Thursday, February 19, 2015

Can Tonight's Planning Commission Meeting Stop Mansionization In Sierra Madre?

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The Planning Commission has a big task tonight, and it took a little time for it to get to them. This evening's meeting was supposed to take place two weeks ago, but because the overworked and increasingly desperate employees at Sierra Madre City Hall, taxed to the very limits of human endurance by the hundreds of staff hours that must be put into the planning and execution of such things as the Huck Finn Fishing Derby and Campout 2015 (link) and Sierra Madre Older American of the Year Nominations (link), plumb forgot to send the public notice ad to the city's adjudicated newspaper, the Looney Views News. Meaning this vital and urgently needed meeting could not legally take place as originally scheduled.

Here is how this meeting was eventually announced on the City of Sierra Madre's website. Note the complete absence of any mention of that unfortunate error.


So much for transparency. Over at the Looney Views News itself there was also a similar absence of reporting on the City's rather strategically misplaced gaffe.

Of course, that is because it is the very same thing that was posted to the City of Sierra Madre website. In this town news is often presented to the citizens in the form of carefully constructed public relations releases, complete with any information that might be inconvenient or potentially embarrassing to the local government agency scrubbed from the record.

That this is accomplished through the use of tax money at both ends of the transaction not only shows some studied coordination on the part of both parties, but also displays just how willing they apparently are to keep the actual truth about things from you, the person paying for such awful and deceptive service. Fortunately few people actually care and life goes on as it so often does, in the halting and ineffectual fashion that most are willing to accept.

There is some good news however, and that is the Pasadena Star News got it right (link). Not about the screwing up of the noticing, of course. Nobody cares too much about that, no matter what the consequences might be. But on how exactly it could go down at this evening's meeting. Check it out.

Sierra Madre Planning Commission seeks public comment on residential zoning ordinance - Residents who support or oppose the so-called “mansionization” of Sierra Madre will be able to comment Thursday at a public hearing held by the city’s Planning Commission to consider amendments to the R-1 Single Family Residential Zoning Ordinance.

The public meeting is at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in City Council chambers at City Hall, 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.

The proposed amendments under discussion concern revisions to the maximum allowable floor area based on lot size, changes to the conditional use permit (CUP) square footage threshold, elimination of the existing minimum floor area requirement, a new requirement for a conditional use permit to allow any second-story addition or new construction proposing a second story and a limiting any second story to no greater than 75 percent of the first floor, including the garage.

“The City Council asked us to (make these amendments) because of the drought situation in this area, and then it has grown into other related issues,” said City Manager Elaine Aguilar.

Residents have raised concerns that developers will build large-scale homes that take away from the small-town feel of the city and in some cases affect the hillsides.

The article also gives a some serious ink to the Preserve Sierra Madre group, along with the guy who keeps this diverse group of people properly herded, Matt Bryant.

In a letter to the Planning Commission earlier this month, the community group Preserve Sierra Madre proposed their own changes to the ordinance.

“Lowering the floor area limits and conditional use permit thresholds will help preserve our village character and save residents from some of the burdens of overdevelopment,” stated the letter.

Resident Matthew Bryant, a member of the grassroots group, said a majority of residents are concerned that the mansionization that is happening in Arcadia could eventually spread to their town.

“These are all battles that several cities are dealing with right now. We’re not a group that’s opposed to all development,” said Bryant, who moved to Sierra Madre from Altadena a couple years ago because he loved its quaint appeal.

“We’re opposed to developers coming in and trying to make as much money as possible by building these large homes, and they’ve now changed the complexion of a neighborhood,” he said.

I guess we'll see how this all works out tonight.

One more thing. A few weeks back we ran a series of photos that showed just how decrepit that story pole McMansion erected at One Carter by the rather snotty developer CETT had become. Complete with broken boards and rusted nails scattered about in an insouciant fashion. As you can see from the photo the P'dena Star News posted along with the above article, nothing much has changed.


