Monday, July 7, 2014

Tuesday Evening's Main Event: Moratoriums, Water Fines, Resident Abuse and Councilmember Sell Outs

Who brought tanning butter?
Tuesday evening will be one of those rare City Council meetings where an important decision has got to be made, and there really is no way for any City Councilmembers to escape. Ostensibly about water use restrictions, what is also at stake here is the issue of moving forward on three unwanted McMansion developments in town. This during the worst drought in all of recorded California history.

Here are several of the less sanguine things to look for tomorrow evening:

1) It will take 4 out of the 5 City Council votes to put either a water or building moratorium into place. With Mayor Harabedian apparently adamantly opposed to anything but Phase III water restrictions, this means it would require all of the other Councilmembers to vote against him on this matter for either moratorium to survive. That is a tall order. My guess? Two other Councilmembers will join with the Mayor, but each will oppose a different moratorium opportunity. Done so that nobody but the Mayor will have voted in opposition to both. 

However, should either of the moratorium choices actually get the 4 votes necessary, and this is possible, it will be a bruising political defeat for young Mr. Harabedian.

2) Every Councilmember currently seated at the dais ran for office as an avowed defender of slow growth and preservation in Sierra Madre. It is my belief that any of them voting against some kind of a meaningful moratorium on development (the two options that don't include fining residents), will have sold out on their campaign promises to the residents.

3a) Mayor Harabedian's Phase III "water conservation" push is a cynical political ploy and designed to function as a wedge issue. He is pushing it in order to derail public outrage over McMansion development, in particular what is going down at Mater Dolorosa. Focusing public attention on water use fines (and how much your neighbors might be using, of course) is intended to dissipate public outrage over City Hall enabled mass development during this state's worst ever drought driven environmental disaster.

3b) Phase III water fines for use beyond what the city deems appropriate is also a scam. After two water price hikes in less than five years, a combined nearly 100% rate increase, plus water quality deterioration to levels approaching that of failed Third World nations (you do know that the water consultant we hired specializes in Third World water borne diseases, right?), fining people is nothing less than resident abuse. Few living here will be able to achieve 30% water use reductions on top of those they've already implemented, which means the majority of people in town will be fined. Some more heavily than others. This will result in a cash windfall for the City, tantamount to a 3rd water rate increase.

It will also result in widespread public outrage over Phase III water fines, leading to its cancellation within months, and taking the water hookup restrictions along with it. The developers and their City Hall enablers would all win big. You would lose.

4) You need to follow the "Money Rule." If you want to figure out where the Mayor and City Hall are going with this, follow the money. They need development impact fees to fund the Cadillac pensions and health care plans this city gave away to its employees during the last few rounds of union negotiations. Phase III "water conservation" gives the city its best shot at getting safely past the public call for moratoriums on development due to current drought conditions. The Mayor, who is beholden to the POA and other unions for their support in 2012, must deliver for them. Otherwise that shining political future he wants so badly could take a serious hit.

It is earn or burn time for Johnny. That is how it works here in one party L.A. County.

Here is a rather restrained Staff Report from City Hall:


This really could be the most entertaining City Council meeting in years. You need to be there. Democracy only works when the people participate. Bring popcorn.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

122 comments:

  1. I listened to several citizens comment about moratoriums over the weekend. Several mentioned they would be against the because it would not allow them to build onto their homes. I felt this shouldn't be a problem as water hook ups weren't involved. Others just didn't care about mc mansions changing the city. The thing for me is they should care about what the council does on our behalf. There doesn't seem to be much sharing of info. Why hasn't the city plan been adopted? What is going on with the affordable housing act? If we have a budget crisis then why do we have so many city employees with such good perks? Why is there no information about compliance regarding water conservation? How many residents have not reduced water usage? How many fines have been levied? Why does the council feel that lot splitting is okay? The list is endless. One guy said he wouldn't bother going to the meeting because he disagreed and did not want to be mocked and ridiculed by this in attendance! This is a community and everyone has the right to an opinion. As such, one should have the guts to say what they believe. That opens discussion. What a wuss! As for the council, they all need to be held responsible for what they promised in order to be elected. There should be some honor. Tuesday will be enlightening, in some way, to all of us. Can 5 people determine what citizens should have or not have, or do the citizens have any voice. Come to the meeting. It may not cost to get in, but it could cost a lot if you stay away-regardless of your opinion.

