearing that the Mayor got an earful at the 4 th of July parade.

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    3. the Mayor deserved to get an earful and then some

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    4. Goss also mentioned that he had heard from a number of residents. So that's a good thing, too.

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    5. My guess is that our City Attorney warned them to be careful when talking about development vs. water shortage at the July 8th meeting. She managed to come up with some pretty powerful reasons however in the ordinances presented to them for the 22nd meeting, so they were able to take the chance. Denise, of course is always willing to speak her beliefs no matter what and is intelligent enough to know where stop. Bless Denise.

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    6. Remember that its not a bad thing when politicians listen to their constituents. I'm more worried about the ones that give us the middle finger.

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  2. Thanks to the Tattler for bringing up Allen Graves. He kept talking about lost revenue that never existed in the first place. His argument might make sense if the City Council was voting to bulldoze 300 homes that already exist which would cause a reduction in our tax base and maybe impact on how much money would be available to pay employee salaries. But he makes no sense when he refers to revenue that has never existed in the history of Sierra Madre as the Tattler rightly points out. Why is it only lawyers who can say with a straight face that we don't have a water shortage or the kind of nonsense that Allen Graves said the other night.

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    1. Allen Graves is your typical lawyer. We all know by now their usual justification for how they have a duty to vigorously defend their client even when they know their client is guilty and they know that there is a high probability that their client, when they get off, will go out and commit the same rapes and murders that got them in trouble in the first place. Alot of lawyers don't seek the truth or justice. They use any means possible to get their client off or win the case. If it means they have to lie to do it, they will do it and do it often. That's why it comes so easy for them and that's why Allen Graves can say something that makes absolutely no sense so publicly, so brazenly and so easily.

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    2. Allen Graves was right there with Tom Love and the attorney for CETT. I lump them all together.

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    3. The Tattler may not have a Michigan Law Degree but at least they have good old fashioned common sense.

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    4. 7:06 has it right about most lawyers. They don't care about the truth and they get alot of practice bending the truth. Thanks to the Tattler for showing that Allen Graves is not as smart as he may think he is. He can get away with it in a courtroom but not in Sierra Madre. Nice try, Allen.

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    5. jeez, where do all these lawyers come from and can they just go away?

      he was just there to get attention for himself cause he's a lawyer

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    6. if you want to get a clear understanding of what kind of lawyer Graves is, just ck out his current class action lawsuits

      he's a paper filer - files lawsuits and chases a settlement

      and his "current"caes are several years old and expired

      boy did he make himself look like an idiot but then again, he's a lawyer what can we expect?

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    7. I can always deal with the truth. I'm sure there factual arguments in favor of further development. But, I don't like when Tom Love and the attorney for CETT tell me there's no water shortage. I don't like it when Allen Graves talks about how money we don't have and have never had will affect our budget. Give me some facts and then I can respond to them.

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    8. Is it just me or does Sierra Madre have a higher per capita number of lawyers than other areas?

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    9. Does anyone know why the agenda reports from staff for both of the last two meetings talked about fiscal impacts and lost revenue from building permit fees?

      That's obviously nonsense, the moratorium won't cost the city a cent.

      So what was the staff going on about?

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    10. It was what people in the marijuana related industries call a highdea. That is the word "high" stuck in front of "idea."

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    11. The issue is the fees that builders pay when they want to build a new house, guesthouse or fire sprinkler connection. If you want to do anything that requires a new water hookup you pay a big fee, like $20 -30K. The city mostly uses that money to pay staff. In past years I'm sure the city issued 10 or 20 of these a year and make like $200 or 300K from them. Now we wont issue the permits, so we won't get that money.

      I suspect staff is worked up over it because we use those funds to pay their fat salaries. It is true that we won't get these fees anymore and we used to use that money to pay staff, so if we are very lucky, Graves could be right and we could get rid of a city employee or two.

      Probably we will just get the money somewhere else. But still you can see why he staff will try to cover their own well-compensated back sides.

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    12. The choice between overdevelopment and some paper shuffler at city hall is clear. There is no way we should sacrifice the small town character of this town for the convenience of city hall.

