Wednesday, November 26, 2014

So Is That It?

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I have to admit, they had me going for a little while there. The whole CETT house monster proposal looked like it was going to go down big time. The many residents in attendance lined up to speak and most delivered eloquently stated reasons why Sierra Madre should turn its back on McMansionization. The Mayor effectively grilled Richie McDonald in a decidedly dispassionate and legalistic way, all while the world celebrated Adele Chang looked lost and resigned despite the many important numbers and eclectic house design portrayals in her painstakingly prepared PowerPoint presentation and architectural portfolio.

After much discussion it appeared that this One Carter development project as proposed by CETT was a mere single step away from its quite justified oblivion, and finally, after all of these long and painful years, a City Council was going to stand up to a developer and give the people what it is they really want.

All that needed to happen was just one City Council member to make a movement to deny the project. Just formally vote and see who really loves Sierra Madre as much as they have all said. Make the developer start over from scratch. Which, given their statements earlier in the evening, should have gotten the votes of all four of the eligible Councilmembers. With brio.

So what happened?


Mayor Harabedian suddenly pulled defeat from the happy jaws of victory and asked for a continuance. The City Council even formed a subcommittee so they can help Adele Chang tweak and trim her current two tiered slanty shanty to conform with what our suddenly architectural elected legislative body believes to be an acceptable structure for that downbeat mad pad at 610 Baldwin Court.

All of which means that the people who came down to City Hall, poured their hearts out about what Sierra Madre, as exemplified by the hillsides at One Carter, means to them, received what was at the very best a small incremental victory for their pains. That and the distinct possibility of months, or even years, of additional meetings just like the one last night. With no guarantee that anything good will actually come of it.

It was as if someone had designed the ultimate in passive aggressive public relations ploys, one designed to lure in the populace, allow them to believe that their participation and care means something, and once all of that energy and purpose had been spent, snap everything back to where things were when the meeting first began. All the while telling the assembled how much their words have meant and how truly wonderful it is that they care as much as they do.

So now we'll have another meeting in a few weeks and do it all over again? All so there will be one more chance for CETT to "significantly reduce the second story mass," and then it will be good to go?

And once CETT has done this one last thing we'll have what John Capoccia unhappily referred to as a "less bad" development in the hillsides?

This is now what constitutes a victory for the people of Sierra Madre? A relative few square feet off of a rooftop?

I have no idea of who she was, I didn't catch her name and did not recognize her face. But at the very very end of this discussion, long after public comment had ended, a woman who described herself as a 91 year old lifelong California resident decided she'd heard just about enough and, with the aide of her attendant, walked up to the podium and spoke. And what she said was both profound and to the point.

She said that she'd lived all of her life in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, and how in our portion of it there is only one place left where things have yet to be destroyed. That being Sierra Madre. And with an eloquence that will forever escape me told the room full of people hanging on to her every word just why it is so vitally important that such destruction not happen here.

In this one last place.

Compare that to the distinct possibility of "less bad development." Then take a deep breathe, clear your mind of all disappointment and anger, and prepare yourself to fight again.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

77 comments:

  1. I agree with you. Again, a city body is giving help to the architect just as the planning commission did. We all know there will be a house there. Hopefully not this one. We need to change the law that allows the slope to be counted as sq. ft. We need to do that now. That lot is not 13,000 sq ft of buildible space. It is half that. I am disappointed in Mr. Harabedian. He through us under the bus. How he could do that after hearing that lovely 91 year old woman speak, I'll never know. Don't they call this a Pyrrhic victory? We need to be vigilant. We need to show up again. We need to keep fighting. This is, after all, our town.

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    1. honestly, are you truly surprised by Harabedian

      after all, he cheated to win his first election, he talks a big game and will vote the obvious (water moratorium) but when it comes to having a backbone - he's just another weak blah blah blah lawyer playing politics

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    2. The Mayor did a great job for awhile and everyone was getting excited and then something odd started to happen. As the last part of that agenda item continued the wheels started coming off the tracks. The City Council was almost going to recommend a small adjustment and then approve the project than and there. And as was pointed out, it would end up being a "less bad" project. I'm not sure if that's the result we all had fought for.

