Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The General Plan Update: A Race Against Time

Run.
There can be little doubt that a whole lot of time was wasted in between the moment when Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray first set the General Plan Update into motion in 2009, and what occurred at last night's City Council meeting. Four long years of retrograde foot dragging Civility Party Mayors occupy the gap between these two highly beneficial events, with the resulting damage done to Sierra Madre becoming more evident every day.

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.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. Thanks John Crawford!
    I think you are right.
    Long live the wisdom of slow and integrous growth in Sierra Madre.

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    1. Finally, the McManison and McCondo excesses have gotten so bad that everyone can see what they'll do here! If only people had woken up ten years ago. But better now than never.

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    2. Yes, better late than never. I was over a t Mary's Market the other day. Everything good about Sierra Madre is found in that funky place. But we have to remain vigilent. There are certain people who would rather tear down Mary's Market and put a Starbucks in there. Let them build their McMansions in Arcadia where its a free for all for the developers. They can basically do whatever they want in the name of "private property rights" as the Asst. City Manager was quoted recently. Do you think he care a whit about private property rights. Of course not. Its all about more revenues. Now is not the time for half-measures. The development pressures are too strong. We have to be bold and it sounds like this City Council is up to the challenge.

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    3. Nobody is trying to tear down Marys let alone put in a Starbucks

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    4. I've heard it is a Bed Bath & Beyond.

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    5. Sport Chalet. They take you to the limit.

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    6. Johnny Cupcakes.

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    7. Anyone heard any reliable news about what is going in at the old Albertsons?

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    8. According to the ladies in the barbershop across the parking lot Stater Brothers will be opening there soon.

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    9. Stater Brothers are good. Not many around here, but if you go east about 25 miles they're all over the place. Good prices, great butcher shop.

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  2. Civility will stop McMansions. All you need to do is say please.

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  3. Something that I find amazing is there is now no opposition to getting the General Plan done. Where are all those bellicose gentlemen that used to show up at City Council meetings to bellow their displeasure at MaryAnn and what she was trying to accomplish here? Gone with the wind.

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    1. True 7:26 - what happened to all that passionate animosity? Did it move to San Diego?

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    2. I think it went to England first.

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    3. Hard to believe that one person could have done so much damage.

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    4. Wait until the city realizes how badly we need to downsize our zoning, and actions are taken to do that. The avaricious types will flood city hall.

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  4. Great news Mod, and thanks.
    I tried to watch the meeting, but KGEM had other ideas.

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    1. KGEM is very unreliable. It really is a shame people get cut out like that.

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  5. Note to all commenting today. The Google "captcha" one step is still in place despite all of my attempts to get rid of it yesterday. The Google folks don't get it apparently. I haven't given up, but this could take time. I appreciate your patience and understanding. Not at all happy about this myself.

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    1. At least it's the street address numbers now, and not the squished together letters.

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    2. You have a shot at getting it right with the number. With the squishy letters, even when I put my nose up to the screen, I'm still guessing half the time. Whose the genious that came up with that.

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    3. I am posting something about this tomorrow. It is actually quite a story. Google and companies like it are under assualt from international hackers and spam outfits. Should explain a lot. Still a pita, though.

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    4. Ah Mod! It's gone back to the squishes!

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  6. Don't feel too good to soon, this is Sierra Madre, you know there is a fly in the ointment some where.

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    1. Yes. When things seem to be going too well, that is the time to start worrying.

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    2. It is very unusual for the Mod to be optimistic.
      I'm going to take it as a good sign.

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    3. He suspects the worst, and is right about 80% of the time.

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    4. Those of us who have been in the trenches in the Development Wars are used to fighting people who use despicable tactics - and we are used to being betrayed by our "representatives". So it's understandable that it's hard to believe things have gotten so much better.
      I'd like to get used to people who say they want to preserve Sierra Madre actually taking steps to do that.

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  7. I was not able to watch the meeting but intend to watch the video. I hope it went as well as the Tattler is reporting.