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    1. 5:30 - was this all at a meeting?

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    2. No. On the street 4th of July.

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    3. No. On the streets on July 4th.

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    4. No. 4th Street on July.

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  2. I am thinking now that maybe we stay with Phase 2 conservation efforts but add a bit of teeth with phase 1 penalites. It may be too diffcult for residents to decrease their usage by an additional 10% when we go from the Phase 2's 20% reduction in use to the Phase 3's 30% reduction in use. But certainly, the whole mess gets alot bigger if we add more users which drops the threshold of when you need to take these kinds of emergency actions in the future and exacerabates an existing emergency as we have now. That' why the Water and Building moratoriums are so important.

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    1. Keep in mind that with the implementation of Phase 3, it shows that this is a true emergency. Whether its Phase 2 or Phase 3, you only get penalized if you don't hit the 10% reduction target. So its the same. I think we need the Phase 3 and the Building and Water Moratoriums.

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    2. If you fine the residents after 2 Prop 218 water rate increases and yellow water this town will explode. There is only so much this town can take.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    4. The only thing exploding around here is my head when I see how much $$$$ is being spend on employees pensions and health plans. Yipes.

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  3. Did anybody who sent emails to the council get a response from Goss?

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    1. I didn't, though I've heard he is both for and against emailing.

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    2. Delmar, Arizmendi and Capoccia respond to emails from constituents. Goss and Harabedian don't.

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    3. Harabedian responds, per a Tattler poster last week. Goss is MIA.

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    4. As a courtesy to your constituents, every email should be responded to even if its a form response. Horrible PR if you don't do that. What a way to start.

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    5. I have had replies from all but Goss. I encourage everyone to send out emails if you have not already.

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  4. I like the idea of staying at Phase 2 but instituting the Phase 1 penalites and also the Water and Building moratoriums too. These are positive steps that help the sitution on all fronts. It is also more doable.

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    1. Keep in mind that with the implementation of Phase 3, it shows that this is a true emergency. Whether its Phase 2 or Phase 3, you only get penalized if you don't hit the 10% reduction target. So its the same. I think we need the Phase 3 and the Building and Water Moratoriums.

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  5. Does anyone know the details of a Building Moratorium. Does it stop people from adding on another room to an existing home or does it stop the construction of a brand new home that hasn't started yet?

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  6. No fines. Why is it everything this city does involve the taking of more money from the residents?

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  7. Have other cities successfully instituted a building moratorium because of a water shortage? What is the likelihood we will be sued and loose? If we do, could a judicial decision open the city to more development than is currently on the table? If anyone knows the answers to these questions bring them up tonight, because I am sure the council is wondering the same thing that I am.

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    1. Lawsuits are a fake issue. What is important is to maintain city taxpayer rights to control the destiny of their own community. It is our town, we pay the bills and we call the shots. Besides, all any grubby developer wants is money. If we are sued and "loose" it might cost us a few bucks. And if we don't lose we countersue and make them pay. We have to defend our rights.

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    2. 7:22 - the meeting is tomorrow night.

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    3. 7:30 is sadly misinformed. Carter 1 litigation cost the taxpayers well over $1MM, and I am reasonably certain the Hildreth lawsuit is in the six figures at this point. I am not advocating rolling over, but we need to be strategic and prudent with our tax dollars being used for lawsuits.

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    4. Mommy! Lawyers are coming! Eeeeekk! Run away! Run away!!

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    5. Yeah, but 8:09. Those lawsuits came after John Buchanan, Enid Joffe and Rob Stockley gave the developer everything they wanted. Everything. And the developer still sued us. Being a surrender monkey does not guarantee anything.

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    6. A building moratorium is only good for 2 years and has to be predicated on some kind of resolution of studying a problem. A water hookup moratorium can be for as long as needed, like Cambria, who instituted a water hookup moratorium in 2002, because their growth was far outstripping their water resources. Think about it.

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    7. Sierra Madre needs to be put on a sustainable path for the existing residents. We shouldn't be made to suffer so that developers can ruin our city with McMansions, congestion and pollution. Say NO to saving water for developers.