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    3. It was Stockholm Syndrome. Everything was going great. The crown was getting excited. Mayor Harabedian was going toe to toe with the lawyer and then at the end, something happened. The crowd noticed it and shouted "No No". I think the subcommittee that was formed has a bigger task ahead of themselves than just making it a "less bad" project. Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. It was like a few people lost their nerve at the very end after a great beginning.

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    4. Sorry Sierra Madre, the fix is already in and the residents will end up getting screwed (again). Johnny Process did exactly want his handlers told him to do and there is no way he will ever cast a yes or no vote on this issue.

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    5. The Tattler hit their analysis out of the park. While we blew it at the end, the subcommittee can get this back on track. The changes have to be substantial as Council Member Delmar mentioned at the end.

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    6. I noticed that too, 8:39. She said loud and clear "significant reduction," and she directed it at the applicant's hired guns.

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    7. Thank God Denise is there.

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    8. Yes, Denise gave us some room to get this right. Goss just wanted to move the 2nd story a few feet away from the garage. If that happens, we are still stuck with a McMansion not suitable to that size lot and our sensitive hillsides.

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    9. There are some things Goss doesn't know. This is one of them.

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    10. It was almost like some members of the City Council were afraid to win the game. They were looking at a way out in the end. They threw the crowd a bone for awhile and then lost there nerve. Even the attorney McDonald seemed to be succumbing to the crown and the good questions from the City Council. We were right there and didn't close it out. Unbelievable. The result was better than the City Council accepting the Planning Commission's approval but it could have been so much better.

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  2. so a sub committee of the Council has offered to work out what they will accept for a house on One Carter. All four of them must be suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome.

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  3. The only way last night's decision (or lack of decision) makes sense is if the plan is that the sub committee creates is a second story master bedroom that is 10 x 10 and no larger. then of course, CETT will reject that and the council can say "we tried to work with you". I really don't understand why the council did not just vote "NO" on this project. Denying this house does not mean that the council has denied that ANY houses can be built up at One Carter. there are lots more lots up there that houses can be built on. denying this project would have sent a strong message to the developer that Sierra Madre really believes in good development (not just "less bad" development). and really, how could the developer sue if this house is denied? There are lots more lots they can begin with and they can just go back t the drawing board for this one. Offering to help with a sub committee will push the council not a corner where they will have to approve a bad design. I'm with you, Mod. I felt a surge of hope last night that the council was FINALLY going to be strong, and then they backed down. what cowards.

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    1. That lawyer McDonald was backing down all over the place, Backing away from litigation and even acknowledging that the houses may be too big. We had him right where we wanted him and then we tried to "help" them. We should have just issued the denial. All the momentum was building towards that and then we let it slip away.

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    2. that's what lawyers do

      compromise

      attorney's fight to win

      besides Kurt Zimmerman, every lawyer we've ever elected has been a corporate shill or a lightweight "Im a lawyer" posturing blowhard

      Kurt is an "attorney" and best we've ever had on Council

      I'll never ever vote for another "lawyer" on the Council, regardless. You should do the same,

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  4. Chang/McDonald syndrome

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  5. Did anyone notice how little respect Chang and mc Donald gave the speakers? They texted the whole time. Goes to show they could care less! I say a one story is all that can be built there.

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    1. Brainstorming an note taking. This was they cover any legal cracks left unfilled.

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    2. There have been Planning Commission meetings where they talked loudly through residents' remarks, and had development staff bouncing around. At least they kept their voices down in front of the council.

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    3. City Staff is just too helpful to these people. That's one of the problems. They bend over backwards to help them. I don't know how you can prevent City Staff becoming buddies with the developers as they work through the process.

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    4. when we have a "director of development services" position, what you expect?

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    5. That department needs a whole big change in viewpoint, and I think it's on the way. The reorganization includes its title being Community Preservation. The staff needs to be trained better in applying the documents Sierra Madre residents have contributed to writing.

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    6. "Developer Servicing" was Building Industry attorney Bart Doyle's idea when he was on the council. He pushed through the title change from "Planning Department." Did a fair amount of damage.