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    13. Okay, now I'm confused. I think the moratorium is great no matter what it costs, but I would like to know if we are losing money here or not. I assume the moratorium would save money because the city would not need to process application, inspect buildings and the like. Its not the reason I supported the ban, but I figured that saving city money was an extra benefit.

      Is @2:20 right that people pay some kind for fee for these permits? I still support the moratorium, but its just weird we can't seem to agree on this money thing.....

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    14. You know what is really weird? That hour after hour, day after day, you keep bringing this same stupid point up. You know the answer, you'd have to be a complete moron not to. If you think it is a good idea to sell off the last remaining open areas in Sierra Madre so that city hall can have a couple of extra bucks to oay the junior asst paper shuffler, then just admit it. Are you capable of that level of honesty?

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    15. @2:20 is right that there are fees, although I have no idea where he get his numbers and they seem high to me. So it is true that we are "loosing" revenue in the sense that we used to sell permits and use that money to pay staff. Now we wont sell permits.

      So Graves was right that we will lose revenue. And if the City had any sense he would be right that we will cut staff. But that will never happen. The city counsel will just jack up some other "fee" to make up for the lost revenue and keep our city employees doing nothing during the moratorium.

      I'd be happy to close the whole dam city hall, but sadly no. Every victory has a price. And although I'd be happier to cut staff, I think I might eve smile when I pay whatever horrible thing they come up with to make up for the lost building permit revenue. At least I wont have to look at a bunch of ugly hillside houses.

      I'd be happy to close the whole da city hall

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    16. Vote to shut down the UUT this November.

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    17. Hey 2:28, forget about the money already. Its money that never existed. No city bases their budget on money that doesn't exist. Well, I take that back. The ones that do tend to go bankrupt.

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    18. Do you think it is possible that City Hall has already spent the money it anticipated getting from Mater Dolorosa, One carter and Stone Head?

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    19. Doesn't every city budget for money that it does not have yet? Whether it building permit fees, parking meter income UTT taxes or state grants, a city budget is nothing but a guess about how much money will come in next year and a plan on how we will spend it.

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    20. Nah. The City already "spent" all the development fees it expected from One Carter on Goldberg Park. The General fund still has a $250,000 "loan" to the purchase of Goldberg that hasn't been repaid.

      Come to think of it, there's another $250,000 that should be available in the General Fund for the next 2 years! Sell Goldberg Park and pay back the taxpayers.

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    21. San Bernardino and Stockton did. And then they took their funny money and legally obligated to city employee unions. The perfect storm. Of course, they don't have a $37,800 health plan recipient like we do. So there.

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    22. Ah yes, and it was a Goldberg grandson who drove up all the way from San Diego to ask for special treatment for his grandparents to build on he portion of the lot they did not "donate" to he city. What a boondoggle. The Goldbergs made outlike at cats and the city got left with the bill. and now they cry about not eing able to build. And you noticed that Goss and Harabedian spoke directly to that young man and said that they would work something out for them. really? How about the Goldbers give ack themoney they made on the deal?

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  3. It's just another latte...July 10, 2014 at 6:34 AM

    parking tickets and library fines are not utilities but water is. and if you have to pay for it, even at a penalty level, why you used the utility and thus UUT taxes could be assessed. At least that's how City Hall thinks. I'm glad that the magnanimity and generosity of City Hall has eschewed UUT on penalties (should the be assessed).

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    1. But are fines utilities? Because it seems to me that the UUT would be applied to the water fines as well.

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  4. Allen Graves made a you know what of himself at the last City Council Meeting. I'm glad the Tattler exposed his fallacious reasoning. The next question is always the harder one. What was his motivation for saying something that only a laywer could come up with? While the motivation is harder to figure out, the ability to say stupid things is not. Maybe Mr. Graves can pull one over on some of the juries he faces, but his arguments can't withstand the scrutiny of the Tattler and Sierra Madre residents.

