Saturday, November 1, 2014

One Carter City Council Review Date Set For November 25

Red roof or blue?
In what could be one of the more momentous moments in Sierra Madre's often colorful history, on November 25th the City Council will review the Planning Commission's findings on the proposed 610 Baldwin Court project as put forth by the CETT Corporation. Mark your calendars. This review became necessary due to the crowd of people that almost packed Council Chambers last Tuesday evening to express their anger over the prospect of any kind of McMansion style development happening here.

Since this could be the first of 23 houses built by this rather mysterious and unimaginative developer, and given the sensitivity of the proposed location for this prosaic jumbo double decker (not including that famous basement), it makes sense that our community should take the utmost care when considering this wilding wickiup.

Remember, Arcadia's McMansion blight did not happen all in a day. But once it got rolling it took out almost all of that entire city, with often hostile overseas capital today dominating its nearly vanished sense of community and pride. If you think about it, the disease that devoured our downhill neighbor likely started with something very much like the near City Hall sanctioned architectural ebola now under consideration for 610 Baldwin Court. A viral contagion that many here justifiably fear could then spread throughout the entire community should it first be allowed to infect the hillsides.

Large amounts of foreign money badly in need of real estate laundering, coupled with that society's boorish addiction to ostentatious displays of its tainted wealth (often obtained through a ruthless exploitation of abundant dirt cheap labor), is a dangerous and noxious mix. You need to be aware.

Here is how this important date is revealed by the City Manager in this week's edition of her report to the City Council. It can be found in its original setting on the City of Sierra Madre website (click).


This is, of course, big news for our community. The prospect of stopping all of it here and now is important for many in this town. The politics are just as interesting. No member of this City Council would ever want to be known as one of the handful of people responsible for the McMansionization of Sierra Madre. And yet should they vote to approve this project on the 25th, that could very well be their unhappy fate. For a couple of them this will be no easy evening.

For the record, the two Councilmembers who voted to review this project are Denise Delmar and John Capoccia. They need to be commended. Rachelle Arizmendi is precluded from voting on this matter due to her home being located too close to this One Carter project. So she gets our sympathy instead.

Mayor John Harabedian and Councilmember Gene Goss are both keeping their lips uncharacteristically zipped, at least for the time being. Since in the end this will likely be put to a four person vote, that bears watching. A tie goes to the developer. You might want to drop those two a line and ask them what's up.

More exciting news from the City Manager's Report

With the dissolution of the department formerly known as Development Services, so goes its staff. Danny Castro's last day was Friday, and he is presumably now off to Saucy-lito.

And now another member of that occasionally controversial conclave for the non-obstruction of construction has also hit the road, Jack. And he ain't coming back no more, either.


I know we're supposed to be utterly aghast at all of this, and stricken with fear at what is to become of us now that some of the finest minds to ever serve at City Hall have left for more profitable and higher density pastures. And I am sure we are in for yet another stern lecture soon about how this is all of our fault for not passing Measure UUT last April. Bad boys and girls that we are.

But do you know what? That is all a load of baloney. In my opinion this is all very good news. If we are going to rebuild the once aggressively pro-development Development Services Department into something more slow growth and preservationist, we're not going to do it with the same old tired faces. It takes more than just changing titles on name plates to save a city.

We need to hire people whose views are more in line with what the community wants to see here. And we certainly need individuals who are cognizant of the need to consult the General Plan before approving things like the twin terrors on Camillo Road.

Real change sometimes means bringing in new people with new ideas. Hopefully this is just a start.

Can you take even more good news?

Be still my troubled heart. Nobody liked the hours City Hall had been keeping lately. And the City Council has now compelled staff to pry open those automatic doors earlier, and let our people in. Here it is, cut and pasted from the City News section of the City of Sierra Madre's website (click).


All that and it rained last night.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

62 comments:

  1. I think the city should institute a hiring freeze. if we are short of folks in the planning dept., that should slow down some of those building permit approvals.

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    1. I agree. It's like we're paying for the rope they want to hang us with.

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    2. The moratoriums have made their workload decrease, yeah?

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    3. Nah. It would have taken a couple of years to get the three McMansion developments rolling no matter what. One Carter is just happens to be a little ahead of the others. The things that need to be accomplished now are shove Road Block Aguilar aside and get the General Plan done.

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  2. Blame Gov. Jerry Brown for the budget problems in the Planning Dept.

    If I recall correctly, a lot of Danny & Dereck's salaries were paid by Redevelopment funds. After the ReDev slush funds started to dry up, those increasing costs were a pain to fund...Oh the infamy.

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    1. Fewer planners, less planning, less development. Works for me.

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    2. However, we need some bodies to get the General Fund done. Maybe temporary help.

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    3. Rent-A-Planner.com

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    4. Leticia is still in the Planning Dept.

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    5. Hopefully she will be kept busy at the front counter from 7:30 to 2:00.

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    6. Letecia is better at her work than Danny and Dereck together.

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    7. Where does she stand on preservation and slow growth?

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  3. One Carter represents a pivital moment in this City's history. To use a modified analogy from a statement made shortly after 9-11, it will be a chance to ask people, "Are you with us or are you with the McMansion builders?"

