Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Will The City Council Shut Down 'Loophole Housing' At Tonight's Special Meeting?

Does your new neighbor have big metal teeth?
There was a very special addition tagged onto tonight's City Council Special Meeting. That being the discussion of a Moratorium on Residential Demolition Permits. This is apparently getting treated with a high level of urgency because of the large amount of properties that have been purchased by investors recently. You might have noticed that there have been houses sold in your neighborhood that nobody seems to ever move into. A very Arcadia kind of occurrence, and becoming much more prevalent here. Cash only purchases and all.

Think of it as a loophole. Between the final approval of the General Plan (EIR included) and where we are today, there is a two year loophole where an extraordinary amount of damage can be done to this community. This City Council recognizes that and will apparently take a bold step forward to remedy this parlous situation by approving a two year moratorium on permits to demo older houses.

Apparently slow growth mania is now sweeping the City of Sierra Madre. So used am I to a City Hall that seemingly wants to mulch the entire Foothill Village for the purpose of building SCAG housing of one sort or another (you know, to reach our RHNA numbers or some such foul Sacramento state centralized development travesties), or turn downtown into a knockoff version of Rancho Cucamonga meets Walt Disney, or fill the skyline with an array of looming McMansions, that I am having trouble getting my mind around any of this.

It all seems almost too good to be true, and I can't quite bring myself to accept that this is actually happening. Can it be that maybe the city has moved on in a more resident friendly direction and I am still fighting for things that are a part of the past? Did we win everything and I somehow forgot to notice?

Here is how this evening's Agenda Report describes a possible Moratorium on Residential Demolition Permits:


Think about it, the City Council is now moving quickly towards approving a decidedly "slow growth" General Plan with an immediate moratorium on tear downs to fill in the remaining two year time loophole, and there is NO OPPOSITION to any of this. None.

Not one single gnarly old Bob the Builder miscreant has wafted out of the Canyon and shown up at any City Council meeting lately to complain about the abolition of all American freedoms in Sierra Madre because they can't clearcut 100 year old oak groves to build Brobdingnagian bumper buildings on 1,600 square foot lots. A rather unprecedented event that would have been inconceivable just a few short years ago.

Of course, I can take some comfort in the fact that there is a long ways to go before all of the threatened damage is undone. We still haven't resolved the One Carter incursion, or even begun to address the atrocities being planned for Mater Dolorosa and Stone whatever, so there is still some continued relevance here for barricades thinking. But I have to tell you, the prospect of complete victory and the resulting peace that could follow does have me feeling just a little bit nervous.

But somehow I will survive. This meeting will conclude with more revisions to the new General Plan. It is good that they have sped all of this up, but we really needed it 4 years ago.

Maybe they should just approve the General Plan tonight. Or at least the land use parts. That would be nice. But I'm not complaining. At least right now. The tear down moratorium is a nice start. Just don't stop there.

See you this evening.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

60 comments:

  1. Why does it take so long to get a survey done? The bids are in by January but the survey won't be done until mid to late 2015? The same for the environmental study for the general plan? While I'm happy the council seems to be doing the right thing, I keep wondering what is being missed. Everything just drags on and on and the dates for any moratorium looms closer. How long will it take to change the codes, etc. for the general plan? Ms. City Manager has her job cut out for her and she is soooooooo good at stalling! Maybe a job for her will open up in Pasadena. One can only dream. I think there should be a vetting by a citizen council for any hiring of upper echelon employees in the future. And give it some teeth for a change.

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    1. The update on the General Plan has been a fight with Aguilar every step of the way. She and ex-Director Castro were vehemently against the citizens having anything to do with it and wanted to farm out the whole thing. They were resentful from the beginning.

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    2. They were getting orders to stop the update from each of the 4 previous mayors.

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  2. The urgency to get the General Plan done is largely due to the 4 Mayors who did everything they could to delay it. We are talking John Buchanan, Joe Mosca, Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh. The credit for the destruction we see going on in Sierra Madre today must be laid directly at their feet.

