Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mater Dolorosa: Was Cameron Thornton Engaging In Mischaracterization?

Look into my eyes ...
The developer chosen by Cameron Thornton and his merry band of concerned investment professionals for whatever tract housing project they have planned for Mater Dolorosa is called New Urban West Inc. (link). This Santa Monica corporation apparently specializes in a canned schmaltzy style of housing, one that actually strives to imitate what we have here in Sierra Madre, but without the organic authenticity or originality.

And one of the things that really got The Thorntonator chafed both red and raw last May was that people were daring to characterize the 50 or so jam packers he hopes to stuff onto the 20 acres peeled off from this at-risk Monastery as being "massive."

I guess in Cameron's mind that claimed 3,800 square foot figure isn't all that massive. Maybe just really big. And certainly bigger than most of the homes in the neighborhoods surrounding the Monastery. But then again, how else is he going to make any of that big money for his partners? Build 2,200 square foot homes?

Nah. You'll never get the kind of jelly rolls Cameron is looking for with boxes that small.

So irate was Mr. Thornton by this "massive" talk that he penned a rather tart press release about just that topic. Here is a screen shot that focuses on the issues we are discussing today.


Whatever.

Recently we received the following blog comment from an individual living down south in beautiful  Escondido. Apparently they are facing a similarly invasive community incursion from New Urban West, and wanted to share their experiences with us. Here is what our new friend said:

I live in a rural community just outside the San Diego City limits. New Urban West wants to build 65 4000+ sq. foot tract homes on 42 acres of polluted farmland right in the middle of our neighborhood. There are calling this new development "Oak Creek". New Urban West is using the same divide and conquer tactics and donating huge sums of money to local politicians to get this through under our noses. Their public outreach is terrible and they pit neighbors against neighbors. Our community has banded together to stop this nonsense. Here is our website. Maybe it will help your community. http://www.escondidoneighbors.org/

I made a screen shot of part of the page on the Escondido Neighbors United website (link) dealing with New Urban West and their so-called "Oak Creek" development. There is some pretty good information to be found there, quite similar to some of the issues that have arisen here. Check it out.


So let's see. The houses at the Escondido project are to be over 4,000 square feet, they'll be "clustered" to maximize density and profitability, and the entire development will be gated. All things that are not supposed to be happening here with the Mater Dolorosa project. Yet they are both the product of the exact same developer.

So why should we believe Cameron Thornton? After all, once that Monastery property is sold he will be out of the picture. New Urban West will be calling the shots.

Tonight's Planning Commission Meeting on One Carter

This is turning out to be a very important, and likely quite interesting, meeting. The party starts at 7PM, and some of our favorite development community personalities are certain to be in attendance. You know them, you love them. Let them see you smile.

Unfortunately for me I have a "back to school night" event to attend and I will not be there. I will be speaking later in the evening to people who did get a chance to watch the meeting, but I could use your input as well. Can I get a witness?

This evening please leave your observations here. Chances are pretty good I will be able to use them for tomorrow's post.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

60 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. you guys are a bunch of cry babies.... Go to work and get yourself a job. Make your money and buy what you can afford?

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    2. Obviously, this developer has had a melt down.

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    3. The problem is if I buy a house with nice views and sunlight coming in, you might buy the house next door, tear it down, and build a house that now blocks my views and my sunlight. You wouldn't care about me now would you Mr. Developer.

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    4. I think the moratoriums are getting to 12:02.

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    5. 12:02 has no idea what it takes to live in Sierra Madre.

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    6. Is that you, Eliane?

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    7. Sure is, big boy. You looking for a date?

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  2. Mater Dolorosa is strictly a money deal. And a shameless one at that.

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    1. Its all about the money. Mater Dolorosa even raised money for the their aging priests and as of Nov. of 2013 according to their own website, achieved 4 million of their 5 million dollar goal. Why has that fundraiser been removed from their website? What did they do with the money donated by ordinary folks like us? If they needed more money, why didn't they have a higher goal than 4 million? Why did so many people who donated to Mater Dolorosa in the past never know they had a financial problem that might lead to the sale of the land? Why wasn't their a Save Mater Dolorosa campaign on their part? Alot of questions but very few answers from these people.

