Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Tuesday Evening It Was Gene Goss Who Asked The Question Everyone Wanted To Hear

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The question that was on the minds of many people Tuesday evening is why would someone buy a classic vintage Craftsman home, and in a community where people are very sensitive about the preservation of such structures, if they didn't want to restore it? That is pretty much what is done with Craftsman homes. The restoration of such houses is a fairly substantial industry throughout this area, driven by the widely held recognition that these homes are valuable, not just as unique and beautiful properties in themselves, but also as good investments. This is what so many people want when they choose to live in a place like this. Demolition just seems counterintuitive.

So here is what many people had been wondering. Did the new owners ever intend to restore the home in question, or was demolition on their minds from the very beginning? That is the mystery. How exactly did we get to this point? The potential destruction of a community heirloom?

Here is how the question was put by Councilmember Gene Goss, and the way the new owner of the 1907 Henry A. Darling home, Dave Brown, tried to explain how it had all come to this moment. The link to the video is at the bottom of the following screen shot.

Video link here


There was a lot of discussion here on The Tattler about this moment of the meeting, which makes sense as when all is said and done this was a very key issue. I've included some comments below that I thing express a lot of what is actually at stake here.

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 6:14 AM
That was a fascinating meeting last night. We saw for all to see a simple clash of philiosophy. As much of a believer as I am in private property rights, I am willing to sacrifice for the greater good of preserving this village town. In other words, when I advocate for floor area limits, that mean I am going against my own self-interest a bit because I won't be able to build as big a "dream home" as I would without the lower limits. But I'm willing to do that because preserving the character of this town for people like my daughter and others is very important to me. On the other side are those who want to do whatever they want with their land. They want to build the 2-story home so that they can get better views of the mountains and city lights but don't care whether they have now blocked the mountain and city light views of their neighbors. That's the clash in philosophy. It can manifest itself in the example just given or it can manifest itself in bulldozing a 1907 Craftsman like 126 E. Mira Monte with the owner shouting "Shame on You" because she is unable to understand why the community may not want to see a classic craftsman home like that turned into rubble.

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 6:25 AM
I have to give Gene Goss credit for asking the Perry Mason question of the day to the owner of Mira Monte. It was basically a "what did you know and when did you know it" question because the more the husband talked the more it appeared that they knew going in the condition of that home and really were not surprised that they had to bulldoze it. Whether they knew that going in or whether they were trying to modify the home so much that the "bones" of the home just couldn't stand such significant changes, it doesn't matter. They just threw up their hands and said because we can't do exactly what we want to with this home, we'll just demolish it. They should not have bought that home if the intention was to level it. Before she shouted "Shame on You" to everyone in the audience concerned about the Henry A. Darling home being demolished, she even said she can't sell the home as if no one would buy it. That's simply not true. Put it back on the market and let a person who cares about Craftsman homes restore it. They would still make a tidy profit and the "Henry A. Darling House' gets spared the wrecking ball.

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 6:50 AM
Capoccia was pretty effective and Goss did ask the question that alot of people were thinking. The husband rambled on and had a hard time keeping his story straight. I'm sure they don't want to admit that perhaps at the get go, demolition was an option for them. If they did admit that, they would look pretty bad. But buy another home then. I'm not saying don't move into Sierra Madre. It used to be that people bought homes that fit their needs. If it didn't, then they didn't buy it. There are lots of other homes they can buy. Let someone who truly cares about the history and the historical significance of a Craftsman home buy it and do the restoration. They complain about financial straights. Come on. I hate to say it but if you can afford to bulldoze that existing home and build a brand new 3,700 square foot home, cash is probably not a problem for you. Likewise, the restoration of that home would certainly cost alot less then tearing it down and building one twice as big.

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 9:40 AM

I agree with you, 6:50. I kept wondering why they didn't just buy a home they could move into. How about the husband's comment that 4000 square feet is a "small" house. As I said earlier, these comments sounded suspiciously like Adele Chang. Thank you Donald Songster, for showing the Council what can be done with a craftsman that has gone into disrepair. In case you missed it, his home, on Sierra Madre Blvd, between two apartment complexes, "beyond repair" when he bought it 20 years ago was recently on the cover of a magazine (American Bungalow - cover story.)