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  8. I am glad they are pushing this along, however, did it occur to the council that they could give one Saturday to get it done before the end of the year? I know it's a busy time, but itnisntheirnjob. Then they have to manage the city manager and make sure there are no delays on the EIR. Here last estimate is that it would take 2 years. Way too long. The stop gap motion is a good one if it will take that long. As for a suit, the most cost is the delays the attorneys throw into the mix. A sharp attorney can handle that.

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    1. The consultant doing the EIR is getting an ridiculous amount of money I'm sure. The city needs to put a strict time limit for turning that report in. Payment contingent on meeting our due date. Six months should be plenty of time. It's mostly boilerplate anyway.

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    2. Exactly right, 11:04.

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    3. Does anyone know how much money this consultant gets?

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    4. Half a million?

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    5. this city just pee pees away a river of money

      a consultant for what?

      remember the brilliant marketing consulting firm that we paid a pile of money to that presented a report that had misspelled city streets, basically copy and pasted gibberish from the internet and it's only suggestion was to narrow the parking spots, angle them to fit in more parking spaces.

      we elect thinkers so we don't have to waste money on consultants who are mostly snake oil salesmen

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  9. Good to hear the council taking this seriously and putting in the effort to get this completed.

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    1. I am pretty sure they've been getting an earful from the residents.

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  10. There are going to be plenty of new uglies up here and there in town, because they made it under the wire of the building and water meter moratoriums. But we have a chance of having those being the last ones. We're stuck with that behemoth downtown but maybe people will vote more carefully the next time something like that comes up. Most residents will hate those McMonsters on Camillo, and the crammed in junk on Mariposa close to Lima. Sorry they had to happen at all, but they'll be good inspiration.

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    1. and where were our real estate agents then when all of this was going on ? they didn't seem to be concerned collecting commission checks and now realize that SM is a messed up community for selling homes cause the long term future of SM isn't that bright and stable

      SM as we knew it is gone and replaced with ugly

      thanks real estate lobby

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  11. You know what I can't figure out? What happened to the General Plan opposition? Even Henderson is cooing like a kitten. I don't get it.

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    1. so I've been a real proponent that Susan has really screwed us over with spreading the lies from the city and not holding the city accountable and sort of chiseled her way into the paper. That isn't a good rep and it's worse that she didn't respect the Dunn's enough to pay them what she owed them, the original masthead was "two friends" yet Susan wasn't really a friend but regardless

      I'm willing to let bygones be bygones with Susan cause a few months ago when I found out about Trevor I felt for her and maybe she's tired of the BS of Nancy Walsh and the whole mess of our city management

      or maybe she sees the handwriting on the wall and the asses she was kissing are going to be gone or the Council will hold her accountable to the people, not the real estate lobby and the city union agenda with absurd pension plans bilking the taxpayers - us.

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  12. The new council is a God send. I met Gene Goss at an event recently. When it leaked out that he was on the council (he did not volunteer a fact I already knew and I was not going to hector him on his off time) he proceeded to ask me a series of questions about how I felt concering lot splits, large houses on small lots, and design restrictions. He was genuiniely interested in my views, expressed agreement with many, and indicated he would be working on these issues. I did not vote for him last time, but expect to in the future.

    My point is this. That whole Buchannan/Walsh/Moran gang was so corrosive, destructive, and flatly dishonest with the facts concerning the city, its costs, and its governance. For good measure, they ran shameful campaigns. The current group has really helped to tone down the acrimony, which has made life here better. Thanks to one and all. Let's finish the plan and protect our beloved Foothill Village from out of character development.

    ps: if you lose heart for the fight, take a drive up Camillo.

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    1. I hope you are right.

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    2. it started with the building industry lobbyist that served two terms and kept peddling his SCAG influence with Buchanan, Walsh and down / up the line

      now the realtors are trying to be al buddy buddy with us after selling us without a care with One Carter and Maranatha and now realizing that with the strong possibility of One Carter being sold and represented by Chinese agents exclusive and losing all that revenue. Serves them right for lying about Measure V.

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  13. aren't there enough people in this city who are absolutely sick of those who championed themselves in SM as the "civility party" to bring civil discourse back to the Chambers and City Hall?

    supposed to be our neighbors and we trust them yet look at this big moronic mess made by corporate lightweights.

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