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  4. I wonder what the developer is thinking. They probably thought they were in the clear after they boxed in the Planning Commission to approve their latest design? It comes down to Harabedian and Goss, each of them perhaps looking for cover from the other and no one wanting to be the only vote of support in favor of McMansions at One Carter.

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    1. I think the developer has been loving on their lawyer MacDonald. He obviously beat our city attorney.

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    2. I think they were in cahoots. Remember, Highsmith is one of Colantuono's attorneys. A fellow who has made millions beating residents out of their community birthrights.

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    3. Did anyone notice the looks on the faces of the City Attorney and City Manager when residents were requesting an appeal? They were stone faced and rarely lifted their eyes from their paperwork. Don't assume that just because we pay them they are on our side.

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    4. I did notice that 10:12. I don't think they looked at one speaker.

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  5. Any city councilman voting for McMansions should subjected to endless ridicule. This would be an unforgivable act of betrayal of everything they promised when they ran for office.

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  6. Remember the Council must have three votes to overturn the previous approval of the planning commission. The only thing the council should do at this point is overturn it if it has any variances and send it back to the planning commission with an instruction to eliminate the variances. If it does not have any variances then the council should respect the work of the planning commission and let their decision stand.

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    1. It seems pretty obvious that this has more to do with McDonald and Highsmith than anything you're talking about. And that is something the City Council needs to handle.

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    2. The developer should be forced to throw the current design out the window and start from scratch. That's the penalty for not following the rules.

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    3. 8:14 - I can appreciate the need some might have to keep the focus here as narrow as possible. But the city council is made up of elected officials, and that involves politics and people. This can go anywhere now.

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  7. This is private property and they have a right to build a house on it and as long as that house is within the existing zoning codes and the litigation settlement that the city signed then its not your business. They are entitled to due process and the fair application of the law like any other private property owner. You can't deny them their right to build a structure that is within the boundaries of the law. So the goofs that are still claiming nothing should be built there are basically thieves, trying to steal the rights of the property owner.

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    1. 9:45, you forgot to mention that the General Plan doesn't exist.

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    2. The 1996 General Plan does. Unicorns don't exist, though.

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    3. Nah, the 1996 General Plan is just window dressing.

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    4. 9:45 - just as residents by right can determine how much in taxes they wish to pay, so they can also determine the character and design of their community. Would you want a sewage sludge treatment plant next to your house? A chicken farm? An insane asylum? Judging by how cranky you seem to be, perhaps you do. But most people would be against that sort of thing. Residents have rights. And unless you are somehow hoping to turn the United States into Soviet Russia and begin executing we the Kulaks, those rights stand. America, dude. Love it or leave it.

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    5. The General Plan will not be worth the paper it is printed on if the City Council gives the go-ahead to McMansions at One Carter. That is the real issue here.

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  8. Great article Tattler. Thanks.

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  9. If the Mc Mansions go in then down town will follow with businesses that have 1 or 2 story apartments above them. We will never achieve what we have now. We should hail Judy and Carol for coming over to the preservation side. The more residents that understand what we are trying to preserve the better off the towns preservation efforts will be. We The People Wish to Preserve Our City.

    An what is this code you type in to post here, tapping into our computers or what?

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    1. No. That is just to make certain you aren't a spammer. Google (who owns the Blogger platform that I use for this blog) has been hit with waves of spam from all sorts of crazy places. Mostly China and Russia. In order to keep machines from posting millions of times about great places to buy Viagra in Nigeria, Google has put into place a program that freezes such things out. Machines can't see those three numbers it asks you to type. Even I have to do it from time to time. The Internet is a scary place, but you are safe here.

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    2. I'm getting the non-robot code typing request too. I figured it was google checking to see if such a popular blog was legit.

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  10. Planner Purificacion was the point man on the Carter house. The same guy who didn't know spiked fences were prohibited in new construction, and thought it was fine on the original submission of the monster house plans.

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    1. He'll run into trouble in West Hollywood. People are up in in arms about bad development there as well.

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  11. The playback for that meeting is not available on KGEM yet. I thought it was supposed to be up within 72 hours....

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    1. Perhaps it is being edited. Too many well-informed resident public comments for somebody's taste.

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  12. Reply to observation by 10:12

    I noticed that one of the few times that Elaine Aguilar looked up at a speaker was when Caroline Brown brought up the research she did on the cost of filing an appeal in other cities which is a fraction of what Sierra Madre charges.

    She made the comparison by relating the research she and Tamara Compean did when the city was charging a small fortune for a solar permit. Sierra Madre was charging "valuation" and the percentage of a solar projects, which are expensive, was way over what other cities charged, on the order of magnitude of 10 times greater: some cities charged nothing, Manhattan Beach and Barstow, as extreme examples and cities.

    Their research brought the permit for a solar project from approximately $5,000.00 to $550.00!