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    2. Mater Dolorosa became tainted by greed, Their Board of Directors became stacked with developers and others with a possible financial interest in its sale. They lost the focus on their godly mission. Obviously, worse things have been done than the sale of a piece of land. That is why the Catholic Church is now paying millions of dollars in legal judgments.

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    3. At the City Council meeting when they voted for the moratoriums, Cameron Thornton brought two priest with him and announced their presence in his public remarks in a naked attempt to pull on our heart strings. With all that has happened and is still being uncovered, doesn't he realize that might not be a good idea.

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    4. The real story is, they never needed to sell their property here, they say now that they need it for their mission in India.

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  3. Looked at the website. They don't show any close ups or insides. What you can see is "Santa Barbara" style sort of, with addition of minor turrets and domes. That fits into all neighborhoods. And it's gated! We have so much of that here. Be at the meeting tonight. We need to tell the council what WE don't want.

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    1. Yes we need some people at the meeting. This would create a very bad precedent.

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    2. Gun turrets are pretty common in little old Sierra Madre.

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  4. New Urban West is a predatory developer. They search out and find the most beautiful areas of land that have not been developed for the very reason that no one in those communities want to see it developed. Then they follow their standard blue print of large donations to politicians and the divide and conquer strategy among the neighbors. They don't care about the carnage that results. All they care about is the bottom line - how much money they can make. Just like the citizens of Escondido, we need to band together and stop this.

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    1. We should really study what the people in Escondido are doing and what the folks in Burbank are doing to stop urban sprawl and stop the McMansions. The good news is we don't have to look far to see the results of this kind of over-development. Look no further than Arcadia. Those homes are hideous, massive and over-done. The further good news is we have the ability to determine our own future. We can set the standards that developers have to adhere to. We can literally make it impossible to build the kind of homes we see in Arcadia.

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    2. Mater Dolorosa is willing to alienate the entire community in which they reside just for the almighty dollar. It will be a big mistake and a public relations disaster.

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    3. I find the whole "old priest retirement" argument troubling. The Passionists have sold property elsewhere as well. How much is really needed? I think this is a feel good smoke screen designed to hide a stone cold real estate deal.

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    4. It doesn't work for me. Why we should endure years of heavy truck traffic, dust and construction racket just because the Passionists didn't save up for their retirements is lost on me. This is a disaster for our community. Why do we have to pay so awful a price?

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    5. The "priest retirement" justification doesn't hold water. There's more to the story as they say. Maybe they've simply seen the future for Priests and the Catholic Church and have thrown in the towel and just want to cash out and fund their own retirements However, they need to break the news to all the faithful who showed up in April for the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross. The crowds were overflowing and the cars were jam packed over the land they want to sell. Maybe the Passionists want to throw in the towel and cut back but there are still people who have faith that all things are possible through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. While the messengers may be weak, the message is still strong.

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  5. I'd like to see Mr. Thornton go on the record and tell us what his interest is in this project going through. I know they say its to pay the retirement costs for 63 aging priests but what's his interest. And by the way, the number of priests has only decreased over the years. Why do they have to sell the property now after having owned it for almost 100 years and even surviving the great depression. When we try to understand why the Catholic Church is losing so many followers and why they have had all the problems with the Priests (and you know what I'm referring to), the decision to sell a portion of Mater Dolorosa says it all. These are not godly decisions being made. These are selfish decisions.

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    1. Cameron Thornton owns a Burbank investment company for an upper middle class clientele anxious about retirement. How many investment dollars has he invested for these people in the Mater Dolorosa project?

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    2. I've looked onto those eyes and I don't trust 'em.

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    3. They look like cat eyes.

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    4. Isn't there an Eagles song about "Lying Eyes"?

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  6. It will be interesting to follow the efforts of our friends in Escondido who are fighting a similar battle to preserve their neighborhood from New Urban West. They have already tipped up off to how New Urban West intends to shove this project down our throats - bribing the politicians and dividing one neighbor against the other. That's why New Urban West is holding their "small group meetings" with selected people. That is all part of the divide and conquer strategy that our friends in Escondido have already experienced.

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  7. Any one who meets with New Urban West in one of their "small group meetings" needs to understand that this is a strategy. They want to put their arm around you and maybe throw you a bone here or there. Don't let yourself be bought off. If we band together, they can be stopped.