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    1. I doubt Graves has ever seen the inside of a courtroom cause a judge would rip him apart

      no facts, no basis for his position and completely fabricated

      yep, he's a lawyer

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    2. If it look like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck...its a duck. And Allen Graves is a lawyer and a silly one to boot.

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    3. 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.

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    4. Is that how you think you came off at the meeting?

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    5. 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.

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    6. 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.

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    7. 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.

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    8. So what was your take on Measure UUT?

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    9. Allen, of course your explanation sounds a little better here. I'd have to roll the tape again to see if I misunderstood your position on Tuesday night but I don't think you should get off so easy. There was a lot riding on that vote Tuesday night. Most of the audience construed your position as being against the moratorium because of your concern about the loss in revenue. If I recall, I think your even urged the City Council to wait before making their decision. To ask us all to come out one more time would have been a bit much. You also belittled those who feel that it is irresponsible to continue with big development projects when you have a water shortage because these projects take away what little water there is for the existing residents. The Star News reported you as also saying that the best way to get an applause line in Sierra Madre is to oppose development. You focused on all the money we would be losing from denying these same development projects. I'm not a law school grad and I don't wear fancy suits but I sure as hell can understand the point of someone's arguments and the impression you gave to most of the audience that night was that the money was more important to you than the impact that over-development has on a water emergency. Following on the heels of what Tom Love tried to do with his prepared remarks, I'm just not to quick to believe your explanation for your remarks on Tuesday night. That being said, actions speak louder than words. I would welcome you to speak at future City Council meetings to propound these same views that you have laid out for us here on the Tattler. I will look forward to your future comments.

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    10. Mr. Graves:
      All the things you say now you support you could have said then.....at the critical time when we needed as many people as possible to speak up in support of a moratorium. The simple fact is you were against it before you were for it.

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    11. Now I've heard everything. So we need more money for the city's coffers in order to control development. Allen, you've heard of the law of holes: When you're in one, stop digging.

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    12. Maybe Allen's position has "evolved" since Tuesday night and today. I'd say he's done a 180 from what he said on Tuesday to his written position today. I don't care how he got there as long as he eventually get there. Fortunately, Mr Graves was not able to sway the council with his specious arguments on Tuesday night.

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    13. Allen sounds like he wants to be a politician and he's doing a good job at it. Says one thing at the Council meeting and flip flops to the more popular position the next day.

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    14. I'm not sure why Graves is so wrapped up in staff wages etc, he might want to read this blog where our city pays the highest benefit packages and per capita we have a very expensive city hall staff budget with regards to payroll.

      He won't gain many favors pleading the poor me plight of city employees. I do respect what they do but the pay and pensions are completely out of whack with the real world and need to be body checked.

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    15. I want to thank all of you for your comments. Well, at least all but the really mean ones :).

      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.

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    16. I'm gonna cut Graves a bit of slack only because his position is a little murkier. He is on record as expanding on his position which seems more in line what people were pulling for last night. I also came on the Tattler and openly defended his position. That shows something. What Love did on the other hand is much more egregious. He's hiding out somewhere and never attemptd to clarify his position. That's the sign of a guilty person.

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    17. What was your take on Measure UUT?

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    18. "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."
      Incorrect.
      The council would not stand up to the threats, even though the city attorney at the time claimed that he had "every expectation we would prevail." That would have been a defense of the general plan which precluded grading in the hillsides.
      It wasn't that there wasn't money and cause; it was that the council put its tail between its legs and whimpered away. Or maybe got what they wanted all along. Enid Joffe, Tonya Torres, Rob Stockly and John Buchanan sold us out.

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    19. 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?

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    20. The Sierra Madre Weekly gives an account of Mr. Graves's talk that contradicts what we are reading here:

      "Resident Allen Graves asked that the council look into the financial ramifications of passing the ordinances before making its decision. '(There’s) lost revenue,” Graves said. “All three of the agenda items that we’re considering would impose a moratorium on permits with new water connections … No one’s given us a hint as to how much money we’re going to lose.'”
      http://www.sierramadreweekly.com/featured/sierra-madre-places-moratorium-on-building/

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    21. Hunh. Sounds like pretty much the same argument that was used against Measure UUT. Anyone know where Allen stood on that?