Caroline Bourque Brown January 28, 2015 at 7:43 AM
The shift in thinking what is suitable as a home for raising a family and cooking a family meal is what is different here. Many of us who have lived in Sierra Madre for fourty or so years were the age then that these Young Families are now. BUT we found an existing home that was to our liking, that we could afford, maybe we added on or remodeled the kitchen with in the existing four walls and went on with our lives to polish our career stars, take our kids to school and activities and involve ourselves with community preservation: hillside ordinance, 1996 general plan, canyon zoning, downtown protection, tree preservation, general plan update, etc. I hope that the folks with the "demolition is mine" glory ideas will read this and understand what the place represents and really love it as it is. Buy another house somewhere in town that is already suitable to your families needs with just a wee bit of suitable remodeling and expansion. Then sit back and say to yourself, I am part of this traditional, vintage community. Welcome.

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 9:13 AM

People like 7:43 is what this town is all about. Why can't the new people coming in have that same mentality. Its really interesting but when I was growing up, tear downs were unheard of unless a house was literally falling down or had burned down. That's why you carefully choose a house that meets your needs always knowing that you can tinker with it here and there. It's this new mentality of just tearing things down and building something bigger, showier etc with no respect for what was there. We had to cut down a tree that was causing problems for our house. My wife literally cried about it. Don't the Browns have any feelings towards that old house? I don't understand it.

There were a lot of other comments in this vein, many just as good. But these went pretty much to the heart of the argument as far as I can tell.

All of which brings up this. How exactly do those living in a community hang on to their sense of place? Where you live often becomes a lot of what you are, so where do you go when all of that is gone? Who are you then? Is ours an endangered way of life?

Below are some shots of the Henry A. Darling house, rough edges and all. This is what would be taken from this community should the requested demolition ever go through.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

97 comments:

  1. I have been in alot of Craftsman homes over the years and I have to tell you that this home is a classic. The architectural details are about as fine as anything that I have seen. It is just inconceivable that a buyer would want to tear down such a home. The Brown's also hired an architect, who based on what he said at the last City Council meeting and his own history of projects he has been involved in, has no regard for how to improve a Craftsman home. This home got struck by lightning twice with the worst possible Buyer and the worst possible architect. Its really sad for the Henry A. Darling House and really sad for the community to lose such a treasure.

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    1. I think all this talk about the foundation and structural problems is a bunch of malarky. The Brown's and their architect wanted to make too many changes to the home and then threw their hands up when it just wasn't feasible within the parameters of what they had to work with. I'm sure their architect also loved to have the opportunity to design a brand new home that he can lend his name to.

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    2. I agree with 6:44, that if you take that home and demand too many modern day changes to it, then of course a structural engineer will say that its not possible based on what you originally have to work with. The Brown's said at the meeting that they wanted a 4,000 square foot home. Well, that's alot of home with alot of bells and whistles. You will always have a tough time making a 2,000 sq. ft. 1907 Craftsman turn into something that its not. That's the problem. They should not have bought this home in the first place. Regardless of whether they intended to demolish it from the beginning or not, they were simply the wrong buyer for this home and now the City of Sierra Madre may lose one of its historical treasures as a result. Does anybody get the feeling from the Brown's that they really appreciate the Henry A. Darling House for what it is. I don't think so. They want the big 4,000 square foot home with all the modern features and amenities. They should have bought just such a home but not the Henry A. Darling House.

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    3. I was at the meeting and wondered why architect Vantalktalktalker abused the length of podium time as he surely knows protocol having been on the Planning Commission. It occured to me in the moment that perhaps he wanted certain points on the record should they have to sue the City in the future...Just sayin'

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    4. Maybe, 7:23. He was the one to bring of the litigation threat.
      Whenever he's appeared at council, he's always gone overtime. Obviously feels entitled. But his presentation to be allowed to demolish his clients' historic structure was the lengthiest so far.