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    1. John Buchanan was one of the worst backstabbing Councilmember we've ever had - he did nothing but protect his employer SoCal Edision and smiled to us as he was driving the knife in further

      He bored us to sleep

      anybody he ever endorses will never get my vote

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    2. I wish there could be benches on both the Stonehouse and Carter properties, with little plaques:
      This land was destroyed by Buchanan, Joffe, Stockly and Torres.
      Fitting monuments.

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    3. Each with a dollar sign on their foreheads.

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  3. Just how many applications for tear downs have been approved in the Developer Department anyway? How many approved, how any pending, how many submitted?

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    1. Good question for the city mngr. I'd hate to think that horse is already out of the barn.

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    2. Maybe that was taken into account when this item was put on the agenda.

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    3. Exactly what I thought, 12:52.
      I hope I'm wrong, but maybe someone in Development said "Hey, you better look at this big bunch of applications"

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    4. We really do need to know how many tear down permits have gone out.

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  4. In order to find out about any permit pending, you have to go to city hall with a specific address and ask for a copy at $.06 per. I asked. Seems to me I saw a list somewhere but I can't find it now. This should not be a problem regarding getting info on building permits. No transparency here!

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    1. They don't want any nosy resident getting into the honeypot.

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    2. I thought the city manager regularly reported on the activity in each department.
      We don't know how many tear-downs are in the works?

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    3. It must be on the holiest of holies list. You know, money stuff.

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  5. I will tear down my house whenever I so desire,mind your own business.

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    Replies
    1. A lot of people think you've already done that.

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    2. You have the right to tear down your property if you choose. You have the right to leave the lot vacant as long as you follow the laws. If I live next door to you and I have a single story, 3 bedroom house with a nice view of the mountains, I have a right to secure what I bought. Which to me means you have no right to build a two story home that blocks my view of the mountains, or destroys my access to sun and a breeze. I have the same rights as you have. The difference is you're willing to tred on mine. I would fight you on that. As I would fight you on tearing down your house, leaving the land vacant and letting it go to weeds. Rights go both ways, buddy! It's time for you to get a brain.

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    3. 12:41, great comment.

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    4. 10:01 wants the same kinds of freedoms Attila the Hun had.

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    5. Good luck 1241. I only heed the law of god. Just like my favorite new Pasadena multmillionaire.

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    6. Are you in ISIS?

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  6. Houses being bought by investment companies is very bad news for Sierra Madre.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. The kind of money they want to make comes from selling McMansions. They don't give a damn about this town.

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  7. I don't think there is any mystery here. People realize that Sierra Madre is something special. People are also starting to sense that the same kinds of development you see in Arcadia has now come to Sierra Madre. If you look at developmets at Camillo, Stongate/One Carter and Stonehouse as well as elsewhere around town, it starting to make people a bit nervous. There is also a plan afoot to develop that property at 576 Elm Street and build some McMansions there too. We all like this town and don't want to see it drastically change. Improving houses here and there is fine and welcomed. Tearing down older homes and building garrish McMansions is a whole different story. At a time when most people are moving towards smaller homes, sustainability and more of a "green" philosophy, you have a new group of folks that believes in the exact opposite and they have tons of cash to make the "opposite" come true. Our only chance is to put in place reasonable rules and regulations to pretect the community from those developers who see almost every house in Sierra Madre as an opportunity for demolition in favor of a "spec house". If you want to stop it, join the people at Preserve Sierra Madre. You can find them at www.PreserveSierraMadre.com Shoot them an email and get on their email list.

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  8. Monrovia certainly had it right with the moratorium on demolitions of homes build before 1940. We need to be more aggressive or at least as aggressive as they are. Every city around Arcadia sees what is happening there and does not want it to happen in Sierra Madre. We must get a similar measure in place. Also, we need to be careful in how we do it. I know that in Pasadena, they are exploiting the rules all over the place. What the developers do is to not tear down the whole house. They leave one wall standing or some such thing from the original house - in other words just enough from the old house so it does not constitute a tear-down. It allows them to go ahead and build almost exactly what they wanted.

