Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tattler Research Team Goes Deep On 126 E. Mira Monte

At 4,000 sq. feet, is this really an improvement on the Henry A. Darling home?












Some Tattler readers have expressed misgivings with the evidence presented to the City Council by Mr. and Mrs. Dave Brown last week. Much of what they had to say didn't quite seem to ring true for many. And we're not just talking about that "shame on you" moment, or claims of dissatisfaction with The Tattler. Which we can accept.

What research has found is that there were some discrepancies in the stories told by the Browns. One of the most difficult claims to believe being that they are just a simple and naive young couple who wandered into their present difficulties unaware, and are bewildered and overwhelmed by all that has happened since.

Julie Tschida Brown (owner of 126 E. Mira Monte Ave.) is a Vice President at the Jacobs Engineering Group (link), a large and highly regarded professional concern with access to some of the top engineering, architectural and construction talent in the world. These are impressive resources for anyone to have at their fingerprints, and certainly for a self-styled innocent who had claimed to try and make an honest attempt at restoring an historic classic Craftsman, only to throw up her hands in despair upon discovering how supposedly hopeless this situation might be.

As Vice President of so respected an engineering firm, Julie would have had plenty of opportunities to consult with some of the top professionals in the field before making her decisions about purchasing the Henry A. Darling home. It is unlikely that someone so high up in the corporate engineering world, and with so many world class masters of the construction arts on hand to discuss any possible problems, could have been quite as naive or ill-informed as Julie claimed to the people of Sierra Madre.

Here is how Forbes Magazine describes Jacobs Engineering (link):

Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. is a technical professional services company, which provides technical, professional, and construction services including, engineering, design, and architectural services; construction and construction management services; operations and maintenance services; and process, scientific, and systems consulting services. The company provides services through offices and subsidiaries located primarily in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, India, Australia, Africa, and Asia. Jacobs Engineering Group was founded by Joseph J. Jacobs in 1947 and is headquartered in Pasadena, CA.

Did the Browns ever really consider not destroying the H. A. Darling home?

During his 5 or so minutes of KGEM glory Dave Brown said something inadvertently revealing. This while answering some of the thoughtful questions being put to him by Councilmember Gene Goss. And it appears that Dave could have given away a bit more than he probably should have. 

Mr. Brown confessed that the water meter moratorium was a "nightmare" for him. However, since he had purchased an existing home with a water meter already in place, that scary problem might be a dubious one. The only way it could have been the nightmare he described is if he was planning to execute a lot split on that property. 

Just so you know, the 126 E. Mira Monte site is a beefy 21,318 square feet.

It is hard to figure out how early in the process the Browns had made their decision, or if the city has yet received all of the plans associated with that property. We are looking into that and have hopes of getting more information soon. I have been told that, if built, this would be quite a castle. And judging by the illustration above, far larger - and taller - than the single story homes in that area.

But a lot split would be an explanation for why the water meter moratorium was such a nightmare to Dave Brown. It also explains why they seem bent on razing a 107 year old Craftsman home, one of deep emotional and historic importance to the people of a town they've claimed to love.

With the exception of The Tattler, of course. Mrs. Brown did indicate that she doesn't love us as much as we are accustomed to (link).

All said, it does appears that the Browns are just not the naïve newbie Sierra Madre homeowners they have claimed to be. And that much of what we heard last week was instead a carefully prepared public relations strategy designed to help them get what they want in the face of considerable community opposition. 

No matter how outsized their dream house, or genuine and heartfelt the concerns of those standing in their way.

We will have more on this important story as soon as it is made available.

City Hall announces rescheduled Planning Commission meeting

Though no details are offered as to why this meeting had to be rescheduled, or that it is even a reschedule at all, the following appeared late Monday in the "City News" section of the City of Sierra Madre website (link):

Hopefully the public notice advertising has finally been sent to the Mountain Views News, and it will run on time. Not the easiest operation for the involved parties to pull off these days it seems.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

90 comments:

  1. What does Mr. Brown do. If the PC changes the square feet and the CUP for a second story will this change their plans? It is a large parcel but aren't there trees on it? Will those come down? There are 2 houses going up on Rancho and if I'm not mistaken those properties are 40,000 sf. Should be an interesting PC meeting. I plan to get there early to get a good seat. Nothing like a good name calling fest to get your dander up.

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  2. so Ms. Brown is a VP at Jacobs Engineering. guess that explains the scolding she gave the residents.