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    5. I spoke, and was standing in the back, obviously ready to be next, as was Marguerite Schuster and Heather Allen, at different points, and one of the pro teardown crowd would rush up to the podium to be the next speaker. I mention this because that seems to be their attitude, "I'm more important, and s*** you." I was standing through Vanderveld's droning on and on. Please, Tattlers, email every Councilmember to plead with them to not allow this travesty, nor the one at 110 Rancho. The only people who were truly caught were the Vance's. I like her idea of making the exception anyone who has already lived in their home for five years.

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    6. Perhaps at contentious meetings, with so many newbies, the mayor could simply state one podium visit , so as to inform them of correct protocol. John H did a nice job requesting a 3 minute time limit reminder. So different than Joe Mosca who had his finger on the BUTTON at the 2 minute mark.

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    7. Where in the world is the Sierra Madre Historical Society in all of this? This would never be allowed in Pasadena as pro-development as Pasadena can be. I think this tells us clearly why Sierra Madre was given a grade of C by some national historic preservation rating system when it came to historical preservation. Me thinks its time for new leadership at the Sierra Madre Historical Society if they can't even take a position on the possible demolition of a 1907 Classic Craftsman home at 126 E. Mira Monte otherwise known as the "Henry A. Darling House." Unbelievable. Our grade should be lowered to an F if we lose this house.

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    8. The Historical Society, like the Environmental Action Council, does not participate in politics.
      Yep.

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    9. Only sometimes do they participate in politics. Not as a historical society but look at the roster and you will see most are very pro development individually.

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    10. They don't participate in politics. This isn't about politics. This is about historical treasures. What is the purpose of the historical society then if they are going to let historical treasures be destroyed? I don't get it.

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    11. I thought Harabedian did the best he could. When you have someone like Vanderveldt abuse the public comment portion like that, that's really rude and offensive to all those in the audience who generally try to play by the rules and who actually would like to get home at a reasonable hour. His penalty should be that if he ever dares to speak at a meeting again, the Mayor announce to him right up front that he's getting the hook at 3 minutes. That should be his penalty. If he doesn't leave, the meeting should stop until the police are called. I'm sure that Harabedian will be ready next time that jerk decides to speak again.

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  2. Based on these pictuures, that home is absolutely stunning with classic period details. The Henry A. Darling House is part of Sierra Madre's history and should not be turned into rubble by the wrecking ball. When Julie Brown said at the meeting that they can never sell the home because of all the problems, she doesn't know what she is talking about. Put it on the market for sale and you will have alot of Buyers willing to take on the project of restoration. Sure, a Craftsman home is not a modern home and might have some features that are a little quirky but owners will live with that because they know they are living in a piece of history. The Brown's either were intent on bulldozing this home from the beginning or they picked an architect who simply overwhelmed the existing home with his re-design that it became easier to just demolish it. In other words, if you take that home and you want a masterbedroom on the second floor with high ceilings that turn it into effectively a 3-story home and you want a huge walk-in closet and palatial master bath, then of course, you have made so many overwhelming changes that the original home just can't support it. The normal Craftsman buyer doesn't make those kinds of demands on the home but tries to live with its existing features because they have a reverence for the home itself. The Browns do not have such a reverence for the Henry A. Darling house and nor does their architect. That's what made it an easy decision for them to just bulldoze it.

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  3. I have to give Gene Goss credit He asked the tough questions that was on my mind and I'm sure alot of other people's mind too. I don't think Gene or anybody else was satisifed with the answer either. Of all houses, the Henry A. Darling House deserves to be caught in the net of the demolition moratorium. Let the historical assessment be done. I would be very shocked and surprised if that home was not found to be historically significant.

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    1. Who is doing the historical assessment?

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    2. Anybody know?

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    3. I don't remember, but Glen Lambdin was invited to come to the podium to assist with that information. Look on YouTube( regular council meeting Sierra Madre Jan. 27, 2015). This information was discussed after all the speakers had left the podium. I'm guessing that it was around 3 hours into the meeting.

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    4. This is a problem.

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    5. Lambdin has a long and murky past with the matter of historic structures.

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    6. The historical assessment can't be a whitewash sham. I look at those pictures and I just can't believe someone wouldn't buy that to restore it. The details are remarkable. Vanderveldt literally and figuratively is the architect of this whole travesty. If he was the kind of architect that cared about a Craftsman, he would not have promoted or even acquieced in its destruction.