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    7. and u can draw a straight line from Doyle - Buchanan - Mosca - Walsh - Moran - Harabeidan - Goss

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    8. Did you love the way Denise said to MacDonald, "I'm talking" when he tried to talk over her.

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    9. Funny moment was when Richie returned to the podium after public comment ended. The room just groaned.

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    10. Those groans are heartily deserved - the man wastes all kinds of time talking in circles, switching around things he said, attacking then pretending not to. However, it has probably helped us that CETT hired such an obnoxious jerk.

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  6. I wish Don Watts and MaryAnn MacGillivray were still on our council.
    Damn all you naive people who didn't even re-elect the best friends Sierra Madre ever had.

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    1. and instead we voted in the swarmy likes of Nancy Walsh, Josh Moran, John Buchanan, Harabeidan, Goss

      we get what we deserve and we deserve SM to implode and become just another overbuilt high density suburb of Los Angeles, cause that's where we are headed and it's been 15 or more years of relentless pressure from a special interest group, the real estate sales crowd

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    2. Where were some of the real estate crowd last night. Carol Canterbury has been invisible on this issue. Juddy Webb Martin spoke eloquently at the previous meeting but, again, no where in sight. Where is Renee Rose or Nazee Rix or some of these others who sell homes in this town. Their silence is deafening. If their only goal is to cash in while they can, it doesn't say too much for how much they care about Sierra Madre.

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    3. The realtors just care about their commissions. They will milk this whole transformation into Arcadia as hard as they can. The last laugh will be on them however, because the Chinese Buyers use Chinese agents. They will be out of business pretty soon.

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  7. So who was the 91 year old lady who spoke at the end of the meeting? After she spoke she walked up the aisle and pumped her fists in the air. People cheered loudly.

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    1. And gave her a standing ovation. Thank you all for showing up and shame on you if you didnt.

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    2. She was right on. Such a great way to end the meeting

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  8. Again and again until they cut down the very last truffula tree.

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  9. The meeting is already up on KGEM.

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  10. Maud Ann Taylor, 3hours and 19 minutes into it.

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    1. Sorry, it's spelled Maude.
      A speech we should all try to live up to.
      Even Adele listened for half a moment.

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    2. 6:49, she is a Sierra Madre resident who spoke for all of us.

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    3. I'm glad Harabedian was up there for that - Buchanan, Walsh, Mosca, Moran would not have let her talk. "Public comment is closed"

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    4. Where was Walsh last night? Is it true she resigned everything?

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  11. Someone put that woman's speech on YouTube.

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    1. One of the ModeratorsNovember 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      It will be posted here on The Tattler at 5am tomorrow.

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  12. the only positive out of all of One Carter when it's built is that the local realtors will be forever shut out of commissions from the houses being sold

    I bet that the city real estate firm owners are looking to add Chinese agents to their firm so they might get a slice of the commissions

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  13. The only good news is that the Planning Commission's decision was not approved. There is still hope that we can get things back on track. The sub-committee needs to make such substantial changes that it will effectively be a re-design and not just be a "less bad" project. We're not ok with that. We've come too far and worked too hard.

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  14. Build 'em Big Pevsner was in the audience for maybe a third of the speakers' comments, then left early.

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    1. Pevsner has been a horrible Planning Commissioner when it comes to preserving this town. He's always the guy whose on the side of the developers. Maybe he left because he took umbrage at the public and City Council basically concluding that the Planning Commission bungled by approving the project. It doesn't reflect well on any of them.

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  15. the new home development is all about what other do not have.

    I want!
    I want!

    please get educated and motivated and get a job

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    1. One thing I heard a few time is how much effort the developer has put into this over their 2-year journey. The only reason it took so long is because they submitted a very bad project and would not cooperate with the Planning Commission. Rather than getting credit for their "improvement" and how long this has taken, they should be blamed for using up so much of the Planning Commissions time, the City Council Council's time and all the residents' time who have to keep fighting against their bad project. If anything, they should be penalized for all the time and money they have cost us. I'm in no mood to do them any favors whatsoever.

