|Moat with crocodiles optional|
It just goes to show, you should never ever count the Planning Commission out. Just when you thought that the end was finally here and nearly 10 years of One Carter development futility had come to an end, truth and justice prevailed as yet another poorly conceived project went down in flames.
Hear them roar.
The evening's festivities began on a bizarre note with Commissioner Paschall reading a statement declaring that he was not prejudiced against the project the CETT Set (aka "the developer") wants to build at One Carter. This apparently due to Attorney Richard "Lawsuit Richie" MacDonald's charge that Kevin, who he apparently suspects of McMansionphobia, was somehow opposed to their project for reasons other than it violates a raft of Sierra Madre building ordinances and codes, looks kinda stupid, and has generally been a lousy and poorly organized effort.
I guess Lawsuit Richie figured that he could win the love and respect of the Planning Commission by leveling a few rather bizarre accusations against one of its members. If so, it was a strategy that didn't quite work out as planned last night. Either that or the entire Commission is made up of McMansionphobes.
Maybe at the next meeting all of them will need to read similar statements? You know, perhaps stating that some of their best friends are McMansions?
The Architect, that remarkable and world celebrated Adele Chang, was either stuck in traffic or just late, so Lawsuit Richie ran the CETT show for a while. He continued to make wonderful use of his time by talking about how he had spoken to neighbors of this project, and surprisingly found that they were not necessarily unsettled by it. Rather opinions were instead "all over the map."
Who these neighbors are is anybody's guess, and apparently none of them had arranged to stop by and read any statements avowing their lack of prejudice against jumbo wickiups. Even ones designed by so great an architect as Adele Chang. But Richie did drop Marguerite Schuster's name a few times, and she did get up later to speak. Oddly enough, she expressed serious reservations about the project.
This apparently was some sort of fabricated "divide and conquer" strategy designed to make it appear that there is not just one set opinion in the community about this project. It must be noted here that the Harmen family, who are the only actual neighbors to what at this point is only a story pole castle, were not visited by Lawsuit Richie or anyone else from CETT. Something that only deepens the mystery here.
Perhaps the Attorney had instead been conversing with the spirits of the indigenous peoples buried at One Carter thousands of years ago? Last evening that could have seemed possible.
The highly honored Adele Chang did eventually show up, which gave Kevin Paschall the opportunity to quiz her about the promised "gray water plan" that was supposed to be a part of the overall presentation for this project. It was only logical to ask about this plan as gray water had previously been spoken of by CETT as being one of the many wonderful things they promised to do. Adele replied that she did not have one, and was no specialist in gray water, either. But when the time came she would hire someone to take care of it.
This pretty much set the theme for the evening, that being CETT just didn't have its act together. This despite all of the meetings they'd spent pushing for this thing. The result being the Planning Commission could not be convinced to vote positively on a project that still wasn't near ready for prime time.
This was later reinforced when the gifted Adele Chang began quoting square footage figures that just were not in line with what had been written into the project's plans. Plans that all the Commissioners were looking at as she spoke. Something that struck many as strange since even world famous architects are expected to have their math in order.
Other discrepancies became apparent as the evening wore on. One resident asked if a soil test had been done yet. This is important when you consider that CETT and the justifiably celebrated Adele Chang were now talking about digging a basement as big as many existing Sierra Madre homes.
The CETT Squad was forced to admit that they had done no such testing yet, which meant they also had no idea whether or not so big a basement could be dug there in the first place. If the soil isn't right any number of unfortunate things may happen. Like perhaps a portion of the mountain could collapse, and slide right into that famous wine room. Crushing what would otherwise have been some rather remarkable vintages.
The arborist report was questioned by another resident. With so many trees there having met unfortunate, and sometimes mysterious ends, what few remained needed to be properly filed in this report. That is, if only to acknowledge their current existence so they might somehow survive. At One Carter a tree needs a witness. However, it was shown that this tree report was sadly inaccurate and therefore of little use. Yet another blow to the CETT cause.
The proposed McBunker continued to be part of the conversation. It became the contention of the Planning Commission that CETT, along with the immensely gifted Adele Change, were taking unfair advantage of former Commission Chair Pendlebury's generous offer regarding subterranean building.
If the available math was correct, something that could not be assumed last evening, it appeared that while CETT had removed 268 square feet from on top of the structure, they added a full 1,350 square feet beneath. Making this a now three story building of around 4,600 square feet.
This did not exactly fit in with the Planning Commission's previous request that the developer and their fabulous architect reduce the overall mass and bulk of the structure. The impression left instead was this is yet one more CETT attempt at evading Sierra Madre's development ordinances.
Adele Chang, who as everyone knows is a fabulous architect, decided that another strategy was required, and pronto. She began to complain about how easy it is to paint architects and developers as bad people. Apparently a reprise of the McMansionphobe strategy Lawsuit Richie had employed earlier in the evening. The attorney then also joined in on the fun, albeit somewhat more aggressively. Which I guess is what you need to do when things have gone quite this badly.
Commissioner Spears countered by saying, "It is not our job to decide how large your house should be. That is something that you have to do." He went on to say that the Commission has to be faithful to the wishes of the community as they will still be here long after the developer has pocketed their money and left. The inference here being that CETT had not been living up to their responsibilities as an applicant.
Lawsuit Richie stated at last evening's proceedings that his client would in no way accept any further continuances on this project. They wanted a decision, and they wanted it now. So when the Planning Commission offered the CETT Set a continuance, they naturally had to take a sidebar to decide what to do. After around 10 minutes of high level consultation Richie came back and accepted the continuance.
Next month CETT, along with the preternaturally talented Adele Chang, will get one more opportunity to reduce the mass and bulk of this project. That plus fix the mathematical and other lapses that clearly embarrassed them last night. Given these folks have done everything they can to ignore and evade the Planning Commission's requests thus far, the odds are quite good that the results will be just more of the same. At which time CETT will appeal to the City Council and, should that fail, take us all to Court.
Which is standard practice for a One Carter development project. After all, that is pretty much how things have been going up there on the hill for nearly a decade.
Why would anything change now?