Monday, January 12, 2015

Are We At The Point Where CETT Sues Sierra Madre Yet?

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We had over 160 comments on this blog over the weekend. The topic on both days was preserving Sierra Madre and holding off what we have come to call "the barbarians at the gate." Which unfortunately is pretty much what we are being faced with. Unkind people whose limited understanding of what we have created and value here ranging from complete indifference to outright contempt, with their only real interest being how much they will make by selling it.

Out of the many great observations one in particular jumped out at me. It deals with last week's nine new permit applications to build McMansions at One Carter:

With an average size of 4500 SF, who are these developers trying to fool? Most older homes, which are very comfortable and livable, are in the neighborhood of 2000 - 2500 SF. It's all about the massive profits from the extra 2000 square feet of built real estate, which is not that much more in the construction phase, given the builder standard products and cheap construction framing on these things, particularly when the crews are all scheduled to grade, frame and build out at the SAME TIME using the excavation equipment all at once. This will destroy the hillside, period, and generate huge risks for fire and flood as its legacy after the money is pocketed. Pure rape, pillage and burn.

Tomorrow night we will see something that many of us might never have expected. And that is an end to the long running saga of the not so wonderful wickiup at 610 Baldwin Court. Or at least an end to this chapter in a drama that has been going on since November of 2012.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a kind of happy compromise night between our City Council and the developer CETT. But it now appears that what we are going to get is something entirely different.

Here is how a really finely written staff report reveals the big news:


I love that story. And what this tells me is Councilmembers Denise Delmar and Gene Goss told the mysterious individuals hidden behind the Veil of CETT (through Attorney MacDonald, of course) that they either build something more appropriately modest or go and take a nice long hike. Which leaves CETT and their professionally litigious attorney with these two rather simple options:

1) Pack up their carpet bag and crawl back into the deep valley from whence they came.

2) Take the City of Sierra Madre to L.A. County Superior Court and sue.

Of course, between the time the above was written and Tuesday evening things could change. The fate of all the other mini-mansions CETT hopes to build at One Carter hinges on getting at least something approved at 610 Baldwin Court first. The city's last best offer also serves to call their bluff, and at the final possible moment they might just take whatever they can get. But I have some of doubts they'll do that.

Now you might think that the lawsuit option isn't really the best one available. Over the years we have all been repeatedly told how such a thing is the equivalent of a zombie invasion with no National Guard whatsoever in sight, and therefore we will all have our brains eaten.

But do you know what? In this instance your brains are safe because CETT doesn't really have much of a legal leg to stand on. And so confident is City Hall in this assessment that they've actually filled much of that finely written staff report with bits and pieces of the case they will present in Court defending our hillside interests against CETT. That is, if it should ever actually come to that.

I'd post all of the City's case here but there really isn't much point in doing that. Not when you can click here and go check it out in its original setting all by yourself.

I have long been a moderately superstitious person. It makes for simpler explanations. And among the things I will freely admit to believing in is the One Carter Curse. I really do believe that the place had long been a burial ground for the indigenous peoples who lived here over the course of thousands of years. And that as discerning denizens of a true spiritual vortex those concerned spirits believe McMansions are the undesirable result of too much new money and not enough intellectual sophistication. As such they just aren't going to put up with any such gaucherie. After all, they were there first.

Not all that different from us in that way.

2015 is shaping up to be the 10th futile year since a pretty awful City Council flung open the doors to development at what had once been one of our most beautiful natural settings. Yet nothing has ever been built at One Carter. Not a single house has ever seen the light of day there.

It appears that once again the curse is holding.

sierramadretattler@blogspot.com

37 comments:

  1. As Kenny Rodgers would sing, "Ya gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em". Time to end this nonsense and let the chips fall where they may!

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  2. A poster yesterday talked about a sunset clause in the One Carter Settlement Agreement and noted that the agreement expires March of this year. what happens then?

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    Replies
    1. Our current ordinances will apply to the properies. Gain for our team.

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    2. It is good that the city is now applying these ordinances properly.

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  3. Game, match, but no CETT.

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  4. This all is going to be a bluff on CETT's part. They were hoping that by hiring a lawyer at the get-go, they would intimidate Sierra Madre into submission. Thankfully, that has not worked. As I think John Hutt had pointed out, by caving in the face of the threat of a lawsuit, you may think that you are saving time and money but, in reality, all you have done is embolden more bad projects and more lawsuits in the future. Its better to draw our line in the sand right here and now and let CETT and all other developers know that Sierra Madre means business when it comes to preserving our city and our hillsides. If you want to develop in our town, you need to play by our rules. The fact is that CETT is on very tenuous legal grounds. They have to know that courts give a great deal of deference to cities when it comes to controlling land use in their city. If this developer were to take it to court, they stand to lose alot more than the City does. They are too smart not to know that and so we just need to call their bluff.

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  5. Let's hope there is not some last minute "compromise" all done in the name of averting a lawsuit that is a mere bluff anyway. CETT will play this game. Let's hope our City Council is smarter than that.

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    1. I agree, no compromise. If you compromise with a bad project, you still end up with a bad project. We want a good project. Hopefully, Capoccia realizes that and will not settle for a "less bad" project as he put it at one meeting. There is no reason to settle for a "less bad" project. The City has the rules in place in the General Plan, Municipal Code, Settlement Agreement and Design Guidelines. There is no need to deviate from that.