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    7. Goss found his voice the other night and asked the Perry Mason question. The answer from the owner was all over the place. Clearly, they had other ideas for this house. Preservation was the last thing on their mind.

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    8. I too give Goss credit. Goss ran for City Council as a preservationist so it does not surprise me that he is maintaining that position. That's why I voted for him and so far he has given me no reason to regret that vote.

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    9. Everyone runs as a preservationist. The ones that still are after being elected are an exception.

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    10. Did you know that Gene Goss LOVES Sierra Madre?

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    11. Everybody loves Sierra Madre. But each relationship is special and unique.

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    12. Goss gets kudos for asking the toughest question of the night....and persisting when the owner failed to give a clear response.

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    13. He got poor Mr. Brown tap dancing.

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    14. Goss made Mr. Brown sweat with his pointed questions. I don't think anyone is satisfied with the answers.

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    15. So far old Gene has surprised a few people with some of his positions. He's been there every step of the way as the city tries to control development.

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  4. I believe the Brown's have been offerred a chance to show what they wanted to do to the house that was not feasible and thus required a tear down. They have not done that. They showed no reports, no diagrams, no specifics. Just the fact that the foundation needed repair. Their words, no proof. They mentione a third story? They mentioned at least 4000 sf. They told us they even used a local architect, wearing it as a badge of honor. If they truly wanted a restoration they would have used an architect who restores. They could've had their 4000 sf as their lot appears big enough. They could have preserved the home they claim to love. Instead they were rude, as was their architect. The other three speakers were not rude and what they were asking appears to be well within the realm of possibility. The Brown's, their architect and the past mayor/construction guy (who some say was a questionable mayor) stated everything as fact but offerred no proof other than to belittle the other people in the room.

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    1. Or coarse the city told them they can't build something that is effectively a 3-story home. The Browns wanted to change this home too dramatically for what was already there. If you tell the architect that you need 11 foot ceilings and you want a huge master bedroom and large gourmet kitchen with big center island, of course you can't make that work in a 1907 Craftsman. But don't buy that kind of home if that's what you need and want.

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    2. Correction.... according to the comments on this blog, you don't buy a home in Sierra Madre, period, if you want that kind of home.

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  5. Does this home have vintage aesthetic appeal? Yes. Exceptional craftsmanship (no pun intended)? Yes. Did Dave Brown pay $925,000 for this house? Yes. With this kind of financial investment, should he be allowed to do what he wants with the property? Yes!

    I'd venture to guess that the vast majority of commenters that are in favor of denying Brown his right to enjoy his expensive purchase as he desires, are probably paying next to nothing in property taxes (i.e. sub $1,000), and forked out a fraction of what he did on their own properties. In addition, if the city were to impose fines for: porch lights being out for 72+ hours, garage doors being left open for over an hour, and trash not being taken in by the evening it was picked up (like Irvine does for all of this), people would be up in arms and going berserk. My point is that all of you are accepting of restriction implementation as long as it doesn't affect you in any way. Essentially having your cake and eating it too, and it's incredibly selfish.

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    1. 7:17, please move to Arcadia. It will be perfect for you. Tear down a 1907 classic and City Hall will be ready to approve whatever you want. Please.

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    2. The picture windows alone are breathtaking!

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    3. Selfish - to care about the community as a whole? To value the history of this place? 7:17, you've got a wacky case of projection. You are also generalizing and showing yourself to be pitifully superficial.

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    4. Civic involvement and community pride are evil according to the 7:17s of the world. People who care about their communities and neighbors are a selfish conspiracy. Put on your blinders, put 7:17 in your ears and march. None of this is your business.

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    5. 7:17, you are in the oh-so-wrong place for you!
      And best avoid the canyon - it would give you apoplexy.

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    6. Very informative. I didn't realize there were garbage can police.

