The City of Sierra Madre should not be run like just another California benefit and pension factory for its employees. A lot of cities in California, almost all of them far larger than ours, have now fallen into that trap. You could easily include Los Angeles County, or the entire state for that matter, on the list as well.
It is how things got as financially troubled in this state as they are today. According to California Common Sense, "Since 2007, the state’s unfunded retirement benefit liabilities have more than tripled and now stand at $219 billion (link)." There is no reason why Sierra Madre should have to jump into that mess with everybody else.
How much money City Hall will get out of things like fining people is nowhere near as important a question as how much it will cost the people who actually pay for it. On a roster of priorities resident expense should be at the very top of any list of considerations, but often it never even comes up.
Stopping McMansionization in Sierra Madre is a vitally important issue, but it is hardly the only one. In the final result all of these issues are tied together by the City's apparently endless search for more revenue. Don't let one issue be used against another. They are of equal importance.
Here is how the summary for the "Urgency Ordinance Establishing An Interim Moratorium On Demolitions" reads:
This is an "urgency zoning ordinance," and there is a reason for that. The updated General Plan, which would have protected the City of Sierra Madre from mansionization, was repeatedly delayed and waylaid by the previous four Mayors of this town. From John Buchanan through Nancy Walsh's especially troubled 12 months, everything possible was done to hinder putting into place protections that would have safeguarded what residents actually want for this town.
All done in favor of seeing to the needs of developers instead. Today you can see the results of that faithlessness erupting all over town.
And what was the reason for that?
Money. What else? From the water department and its seemingly endless quest to extract more cash from the residents, to increased property tax hauls, or the immense development impact fees City Hall could realize by unleashing out of control development, it was almost always the perceived need for more cash that drove this city's decision making process. At least until now.
Development Impact Fees are far larger in California than they are in any other state in the country. By a mile. You can read about that in a post we called "Are Development Impact Fees A Form Of Bribery?" The link is here.
You got this, right? Money is the connection. That is how it all ties together here. Of course, you could be opposed to one item at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting without opposing the other. Anything is possible.
But you'll need to be careful. The physical contortions alone could throw out your back.