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    8. We can always run scared and let the devlelopers and their lawyers scare us into submission. Or, we can tell them that its our town and we will determine its future and not them. We must look out for the exisitng residents first.

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  8. Law suits a fake issue? Hmmm... I vaguely recall that fake issue resulting in the 1 Carter development. I agree, we need to be armed with as much research as possible. Oh, and when tens of millions of dollars are at stake, don't think we won't be sued.

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    1. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of development futility at One Carter. Take that Chicken Little.

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    2. 7:41. We were in a deep recession for many of those years, and development was drastically curtailed in California. As we have witnessed, even here in our very own town, development is back on the upswing and homes are selling. Low inventory is driving prices up.

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    3. Buck buck buck buck bacaw!!

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    4. 8:20, glad you can add to this discussion. So insightful, convinced me.

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    5. Sierra Madre is now in the cross-hairs of the developers after they have ruined Arcaida and Pasadena. We can control our own destiny.

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    6. when we talk about "developers" make sure you are also including "realtors" cause they only care about commissions and inventory

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    7. I think 8:20 was Gene Goss. Or someone channeling him.

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    8. That's right, realtors will sell out the whole town if they could. Tell me one Realtor in town who openly supports preserving the town. I'm only asking for one. The silence from the realtors is deafening.

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    9. I would also put realtors into the same league as developes. Looking out only for themselves and not caring what happens to Sierra Madre.

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    10. 12:35 The answer is Matt Bryant. He lives on Edgeview.

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    11. Debbie Pock has always been for preservation. Debbie works at Berkshire Hathaway.

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    12. Well, maybe there are a few but its a very small number. I'd like to see one company take a principled stand for preserving Sierra Madre. I've heard Matt's name come up a few times but not Debbie Pock. Is she willing to speak up?

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    13. Can I ask a question? Why is this important? Sure there are a few bad apples, but for the most part realtors are hard working people trying to make a living in a very competitive field. Can we just leave this one be?

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    14. 9:18....how do you think they get paid?...by commission, and what do you they sell to produce a commission? ...homes, if their is no inventory...no commission, I would be concerned about those two things also.

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    15. The Spirit of Rodney KingJuly 7, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      Can't we all just get along?

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    16. A friend and former clientJuly 7, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      Actually I just want to say that Debbie Pock is a great realtor who always works for her client! Ethical, honest, and a long time friend of Sierra Madre. She's just not political and that's how she maintains her integrity and client base.

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  9. A city has the right to determine its future. We can't run out of water or force residents to incur penalties if they don't drastically cut their usage all so that there will be enough water for the developers to ruin our city. The lawyer for One Carter said we need to conserve more water and tighten our belts further so that developers can get rich by turning our city into Arcadia. Whatever it takes to stop this, I am willing to do.

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    1. one set of rules for developers and another set for residents

      been going on in SM for over 15 years since Doyle and continuing today with Harabedian

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    2. Let's remember that Harabedian was not here for most of the Carter mess. He has spent the last several years away at school.

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    3. 9:42 - the Harabedian apologist. He spent at least 8 years away at school and didn't even live anywhere near here. What a joke! He is a political climber and you are just a notch in his Gucci belt.

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  10. The canyon moratorium prevented any minor additions, I assume the water will do the same.

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    1. Why do you post things that are not true? Are you dumb enough to think anybody will actually believe you?

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    2. Realtors, please try and remember that every time you tell a lie your butts get bigger. Some of you suffer badly enough as it is.

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    3. The Canyon Moratorium allowed for additions up to 200 square feet.

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    4. One we put the Moratoriums in place, maybe we can set some basic rules that allow for certain reasonable improvements that don't guzzle up all our water.

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  11. Our elected representatives will do their jobs as they feel are in our best interests. That is why we vote

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    1. Did the Easter Bunny visit you this year?

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    2. No Easter bunny for several years has come. I still dream about the tooth fairy but since my uncle died nobody clandestinely visits me while I sleep.

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    3. 7:52, would you share some of what you are smoking?

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    4. Let me repair that. Our elected representatives will do what they feel is best for the outside interests that will throw some money City Hall's way.