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    7. 7:17 represents one side of an age-old issue. As much as I believe in private property rights, I recognize that I don't live on 15 acres in Montana where I should be able to do what I want. He selfishly believes in absolute property rights in which, despite living in an urban setting in relatively close proximity to your neighbors, you can do whatever the hell you want even if what you build destroys an historically significant home within that community or blocks the neighbors views, light and privacy. And he has the nerve to call us selfish.

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    8. Keep your eye on the next council meeting. If we don't protest, we are going to have water police in our homes too.

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    9. I need to explain something very clearly to 7:17 who calls us selfish for being "accepting of restriction implementation so long as it doesn't affect us." THAT IS A LIE AND ITS UNTRUE. Almost every person involved in the preservation movement in Sierra Madre lives in Sierra Madre. Every one of us has fought battles for years to preserve this community. Over the last two years and consistent with our principles, we have pushed for a tightening of the General Plan to close loopholes on development, we have pushed for lower CUP thresholds, we have pushed to lower the floor area limits which restricts the size of a home you can build on a given size lot. Guess what 7:17, all the restrictions that we are advocating affect what we can do to our own homes and restrict us from building our big dream home if we ever had the desire to do so. If we ever sell our property, these changes we are advocating would also affect what a buyer for our property can do with our home. So in some ways, we have reduced the value of our properties because we don't don't want a building free-for-all like you see in Arcadia. Do all these restrictions we are advocating affect us, you bet they do. And you call us selfish? We want to preserve Sierra Madre right now for ourselves and for future generations. Where I come from, that's being consistent with our principles and that's being the opposite of selfish.

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    11. 10:19, great comment. That is exactly my situation. My house is not listed as historic, but it is, and any survey will include it now. That means that should I want to sell, I won't be able to take one of those excessive cash offers that come from mainland China, where the buyers fully intend to demolish this old house in order to get the nice sized lot it's on. I'll have to get an historic home seeker to buy.
      And I will advocate for stricter controls wherever and whenever possible.
      I think it is our small town character and our historic homes that make us valuable in the first place.

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    12. 10:19, thank you! Thank you very much.

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    13. Clever- by virtue of being rich and making an expensive investment they automatically have the right to spend more money however they please.

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    14. Another point that needs to be made is that our property values will actually go UP if we are succesful in maintaining the character of our village. If we become like all the other cities around us, then buyers have a whole lot of options. To the extent that Sierra Madre remains a unique enclave in the San Gabriel Valley is what will drive the value. When Bungalow Heavan was preserved in Pasadena all the owners benefited even though tough restrictions were put in place that affected every owner in that district. Imagine if people were allowed to tear down homes in bungalow heaven or make some rediculous addition. It would ruin the whole neighborhood. Everybody loses if you allow it to be a builder's free for all. To achieve that, one person here or there may not be able to do exactly what they want. Just like the Brown's may not be able to do exactly what they want.

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    15. Great post 12:50.
      One thing "everybody loses" - except the developers and realtors.

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    16. All good points 12:50. When the one idiot does something stupid on a block or in a neighborhood, everybody's property values get adversely impacted. You have to have reasonable controls and limits. Within those restrictions, people will still have alot of latitude but just not so much that they ruin the character of a city like what is happening in Arcadia or they ruin a block or neighborhood.

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    17. Anonymous 7:17 AM You appear to be a young elitist. I paid a lot for my house, I pay more than Mr. Brown in property taxes, and I have spent well over 50,000.00 in repairs to date. The house I purchased was my "dream house." It had many faults and problems, which because I had an inspection goig in, I knew very well. You condescend to those whose property taxes are protected by Prop.13. At the meeting the other night, I heard both the architect and the ex-mayor talk about lost revenue to the city if they make the wrong decisions. I heard them say how overworked the city employees are and if more money came in they could get more help. Everything that Brown and their retinue spoke about was everything we have fought against. We would like the city to live within its means. We have put up with City Council's who didn't want anything the citizens of this city wanted. We had to fight to save our canyons, to make the council understand that water is at a premium and big development must stop. The two so-called professionals who spoke Mr. Karate and Mr. Rude are at the forefront of wrongful change for this city. It's as if the Brown's and their ilk feel we're old hat and must bow to the future and progress. Been there, done that! I am just tired of the greed and the conspicuous consumption I see with newbies. The Brown's said when they first came here, people were so friendly, etc. We still are! Just because you paid 900,000.00 for your house does not make you special around here. I paid well over that amount and I feel I will protect the reason I am here. The small town, the community, the essence of Sierra Madre. We have property rights, too. As someone has already said, we are affected by the changes. We willingly give them up to keep what we have. Get more interested in the non-social side of the city. Go to city meetings. Think outside the box instead of your my way or the highway ideology. Listen to your mother, why do you want to live here?

