Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Camillo Road Disaster: Before And After

Before:
And After:

Probably just about the worst example ever of the consequences of lot splitting in Sierra Madre. From what was once the kind of bucolic setting this town is famous for, to a pair of packed, stacked and indescribably ugly structures that only a time-serving SCAG apparatchik could love. Proving once again that when it comes to development of this sort, density truly is a state of their mind.

I have received a number of emails and blog comments about this. Here is an example of what people are saying here about the Camillo Road disaster:


That observation was followed up by this comment:


However, Caroline Brown, had this to say:

The two monstrosities being built on Camillo, one lot up from Grandview, did not go in front of the PC and Danny Castro did not give this a pass. The developer knew the city regulations and did everything as he was allowed. There were two lots of record and as someone earlier posted you can see from google earth the house and garage were very modest. The big mistake here was that the PC did not get the new regulations in place to stop this. We did in the new canyon zone building standards for the second story building envelope and the city now has this for the entire R-1 zone. I am not sure about R-2 and R-3. The second story has to fit in a pulled back area of 45 degrees from a line drawn up 8 ft from the property line.

So if Caroline is right (and over the years I have learned that she often is), apparently the City of Sierra Madre is wide open to this variety of predatory development, and there is nothing whatsoever in place to stop the kinds of destruction the Camillo Road disaster represents. 

That is, until the recent two year building moratorium was put into place. Making this an instance where the drought is actually working for us. We now have approximately 23 months left to put something in place that will guarantee that this kind of thing never happens here again.

Another notable thing about this project, and something that has already been commented about on this site, is that there is absolutely no signage in front of the place. Nothing about who is building it, or what they think they're doing. No cloying real estate jabber welcoming you to "Boxwood Estates" or whatever chump chatter they're calling this mess. 

And, perhaps most telling of all, absolutely none of the usual helpful informational signage from the City of Sierra Madre. When has that ever happened before? 

Something that also begs the following question. Do our employees downtown ever leave their offices and actually look around this town? Is it possible that you could build the architectural equivalent of both sides of a horse's ass in Sierra Madre (and on a single lot, no less) and nobody from our overweening local government agency will ever find out about it?

That would certainly seem to explain a lot of what is going on here lately. Though I suppose there are other possibilities as well. Maybe they do know all about this and have only considered the increased tax and rate collection possibilities. When you are carrying some of the highest costing employee health plans in the entire United States of America, fund raising can become an important priority. And perhaps for them the only one they care to consider.

I tried to dig up information about any of this excitement on the City's website, and not surprisingly I could find nothing. Not to say that there isn't anything to be found, it is just that their site is so idiotically programmed and clumsy to use I couldn't get anything to show up. And I am generally pretty good at finding things on the Internet. 

Just for laughs, if you go to the City of Sierra Madre's website and type the words "Camillo Road" into the search engine, these are the first six results that come up:


A steady diet of nothing, as they say. It is as if Camillo Road doesn't even exist. Though I'll bet there are a few property and other tax charts somewhere.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

51 comments:

  1. We have to make sure that the planning commission takes care of this in the General Plan Update which they are now finalizing.

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    1. Hope the city council is reading the Tattler.

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    2. The Land Use part of the general plan might have already left the planning commission. It's headed to the council.

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    3. The building approval process for houses must be changed. All structures over 2500 sq ft or two stories need to go before the Planning Commission. Anotherlot split blunder is the glass house on East Laurel. Meets code but but does not fit into the neighborbood. This city needs to wake up.

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    4. I'd like to know if any of the immediate neighbors surrounding that Camillo project showed up
      at any Planning Commission meetings or any City Council meetings? If they didn't then that shows the results of apathy. People have to speak up and get involved or we get what we deserve.

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    5. There were NO meetings. Houses are less than 4000 sq ft. They probably did not show up at the meeting for thet lot split. The splilt met code.

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    6. Then we have to correct the rules so neighbors have the opportunity to see what's going to be built and understand how it will impact them. I don't begrudge the developer making a profit but it can't be at the expense of the existing neighbors who will have their properties reduced in value because of what the developer builds. That is not fair and can't be allowed to happen. We need some good people to advise how we can achieve that.

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  2. That "after" picture should be included in the General Plan as what NOT to build.

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    1. The EPA should be contacted. Immediately.

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    2. They will need to bring in a Hazmat team. The surrounding area will need to be evacuated as well.

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    3. The after photo is UGLY.....has that Christo look to it without the umbrellas.

