Monday, January 26, 2015

Tuesday's City Council Meeting: "Urgency Ordinance Establishing An Interim Moratorium On Demolitions"

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For my money there are two items on Tuesday evening's agenda that need to be paid some special attention. The first one we wrote about yesterday. The EENER Commission's recommendation that fining people over their water usage, and at rates that are a little beyond any easy comprehension, is as important as the "interim ordinance" temporarily halting demolitions here. The EENER initiative is yet another in a long list of attempts to squeeze more money out of what has got to be regarded as an at risk water company. Money that could be used for any number of things, none of which are detailed in the agenda report. But you could probably take a pretty good swing at where it will go.

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.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

25 comments:

  1. It is about time we start mandatory random drug testing of city employees. They have been acting very strange for years.

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    1. Speaking of Drugs;
      A rash of burglaries reported by SMPD on their Facbook page:
      "he saw a Male black wearing a grey hoodie, blue pants and black gloves on both hands."
      "charcoal grey Toyota Prius. "
      Hopefully the APB will nab these two burglars
      Now back to the regular program.

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  2. Where are the taxpayers' Platinum Pensions?

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    1. The check is in the mail.

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    2. I'm a taxpayer. I have a good pension. City employees are taxpayers. I'm sorry you apparently made poor career choices.

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    3. The arrogance of the new elite. Let them eat cake?

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    4. Back up 9:09!
      There was a change in the big world outside of government, and pensions started to become less and less, and then to disappear. I guess if you're paid to sit and pretend to be working for 8 hours a day, you'll be so incapacitated when you retire that you really will need it.

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    5. 9:09 - don't bite the hand that feeds you!

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    6. Well said but I doubt OP pays taxes on the majority of his/her earnings. Underemployed construction worker is my guess. Was well paid for a time but got greedy and jobs were taken by immigrants with a better work ethic......

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    7. 9:14 = old elite

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    8. 9:09 is one of those Civil Service fat cats who'll retire and immediately move out of state with a big ass pension. Only suckers stay in California and pay the high taxes to support Platinum Pensions!!

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    9. Actually it's a railroad pension exempt from state income taxes. :)

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    10. Where is Marie Antoinette when you need her?

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    11. Alas guillotined by the revolutionary council.

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    12. State income taxes are only for the little people to pay.

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  3. Replies
    1. Haven't done that in a while. Thanks.

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    2. You're welcome.
      Such an irrelevant "e" anyway.

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  4. It was over a year ago that the current City Council, at their strategic session, set up the task for the EENR Commission to make recommendations when the fines and penalities for not meeting water conservation goals should go into affect. It was not something that the commission decided to do. They were given a staff report and it was on their Nov and Dec agenda. These fines and penalties were already on a schedule presented to them by the staff, via City Council, for discussion and stamp of approval. It was nothing the commission created but it was wrong of the staff and City Council to ask the commssion to do this. This is policy set by the City Council and they need to say so.

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    1. They want the city to believe it was all their idea. Rather gutless of them.

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    2. I have no great problem with the fines and other charges as long as they are generally reasonable -like those in many other California Cities - Orange Co. for example.
      But this is the second contrived excuse City Manager Aguilar has tried to force through to allow City employees to come snooping inside our homes. Yes, they allowed themselves one and one half hours of snooping time inside your home for this water excuse. This will become local law if you do not object.
      The previous attempt was linked to a Madatory Inspection of all homes offered for sale in Sierra Madre. The Realtors and Tattler nixed that quickly. Thank you Tattler.

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    3. I always thought that is the role John Bucnanan had in mind for the Green EENERs. To give the appearance of a resident stamp of approval to very unpopular policies. Not sure why anyone is surprised.

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  5. There will be opposition to the moratorium - at least one project that we know of. The applicants appeared at the last planning commission meeting. The one who spoke the most was a relative who had been a developer - he's the guy who said the moratorium was "Draconian." They will be there to present their case for being an exception. Wonder how many others will?

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  6. I'm torn. I'm all for the moratorium, but I think it should be on a case-by-case basis. My house was built in 1954, a very unremarkable house that, if a future buyer wanted to tear it down and build something that was modern but still fit in the neighborhood, I think it should be allowed. The case for the house on Mira Monte? If they could provide plans for a replacement house that fits into the neighborhood, why not? I definitely am against the mcmansions that are in Arcadia and are planned for Carter One. The house on Camillo is a monstrosity. Again, the structure should "Fit".

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