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    1. She does seem used to getting her way.

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    2. There is a house 4-5 doors to the west that was in far worse shape. It is now a community gem and no doubt worth a bundle, unlike the eyesore pictured above.

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    3. I feel no shame.

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    4. Corporate VPs oftentimes have little patience with the "little people."

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    5. Thanks Tattler for posting the link to the Julie Brown comments at the meeting. I wish she would explain who her "Shame on you" comments were directed to. Are we not allowed to have a different about about the fate of the Henry A. Darling House? I respect their opinons. I can't force them to care about this 1907 Craftsman home. The problem is that the community has a stake in this also.

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    6. I agree 6:34 ...little patience. Remember what Ms.Brown said when she broke protocol and jumped up to the podium a second time regarding the same item, "I just can't help myself."

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    7. Ms. Brown doesn't understand the issue. She said a community is not about buildings - but the homes we live in form part of the community, as does the land itself. It looks like she lives in a very small bubble.

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    8. The fact that Ms. Brown has no understanding whatsoever for why some people in the community may be concerned about tearing down a 1907 Craftsman, has to tell you something. This is nothing personal against the Brown family. This is only about preserving our cultural and historical heritage which is often manifested by the physical buildings that exist in a community. Maybe Ms. Brown won't be as angry if she steps back and looks at things from another perspective.

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    9. Clueless in Sierra Madre

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    10. I hope the Brown will re-think their plans for this property. If they don't want to restore it, then sell it to someone who appreciates these kind of homes. Unlike what Ms. Brown said, they will have absolutely no trouble finding the right buyer and they will undoubtedly make a tidy profit to boot.

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  3. Let them build their "dream" home elsewhere

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    1. I suspect they might be the kind of people who enjoy aggression. The pro over-development types always are.

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  4. Based on this Tattler post, there is going to more to this story that will continue to come out. I also noticed when Dave Brown recited all these "nightmares" that he was confronted with after he bought the home, one of which was the water meter moratorium. That could only have been a nightmare for him if he had intended a lot split. I don't know the answer to this question because I haven't seen how the existing Craftsman home is situated on the lot but if they were going for a lot split at the get-go and the existing house is located on the middle of the lot, that means that the Henry A. Darling House had a date with the wrecking ball from the very beginning. I don't really have a problem with the Brown's saying, look, we bought this property and we want to tear it down and build two homes or one very large home. I don't agree with doing that to a pristine 1907 Craftsman but they are entitled to take that position and people are entitled to disagree with it particularly when the house to be torn down is one of Sierra Madre's treasures. But the Browns implied that this process has all taken so long because they were making strenuous efforts to figure out how they can save the house, when in realilty, all the time may have been taken with figuring out how to do a lot split or on designing a really big home. Another possibility if that they may have wanted to keep the home but they made so many extreme design changes that it just became more cost-effective to bulldoze the Henry A. Darling House and start from scratch. If that's the case, then they really shouldn't have bought this type of home. 1907 Craftsman homes with box beam ceilings and wainscotting and all the other architectureal details this house seems to possess are meant for restoration and not for demolition.

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    1. My assumption is the lot split would help pay for the nearly million dollar lot and the new house.

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    2. The Browns' contention that they planned to save the house from the get-go just put my BS meter into the Red Zone.

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    3. Yes, I am skeptical too. I think their realtor was Rene Rose. I wonder what she knows about their intentions.

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    4. Like any real estate agent, as long as they make their commission, they don'tt care what the buyer does with the house. Take any designated historical landmark in any city in California and you will find that most agents would gladly sell it off no matter if the result is its demolition so long as they get paid their commission.

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  5. There is something fishy in Denmark. Alot of these questions can be answered by the City. They know what the Brown were planning for this home. They were either planning to save the home or they weren't. But the Tattler does reveal that the Browns were not your average home buyers. Julie Brown is an expert or at least has access to the most knowledgable experts in the world over at her employer Jacobs Engineering. From what the Browns said, two previous buyers had backed out so they probably had access to what those buyer's inspections had revealed. They were now on notice about problems and would have checked things out very carefully during their due diligence period. There should not have been any surprises after the close of escrow. The should just admit their intentions. The cover-up is always worse than the crime.