      Mod, I'm still laughing over your long ago photo of one Carter , the one with the plastic sheeting going down the muddy driveway. Christo would have been proud!

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  3. I ran off a copy of the general plan. I will look at it today . I am not savvy on the law, so I'm not sure you can limit house size, etc. but I'll do my best to find what is lacking.

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  4. Is Caroline talking about the regulations in the city plan? They have not left the PC yet and won't until November. So there is time.

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  5. I guess in Sierra Madre you can build whatever you want, no matter what the taxpayers want. Thanks City Hall!

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    1. It could be the city's revenge for turning down Measure UUT.

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    2. Build anything?......remember when the Congregational Church built that 2 story on the corner by the old SNF? hmmm?

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    3. hmmmmm, hmmmmm...and who was mayor during that time frame?, hmmmm, hmmmmm......

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  6. We need to dot this. We need ideas from people with knowledge in this area. A few would be:
    1. Reduce density by minimizing the size of a home that can be built on any given lot.
    2. Any house over 2500 square feet or that will have a second story must go before Planning Commission
    3. Building permit fee should be a sliding scale making it more expensive the bigger the home.
    4. Increase the setbacks
    5. Reduce the impact of a second story as Caroline Brown mentioned.
    6. Don't even allow a 2nd story if it's sandwiched between two 1-story homes
    7. Somehow have a rule in place that a new home or addition can't block the view and light or reduce the value of an immediate neighbors home
    8. Learn from San Marino and have a rule about basements.
    9. In general put rules in place so that developers can't do what we see happening all over Arcadia. If the rules are tight enough we won't have to fight each time. They just won't be allowed to do it. We also want the rules tight enough so that if we get a bad Planning Commission or bad City Council they won't be able to allow it either. We also avoid lawsuits by not allowing for too much discretion or ambiguity.
    We need people with expertise who can help.

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    Replies
    1. 9:01, will you please send those excellent remarks to the council?
      JHarabedian@cityofsierramadre
      ddelmar@cityofsierramadre.com
      JCapoccia@cityofsierramadre.com
      rarizmendi@cityofsierramadre.com
      ggoss@cityofsierramadre.com

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    2. so much for smaller government...

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    3. It is bigger government that makes the money realized through development needed. Shrink city hall and the rush to overdevelop Sierra Madre will ease.

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  7. Email the folks who are trying to preserve Mater Dolorosa. They are gathering up a group to work on some city-wide protections against this kind of thing. They need some expertise, advice and good ideas. Email them at savemonastery@gmail.com or go to their website at www.stopmonasteryhousingproject.com

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  8. Speaking of lawsuits, the COG is going to give slick Nick Conway another quarter million so he doesn't sue them. Sort of makes you warm and fuzzy how the enrich this scoundrel, huh? That means besides the millions he's scammed from Sierra Madre and other cities, they have made him a millionaire since he got arrested.

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    Replies
    1. That's how government works around here. Taxpayer dollars are used for toilet paper. COG is corrupt. How do we rid ourselves of such obvious garbage?

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  9. Looks like Gaza.....

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    1. Maybe we should call in an Israeli air strike.

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

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    3. That wasn't very civil!

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    4. The "Civility Party" was always an oxymoron in this town. Rudest bunch of foul mouthed idiots on one city council ever.

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  10. 1. Downzone this area to R-1, it's not appropriate to have higher density here

    2. Here's the link to the San Marino Design Guidelines that won an LA APA award and was crucial in winning a CA Supreme Court case when Design Review, Planning Commission and City Council all denied a developer application for a two story house in a one story neighborhood using the findings from this document.

    http://www.cityofsanmarino.org/DocumentCenter/View/114

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  11. The City's website tries hard to give the appearance of transparency, but without revealing any more than they absolutely have to.