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    18. I hope Sierra Madre is not going to start attracting the young, wealthy , showy, and agressive people that are destroying neighborhoods all over southern California. That may be worse than the McMansions.

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    19. 7:17 replying - I can appreciate the arguments that 10:19 and 3:59 made, as there's obviously an abundance of community pride there. I might add that reducing demolition in town is only half of the equation in the preservation formula, with the other portion being upkeep and investment in existing homes, thereby preventing them from deteriorating into demolition targets. We have absolutely NOTHING like that on the books here in Sierra Madre. For a community with property values as high as they are currently, it's absolutely astonishing to see the number of dirt driveways, peeling facia boards, haphazard landscaping, dysfunctional architecture, and backyards that look more like junkyards. My point being that if we are going to preserve these "gems of the foothills" from being torn down and rebuilt, then we need municipal code that mandates upkeep. No more of this hedonistic, "live however you want without any ramifications". Do you really think that imposing a massive moratorium on development is going to keep this city nice? From my vantage point, it will only ensure that desirable money will no longer find its way into S.M. and many of the current homes will continue down the aforementioned road of deterioration. This is NOT a viable long term plan, period.

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  6. FYI: The Council meeting of Jan. 27th is now airing on channel 3....just started!

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    1. It's also up on KGEM. Vandetalk starts at 1:55; shame-on-you lady at 2:35, with her big shout out to you Tattler.
      (btw, thanks 7:23 for an easy version of his name.)

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    2. The Brown's architect: "I'm speaking tonight as a citizen."

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    3. 7:49 - Tattler blaming is a long standing custom in town. It is also how most people found out about it.

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    4. Good Heavens, why didn't he just say "I'm making a presentation on behalf of the Browns, and I am their architect" ??

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  7. It's just too hard to watch again. That was a tough meeting because many of the people had never been to a council meeting and they didn't know how the meetings are run. The best description of the behavior of a vocal minority was that they were rude and hostile.

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    1. So who put them up to that do you think? The little architect or the kung fu ex-mayor?

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    2. The mean public speakers may have been coached by Nancy Walsh. Or at least they were channeling her. Was Walsh really our Mayor??

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    3. Yes 7:57, Shame on you lady popped back up at the podium saying something like "I can't help myself". I don't know if she felt entitled or just didn't know that a person is only allowed one turn at the podium per agenda item.

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    4. Doesn't she say at the end that she doesn't want to live here?

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    5. 8:10, i think she was confused. She was unfamiliar with the concept that meetings follow a protocol.

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    6. The Force is strong in that one.

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    7. 8:26, I thought I heard her say that her Mother asked her, why do you want to live there?
      I'm wondering if it was her Mother who misinformed her as to the so called Tattler comments. I'm also wondering why she shamed the audience? I took offense to being blamed/ chastised for something I didn't do. I was appalled at her behavior. I think Yoda is correct!

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    8. So who's the mom? In fact who is Mrs. Brown? How did they hook up so quickly with the former PC chair and the former Mayor? More going on here than first appeared ...

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    9. I too would like to know who she was blaming when she said "Shame on You". I didn't see any derogatory comments in the Tattler when I got home after the meeting. I also did not hear one speaker opposed to the moratorium make any harsh or personal comments toward the Brown family. Where does she get off attacking everybody? We weren't the ones who bought the Henry A. Darling House and want to turn it into a pile of rubble. We probably should have been as angry as she was for what they are proposing to do.

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    10. 11:55, The hook-up with the former mayor happened at the meeting. I witnessed it. It was slick!

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    11. I too am now a bit suspicious of what's going down here. We need to be vigilant and make sure they are going to have a serious historical assessment.