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  8. You have to love those people in Escondido who are volunteering their time to try to preserve what little open space we seem to have left.

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  9. The charge the Escondido poster makes that NUW is donating a lot of money to local politicians is disturbing. Is there any indication that such a thing is happening here?

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    1. New Urban West has already started part of their plan: the so called "get to know you meetings" where they try to divide and conquer bring a few dupes to their side.

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    2. I think it is called stump the chumps.

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  10. Housing clusters are part of the NUW's plan for the Mater Dolorosa property.

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    Replies
    1. As with all developers they want to squeeze out the last ounce of money. They then get out of Dodge and the community is left with the consequences like more traffic, pollution, drain on resources, displacement of wildlife, loss of open space and the list goes on.

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    2. Of course. It is how you increase density and make even more money. So much for being in character with the rest of the community!

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  11. If the planning commission allows those basements you can be assured they won't remain basements. They will become rental units or more likely turned into additional living quarters. There is no enforcement mechanism as it stands now to uncover this which is why the infrastructure should not be allowed in the first place.

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    1. It would be a good time to invest in shovels. People all over town would start digging. Talk about letting the genii out of the bottle!

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    2. 10:56, no one is saying it'll be a basement - it's a bedroom, bathroom, wine closet, whatever on the plans.

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    3. It will be whatever they want it to be at the time.

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    4. The houses shouldn't be that large. They just want to put the extra mass underground. Call it whatever you want, they shouldn't allow it.

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  12. Eric Church
    "Give Me Back My Hometown"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5DnNxDTjbQ

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    1. sorry eric, city hall owns it and you and everyone must pay for the salaries, pensions and long term bank loans!

      remember what john cappocia and Karen Snyder said at all those city hall meetings? everyone who buys a house in sierra madre has to go to the bank, borrow money. That's what city hall has to do also! and you must pay for city halls long term bank debts! is there any one who disagrees with this method. cheers

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  13. Sierra Madre, start your shovels.

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  14. o.k. they put some of the mass underground, but they increased the square footage by a lot. Have you seen the story poles for the new proposals? Still massive.

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  15. great question for barney fife of Andy of Mayberry,

    1) maybe - if every water meter paying customer re circulates 1 gallon of grey water a day that could recharge sierra madre's water reservoir.

    OR

    2) maybe - if all sierra madre water paying customers move to Arcadia for the next 12 months.... sierra madre water reservoir could recharge because no sierra madre property owner would not be pumping any water from the sierra madre reservoir?

    sounds logical... any one want to ask city hall?

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    1. I like #2. If we move to Arcadia we get to drink Sierra Madre's water!

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    2. We're not pumping any water for Sierra Madre residents it is all coming from MWD.

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  16. Planning Commission voted to continue. Attorney said the only change they would make would be to eliminate the basement. So, looks like the ball is in their court and they are counting on the City Council to overturn the Planning Commission. Any bets?

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    1. I think the CETT Set and the Chang Thang have been defeated.

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    2. just waiting to appeal, get denied, then sue.

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    3. Like Spears said, the ball is in their court. They can adhere to the guidelines established in Sierra Madre, or not.

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    4. This whole mess started because a city council didn't listen to a planning commission. I don't think the majority on our current council is that stupid.

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    5. Mayor Harabedian just doesn't know how to say no. That's the process for you.

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  17. Planning Commission was smart - make Chang & company return on September 17 for another turndown. That's another few weeks before they can appeal to City Council. If CC does the right thing by denying this massive structure, then they'll sue. If you weren't there tonight, be sure to watch - it's the best entertainment there is! So many great moments - Bob Spears telling Chang that we have to live in this town, you get your money and move on. Attorney MacDonald saying, "That's not true. Adele has purchased lot 17 (18?) and plans to raise her family here." Gina Freyer-Hunt, retorting, "Yeah, we hear that from every developer that comes before us. Then they disappear." Thank you Planning Commission!

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    1. Great post 9:59, but it was the owner who said she was going to live there, not the architect. 2 different people.

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    2. And the one more time is on September 18.

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  18. Once again the planning commission did us proud.

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  19. I think we've stepped on architect Chang's last nerve. I wonder if she regrets taking this job?

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    1. CETT still has to pay her.

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