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    1. I would take the Henry A. Darling House any day over that modern design. You don't find the same kind of architectural details or craftsmanship in the newer homes. Granted they may not have the palatial bathroom or huge walk-in closets but those homes have withstood the test of time and are classics.....for those who appreciate that and who fill priviliged and honored to live in one. Somehow, I don't think the Browns have that kind of reverence for a home like this. This home needed the right buyer and it wasn't the Browns.

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    2. The proposed Fire Station design looks just the house on the SW corner of Carter & Auburn.

      Legal, yes. Match the neighborhood, No.

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    3. Good call, 6:39.

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    4. I know it's a very expensive house, but the design looks like different pre-fabricated modular bits pushed together - like RVs. Doesn't the set up around the front door remind you of a parked mobile home?

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    5. The "design looks just the house on the SW corner of Carter & Auburn.

      Legal, yes. Match the neighborhood, No. "

      Sadly, you are correct. That house is horribly discordant with the neighborhood. It displays a 'finger in your face' attitude to neighbors who try to preserve the architectural heritage.

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    6. I think its something is rotten in Denmark but it is also fishy, shady, smelly and just plain bad. And yes 9:29 I thought the same thing, that is the same house on Carter&Auburn.

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    7. I suspect that the Tattler is going to uncover alot more information about this situation. Only the surface has been scratched on this one.

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    8. I don't particuarly care about their intentions even though I am curious as to "what did they know and when did they know it". I'm more concerned about saving this property from being destroyed and putting in appropriate guidelines so that we don't find ourselves in this position again.

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  6. Somehow I don't think that people will be calling for the preservation of this home 107 years from now.

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    1. Maybe their architect Vanderveldt wil be famous someday. Even if he is, I'd say tear it down in 107 years because I will always associate him with going for nearly 20 minutes in the public comment section and refusing the Mayor's request to stop talking.

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  7. Thanks to the awesome Sierra Madre Research team......uncovering the truth since the get go.
    Team Crawford......you are the best!!!!!!!

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    1. John, how do you do it? You must have your own personal psychic. 6:31 is correct, you are the best!

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    2. Crawford has some if the best investigators who for years have been willing to donate their time and resources to uncovering facts....they do it because it is the right thing to do. Only payoff for them is maintaining their property values and the mission of protecting Sierra Madre for future generations, and being virtuous people.....nothing to them is more important than the truth......God Bless them.

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    3. If every city had something like a Tattler, I can guarantee you there would be alot less problems. The Tattler shines a spotlight on the issues and does it immediately. Hypocracy, corruption, lies - everything gets exposed for what it is.

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    4. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

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  8. I am now wondering about the friend that spoke on behalf of the Browns. I wonder if he has a dog in this race? Does he have funds invested in this project too? How is he employed and how does he know the Browns? Guess I'll have to listen to him speak again on KGEM. I'm not accusing, just wondering about the connection. Hmmmm?

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    1. Come to the meeting and hear him.

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    2. Some guy named Eisenberg as I recall. I wonder what he does for a living. Never heard of the guy until he got up and spoke on behalf of the Browns.

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  9. Thanks for posting the video of Julie Brown and her "Shame on you" diatribe against the audience and who knows who else. As someone who was at that meeting, I never heard one speaker who was in favor of the demolition moratorium ever attack the Browns personally or attack anyone for that matter. Speakers just spoke from the heart about preserving this town and were respectful as they did so. I also went home and read the Tatter because Julie Brown said that her mother was evidently telling her about all these bad things that were being said on that blog. I didn't see any inflammatory postings or attacks whatsoever. So I'm not sure what Julie Brown and her mother were referring to. If she's saying that we are all bad people because we disagree with having a 1907 Craftsman home known as the Henry A. Darling House turned into rubble, then she really doesn't understand the community she has chosed to live in.

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    1. All the disrespect seemed to come from the pro-development side. Our side is motivated by preserving a village in the foothill from exploitation. Their side is motivated by profit. Right makes might. The preservation side will carry the day.

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    2. Nobody attacked the Brown family personally. I wonder if there is any circumstance whereby the Brown family could be in favor of the demolition moratorium. I know they have their own personal reason not to want it but do they ever think its a good idea. Do they support preservation efforts in general? Do they realize the Sierra Madre we see today did not happen by accident. Alot of people have spent alot of time trying to maintain this little villlage we have in the foothills. I presume the Brown family wants to live here because its Sierra Madre and not, say, Arcadia. Maybe they should be thanking the people who have fought those battles over the years rather than shouting "Shame on you" to them. What that also means is that we can't just look our for our own interests. Only with a little shared sacrifice can we put the proper rules and guidelines in place to prevent Mansionization and over-development.

