And one of them would be to appeal that unfortunate decision to the City Council. Except there is this one problem. Yes, your government will allow you to challenge that decision. And yes, you will be able to stand before every man, woman and child in this town and declare you are convinced their conclusions were wrong, and that the City Council needs to examine all of the evidence before ever allowing the building to begin at One Carter. And perhaps even redress your appeal by sending it once again back to the Planning Commission for a more thorough, and heavily General Plan based, review.
But to do this you would have to pay City Hall some money. Actually, a lot of money.
In this town defending your rights as a taxpaying citizen is apparently done on a pay to play basis. Sure you can issue an appeal to the City Council to reexamine the Planning Commission's decision. One that could possibly open the floodgates to a wholesale McMansionization of Sierra Madre. Certainly you can point out that every third or fourth house in Sierra Madre might potentially be bought and torn down to help overseas nationals with more money than taste launder their ill gotten monetary gains. This and build the kinds of things antithetical to what most of those living here actually want. Exactly as it is being done in Arcadia.
But to do this you would need to kick in a lot of cash. Otherwise? You are flat out of luck.
How much money you ask? A cool $7,500, baby. Do you have that kind of sugar sitting around in the family cookie jar right now? You know, that little bit of saved up mad money you might want to spend on something as burdensome to city staff as defending your basic rights as a taxpaying American citizen?
According to the moneychangers down at City Hall the math goes like this. The cost to appeal the One Carter decision to your elected City Council needs to be 75% of the $10,000 application (or filing) fee the CETT folks paid a while back on their McMansion gambit.
But there is also another level to the madness. That $7,500 might not be the end of it. In the eyes of the appreciative salaried employees at City Hall, that appeal fee is a kind of deposit. It will hold you a place at their table. But should things go a little off the tracks during this appeal "process," your cost could go up. Way up if they decide something a little extra is needed. Like hiring a consultant.
So do you feel lucky? Do you?
Think of it as the meter in a cab whose driver doesn't ever want to ever let you out. Or at least until your credit card is wiped and he can't possibly get any more money out of you.
You might believe that you're doing the right and noble thing here, but apparently the city only sees you as a potential profit center. And you know how they feel about your money.
Perhaps it is your belief that because you are already paying some rather impressive taxes to this town, you somehow have the right to petition your local government agency and redress a grievance. After all, aren't you already footing the bill to keep the City Hall lights on, plus the employees supplied with groceries, CalPers and platinum $36K a year health care plans?
Yes, you are. And because you have already have paid once for the services of the city employees who would work on your appeal, you've already ponied up all that you need.
I mean, when you consider that you're currently paying the highest utility tax rates in all of California, could anyone there actually have the brass to accuse you of asking for something for nothing?
Unfortunately they do. In City Hall's eyes your taxes only pay to keep the employees seated at their desks. If you want to get them to do some actual work on something that many here feel is kind of important, like saving this town from an aesthetic and spiritual obliteration, you will need to pay extra.
In the case of an appeal of that unfortunate One Carter decision, that extra comes to $7,500. And it could be just the price of admission.
In other words, if you don't come up with pay to play money, you have no right to appeal anything in Sierra Madre. Apparantly everything at City Hall has a price tag attached to it. A very big price tag. And your government only has time for those with money enough to attract their attention. Like McMansion developers, crass overseas investors and their lawyers.
Your taxes only pay for the doors that other money opens. You might think you have the right to issue an appeal to your local government over something as important as this. But you don't. That is something you will need to buy.
Apparently it really is pay to play in Sierra Madre. You either fork over your money or go away. And if you don't buy in there is always someone else who will.
And that is who the City is really hoping to hear from.