Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pasadena Star News: Sierra Madre Developer Turns to City Council for Approval to Build Hillside Home

McDonald: He'd hoped for a better outcome.
(Mod: Well, here's a scoop for you. CETT Lawyer Richie McDonald is predicting a defeat for the mighty McMansioneers tonight ... So what's up? The media is coming out this evening, so iron your shirts and bring your best smiles. How do I know they're coming out? I talk to them. You should too. They're smart and engaging people. Free press, free speech, real democracy, vigorous citizen engagement with issues that matter, why not? Honestly, for the life of me I can not figure out what those who don't get involved do with their time. It can't account for much.)

Pasadena Star News: Sierra Madre developer turns to City Council for approval to build Hillside home (link): On the agenda at Sierra Madre City Council meeting Tuesday, January 13, 2015, is a recommendation to hold a public hearing about a property at 610 Baldwin Ct., where the developer, CETT, wants to build a 2-story 3,000+ sq. ft. home. The council will decide whether to approve or overturn the project approval granted by the Planning Commission.

The Sierra Madre City Council will make a final decision today about a key Hillside residential development project, putting an end to the years-long issue.

At the meeting, council members will decide whether to approve or deny a Hillside Development Permit and Conditional Use Permit for the property located at 610 Baldwin Court. Approval of the permits would allow the applicant, CETT Corporation, to construct a two-story, 3,125 square foot single-family residence on the lot, a development which some residents and council members say would change the aesthetics of the community.

“Our hillsides are very important to us and the development that goes into those hillsides is equally important to us,” City Manager Elaine Aguilar said.

There is a lot of history to this particular site, as it was established by the City’s founding father Nathaniel C. Carter. Formerly known as One Carter, Aguilar said houses built in the Stonegate subdivision have to abide by Hillside Management Zone guidelines, a set of unique regulations.

The property has changed hands a few times since the lot was sold and subdivided in 2007, and subsequently named Stonegate. Several developers have tried to build in the hillside community but have received strong opposition from residents.

The issue on today’s agenda dates back to 2013, when the Planning Commission denied the initial proposal. An appeal brought the issue before the City Council, which recommended a second Planning Commission hearing.

“We tried to work very cooperatively, and when the Planning Commission asked us, on three occasions, to make changes, we did,” said attorney Richard McDonald. “We comply with all zoning requirements.”

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project in 2014 but the City Council wanted to review it before giving final approval.

At a Nov. 25 hearing, the council found that the “project does not meet architectural and site design standards because the design is not sensitive to the natural terrain.”

“Because it’s on the hillside, we recommended a smaller second story so the massing wouldn’t be so big as to block the hillside,” Councilwoman Denise Delmar said.

McDonald said he expects the council to deny the project.

“They just don’t want development up there,” McDonald said. “They want everything to just be one story as they’ve said many times before.”

Last week, city officials received nine applications for proposed homes in the Stonegate subdivision. The proposed homes range in size from 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, with eight of the lots located on Baldwin Court. The applications are pending city approval.

(Mod: Tonight's meeting begins at 6:30 sharp, and the 610 Baldwin Court showdown is item #2. You do not want to be late! Here is a link to the agenda.)

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

50 comments:

  1. Good article from the Star News. One thing thing though. I am not sure the developer turned to the city council for approval. The developer didn't have a choice. I'm sure CETT would have been happy to stick with what the Planning Commission had aleady decided.

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  2. ...a 6,000 sq ft house? Seriously? Is there even one of those already in Sierra Madre? or would this be the first one? And stick it up on the hillside for all to see from the freeway and beyond south? No.

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  3. One of the nice things about the drive up Baldwin is you get the impression that you are driving right into the mountains. My guests comment on it all the time. Should CETT gets its way that view would be become one of a highly perched ostentatious McMansion suburb. We don't deserve that.

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  4. Moderator, you either misquoted the Star News, or you put the wrong date - the City Council meeting is tonight, Tuesday, January 13, not last night. If you Tattlers care about your town, you MUST show up tonight! We must present a united front and give City Council the courage to deny this precedent setting monstrosity. If you have kids, bring them - they fill seats too, and it is their future at stake. I agree, I don't know know what people do with all their time if they aren't involved in local politics.

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    1. Good catch. I totally missed that. That is what the article says on the PSN site. I copy and pasted that article from their site late last night. I just sent them an e-mail and asked them to correct the error on their website. Has anyone seen a print edition yet?

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    2. This mornings edition says: "The issue on today's agenda...."

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    3. Great. The Star News on-line edition has now been corrected as well. Thanks again!

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    4. 6:53......earn a living.

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    5. Trying to understand your post, 9:21. Are you saying that because someone opposes McMansions at One Carter they do not make an adequate living? Seems like quite an assumption on your part.

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    6. I'm pretty sure 9:21 was trying to say some folks have young families and can't find a sitter, that they may be stuck on a freeway, or working at the Mall until closing, that they have the flu, or simply can't see to drive after dark. Many watch on SMTV3 and rail at the speakers and council. Getting to the meetings is important, but getting to the ballot box is critical..

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    7. I think it's a hardship for most people to get to meetings - but they push themselves to do it anyway, if possible.
      It's that government for/of/by the people thing.