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  8. It's crazy to tear down such a beautiful home. I can't believe all that wainscoting made it this far without having layers of paint slapped on it! I wish they'd just sell it to someone who actually wants it, and not just the land under it.

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  9. Sierra Madre Canyon Garbage Cans "out all the time" problem EXPLAINED: When the city garbage pick up service went to the automated truck (we have a burro, a smaller version of the Athens truck) residents were stuck with cans that do not store easily along side their narrow walk ways, or behind fences or inside small garage/car port parking spaces. They do not stack one inside the other for temporary storage between big clean outs, green waste workdays, etc. So, they are left at street side at many addresses and the city ordinance is not inforced. New problem came up in the last couple of years: bears foraging in the trash. At first Athens made available only the largest can size of bear "resistant" containers and many canyon homeowners did not use those sizes and could not store them even if they had been able to store the smaller ones. Athens did finally make the small bear resistant cans available to the canyon.

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    1. Another good reason for the canyon to wash away in a furious flood.

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  10. Great to see the interior of this strikingly beautiful craftsman home. I do not see a red tag rendering it uninhabitable. Why is the family not residing there? They are making the phoney case that the house is unsuitable as it now stands. How big is the rental home that they are in at the moment. I can't picture a 4000 sq ft rental in town where they are camping out temporarily. At any rate, this is the height of ignorance, on several levels. What schools, recreation programs, church, close proximity to work would cause intelligent adults to make this economic choice except the faulty promise of their real estate agent (doubtful), architect and builder (probable) that this was a done deal. I would not yell out shame on you--but stupid on you comes to mind.

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  11. I'm amazed that the house was sold for only925k. Just an empty lot that size is worth 925k.

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    1. Yeah, I think that's what the Browns bought - the lot. And the water hook-ups.

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    2. And don't forget, Julie Brown said in her comments that they now can't sell the property. Of course they can sell the property and make a tidy profit. They should give it a try

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  12. If that house was used as a rental and therefore "left to deferred maintenance and deterioration" it sure doen't show in these photos. I am sure it was staged (cleaned up/painted) for the market but I can't imagine why any smart young couple, with that kind of cash or credit rating would look at this and say: great buy, opps can't enlarge it within an inch of its life, tear down, oh, goody now we can build out 4000 sq ft dream home. Just pitiful.

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    1. I saw the rough treatment that house got. And so would anyone else who looked at it when they were considering buying it.

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    2. Here's an idea! Maybe this is a partnership project: VanderBlahBlah, Lambdin and the Browns. Maybe they have to demolish, build brand new, and sell. Maybe that was the intention all along. Maybe that's why VanderBlahBlah and Lambdin stood at the podium and spoke on behalf of the Browns without admitting their involvement, to try and push the project through. Neither architect nor builder are know for their Craftsman ethic or affinity. And that would explain why the Browns did not take the opportunity to move into a home for which they had just spent close to a million dollars. And why they're in such a hurry to demo - for those kind of $$$ one needs to flip at the speed of light.

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  13. I find it interesting that the County Assessor shows that they did not claim the Homeowner's exemption. hmm

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    1. Can you explain what that means?

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    2. It means they don't plan to occupy the house. Perhaps a future rental?

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  14. The lot and the water meter, plus the cost of demolition and sending old growth redwood lumber and heart pine to the dump, then buy building materials at Home Depot-genre building supply (what are your other choices?) and top end finishes at a ferocious price (desiged in Germany, made elsewhere today, for ex) and have you spent close to 2 million on a street with a tiny stucco 1940's to one side and an older Sierra Madre vintage home to the other. Historic Lizzys Trail Inn and Richardson House as cross-street, plus Mt Wilson Trail Park, neighbors and be aware that the street in inundated with weekend parking for hundreds of hikers that arrive from far parts of southern California. Good luck.

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  15. It is a beautiful home, I had a problem with my 1924 California Bungalow farmhouse, the rock chimney was moving away from the house, a firm called Eagle power lift, came out and for three grand used this really hard foam and these, bolt brackets (not the right word) but lifted and set the chimney right again. I imagine the same could be done to stabilize the foundation at that home. I bet it is solid as a rock, structurally..