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    22. Mr. Graves won't disclose how he voted on Measure UUT and he wanted to delay a decision on the moratoriums. He is on very thin ice here. I think we need to post a video of what he actually said at Tuesday's CC meet.

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    23. Maybe I tend to be a forgiving person, but the more Graves writes, the more he seems to be a closet Tattlerite. He might not know that yet, but he seems to be coming perilously close to taking positions that alot of us can agree on. I think he's been "outed".

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    24. I'll say it again before I go to bed. Graves' position is a bit more nuanced and open to some interpretation. He's gets credit for trying to clear things up and in doing so he seems to be taking a position that is certainly better than what he said at the meeting. Let's see how he does at the next big meeting. I will give him that chance. Mr. Love on the other hand, really did his best to damage the cause and its much more egrigious then anything Mr. Graves did. Love was prepared in advance, he spoke first to cause the maximum damage, and because of his background could have really done some damage. If it wasn't for Council woman Arizmendi's finest hour so far of saying the emperor had no clothes and then Councilman Capoccia zeroing in for the kill, he would have gotten away with his biased statements.

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    25. To Mr. Graves:
      One Carter is not where it is because the city couldn't afford the lawsuits -- of the thirteen filed, the city prevailed in the majority of them. It is the FEAR of lawsuits that paralyzes lawmakers and makes them "cave" which is what the Buchanan, Torres et. al did. So bring it on and when developers know that we are not afraid the attempts will dissipate.
      As to putting a committee in place and making rules: been there done that. The General Plan Update Steering Committee is just such a committee and all the elements for the rules are there. The zoning needs to be updated to match. The citizens did their work. It was sabotaged by the Mosca/Buchanan council and then again by Walsh/ Moran. The committee finished its work 3 years ago. Staff doesn't make the rules. The people do through the council and the planning commission.That's how government is supposed to work -- for the people, by the people enacted by their elected officials.

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  5. Zen Vuong does a heck of a job covering stories. I also like the fact that she's a reporter who reports what she saw and heard without having her own biases creep into the reporting. I wish that we had more reporters like her.

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    1. hey, what about Susan Henderson?



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    2. Wrong. The Star News did the worst reporting I have seen on this story. Zen Vuong evidently did not attend the same City Council Meeting I did. Other people who read the article expressed the same surprise. Out of all the public speakers who went to the podium, she manages to cherry pick Tom Love, the attorney for CETT and Allen Graves - all of whom have been thoroughly discredited on the Tattler and justifiable so - for quotes. And one other person who complained about conserving water. Multitudes of people spoke out about the whole point of the Moratoriums: You can't allow additional development when you have an acute water shortage. Why not quote Barry Gold or Mary Ann or any of the other residents who spoke passionately and repreatedly about that issue. How this reporter managed to quote those three people of all the people who spoke up is beyond me. The other story line is a small community rising up to put Sierra Madre on a sustainable path which is the prudent and responsible thing to do. I guess there is always a first. In this case, I will have to completely disagree witht the Tattler that Zen followed her "careful reporting style". This was about as unbalanced an article as anyone could have written. The fact that she evidently attended the meeting and saw and heard what we did makes it all the more surprising.

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    3. Oh, please! Is this you, Susan,trying to discredit a reporter - reporting on the facts? If you want your coverage skewed to a news source, read the Mountain Views Not News.

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    4. 9:02 makes an excellent observation. Try to find a quote in the article that supports the need for moratoriums.

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    5. I read the article also. It wasn't the meeting I attended either. Someone will have to ask her why she quoted those three speakers. Its ok to quote them mind you, but what about the dozens of other speakers who had a different view and that was the view that prevailed. Very strange.

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    6. You're right 9:22, those are the "facts". But if you give the "facts" from only one side in what is a very big story, you give the wrong impression to those who were not able to attend the meeting. Zen usually does a fine job. Its hard to know what happened here.