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    8. I think that for every person who attends there are 50 more at home watching in on TV. Not everyone can stand in front of the city council and tv cameras and speak. But that doesn't mean they aren't there in spirit.

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    9. 9:21 - Yes, I do earn a living, but I am lucky enough to have a job where I plan to show up at City Council meetings when the issue is as important as this one. Nearly everyone who speaks is also gainfully employed, with the same mindset, that this is too important to not make our views known.

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  5. At the very least, email the Council to ask them to remain strong and deny this horrid project, which would set a dangerous precedent. Addresses are jcapoccia, jharabedian, ddelmar, ggoss, then @cityofsierramadre.com. Unfortunately, Rachelle Arizmendi cannot vote, because she lives too close to One Carter (I don't get it, but it's our law).

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    1. In Sierra Madre everyone lives close to everything.

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    2. True, 7:32, and including city hall.

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  6. Typical MacDonald:
    “They want everything to just be one story as they’ve said many times before.”
    Liar.

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    1. He's a victim. No, really!

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    2. Just earning his keep.

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    3. Except in this case.

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    4. Sneering for his supper.

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    5. Don't forget Adele is tired of this. Does she think her next 10 are going to be a slam dunk?

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    6. Well let's see. 610 Baldwin started around Nov of 2012. It is now more than 2 years later and still nothing has been built there. Or is even close. Another 10 barns at this rate would take what, 30 years? That would be 2045.

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  7. One thing we shouldn't lose sight of us as we focus on the City Council is the work of our Planning Commission. They were the ones that approved the project and boxed us in by giving CETT some easy hurdles to meet for approval. That kind of bad decision will only be used by the developer to support their contention that the City Council is now acting unreasonably in denying what our very own Planning Commission had unanimously approved. All the bad things start with the Planning Commission. This same Planning Commission will, on Thursday, January 15th, be looking at the CUP threshold and the Floor Area limits - this will basically determine how much scrutiny a given project is going to get and how big a McMansion a developer will be allowed to build. We need to be there for Thursday's all-important Planning Commission meeting as well. That determination will not just affect one project. It will affect every project in the City. It does not get more important than that. We can't let the Planning Commission continue to undermine our efforts at preservation. They botched the One Carter decision. We can't let them do it again.

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    1. There are definately some very pro-development people on the Planning Commission. Many of them are architecs who used to being on good terms with developers. We can't let this unelected body turn Sierra Madre into Arcadia. Pevsner or whatever his name is, is probably the worst one in that regard.

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    2. I believe that the Planning Commission went with the parameters given to them by city staff and the city atty. No matter what they decided it would have gone to the city council anyway. Triggering lawsuits is way above the planning commission's pay grade.

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    3. My guess is that the planning commission did what the city attorney told them to do in all those lengthy special closed meetings

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    4. I agree. Here is my question. If the PC had shot them down again, could CETT have appealed to the city council again?

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    5. The problem is if it ever goes to court, you have the City Council overturning the unanimous decision of the Planning Commission that will be deemed to have been in favor of the project. You can bet the lawyers for CETT will use that decision against us. It is not correct that the Planning Commission would trigger a lawsuit if that had turned down the project because the developer could have appealed it to the City Council. We need to have the Planning Commission be on the same page as our preservationist-minded City Council and the the community at large.

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    6. 9:47, my guess is that if the rules of engagement allowed a second appeal, then yep. CETT most definitely has a dog in the fight.

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    7. Let's hope that the City Council holds firm and supports what seems to be the decision of the sub-committee. Where they can get into trouble like last time, is that they need to just stop at the point the developer remains instransigent. The developer and the lawyer are going to be planning and scheming. The City Council should just move on to the next agenda item if McDonald does not go along with the sub-committee's recommendations. That's the way to play this.

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  8. Was that picture of Mr. MacDonald taken when he told our planning commissioners that they were full of "self-serving bs"?

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    1. Attorney McDonald can be a bit gruff at times.

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    2. Maybe he doesn't get enough love at home.

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  9. Mr. Mod, will you be live blogging tonight?..

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    1. I wonder how the council members feel when they see the electronic glow from the Tattler screen?

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    2. I think they are happy to see that the bloggers at The Tattler are working hard to promote civic engagement in Sierra Madre.

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    3. They all better smile in case Crawford holds up his camera.

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    4. Smile and say "brie!"

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  10. So do you think that Rob Stockly, John Buchanan, Enid Joffee and Tonya Torres will be there tonight, to offer their support for the development they invited into the hillsides?

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    1. It is funny that they never seem to want to tell their side of the story.

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    2. That's OK. It probably wouldn't be true anyway.

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    3. If you think Tonya Torres was a train wreck....just wait and see what happpens if her hubby gets on the PUSD school board as our rep.

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    4. Good lord. And whose puppet would he be perchance?

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    5. Best reason of all to vote for Sandy.

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    6. From the same folks who brought you interest only water bonds ….. Larry Torres!

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  11. All I want is for the city council to make a FINAL ruling on this issue and not keep pushing it forward.

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    1. Theoretically it could go on forever.

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  12. Well done Sierra Madre! I wish I could be there to celebrate your victory.

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