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  12. The city plan allows a house up to 4000 sq. ft. Very minimal feet between existing buildings. It states that development should maintain the look of the neighborhood and maintain the existing front yard. "Should" must be changed to be more emphatic? The Camillo st. Houses aren't this. Under the water section: conservation of resources to maintain high quality. Uh huh. Evaluate water availability in conjunction with private and commercial projects. Yea for the moratorium. Under sources of pollution: short term pollution arises as a result of equipment and dust generated during site preparation. The EPAp says construction activities for a large development can add 1.2 tons of fugitive dust per acre of soil per month of activity. Requires dust abatement during grading using. Reclaimed water. Maybe the city could use the water they let run down the street. The city plan also says that a plan needs to be developed and enforced to regulate visible dust, soil stabilization, tracking of dirt offsite, unsaved access and haul roads, storage piles, etc. guess the city hasn't gotten around to developing that yet. Fire: it appears that a third of the city is in a high fire zone. Plans are to be reviewed by fire captain. Consider water availability, quantity and pressure when considering size and location of new residential construction.new development to provide adequate hydrants and require that reservoirs are available to accommodate fire needs in new construction. Develop and utilize emergency public communication systems. According to Elaine, our sirens don't work. She didn't seem to be too concerned about having it repaired or replaced. Floods: most notable area is Stonehouse Canyon for lack of protection. Another area is Mater Dolorosa. Camillo st. Is. At the dam induction area. New developments need to take significant measures to mitigate flood hazards. Earthquakes: no fault line map was included in the city plan. Permits "shouldn't" be issued where active fault lines pose danger. Maybe shouldn't should be changed. That's as far as I am. Can't tell if some of this is existing law and has been required of some of these new development. Lot splitting doesn't seem to be addressed. Still reading .

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    1. Thanks, 10:30. This obviously is totally ignored:
      ",,,development should maintain the look of the neighborhood and maintain the existing front yard."

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    2. If you think all of these conditions are adhered and or followed in the 80+ cities in So Cal, well, your still dreaming, and will continue to do so, you're not living in reality.

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    3. That is why Sierra Madre is different. If you don't like that I'm sure they got some trailer space for you in Azusa.

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  13. The water crises actually did some good. We now have time to get it right.
    The bottom line is that if we want to preserve the character of Sierra Madre and not see it transformed into another Arcadia, we can do it. That is if people care enough. We have a golden opportunity right now to get it right and put things in place so that we never have to worry about another Camillo project ever again. Let's not squander this opportunity. Get informed and get involved.

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    1. I agree. It might be our last chance to stop the destruction of this little town.

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  14. Does anybody know who the "developer" is?

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    1. For camillo? I have looked everywhere I can think of and found nothing.

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    2. This is all so mysterious. Is it possible that the city doesn't know either? Are these enormous huts hooked up with Bruce's rusty pipes?

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    3. I will look at the city plan and see what it says. I'll get back to you.

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  15. I thought we had front, rear and side yard set backs and no more than 35% lot coverage?

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  16. I drove by the Camillo project and I am shocked at how out character these two "houses" appear to be. I would be horrified if this type of structure was built next to my home. There some cities which require a comparable appearance for their signage and architecture. Even fast companies, like McDonald's, lose their trade mark arches to stay in compliance. This is very sad that the ambiance of what gives our city it's character and value is being destroyed by incompetent and greedy people, and maybe even it's own citizens.

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  17. If the water demand aspect of development is an issue to any Tattlers, this report on Chloramine failure gives some cause for concern. It also gives an alternative aspect to Cawford's amoeba moniker for the lot splitters.
    Search "St.John The Baptist Parish amoeba"

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  18. it can get worse

    we could have another couple lawyers move into town, fall in love with SM, just "have" to run for Council

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  19. Who Me? Ms. Aguilar and side kick Castro hide behind a fragmented zoning code to pretend there hands are tied. Thats B_. At the very least both should have surfaced for the Council and residents that a "loop hole" would allow just such a monstrosity such as now gracing Camello..........and proposed changes to our zoning to keep neighborhoods consistent and tasteful. One might surmise they want the "Arcadia Blemish" rather than a great Sierra Madre. Both have a lot of explaning to do...or do they feel to too secure to care? What do we pay them for?

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    1. Sierra Madre is where they fund their pensions and bennies. That is all they care about.

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  20. The two monster houses that are being built on Camillo could not happen if the application was after the water moratorium as there was only one water service to the house, none to the garage. But these were two lots of record, each had a separate parcel number and the application was long before the city moved to put the water moratorium in place. There was no lot split. Real drag here was slow moving Planning Commission on adopting the new R-1 second story set back that the Canon Zone developed 3 years ago. What has successfully been avoided was the lot split on north Michilinda. That is one lot with one eater service and the developer's crocodile tears got him nowhere. They withdrew their application. Don 't know about the timing of the application on the other Camillo tear down. Did it get caught by the moratorium? Is the application post new second story set back? This needs to be checked out.

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    1. That is quite a confession, Civility Joe. Can you tell us the cause for this?

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