Allow me to ask you something. Let's say you had something like that miserable mess in your front yard. Do you think that there is at least a possibility that someone from the City might stop by to let you know that such a thing is unsightly, and also possibly dangerous to the neighborhood kids and pets? And that maybe you should clean up your mess?

Sure.

After all, you're not a developer that City Hall hopes to do business with some fine day.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

57 comments:

  1. The story pole mess at Carter 1 shows the stewardship (or rather, lack thereof) that CETT Developers exhibits towards our precious hillside.

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  2. CETT cares deeply about our hillsides. Just look at the picture!

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  3. The Planning Commission has a great opportunity tonight to put in place the same types of measures now being put forth in other communities and save Sierra Madre from mansionization. Let's hope they get it right.

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  4. The floor area limits and CUP thresholds are the only way you can stop the same kinds of McMansions that you see in Arcadia. Whether its Stonegate/One Carter, Stonehouse, Elm Street, Camillo, and the proposal for the Monastery, the same contagion is coming to Sierra Madre unless we put in place the reasonable measures being proposed by the Planning Commisson and Preserve Sierra Madre. If you don't want to change our village in the foothills and don't want the same congestion that you see in Pasadena and Arcadia and you don't want stop lights and parking meters, you may want to come to the meeting tonight and voice your opinion. If you don't, the Planning Commission can assume that you don't care.

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    1. This is a very important meeting tonight. Thank you for pointing this out.

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  5. Preserve Sierra Madre has a really good letter on the issue. It is included in the staff report, which can be viewed here: http://docs.cityofsierramadre.com/tylercm/eagleweb/downloads/02192015_PC_Packet.pdf?id=DOC197S1.A0&parent=DOC197S1

    If you have a few minutes, please read the letter and come to the Planning Commission meeting tonight to voice your support. If you can't make it to the meeting, send an email to the City and ask them to forward it to the Planning Commission. Every voice helps.

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    1. Agreed. This is no slam dunk. Just like the demolition moratorium, there likely will be opposition.

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    2. Will John Vandalbabble be there?

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    3. How about the lady who waves her cell phone around in the air and yells "Shame!"?

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    4. Glenn "Moses" Lambdin may attend.

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  6. For years the people of Sierra Madre have been fighting against the development of oversized, environmentally insensitive, Mcmansion type housing while at the same time supporting the responsible building of homes appropriate in size and design.

    Our General Plan Update, over six years in the making, designed to achieve this goal, is about one year away from being implemented.

    Think of how tragic it would be if during this year dozens of oversized houses were built here in Sierra Madre that would not be allowed once our General Plan Update takes effect.

    Tonight the planning commission can greatly reduce the chances of this tragedy from happening by finalize their recommendations to lower the maximum allowable floor area and CUP threshold as well as include two-story homes in the CUP review process and get their recommendations to the city council.

    Several requests for tear-down permits have recently been submitted to the planning department and many more are on the way. So there is an urgency here.

    The Planning Commission is almost there. A few tweaks are all that is needed for them to complete their task tonight.

    If you can be at the Planning Commission's meeting tonight and encourage them to finish the good work they are doing they will see that the public appreciates their efforts and will more likely get the job done sooner rather than later.

    Barry Gold

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  7. What's with the One Carter photo? This has nothing to do with One Carter.

    All it does is screw over homeowners. This passes, your home value goes down. Bad idea.

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    1. It is the John Buchanan Gazebo.

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    2. The Tonya Torres Townhomes.

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    3. Bartleby's Bungalow

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    4. Stockley Library - North Branch

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    5. Bart Doyle's Interest-Only Endeavor

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    6. The only building Bart wanted that actually got built.

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    7. McDonald's McMansion

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    8. Long Dragon Lounge

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    9. The Podley Pod

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    10. Hacienda Highsmith

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    11. Elaine's Eyesore

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    12. Johnny B's Green Grotto

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    13. The Mistress Mansion.