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    1. This is a very important post. We must ensure our ordinance is written to PREVENT the almost-a-teardown trick. Beware, our devious City Manager would deliberately craft an easy- to- evade ordinance.

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    2. My experiences with the development community have been, unfortunately, uniformly bad. I understand in theory that conscionable people exist in development, but I've never met one. Aggressive is not a strong enough word to describe their tactics.

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    3. What we need to do is get downright mean to understand the way developers operate, and lawyer up.

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  9. The plan the city is considering is to allow a 50% tear down. There should be no tear downs period until the general plan is in place. We need to make sure that all the things addressed such as square feet, rtc. are changed in the codes to reflect the changes to the general plan.

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    1. That would be sad if it turns out this is the case.

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  10. 2 residents and me in the hizzy this fine evening.

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  11. 14 demolition permits were issued in 2014. 4 are currently in the pipeline.

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  12. The standard measure of a demolition is 50% of the bldg, or 50% of the value.

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    1. Ms. MacIntosh: "A typical standard is 50%."

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    2. City Attorney: City Council is not required to hold to that 50% figure. In SM's ordinance any part of a house being demo'd requires a permit.

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  13. The 4 demo's in the pipeline can still be halted by a moratorium. Moratoriums are only temporary. In this case 2 years.

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  14. One of the houses up for demolition is a 100+ year old craftsman.

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  15. 1948, 1959 and 1907 are the dates of the three houses up for demo that have not finished the permit process.

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  16. John Cappocia wants to know what those 14 houses in 2014 went through. Could have been many different things.

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  17. Barry Gold steps up to the podium.

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    1. A lot of good points. Including the lack of transparency about the demolition permitting rigamarole.

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  18. John Capoccia thinks something needs to be done. Agrees with Barry Gold's comments. This is going to be easy. Capoccia mentioned "unsolicited offers" being made to the entire neighborhood.

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  19. Staff is being asked to bring back an ordinance on the 27th. Denise Delmar says this is a very proactive step and is in favor of directing staff to bring back an ordinance.

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  20. Gene Goss says he was shocked to learn one of the houses up for demo is over 100 years old. He also states that he wants to make it as minimal as possible. Hmmm. Who has been talking to Goose?

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  21. Rachelle is question Gene quite closely. Rachelle is also saying she is totally in support of the moratorium. Very enthusiastic. She wants the full 2 years. Residential structures should be the focus.

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  22. Denise wants to include discretionary elements to the ordinance. Unsalvageable homes shouldn't just left in place. Fine tuning should include this kind of thing.

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  23. John Harabedian doesn't think homes built in the 1950s are historic treasures. May the spirit of Howdy Doody and the Mickey Mouse Club instruct him otherwise.

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  24. Harabedian says his threshold is 1940.

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  25. Denise wants a larger net for the moratorium, and then when the historic survey comes back then guidelines can be put in place to adjust to suit.

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  26. Damn. Elaine has tank the hardest line here. The moratorium should be on all demo's. Just as long as it doesnl;t get in the way of home improvements.

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  27. Mayor Harabedian has it in for 1950s homes. Maybe this is generational rebellion?

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  28. The city attorney has a hard time with the meaning with remodel and tear down. And Goss is still an idiot.

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  29. Date and percentages will be left blank when the ordinance comes back for the CC meeting at the end of the month.

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  30. Somebody has been bending Goss's ear.

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  31. Ordinance will come back on the 27th. There will be blank spaces for the Council to fill in. Also a distinction between interior and exterior demolitions. Bearing walls vs. non-bearing walls.

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  32. John Hutt thinks it as good idea. Exteriors must be protecting. No alterations of exterior unless a certificate of appropriateness is first obtained.

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