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    3. You are presuming the Brown family wants to live in Sierra Madre? I haven't seen anything in their behavior or demeanor that makes me think that ...

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  10. That deck on the left side will completely violate any privacy the single story house next door has. Maybe the deck is there so it can be an observation post of the neighbors' lives.

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    1. This is NOT a signle story fit into the neighborhood house! This is blatantly two story. The Browns are shameless liars!

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    2. The only thing I heard the Browns say about stories was when Mr. Brown complained they had tried to get a three story house there but development services wouldn't let them.

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    3. That's right 9:16. They were trying to turn the original house into something akin to a 3-story and because the City nixed it, the only option was demolition. Oh come on. I don't buy their story for a minute.

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  11. Nor does she care about us. I think she will flip the new house, not live in it.

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    1. I agree. The proposed plan has "speculation" written all over it. Pull it off and sell it to a newcomer to SMadre for
      $ 2.5 to 3 million bucks. Ka-Ching!

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    2. And that is just the 1st house...

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    3. That's why they wanted the lot split. That's why we have to raise up those figures. As it stands now, all you need is something like a 15,000 square foot lot to split it into two 7,500 square foot lots. That's how density gets increased. That's how traffic gets increased and that's how you end up with stop lights rather than stop signs.

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  12. To the west of the Darling house are two older homes,then a few mid-century economy models and then the home that has been fully renovated and very well done. To the east of the darling house are two mid-century economy models and then the start of 8-10 post WW2 small, affordable single-car garage, two bed, one bath, kitchen/kitchenette (no dining room usually) that were built as a small "tract." No one in their right mind would put all this expense into tearing down a 1907 home (lot cost of nearly one million) and build the Moderne that is pictured in the Tattler article. So it is greed, and profit, not home building that is going on here. Come On Planning Commission, get this right so we don't lose the heart and soul of Sierra Madre to these greedsters.

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    1. I do feel sorry for the neighbors. Does anybody know if the immeidate neighbors have any concerns or is this one of those battles were others have to do the heavy lifting for them.

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  13. Did they get the ad to Susan yet?

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    1. Full page, coming right up!

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    2. This could be an exciting new volunteer opportunity in Sierra Madre. You would get to remind city hall to send the ad, and then remind the Mountain Views News to run it. Almost a full time job!

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  14. This is what Vandetalkatalk designed? What a disgrace to his architectural training and any sense of design! How in the name of all that's reasonable did he think he'd sell this to the friends and neighbors who have worked so hard to preserve Sierra Madre?

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    1. Explains all the bluster.

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    2. That design looks pretty ugly to me. No comparison to what is already there.

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  15. Sometimes there comes the opportunity to stab your ownself in the eye (with your drafting pen in the old days--computer drafting leaves no similar cliché) but Mr Van de Architect--think of all the folks that will drive by this address and say what a horrid Architect! Let me recommend someone else...

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  16. Thank you John Crawford ! Excellent work to protect our Community and Heritage from the devious developer types. These horrid people seem to come in many varieties. Sour old lawyers, stupid well-off corporate types . Let's be vigilant

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  17. The property has been neglected for over a year, the trees in the massive back yard, left to die...I'm sure they did this on purpose so they couldn't be saved. This new build has no character or charm, is an insult to the neighborhood and devalues our historic Richardson House and Lizzie's Trail Inn. As we've seen in other neighborhoods, a family moves in claiming to love Sierra Madre, builds an offending box and is so despised by their neighbors that they sell and move away. I predict the same for the Browns if this travesty is allowed to happen.

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    1. I have said this before and I will say it again. The wrong buyer was found for this house. I have never heard of any one who buys a Craftsman home like this and wants to tear it down. The people who buy these kinds of homes will often fix them up but they will put up with the quirks to live in a house like this. They would never demollish it and they would never make such significant design changes that the original structure simply can't support it. If you can't live without those design changes that the house can't withstand, then you have effectively forced a demolition. That's what may have happened here. But if they were talking about splitting the lot, then this house was doomed from the beginning.

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    2. Good point 9:53. The Brown are probably the only buyers in the entire free world who would want to tear down a home like this. It just does not happen. Pasadena would never have allowed this to happen. Their historical and preservation society would be all over that.