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    5. 8:00 That is really sick.

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    6. yeah, like Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran

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    7. 7:52, would you share some of what you are smoking?
      250 oz. Glendale

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  12. They can do a moratorium that allows remodels, the council just needs to define it when they make the rules. Oh, and the person is correct about the canyon moratorium. You could get around it by going to the planning commission and the city council. Didn't Ron and Debbie Henderson go to the council to finish their remodel. If memory serves me right, they were in the middle of an addition when the moratorium took place. They actually had to stop construction midway through because they couldn't get any more building permits?

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    1. Permits were held up until the Canyon Zone Committee was finished. People can do whatever they want to their lovely Canyon Chateaus these days as long as they follow the law. Pretty much how things work in this world.

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    2. Or SHOULD work.

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  13. The building moratorium will not prevent anyone from making repairs, remoldeling or even tearing down their existing home and building a new one if they want.

    Section 2 of the ordinance makes it clear that the building moratorium does NOT apply to projects where a water service connection is already in place.

    We need Phase 2 with a Phase 1 penalty. It is punative to ask those of us who have met their 20% reduction to go to 30%. Thoes who have not even met 10% should be given some incouragement to do better.

    Phase 2 do not stop new water hookup permits but the solution is very simple, pass the water and building moratoriums.

    See you all at the meeting.

    Barry Gold


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    1. Thank you for clearing that up Barry.

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    2. I'm with Barry

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    3. Keep in mind that with the implementation of Phase 3, it shows that this is a true emergency. Whether its Phase 2 or Phase 3, you only get penalized if you don't hit the 10% reduction target. So its the same. I think we need the Phase 3 and the Building and Water Moratoriums.

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    4. After thinking about it some more and seeing what others have said I do think we need Phase 3 with a Phase 1 penalty. This is how we show that the water problem is that serious. But we also need both moratoriums. We need every tool available to stop the developers from finding ways around Phase 3 alone.

      Barry

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    5. Barry's right. Developers and their lawyers have a way of exploiting loopholes. The moratoriums must be air-tight until we can gather up the information to see how bad things really are.

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    6. You do not need Phase 3 to show that the water problem is serious. 100% of California has a water problem that is serious. It seems that City Hall is doing a lot of arm-twisting to get Phase 3. And if Phase 3 is being sold as a quid pro quo, there will be hidden consequences for the town, we may be sure of that. There is precedent. Right at the top of Baldwin Avenue.

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  14. I heard that Arcadia has one tier, it is far less than ours per unit of water and you cannot find Monrovia's rate on line. How is it we are in such a mess? I'll tell you: mismanaged water department under previous City administrator Jim Macray and subsequent managers who kept ignoring the problem.

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    1. Pasadena has a 4 tier system of billing for water, broken into winter/summer, residential/commercial rates. For residential summer block 4 usage the charge is over $5.00 per unit (same measure as ours, 100 c/f or 748 gallons). Arcadia does have a single tier, but I will bet that will change, now that they have been forced to stop using our portion of groundwater. The point, how shall the City encourage water conservation and prudent usage?

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    2. Arcadia wasn't using our portion of groundwater, they were stealing it. For over 10 years. How cool is that?

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  15. Arcadia steals our water, that's a lawsuit worth spending money on. Increase our share of the water in the Raymond basin.

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  16. The only advantage of the Phase 3 is that it prevents new hookups for water meters. If we stay with the Phase 2 but have only Phase 1 penatlies that will cause further conservation by the residents without being too draconian. You then must have thw Water and Building moratoriums to prevent the new water connections and the further construction of new homes until we can figure all this out. Anything less than this would be irrresponsible.

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    1. Legally, there has to be a compelling argument for having a building moratorium. Included in that argument there has to something to show the State that we are in an acute water crisis and trying to do something about it. I have been told that Phase 2 will not do it, we need to go to phase 3 for a strong compelling argument. I would be willing to go to Phase 3 if the fine structure is adjusted. Those of us who have been saving water like crazy should not be fined for those who continue to use as much water as they want. I've heard people say, heck with the conservation, I'm not going to let my yard die. That attitude won't change unless there are stiff penalties.