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    2. Absolutely right 10:01.
      The applicant has lied and twisted words and been aggressive all along. He/she/it never should have bought that land if they weren't prepared to comply with all the documents that they must have known full well about beforehand.

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    3. 11:00 is right. They bought the land really cheap so they figured they had a pretty big budget for lawyer's fees. That's why the owners never have to speak. They just let their lawyer do their bidding.

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  16. Find out when the sub committee meets with C/M (Chang/McDonald) and attend in as large, if not larger, numbers that were there last night.

    As Caroline Brown said, in response to Adele's boohoo on being on this project for 2 years, and Mike Kinney reiterated, some of us have been in city council chanbers on the 1 Carter "projects" for nearly 14/15 years, and for hillside preservation for over 25 years with the first assult on the foothills at the Chantry Flat gate area with Lawson Martin's two monster projects.

    They count on you giving up!

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  17. Why don't the planning commissioners have e-mail addresses?

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    1. Their mailboxes would be filled with love letters from developers.

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    2. You can send emails to the planning commission in care of the acting director of the department (one of the smartest and most efficient people in city hall)
      lcardoso@cityofsierramadre.com

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  18. Capoccia wants to end up with a project that is "less bad". Is that the new standard for development in Sierra Madre. He has to be nuts. The only saving grace for Sierra Madre is that Denise Delmar is on the subcommittee. Goss will be of no help and didn't do his homework on this to understand how egregious this house is. Thank God for Denise. She's our only hope.

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    1. That's why her campaign staff worked to get her elected. They knew how great she would be for the city. Matt Bryant...you're next.

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  19. The two sides are too far apart for any compromise. They have to reject the plan flat out and make the developers start over with the one story home model. The city council knows this is a pile of dog crap that they stepped in and are just looking for a place to wipe their feet.

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    1. The subcommittee needs to make significant but reasonable modifications. Its a lousy design for that area. Adele's pictures of similar houses were a farce. They were not located in the Hillside Management Zone and they were on much bigger and flat lots. They were hoping to pull the wool over the City Councils eyes.

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  20. We don't know what goes on behind the scenes. Despite the fact that McDonald denies saying he would sue, the Council has to be very careful about how they go about the denial of this project. As McDonald reminded them, the rules allow them to build two-story houses. They will not settle for a single story no matter how much we wish they would.

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    1. It will end up in court anyway. And all the evidence points towards us winning. To hell with CETT.

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    2. Yes it does 1:27
      We will finally win.
      The unfortunate Chinese investors may finally realize they have been lied to and scammed by old Bart Doyle. Everything associated with this man has bad luck!!!!!!

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    3. Guess all the house will be big 2 story wonders of the world.

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  21. Complete the General Plan .... Everyone now clearly understands why it needs to be in place to preserve this town. Use the Stone Gate Design guidelines . Use the Hillsides Mng. Zone Be sensitive to the hillside site and natural surroundings of this hillside This village named Sierra Madre begins up at the mountain top ; so named for Nat Carter's #1 Hillside.

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  22. 12:57, you remind me of another ridiculous thing Lawyer Richie said - the "views" were not meant to refer to the hillsides really, but to the mountain tops. So if you look up from Carter, you're supposed to see a bunch of houses, and then above them, the mountains. What a dope.

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    1. does he get paid by the word?

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  23. What if the owners of these defaulted bank-owned properties really want the city to deny the project? It seems that this has been cooked up in such a way that a law suit is the objective. Maybe the have determined this is such a mess for them that a law suit would help them get the hell out of Dodge (would like to know what the colloquialism is in Mandarin Chinese) as they got snooker on this 'grand potential' in the first place.

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  24. Bart Doyle is bad luck to even a good hunting dog!
    Gold luck Chinese people who got fleeced again. Bart Doyle = BAD LUCK

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  25. Who else will be on the subcommittee? Residents?

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  26. We now have a new standard for development in Sierra Madre knows as the "Capoccia Rule". Sierra Made will accept any development so long as it is "less bad" than something worse. This rule essentially means that "good" development is no longer the hurdle that a developer has to meet.

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    1. similar to how he got elected - "less bad" than another candidate?

      next time he runs, he'll be "more bad"

      jeez, deplorable

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