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    14. Bruce's Bungalows

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  8. 8:13AM Please explain how this would effect home values? How does it screw homeowners? So easy to make a statement and not back it up.

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    1. A pile of sticks and rusty nails on a highly visible hillside? Please try and figure this one out yourself, and then get back to us.

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    2. 8:13 is your typical developer type...

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    3. Must be a slow day at Podley.

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  9. Mathew Bryant is right I agree with him on all the points
    I love to live in Sierra Madre just the way it is
    Do not destroy the cityI ! Its one of a kind!

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  10. 9:06 AM: Any 2nd story addition requires a CUP. That's $4000 and months of delay. You don't think that will impact the value of your home?

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    1. You need some Kleenex? Sounds like you're gonna cry.

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    2. Whatever it takes to discourage McMansionizing Sierra Madre.

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  11. If it is approved the value will go way up.

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    1. If it is approved the neighboring houses will be robbed of their views and sunlight, and will suffer a depreciation in value. But why would you care? It is all about what you want, right?

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    2. Hopefully Sierra Madre will not be turned into the Me Ville 11:04 advocates.

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    3. They will not go down in value if that is the case values in Arcadia must be 0

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    4. Go get a real job, hammer boy. Preferably one where you don't have to use your head much.

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  12. If approved we should just put up a sign "Welcome to Glendale" have you seen the hillside over there?

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    1. The Beverly Madre Hills. Black Mercedes speeding up Baldwin Ave to 6,000 square foot McMansions that tower over the little folks below. A slice of wretched excess funded by foreign slave labor.

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    2. Correction: Maserati.

      Mercedes is so downhill.

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    3. Lambo, yo. Special boy has 3.

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  13. BTW, Mr. Mod, I like your new header - expanding your territory. Good for you!

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    1. Thanks! I've done a few posts about Arcadia and Pasadena, and each time they have been pretty successful. People in those towns either want a Tattler, or really really don't. Which also makes it fun. So we'll see. What's the worst that can happen?

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    2. Thank you! Arcadia has never gotten the real truth about the city. As I've learned to say reading this blog, it always has been "Move along. Nothing to see here." With good luck the snarkiness will remain and readership increases.

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  14. So has the meeting not started, or is KGEM in mystery mode again?

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  15. Tweaks, and continued to the March 5th meeting. Yipperdeedippity.

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  16. Preserve Sierra Madre is a fine oiled machine right now. John Hutt was particularly impressive tonight.

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  17. If the Planning Commisson limits mansionization by squeezing down the floor area limits and lowers the CUP threshold, we all win because it means that Sierra Madre will never turn into Arcadia. It also means that a developer will be stopped from screwing over the immediate neighbors like what is happening on Camillo right now by blocking the neighbors' views, light and privacy. It also means that Sierra Madre remains the "village in the foothills". Our property values go up when we retain our uniqueness. If we become like every other city in the San Gabriel Valley than Buyers have lots of options as to where they want to live. If we limit the supply by not allowing big housing projects and not allow McMansions like Arcadia, then Sierra Madre will be that much more desireable for the many people who don't like what is happening in Arcadia. That is what increases our values and not a development free-for-all.

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    1. Thank you. I think we are getting there.

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  18. Only one dude showed up to gripe at public comment. What is going on in Arcadia now has made advocating for big barn development in Sierra Madre about as popular as cancer.

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  19. The new header looks pretty flashy. I never noticed that streak of lightning along the left side. Gives the Tattler kind of a sleek, state-of-the-art feel.

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    1. Thanks. The streak of light is a time lapse photo of speeding cars at night. Like on the 210, though cars rarely get to go quite that fast on our favorite freeway.

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  20. I didn't really understand the Lady from 110 Rancho with the 40,000sq ft. lot talking about all these patios. As the planning commission pointed out she can currently build a 6,200 sq ft house. She never put forward the size of home that she really wants to build. It must be a monster.

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