    Perhaps the city can buy back the property and use it for tours..Maybe have it moved to the Huntington..

    That video, the owner sure was licking his lips alot, not quite sure he was sincere, A bit tweaky in fact...

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  16. Yes, 7:17, I do pay less than $1,000 in taxes on my modest, non-historic home that I paid $36,000 for back in 1963. However, since 1963 I have been active in the community, seldom miss a council meeting, and volunteer every chance I get. My children grew up here and participated in sports, used the library, and made life-long friends including Glen Lambdin. The Darling House isn't anywhere where I live so you would think that I wouldn't be affected by its loss. But I would. I realize that change is coming, and we need to make sure that the change is right for our community.

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    1. Nice comment 2:10. You represent why we want Sierra Madre to stay Sierra Madre. If people don't understand that or embrace that, they should find another community that fits their needs. Doesn't mean we are bad people and doesn't mean they are bad people. If you want a McMansion or you don't mind tearing down historically significant homes, there are lots of cities that are not as concerned about that. Sierra Madre, though, is not one of them. We do care here. Its our identity. These old houses tell a story. They represent who we are as a community.

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    2. 7:17 is hating himself some Prop. 13 laws. He doesn't think you pay enough.

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  17. By the large number of comments on this subject between yesterday and today it is obvious that the people in this town are really serious about protecting and preserving our unique character. This is a good thing, a really good thing. Be sure the Preserve Sierra Madre group has you on their e-mail list. They need all the help they can get. Barry Gold

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    1. Thanks for the reminder Barry. I suspect alot of people who read the Tattler are already on the list. But if you are not, email them at PreserveSierraMadreNow@gmail.com But also tell your friends about the group. If every person tells a few people, Preserve Sierra Madre can really be a force to be reckoned with. As it stands now, I would say that one Barry Gold is more than a match for 20 of any of the pro-development crowd. Judy might be equal to 30. She's pretty tough.

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  18. Let's make it clear to would-be home buyers in Sierra Madre. You are not just buying a lot for land value and/or a house ! You are buying into a COMMUNITY - created by the love & efforts of its citizens over a century. That love and effort continues today and hopefully for ever.
    If our Sierra Madre community has no interest nor value for you ,please buy elsewhere. You will find 'better' value and similarly vacuous souls elsewhere. Arcadia is nice?

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    1. Great comment 4:18. I think that just about says it all. Sierra Madre is a very welcoming community but Sierra Madre is Sierra Madre because of the work of alot of good people who have to keep Sierra Madre from turning into just another town like we can see so readily close by. Its a special place. The Browns are focused only on themselves. They cannot understand why people should be concerned about the Henry A. Darling House. I'm not sure if we can make them understand what that house represents. Its symbolic of something bigger than the Browns. It represents the past, our history, all the people who came before us, all the memories. If that house is allowed to be destroyed, then nothing is safe in this town from the wrecking ball. We love this town and if we don't protect it from destruction, then it will be changed just like Arcadia changed. If they understood any of what I'm saying, they probably wouldn't be shouting "Shame on you" for wanting to preserve it.

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  19. Exactly.
    We are trying to preserve not just buildings. We are trying to preserve ,restore and improve lovely things (old homes) that are seldom made nowadays .Just as important we are trying to preserve and even improve our Community vibe. These are fragile treasures, easily destroyed ,seldom recoverable.
    If you want to see an example of the decimation rampant development can cause -just drive along North Mountain Trail and note the ugly apartment blocks towering over cottages. The apartments will never be returned to the cottages and bungalows the cheaply built blocks replaced. The remaining homes will not be worth improving because of the adjacent blocks. So what does happen? Look at 169 N.Mountain Trail - a Chinese "Care Facility" moved in . There are elderly patients being wheeled in an out on gurneys, traffic day and night from visiting med techs and other service providers. Would you want that ? The owner that nice Craftsman bailed long ago because of the blight created by 'development'

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  20. Don Watts left a comment under the YouTube video. Click the link underneath the picture of Gene Goss. Then click the comment underneath the video. It's an interesting comment left by our beloved architect/former councilman.

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