Tuesday, October 28, 2014

City Council Meeting: The One Carter Appeal and More

Is Democracy for sale in Sierra Madre?
There are a few things of interest that will be revealed at tonight's City Council meeting, and the first is not be found on the agenda. That is the resident call for an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision on One Carter. The hope being the City Council will want to review this decision and make certain that such important city guideposts as the General Plan and HMZ were adequately adhered to, and not merely pushed aside as inconveniences to the process.

The suspicion some residents hold is that the Planning Commission settled this matter in order to avoid a developer initiated lawsuit against the city. An unfortunate concession that many believe happened because the P.C. was unduly pressured to do so. A city that gives in merely to avoid lawsuits is basically surrendering its rights without a fight. The entire One Carter debacle, which began nearly a decade ago, began with just such an embarrassing surrender. And what problems did that ever solve?

A comedic sidelight to all of this tonight is the City Manager's rather dubious claim that residents issuing this call to the City Council for a One Carter review must be charged the developer appeal rate of $7,500 for their pains. An obvious question here being why should City Hall be allowed to double-dip those already paying taxes in this community for the democratic use of their government? Don't residents already pay for such rights when they kindly send in their tax checks?

Most cities require residents to pay a small filing fee for an appeal. Several hundred dollars at most. Sierra Madre has a City Manager who either does not want to follow due process, or merely sees residents as something to exploit for profit.

The City Council should put this matter on the agenda without cost. To do otherwise is to give the impression that democracy in Sierra Madre is only available to the privileged few that can afford to pay for it.

There is nothing in the City of Sierra Madre's fee schedule about residents asking for an appeal in their own city. What the City Manager is erroneously (or cynically) citing are development applicant appeal costs. The kind of thing CETT needed to do when the Planning Commission rejected Adele Chang's McMansion designs.

Wouldn't you have to actually apply for something before you can appeal its rejection? I don't recall any slow growth residents applying for One Carter Conditional Use Permits lately. Do you?

Another point that must be made is this fee is not actually a fee at all. As the City Manager herself puts this, it is a "deposit against costs." Can you find anything about a "deposit against costs" in that fee schedule? What this means is that an initial $7,500 cost could rapidly spin out of control depending on whatever happens later. I mean, what if they hire a consultant?

In other words, should you decide to stand up for what most Sierra Madreans want for this town by appealing CETT's primitive assault on architectural decorum here to the City Council, you really would have no idea what this will cost you going in. That would be in the hands of City Hall. And given their seemingly endless obsession with obtaining more money, and at every possible turn, who knows how much you would end up having to pay?

No city government that really that gives a damn about its residents would charge them $7,500 plus costs to appeal a planning decision. This is an attempt at intimidation, pure and simple. It is sad to think that city employees, people whose salaries are taken out of resident tax money, have such an undemocratic and greedy attitude about the rights of their perhaps overly generous benefactors.

Another matter of interest, which also fits into today's theme that City Hall views residents merely as a profit center, is this unhappy item:


Here is what one commenter had to say about this yesterday:

The city now has a new way to get more money from us. Check out item 5, Property Sale Inspection Program, on tomorrow night’s city council agenda. They want to start inspecting every house when it is sold, FOR A FEE OF COURSE, to make sure, among other things; our smoke detectors are working, under the guise of protecting our health.

Big Brother‘s appetite has no limit. There will never be enough money for them. The things they want to charge us to inspect are already being done under State law. Every homeowner must check the smoke detectors, hot water heater bracing, earthquake shutoff on the gas meter, etc. Every homeowner must disclose all defects and unpermitted conditions to the buyer. Escrow cannot close until this is done.

So, three guesses why the city wants to start inspecting every house that is sold and the first two don’t count. Someone please speak against this tomorrow night. It is conveniently the last item on the agenda. 

That pretty much nails it.

Item #4 will hopefully put an end to a conversation that has been going on for too long. The City Manager's often repeated contention that city employees should somehow be paid more while also providing fewer hours of service is a contradiction that never quite got its wings. Hopefully the City Council puts a fork in it tonight.


And so it goes. It all begins at 6:30. Set your clocks.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

68 comments:

  1. will this be like the city charges city events for administrative staff time?

    for every 2 minutes worked on a task - bill 2 hours?

    I question Elaine's analysis on why she can't open city hall as normal and cannot staff it

    If I recall, she surmised that it would talk about 2,000 extra staff hours annually, I believe that's what she reported?