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  13. Dereck is leaving?? Aghhhhhhhhhh! Help! Help! We're all going to die!!! Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

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  14. I noticed in the lovely local rag, on the posting for the city council meetings, there was no asterisk next to the city council meeting. There was an asterisk next to the planning commission. At the bottom there was an asterisk with an explanation that it meant it would be filmed. Do I make sense? In other words, it would appear that the council meeting would not be filmed. I will go to the trash and hunt for the rag.

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  15. I could not read the spam check and did the audio and his publish and my post went to the ethernet. This time the numbers seem to be readable. I went to publish, checked it out and then returned to "edit."

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  16. If the One Carter project is in accordance with the zoning code and the litigation settlement agreement then its not your business and should be approved. The updated "general plan" is a figment of your imagination. It hasn't been approved and therefore has no legal force or effect. The City Council has left the city with an outdated and legally inadequate old General Plan and that is the fault of the City Council not the property owner. We don't impose laws as we wish them to be on people...we impose the laws as they are. Change the law or shut up but stop pretending that your opinions have the force of law and justify interfering with property rights.

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    1. So people who live here have fewer planning rights than oversea Chinese money launderers? There are lots of property owners in town. How have you decided which ones have rights and which do not. And more importantly, did someone put belladonna in your Metamucil today?

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    2. You have ZERO rights to determine what I do with my own property as long as it is within the boundaries of the law. Mind your own business and change the law if you don't like it but stop claiming your mere opinion somehow has the force of law.

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    3. Like you aren't? Big bag of wind you are.

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    4. 12:30, I think I have a lot to say about any propery owner. There are no laws that I know of that tell to paint your house or pull your weeds or trim your trees or take care of the rat problem in your yard. I can report you, but not much will happen. There is a lot I could say about any given property and there would be a problem finding someone to do something about it. You're so indignant about someone telling you what to do with your property. Well it seems people like A. West have rights, too. Many people in Sierra Madre do not want it to look like Arcadia. We ask for understanding of our mores, values and yes culture. We may be changing some laws, I hope some of them effect you. You probably have a large camping bus in your driveway. Not against the law guess, mut ugly for sure. I'll bet you're a really good neighbor.

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  17. Speaking of China, does anyone remember when Japanese investors were buying up lots of California real estate, including a golf course or two, and then lost their shirt when the economy punted. Just wait to see what a mess the Chinese billionaires crash will bring. Better not to allow the unacceptable architectural and massive mansionization at One Carter than to have it languish when that comes. Festival of the Hungry Ghosts ain't seen nothin' yet.

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    1. True, dat. China's government/bank/economy is moving back towards a more insular model of one-party governance that celebrates the Confucian ethic. The flow of money escaping China is liable to be shut down fairly soon, it's part of a tremendous capital outflow that's becoming too apparent to the government. And the damages from climate change have only begun; this will require much of that capital.

      http://time.com/3332552/china-japan-economic-crisis/

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    2. Did yeh ever notice the "Global Warming" folks after it's been cooling off call themselves "Climate Change" fighters?

      Give it a break. It's called "Weather".

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    3. You can fight climate change all you want, as long as you use your own $$ and don't carbon tax me to do it, Cassandra.

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    4. A Stunning Visualization of China's Air Pollution
      http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-stunning-visualization-of-chinas-air-pollution/259455/
      China's massive pollution problem
      http://theweek.com/article/index/252440/chinas-massive-pollution-problem
      On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops ‘Crazy Bad’ at 755
      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/science/earth/beijing-air-pollution-off-the-charts.html?_r=0

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  18. If the City Council is stupid enough to abuse its discretion and subject a private property owner to mob rule rather than the rule of law then the city deserves to be sued into bankruptcy. There is no way the Council has three votes to overrule the Planning Commission.

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    1. You'd be surprised what the popular will can mean in a democracy.

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  19. Does the name Anne Browning ring a bell?

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    1. No, but Quasimodo was a prodigious bell ringer.

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    2. Ha ha 12:57. Little bird says, stay tuned.....

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    3. You mean Anne Browning Mcintosh?
      http://www.publiccontractors.com/Anne%20Browning%20Mcintosh/6216589.html

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    4. Uh oh. Anne and Michelle Keith?
      http://www.cityofbradbury.org/city-hall

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  20. The hearing is two days before Thanksgiving. I will be out of town visiting family on a long-ago planned vacation. I wonder how many others will not be able to make it? Perhaps even some Councilmembers?

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    1. Timing is everything. I think there should be a special meeting. How can an issue this big be squeezed into a regular City Council agenda?

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  21. There is a good article in the L.A. Times re: Chinese home buyers. The article says, "They're buying homes for themselves to emigrate, for their children to attend college, or for rental income. Neighborhoods from Irvine to Arcadia are being transformed."

    And, apparently Sierra Madre. I for one am not unhappy to have a Chinese neighbor. My next door neighbor is Chinese as is the neighbor across the street. They are model neighbors as well as very nice people. I think we all have to be clear it is not because the developers are catering to the Chinese per se. It is because the current influx of buyers from China are not happy with the homes they buy, but instead want to transform their neighborhood into what their dream is for a model. Their dream is so counter to what Sierra Madre is all about, that we are pushing back. Not because they are Chinese, but because of their image of what their home should look like.

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