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    7. Zen Vuong is a true journalist. How much you wanna bet the pro-moratorium remarks got edited out of the version she submitted?

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    8. 10:15 may be right although I'm not sure any reporter would want their story changed like that if that was the case. There was a reason she did that. In other words, it wasn't just the luck of the draw that she happened to pick those three speakers of all the speakers who spoke. I also noticed that after the meeting, I think it was her and Shel Segal of the Sierra Madre Weekly were rushing up to Allen Graves trying to talk to him even though none of what he said made any sense as the Tattler points out.

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    9. I liked Zen's story. It exposed statements from certain inividuals that I suspect they now wish had stayed out of the press. That is what good journalism does. Lays it out and lets an informed citizenry take over. And that is what we are doing.

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    10. You had one of the most important City Council Meetings in a long time. I can't think of any other San Gabriel Valley city that has determined that the water situation is so bad that they will not allow any more development until its solved So this is a huge and an important story. Of course, many people were not able to attend the meeting and so would rely on the Star News article for what happened. It was obviously no accident that they presented the story the way they did and cherry picked all of the three people who were opposed to the moratorium, Love, Graves and the attorney for the developer. The only question is why? This is just another example of why people are relying less and less on the traditional news mediums to get their noise. It is also why the Tattler is so important.

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    11. I agree with all that has been said about the Star News article. This wasn't just slightly biased reporting. It was off the charts.

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    12. My guess is they are scard to death of the Abolish the UUT measure that will be on the ballot this November. They are hearing footsteps. Lots and lots of them. We should ask for everything we ever wanted. The way things are going now we just might get them.

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    13. I'm not worred here about Tattler readers because nothing gets past the Tattler and lies always get exposed immediately. I'm worried about non-Tattler readers who didn't attend the meeting. If they rely on that article, it hardly provides any basis for the need to enact Moratoriums. The story shouldn't do harm to one side or the other. I don't mind a little imbalance here and there in trying to report on a confusing story. What happened the other night was not confusing. You had resident after resident who spoke up in favor of the Moratoriums. I think all City Council members spoke aftewards and commended the passion and the force of the arguments of those who spoke in favor of the Moratoriums. It may even have changed a few City Council member's miinds. But no, don't use any of those comments. Use the comments of Tom Love, Allen Graves and the Attorney for CETT. Unbelievable.

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    14. To put the Star-News in perspective, I was thinking about what has happened in Pasadena. Not all that long ago, there were citizen groups protesting the effects of fast-growth there: the removal of mature trees in Old Town, the exponential growth of condos, and the stress and collapse of the infrastructure. Pasadena is certainly not the city it used to be.

      It might be awkward for the Star News to highlight the issues that Sierra Madre residents raised at the Council meeting. The preservation and slow-growth citizen groups in Pasadena raised those same points not so long ago, and lost. Maybe an article about the passion of residents trying to keep Sierra Madre from turning into Arcadia or Pasadena wouldn't be welcome by the powers that be in those fair cities?

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    15. You're overthinking this. Please remember, the three people you're citing here from that article all lost. The City Council voted 5 to 0 to institute the three things these yoyoswere there to stop. They failed. When people pick up the paper and look at this article, that is what they see. Those three dudes lost. What they had to say was the losing message. I love conspiracy theories, they're fun. But this is nowhere near as bad as you are making it out to be.

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    16. Hey there, Mr. Mod, you just reminded us why you're such a good, smart Earthling and why this blog is so great. Thanks for everything and especially for letting us sort things out here. Perspective is valuable indeed. ( Great description: "The Losing YoYo's".)

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    17. The article stank. The probem with the article is that the only reason certain people know it stank is because they were at the meeting. If you were not at the meeting, you wouldn't know why the moratoriums were passed.

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  6. Harabedian looks like the Maytag repairman in that picture.