    Funny, thats what she charged the Mt Wilson Trail Race for city staff hours to meet and pre plan the annual same old same old race - 2,000 hours - a full time employee to meet and plan the Trail Race

    but she can't figure out how to manage a front desk?

    we've got the wrong city manager - that's elementary level management and all we get is push back on why something can't happen or why the city needs more money

    I can't make it to the meeting, but I wish somebody would ask her to clarify and actually explain why she can't staff the front desk but she can allocate 2,000 hours to the Trail Race?

    either she's not trying as a city manager or the city bilked the Trail Race & the 4th of July parade

    she's got the "can't do" attitude unless it's about raising utility taxes or protecting pensions





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    1. Elaine has not figured how to charge people when they come to the front desk.

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    2. Maybe they should install meters.

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    3. A lemonade stand might do well there.

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    4. Hire another cousultant!

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    5. Sell Fast Pass tickets like Disneyland, go to the front of the line

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    6. Diamond lanes, with ExpressPass cards. Like the 110 Freeway.

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  2. It ain't easy protecting Platinum Pensions. There are thousands of work hours involved.

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  3. # 5. quick vote - NO

    another inspection? my house gets inspected ten ways to Sunday before and after it's sold

    just tell us you want a $ 200 fee just because and don't waste my time - got to make an appointment and arrange with realtor - tell you what, charge the realtor and not the homeowner cause if it's not ready to sell and the city tells me this, I'll fire the realtor

    Elaine creates a lot of busy work doesn't she but can't staff the front desk

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  4. City staff spends a lot of time trying to come up with ways to get more money out of the residents. The quality of what we get back is another matter.

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  5. Pasadena already has this nonsense fee in place for 10+ years. If it doesn't pass the city can and will hold up escrow.

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    1. Oh. So is it nonsense or extortion?

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    2. Same in San Marino, city inspection has to be done for a fee prior to sale. This actually captures a lot of visible illegal work done *without a permit* so is not total fundraising. Owner has to correct the condition prior to sale or the price reflects the condition accepted and to be corrected by the buyer. But the "inspectors" are companies that are favored by city connections, others who tried to apply for the position found that their paperwork was lost.

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    3. Great. So much for privacy. Government everywhere, and you even have to pay them to spy on you.

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    4. notice this was mentioned when the Cong Church was doing their remodel and addition right under the nose of city hall without permits or fines?

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    5. The Congs are not of this world.

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  6. I believe that the seller's lending institution requires CO2 and smoke detector complaince. It's STATE LAW. As for the other things the City wants to inspect, any buyer has the right to check out permits and anything else about the house. The buyer and seller determine the terms of the contract.The city does not need to polk their nose into this. As for rental units...that's absurd.

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  7. The problem is we have a City Manager whose mindset is that more money solves problems. What Sierra Madre needs now is a City Manager who works well with what is available. We don't have that now.

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  8. Don't kid yourselves...this "inspection fee" is a Mayor Johnny idea...he loves the nanny state.

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    1. With all the houses that are expected to be sold over the next couple of years, why wouldn't the city's employee unions not want a piece of the action?

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    2. Don't kid yourselves! If we had ethical brokers, salespeople, and inspectors this would all be moot. Enforce the laws we have! They're afraid of losing a sale or losing a "friend" so they ignore the biggest defects to their own advantage.

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    3. Real estate in Sierra Madre is a rich trough. All the usual suspects are squealing to get in on the feed.

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  9. All of you Facebookers make sure to check out Preserve Sierra Madre's Facebook page. Be sure to LIKE it and spread the word.

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    1. "Preserve Sierra Madre" has yet to explain if it is a nonprofit, who the board members are and why we should trust you.

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  10. Make sure to attend the meeting in person, you all know the downfalls of watching the stream... Ahem

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    1. It is all the fault of people with laptops using wifi in council chambers.

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    2. That would be staff playing on their iPads.

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    3. Neigh! Moo! Oink!

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  11. So many things deserving of a response, but so little space. First of all, 11:22: where do you get that info that 50 year old principals can retire at $120k a year? I think you are confusing public safety pensions for public school pensions. Someone show me I am wrong on this. Secondly, PUSD test scores broken down by demographics are very similar to the surrounding districts and the state as a whole. SM kids score better compared to the rest of the district because household demographics. SM has very few poor minority students in its schools and they are the ones who bring down the scores. As a rule, the parents who avoid the PUSD do so because they don't want their kids going to school with what they perceive to undesirable elements. This school board candidate choosing to go to Maranatha after years of insulated SM elementary and middle school is a good example. On a another note, take a look at LA Magazine's top LA County High Schools, public and private, in last month's issue. A PUSD school is #8. PUSD Dad

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    1. 8:24, got that information right from this blog - Gayle Bluemel former principal - search this blog and it'll also show other earlier age retirees within the school system collecting large pensions when most are still gonna work for another 20 years

      minority students are the ones that bring down scores - jeez, you just write that without thinking?