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  18. Everyone should watch the link to Julie Brown's infamous "shame on you" comments directed at the people whose only crime was to want a moratorium on demolitions for only 45 days to allow time to make absolutely sure that nothing is about to be domolished that shouldn't be. Does she really believe that is unreasonable? I guess when your intention is to bulldoze a vintage 1907 Craftsman known as the "Henry A. Darling House", you may not want any additional scrutiny.

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    1. I think she got some bad advice. The old DSP development stooges is my guess.

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    2. I know for a fact that some of the people who spoke against the demolition of the Darling house, and other clearly historical structures, don't read the Tattler and have never posted.

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    3. Some people who say they do not read the Tattler actually do.

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    4. True 11:26. But I do know a couple of people who are active in preservation who just generally do not like blogs and don't post online. My point is that Ms. Brown was indiscriminately attacking everyone, whether they had ever participated in the Tattler discussions or not.

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    5. She was blaming all the good folks who took an evening away from their family to come to a City Council meeting to try to protect other people's properties from being bulldozed.

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  19. "Shall be demolished." Sounds Biblical.

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  20. Again, we need your support at PC. Can't say it enough! The PC has not always been our side. Think Camillo. It's a lot to ask, I know. No one says that can't do something with their property. But give us some proof that the house is beyond repair. They could have done that at City Council but they were too busy distracting us with name calling for having an opinion. This really is one of the ugliest house I have seen. And don't forget, Adele is out the lurking with several plans at One Carter. Please don't give up. Stay the course.

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    1. If you think the two Camillo houses are sickening go see the third one on the same block that is under construction. Be sure to bring your barf bag with you.

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    2. Houses on Camillo did not how before planning commission that was signed off across counter by Danny Castro.

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    3. No wonder he left.

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    4. Camillo is now the Castro District.

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  21. Arcadia OKs development of 2 large homes despite ‘mansionization’ argument
    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/government-and-politics/20150204/arcadia-oks-development-of-2-large-homes-despite-mansionization-argument

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  22. If the Browns really wanted to rehabilitate the house, then decided to tear it down, why not at least have plans made that the façade look similar to the Darling house? That box architecture does not fit in the neighborhood at all. Curious.

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  23. Every Tattler reader needs to know how to use the LA County Assessors map web site. It is much improved and all you do is type in the address and for 126 E. Montecito (typed in a 126 Montecito, no E) you see that this lot is twice the size of most of those to the east and west (except for those to the far west nearest to Baldwin).

    From that you can see that the idea was of course to divide the lot and the tell of Mr. Brown regarding the water moratorium is what this is all about. Also, the property was sold in 1913. What was the big delay in coming forth with their project?

    http://maps.assessor.lacounty.gov/GVH_2_2/Index.html?configBase=http://maps.assessor.lacounty.gov/Geocortex/Essentials/REST/sites/PAIS/viewers/PAIS_hv/virtualdirectory/Resources/Config/Default

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  24. Because they're progressive and preservationists are old hat!

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  25. 126 Mira Monte (no E) my error typing Montecito. Property sold in Nov 2013, not 1913.

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  26. 1:13, sold in 2013?

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  27. Thanks for the information 1:13.

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  28. It is NOT E.Montecito !
    It is : 126 E. Mira Monte , 126 E. Mira Monte , 126 E. Mira Monte

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    1. What's the address?

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    2. Turn right at Taco Fiesta. Keep going until you get to the top of the hill.

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  29. Oh no! I was wondering why this beautiful home was sitting empty so long after it was purchased. And the price was well within reason for a fixer upper. I assumed someone was planning a beautiful rehab, the house itself has such good bones. This is a tragic replacement. If someone has that much money to rebuild.... why wouldn't they want to build something beautiful in its place? Having money doesn't account for taste.

    Tragic. Tragic.

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  31. To answer a previous posters question, yes the folks on Mira Monte are distressed over this mess of the darling house and have attended council meetings.
    Now, about Camillo St. Yesterday the 4th home on our street was torn down at the corner of Camillo and Foothill. So tired of living in a war zone of noise. And so tired of looking at porta potties!! After the green fence was up I stopped when I saw life there and told them it was against code to have a porta potty on the curb, and it had to be moved behind the fence. I have no idea if this is true or not but that potty was behind the fence when I returned home.
    Now about the behavior of Mrs. Brown at the city council meeting. Shame on who? She doesn't know who wrote on the Tattler during the meeting. All I can say is shame on her!

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