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    2. Here's today's LOL: " Phase 3 is a strong compelling argument that there is a water crisis." Hah! So dry wells and dying crops aren't enough? We need the magic potion in Phase 3 to survive? What a giant truckload of horse hockey! Borne aloft by trolls, to boot.

      For reasonable people, parched earth, scientific studies, and NOAA reports are sufficient proof that there's a water crisis. For political shills, only double-talk and tricks will do. Set your Phasers to stun, 10:36, 10:37, 10:38 and 10:39. We're not buying your Phase 3 baloney.

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    3. Common sense....come on in!

      Anyone that advocates Phase 3 is a Development stooge.

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    4. I'm not sure where 12:29 and 12:39 are coming from. Either there is an emergency or their isn't. You're right that there are alot of indicators. The questions is how do we solve it. We will all need to feel some pain. The only concern I have about the residents tightening their belts further is that we are somehow then making more water available for the developers. Maybe that's the argument you are trying to make. But that's why I want the Phase 3 combined with the water and building moratoriums. If Harabedian persists that the Phase 3 is sufficient, he is really showing his true colors.

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  17. Sierra Madre must be able to sustain itself without being dependant upon the MWD for our life-line - particularly when even the MWD source is not a sure thing.

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  18. either we have a water crisis or we don't

    can't be concerned about water when Harabedian and Goss are pandering to new developement and then chastising us for not conserving water

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  19. If there is one meeting that people need to come to, its Tuesday night. We need to pack the chambers and let people know that we care about this issue and how we feel. Bring two friends. Speak, clap, whatever. Now is the moment when the citizens can determine the future of their own community. Make a difference!

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    1. Speak, clap... good, but don't boo those who speak against the moratoriums. They are waiting to show that we want to limit their right to free speech. I will treat them with respect and expect them to do the same.

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    2. Is an occasional groan of disbelief acceptable?

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    3. An occasional groan or grunt or frantic body movement is acceptable in reaction to the misinformed - but no cursing or booing or physically removing them from the podium is allowed. The throwing of rotten tomatoes may be ok if any of the police in attendance are not looking.

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    4. What would Miss Manners do?

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    5. Swear like a sailor.

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  20. There is another trick happening here that you have not mentioned. The water moratorium and building moratorium were crafted as "urgency" ordinances that will take effect immediately. This is why they require a 4/5 vote (California Government Code Section 36937). These "urgency" ordinances are designed to fail and thereafter shut the residents up.

    However, if the urgency ordinances fail but 3 of the 5 council members are in support then these ordinances can be recrafted as regular (not urgency) ordinances that will take effect 30 days after their final passage. Regular ordinances require only a 3/5 vote.

    So if either of these urgency moratoriums fail, the council members in support (and the crowd) should immediately demand they be converted to regular ordinances and put up for another vote. If its not a violation of the Brown Act that vote should be tomorrow (if the urgency ordinances fail) if they have to be publicly noticed then the ordinances have to be re-crafted as regular ordinances and voted on again at the next meeting.

    All speakers should point this out and demand it. That way Harabedian/Goss will understand it is fruitless to vote no and they will approve the urgency ordinances.

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    1. Thank you. Great information.

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    2. The Council could change it to a regular ordinance during the meeting. Not rocket science.

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    3. Yes, but why isn;t it spelled out that way in the staff report? Seems, well, deceptive.

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    4. Highly doubtful they can convert it to a regular ordinance in the same meeting because of public notice requirements. The City attorney can be asked in the event they fail to pass as urgency ordinances.

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    5. So this all gets delayed because the city wanted to keep the non-urgency option hidden?

      Fire them.

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    6. sometimes they use an urgency ordinance to exempt the ordinance from requiring an environmental impact report. however, because this action is 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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    7. Wow, I never like the 4/5ths to pass it anyway. Forget the urgency ordinance. It should just be majority vote.

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    8. City Hall just never plays it straight. There is always a dodge.

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  21. and if the urgency ordinances fail and Harabedian refuses to reagendize the ordinances (as chair of the meeting the mayor controls the agenda) as regular ordinances (that he knows will pass) then Council members should be prepared to make and 2nd a motion to remove Harabedian as Mayor and replace him with Capoccia. Either this is an emergency or it isn't. Deeds must be congruent with words.