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  7. Dear Sierra Madre Residents, Coalition Steering Committee, GPUSC and City Staff,
    The General Plan Update Steering Committee always struggled to articulate or capture in words what it is that makes Sierra Madre so special and what it is we need to preserve. Tuesday night at the City Council meeting it was apparent - the commitment to protect and not take for granted our natural resources and quality of life. To all of you who wrote, called and attended the meeting, thank you for being involved and engaged in our community.
    Denise

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    1. God bless you, Council member Delmar.

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    2. So now, onto the city plan. Let all of know when that's on the agenda. And thank you ms. Delmar for your heart.

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    3. Denise: Thanks for looking out for us ordinary folks, the townies, whatever you want to call us. Count on us to be there for you too.
      Thank you. We love you.

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  8. We're so glad we voted for you, Denise. Keep up the good work. You have our full support.

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  9. Denise, you are the best. It is unbelievable the difference you have made in so short a period of time. You hit the ground running and just keep picking up speed. Thank you for being there.

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  10. Why didn't Mr Graves identify himself as an attorney? The other attorneys did.

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    1. next he'll profess to "love" the city and run for Council

      just what we need, another low rent lawyer

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    2. Graves hijacked out Meeting to leave his calling card for any overpaid City Development Dept employee who is let go. And Harabedian capitulated -another lawyer -thick as thieves !

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    3. He was speaking as a resident.

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    4. Graves ought to upgrade his website - looks like one of those do it yourself with cheap free graphics

      looking at his lawsuits, appears to be a lawyer who takes cases chasing corporations cause it's cheaper for them to settle

      he made a meritless arguement at the Council, remind me not to call him if I ever need a real attorney

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    5. He was disguise Tuesday night. He didn't have a tie on.

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    6. 8:53, you may be right but he wouldnt' be my first choice for employment law or my 10th. He was just networking himself and didn't do a good job of it either.

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    7. Actually, Mr. Graves of 57 W. Grandview, Sierra Madre, Ca, the way to get applause in this town is to become a mediocre school principal. To make a splash in politics you'll need to disrobe. Nice 'green' lawn, by the way. who supplies your water?

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    8. Yesterday's Tattler had a Graves defender or Graves himself still desperately clinging to this position. Whoever that was seems have crawled back underneath that rock them came out of. In a few sentences the Tattler managed to destroy his arguments. Once again, when the Tattler shines its light on something, the truth prevails.

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    9. Graves will have to work pretty hard to outdo Gayle Bluemel, former principal at Sierra Madre Eelementary. She got the auditorium named after her AND gets one of the PUSD Platinum Pensions at $100,000+ per year (plus COLA.)

      I hope she's not on food stamps, scraping by like that.

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    10. No, no, no. The Graves house has an even greener lawn and is at 60, not 57. Its land value is 3x more. Silly.

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    11. Guess who's on facebook and linked-in?

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    12. yeah, but I'm a lawyerJuly 10, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      Grave's 15 minutes of shame fame is over, like Noah Green's

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    13. I see that Graves is a friend of John Hutt

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    14. is John Hutt a lawyer also?

      I am so sick of lawyers - I'll never vote again for another lawyer on the Council, my own exception is if Kurt Zimmerman moved back into town

      I remember when Hutt moved into town, he wasn't even unpacked and was already showing up at city council meetings speaking his mind

      lawyers, yuck

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    15. Hutt's OK. A little complicated, a little slick, but he has done some pretty good things. Especially with the Gen'l Plan. And look at it this way, he screwed up the Kensington bigtime. Dumbest looking building in town. I laugh everytime I drive by it. In a rueful sort of way.

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    16. Hurt us no fan of Measure V. Keep that in mind.

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    17. 1:42, you're right. Hutt was promoting himself alot and writing letters and speaking out against Measure V.

      When I found out he is a lawyer and in real estate, I question why he was allowed on the planning commission.

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    18. Hutt's the one who came up with the big-butt (er, big-box) look of the retail section on the Kensington. Don't ya love the massing right on top of the sidewalk?

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    19. It was the only way they could accommodate the Loofer Lounge.

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  11. I think Harabedian and Goss were in self-preservation mode. Nothing to do with the good of Sierra Madre. They sensed our next step would have been a recall of both of them. Yes,it would. We have done the recall thing before and it will be used again of necessary.

