The lot splitting atrocities that can now be seen being built all over town, along with the impending McMansion developments that could be going down soon at One Carter and other equally unfortunate places, none of this could have happened had not the likes of John Buchanan, Joe Mosca and those other two stood in the way of the completion of MaryAnn's hoped for General Plan Update. The necessary protections would already be in place and the very real threat to Sierra Madre of being turned into some kind of knock off Arcadia Adjacent just not there.
But unfortunately that is the hand dealt to us, and those four wasted years are now a problem that could have some serious repercussions. As an example we are probably less than two months away from yet another very expensive One Carter lawsuit, something that would have been inconceivable had the updated General Plan been completed in the 18 months originally proposed by then Mayor MacGillivray.
So here is some good news. Just don't let anybody know you heard it from me.
The current City Council appears to recognize the urgency of the situation and is doing everything it can to get the General Plan Update completed, and fast. Last night myself and maybe four other civilian witnesses sat through one of the most godawful boring City Council meetings ever as our newly motivated elected public officials went through their land use maps, floor plan ratios and whatever else, and in the most excruciating detail. And I have to tell you, it was all music to my ears. And even when I fell asleep the dreams were pleasant.
Because what they were doing was making certain that once completed this new General Plan will slam the door on every conceivable attempt to build McMansions and (to use John Hutt's great term) McCondos anywhere in Sierra Madre. No matter how much embezzled foreign capital and the litigious lawyers such money buys are sicced against us.
Pretty good stuff. This is, of course, one hell of a lot of work for these guys, and there is much more of that sort of thing that remains to be done.
And they do understand this. Last night yet another special meeting of the City Council was scheduled for January 6, 2015, just to work on the General Plan. I cannot recall a time when this many special meetings have been held for only one specific purpose, but that is what is happening now. It is that urgent a matter.
Two Equally Awful and Threatening Things that are Working in Our Favor
The first is the many millions of dollars in smuggled mainland Chinese money that is turning Arcadia into perhaps one of the most ostentatious, unattractive, and frankly absurd cities in Southern California.
Which, when you think about it, is really saying a lot. The threat of being consumed by that tidal wave of unearthly and rather immense bad taste has awakened the residents of the City of Sierra Madre in a very positive way. And suddenly the once widely reviled slow growth movement in this town has become all the rage, a trend that this City Council has obviously noticed.
The other is the worst drought in over 1,200 years (link). This City Council had instituted a 2 year moratorium on new development due to the amazing fact that Sierra Madre no longer has a water supply of its own. We do have a water company, but it has no water. Which I guess means it is just a company now.
In addition to stopping lot splits, new McMansion developments at Mater Dolorosa and Stone House, along with some of the other stupid developer tricks, this moratorium also gives this City Council the two years it will need to complete the General Plan update. Which, when finished, will in some (not all) very important ways extend this building moratorium out for an additional 20 years.
And get this, there was even talk last night of passing some sorts of restrictions on development that will take care of anything that might arise even before the General Plan is finished.
OK, I am sorry for all this optimism. Trust me, none of it comes easily to me. And there is still the very real possibility that there is a joker up somebody's sleeve. Having blogged through the previous four dismal years in this town has definitely jaded me in that respect.
But as Gene Goss said last night, we need to get the General Plan done as quickly as possible.
You know, I believe him. Sure hope I'm right.