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    1. FACT

      BSASED UPON THESE STATEMENTS - THERE IS NO EMERGENCY...

      1) BRUCE INMAN STATED THAT THE CITY HAS 40 ACRE FEET OF "FREE WATER CREDITS" FROM MWD.
      2) SO FAR THE CITY HAS USED 14 ACRE FEET IN THE LAST 8+ MONTHS....

      3) WATER LEFT FOR CITY USE AGE -
      3-a) BRUCE INMAN STATED THE CITY HAS 2 YEARS LEFT OF MWD WATER / WATER CREDITS,
      3-b) BRUCE INMAN FURTHER STATED THAT THERE IS 3 - 4 YEARS OF WATER LEFT IN THE GROUND / CITY RESERVIOR FOR CITY WATER WELLS TO PUMP WITH OUT WELL MODIFICATIONS!

      4) WHY NOT REPAIR THOSE CITY WELLS - DRILL THEM DEEPER - PRODUCE MORE CITY WATER... ?
      4-a) WHY NOT DRILL A NEW CITY WATER WELL NEXT TO THE ARCADIA WATER WELL ON BALDWIN & ORANGE GROVE?
      4-b) City hall has failed to provide water well improvements ....WHERE HAS ALL THE WATER & SEWER MONIES GONE FOR THE PAST 10 - 20 YEARS ?
      4-c) THE RESIDENTS NEED A FORENSIC AUDIT... CITY HALL HAS FAILED TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION!

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    2. sierra madre uses 2,500 to 3,000 acre-feet a year of water doofus

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    3. I wonder where he's getting his medical marijuana. Seems like pretty potent stuff.

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    4. I agree that the City has water resources it is not telling us about. Just like the $1million+ that was "found" after Measure F failed.

      However, Sierra Madre has already replaced and upgraded it's wells and pumps to the tune of millions of dollars. I suppose that once they stop poisoning our wells (or at least convincing people the water is poisonous), they will "find" the water needed for development.

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    5. When is all caps going to understand that our wells can't be drilled any deeper because of bedrock? This has been stated many times on this blog. When is all caps going to understand that a forensic audit will cost a lot of money, take up a lot of time, and not yield any benefits? Did all caps hear Bruce at the last council meeting say that there is no guarantee that we will get MWD water because we are not a regular customer? When L.A. runs low on water, ours will be cut off. And, 2:01, when has the city ever said that the water is poisonous? It may be yellow or red, but not poisonous.

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    6. 4:37 - As far as the water turning poisonous, there is something to it. Check out this post:
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2014/06/blue-baby-syndrome-nitrification-how.html

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    7. @ 4:37pm

      Welcome to Sierra Madre. I always love it when new people act like they've been here forever and know everything.

      Back in the days of the Bart Doyle led City Council, we were told that our well water was poisonous. The City even hired a consultant to take measurements and do analysis, which was later published. That was the primary reason we were given for needing to spend millions of dollars on new pumps and wells. And now that debt is hanging over the City like an albatross.

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    8. 4:37 has been in Sierra Madre for 50 years. How long have you been here?

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  22. Off subject, but what are your thoughts on outsourcing SMPD? I want to start a petition to get it on the ballot.

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    1. I would sign that,

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    2. I welcome the petition and would sign it!

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    3. Has my support.

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  23. I support a free drug Sierra Madre. Who's with me!!!!!!

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    1. I think you have already found it.

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    2. Cheech or Was It Chong?July 7, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      Like, wow man.

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    3. He was told not to drink the yellow water. And more than once!

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    4. Can't wait for marijuana to be legal in the canyon, oh wait it already is...

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  24. On another note...there was only ONE application for the vacancy on the Planning Commission. ONE! You people are so dumb to let an opportunity like that pass you by.

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    1. Why didn't you apply?

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    2. Maybe 7pm doesn't live in Sierra Madre and is making an observation that it is odd that there aren't more people who applied given the possible develpment on the horizon.My guess is that there aren't enough qualified people to do the job well. Planning Commission is one of those commissions where you need someone well versed in planning, architecture and land use. And a backbone.

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    3. Yes but that one is a friend of the citizens and well qualified.

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