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    1. With Harabedian I feel the same way that he only backtracked cause he knew that his political career was over if he voted against the people on this issue.

      He won't be popular with the regional political agencies anymore but they were just using him like the did with Joe Mosca.

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    2. Hey kid, you want to have a big career with the LA County political machine? All you have to do is sell out your town, work for developer and realtor interests, jack up taxes and give city employee unions everything they want. Waddah ya say?

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    3. Harabedian and Goss did the right thing and should be commended. How they got there and why is pure speculation. All I care about is that they got there. Only the future can tell us if this was an aberration or whether it was only an expediency. If they do something again that is for the good of Sierra Madre, I will then recognize a pattern and really give them credit.

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    4. The Amazing SteveJuly 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Thank you ladies and germs. I'l be here all week. Take my card, I'm a lawyer. And a real Jerk of all trades. Thank you.

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    5. Thanks Steve. Negative affirmation isn't always an oxymoron, you know.

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    6. I think these clowns should open up a law firm. Call it Graves and McDonald. Throw Love in there too. He doesn't have a law degree but according to him he has alot of credentials.

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    7. It could be the first law firm specializing in necrophilia cases. MacDonald Loves Graves.

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  12. the Stonegate attorney basically said what we've all known for years, the foothills are a fire hazard

    the city ought to fine the developer for not maintaining the property and creating a fire hazard and apparently on purpose

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  13. Tuesday evening you saw the old boy Doyle gang in action. Except this time rather than stopping the moratoriums they just made themselves look like fools. My how times have changed.

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    1. True indeed 11:01

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    2. Those scoundrels came out of their holes the other night. Love, Graves, the McDonald law associate. I hope they go back from whence they came. However, that bunch seems to be in their death throes. This is their last desparate gasp and they were resoundingly defeated and humiiliated.

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  14. Anyone know what's up with the helicopter over the hillsides?

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    1. It's flying.

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    2. I think they spotted your crop.

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    3. Glad it's not down.

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    4. Are marijuana plants drought tolerant?

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    5. It may have been a rescue from Mt. Wilson Trail.
      I saw it hover over that area for some time, and there was a rope down to the ground.

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    6. I am replacing my lawn with "Hemp" very sustainable
      http://www.johnnymarijuanaseed.com/Droughthaslittleeffectonpotcrops.htm

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    7. What a great idea. Replace your grass with ... grass!

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    8. wow, man, wow

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  15. I have a question. Perhaps someone has a satisfactory answer. In the 300 block of Camillo, west side (three or four houses up from Grandview) a new gigantic housse is going skyward, sort of U shaped. It is gigantly high and dwarfs the homes on either side having been built very close to the side property lines. It is worth taking a look at and hopefully not what the city is settleing for these days. You would not want to won the homes on either side!

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    1. I have seen it and it is truly awful. Don't know how it was ever allowed.

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  16. One Carter's lawyer is claiming the moratoriums require and Environmental Impact Report. Unfortunately for him, an urgency ordinance is exempt from the requirement create an environmental impact report. In addition, because these actions are being taken to protect a natural resource (water) then it is categorically exempt from the requirement to perform an environmental impact report (CEQA Guidelines, Section 15061, 15307 and 15308).

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    1. He wears angry ties. It gives him presence.

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    2. I don't get why he was involved at all. Carter lots already have water meters and they won't be affected by the moratoriums, which is a real pity.

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    3. They will be affected by the building moratorium

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    4. 12:07, how so?

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    5. To answer the question about the house on Camillo, it isn't one house! That lot was split, and that is two, TWO home on top of each other. Now I'm no expert on the subject, but did think about the set back laws, height, etc Everyday I drive by and yell something at the workers. These homes were done by another developer. And they ain't to code if you ask me. I believe someone got a little bonus to allow that lot to be split, and let the size be ignored. It's disgusting, and the people on Grandview who those towering homes over look have already either sold their homes or their on the market. oh, grumble, grumble.....ticks me off to no end!!!

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