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    2. Who would ever want to be known as the Councilmember responsible for unleashing McMansion development in Sierra Madre? That would be awful!

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  6. Tomorrow night is going to be a classic meeting. You really need to be there.

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  7. Let's all recognize that "bluffing" is a common negotiating tactic. CETT will bluff all the way to the end and just before a trial. They may even go to the point of filing a lawsuit. All it takes is a few pages and a few hundred dollars. Don't panic. Again, it part of the bluff. If CETT takes it all the way and loses in court which they will, the developer will BK this property just like Greg Gallety and Dorn Platz had to do. Every day they are delayed and not building something, it is cutting into the developer's bottom line. They know that and we need to know that.

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  8. The meeting tomorrow is about as important as they come. Hopefully, Capoccia, and Harabedian will support the strong stand taken by Goss and Delmar. They need to present a united front to the developer. If the developer perceives any weakness or any cracks in that united front, all it will do is encourage the very thing we don't want to have happen. I hope our City Council can get on the same page on this and reflect that in front of the developer and in front of the cameras.

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    1. Biggest … meeting … in … years!

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    2. John C needs to be strong tomorrow night.

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    3. A friend to all is a friend to none.

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    4. 9:35.....what would Jesus say about that?

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  9. Please let me know if you're looking for a article author for your blog. You have some really great posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd absolutely love to write some articles for your blog.

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    1. Pretty well staffed as it is. But thanks for the interest.

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  10. I sent this to my Sierra Madre e-address list. Every Tattler reader should send an e-mail alert out, too. Get your friends to City Hall tomorrow night.

    Hello All--
    The City Council needs everyone's support as they go forward with protecting our city from overdevelopment. We need to support their effort in passing protection against demolition of old homes in town. The pressure is on to build oversized houses on our city's standard sized lots
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    The General Plan Update is finished and ready for the City Council adoption as well.

    If you cannot attend (though your physical presence is best, even if you don't speak) you can send an e-mail:

    Mayor John Harabedian: jharabedian@cityofsierramadre.com
    Mayor Pro-tem John Capoccia: jcapoccia@cityofsierramadre.com
    Councilmembers Rachaelle Arizmendi: rarizmendi@cityofsierramadre.com
    Denise Delmar: ddelmar@cityofsierramadre.com
    Gene Goss: ggoss@cityofsierramadre.com

    Thank you,

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  11. Arizmendi will be able to vote on the important issue of the demolition ordinance and the adoption of the General Plan!! Also, can she vote on the applications for the lots that are further than the 500 ft from her residence or is it the entire 1 Carter area that she cannot vote on?

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  12. Funny landscaping drawing. That large tree? Way gone with al the others - like there was a war on trees that had been there for more than 50 years.

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    1. If I've got it right, that was a Capital Source effort, via Adele, to get a spec house up just to "get things going." Ridiculous violation of all kinds of rules and conditions.

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    2. The project is so offensive in so many ways. But I think it is the steady stream of false information from the developer that tops my list.

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  13. These houses at Carter, and Stonehouse, and the old church on Highland, and the units at the Kensington (which uses a fake perspective to show itself on its blog, as though you can see the mountains if you are to the south of that building), mean just what kind of increase in our population? 200 more resident, 300, in just a few years?
    I guess we can kiss any chance of returning to our own water goodbye.

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    Replies
    1. I think the Kensington has turned out much better than expected and very much better than what was there

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    2. I like the taco stand better.

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    3. The Taco stand still stands albeit a block west. The Kensington replaced a moldering skilled nursing facility that was an eyesore, unused for a long time, and too expensive to be rehabilitated.

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    4. I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

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    5. Given enough time it could become another spiritual vortex.

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  14. This is a simple issue to preserve Sierra Madre and avoid it's uglification to become another Glendale. Whatever the lawsuit costs -that is worth it to stop this rape of the hillsides once and for all time. When CETT understand we are serious ,they will back down because any lawsuit would drag out for years and exhaust them financially.
    So I advocate a big turnout at this evenings meeting to show our determination to Save Sierra Madre.

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    1. Brave talk from someone who hasn't yet contributed a cent to the legal defense fund, I'd say. It's all well and good to talk big - if you'd put your money where your mouth is (and the mouths of many others in town) Sierra Madre would be in a fighting position to mount a defense against the McMansionization, the Glendalization, or the Arcadization - whatever you want to call it. In fact I'd posit that you could have organzied a fund to buy the Willis estate and stopped the crazy One Carter debacle. Just sayin'...

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  15. I would give and I'm sure many here would do so also. I don't think anyone thought the council would sell us out.

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    Replies
    1. Sierra Madre's bad government decade. 2004 - 2014.

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    2. Except for Kurt, Don and MaryAnn you are right. Probably the longest run of self-serving jackasses this poor town has ever seen.

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  16. Mr. Mod: Why don't you ever print any of the nay sayers? They can't all be obscene, right? I think we can defend our feelings and in some ways, the nay sayers need to be heard so we can try to change their minds. What say you?

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    1. I usually do. Except for the total idiots. Which, come to think of it, is most of them.

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