      I'd rather a candidate who's kids went to PUSD system cause of the "undesirable" elements, no thanks don't need that kind of prejudice in a Board Member

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    2. Here you go, PUSDad - Let's do some PUSD pension and payroll math.

      1. Principal Gaffney retired from Sierra Madre Elementary some years ago (early 2000's? Let's assume his pension is $80,000 a year (cannot verify but it is less than $100k/year since it's not on www.firstpensionsfirst.com's database).

      2. Principal Gayle Bluemel retired as Sierra Madre Elementary's principal a couple of years ago. Her pension (per http://www.fixpensionsfirst.com/calstrs-database/?first_name=&last_name=&employer=PASADENA+UNIFIED) is
      $ 109,842 per year.

      3. Current SM Elementary Principal Esther Salinas makes over $100k per year (it appears PUSD pulled down the supposedly "public" salary report from the internet ).

      4. Let's assume Gaffney's predecessor is deceased and no longer receiving a pension ( I don't know).

      Between retired and active people for SM Elementary Principal, we the tax payers are paying about $ 289,842 for 3 people that were/are in one position!!! And, I guarantee you, my estimate is low.

      Hey Pusd Diddy? How is it going over there at Rape University?

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  12. John Capoccia just asked God to help us understand city staff reports.

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  13. John Capoccia says we'd be fascinated by taking a trip of our water facilities. We don't have any water.

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  14. Judy Webb Martin says this town is threatened by development? Did you feel the earth shake?

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  15. Great talk by Deb Sheridan. Steve Lopez has played a big role in this town more than once.

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    1. Nice work Danny Castro. Don't come back.

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    2. Aren't we supposed to appreciate Danny tonight?

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  16. Matt Bryant belongs on our city council.

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  17. Who lied to this poor mom about the library being threatened?

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    1. The librarian shepherded her in and out of the meeting....

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    2. The Black Helicopter Library People.

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    3. Nobody lied to her, she is a dirt spinner, that's all.

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  18. The best people in this town are standing up to defend Sierra Madre. Will the City Council even care?

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  19. Ugh, no sound on the KGEM feed.

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    1. I have it on my computer. It is working OK.

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  20. If the city council does not grant this appeal then they must be considered allies to the McMansioners.

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  21. Barry Gold. I always look forward to his comments.

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    1. Thank you for bringing up the lawsuit threats, Barry. That is where the truth is. The planning commission was threatened by the city attorney.

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  22. Great talk from Clem Bartolai.

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  23. Harabedian now slippy slides by the appeal call to honor Danny Castro, the birthdaddy of the Camillo Road mess.

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    1. Also the obstructionist of the General Plan update.

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    2. It is fitting that Danny complimented the city manager as profusely as he did. Throw in Michael Colantuono and his underlings and you have quite a force for this community's destruction.

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  24. What happened to the One Carter appeal?

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  25. Bye Danny. Here comes John Capoccia to butter you up. But what happened to the appeal? Why didn't Mr. Capoccia have a comment about that?

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  26. per the request of the four young men- let's put the skate park up n One Carter. I think Adele. Ld probably design a great one.

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  27. No One Carter appeal, but boy does the city council want to talk about more bonds!

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  28. You think traffic is bad now, wait until they start building 50 some odd McMansions up there.

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    Replies
    1. That neighborhood is a couple of years away from destruction. It is sad how blind people can be sometimes.

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  29. When has a Sierra Madre detective ever solved anything?

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  30. The City Manager just said that no current library programs are threatened. So who lied to that poor mom who spoke earlier this evening?

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  31. When did Chief Gianonni ever solve a case? He didn't even know AWest was in town.

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  32. The vast majority of seniors in town don't hang around the Hart Park House.

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  33. No one seconded Denise's call for a review of One Carter? The three dudes just sat their sucking their lips? Can somebody please tell me what happened?

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  34. Capoccia's envocation was a blatant PR stunt for the City Manager and his weak kneed flip flopping since he ran for office and signed the argument for the NO on the UUT extension (what ever year that was). Me thinks he doth protest too much.

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    1. The only thing Capoccia stands for is his opinion of himself as the village wise man.

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  35. Professor DingleberryOctober 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Pussydad: we know a family from right here in sierra madre that were identified not only Latino and Title 1 (but who always refused handouts),however- the children were on the autism spectrum. they were bullied right out of here by you and a group of pitchfork wielding aggro-lites. those children were identified GATE and scored through the roof on those bogus CST tests. they are in private settings now. where was the love, COMRADE?

    your post is either mis-stated, or bigoted, in which case your problem with the candidate may be based more on her last name than where her children went to school, and which surprises me, quite frankly. You are not a very convincing communist.

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