|What's upside down?|
There are quite a few legal threats now lining up against the city. Some threatened, some quite real. Tonight there are 5 of them up for grabs. Most having to do with development, which is where the real money is. And it's always about money.
Now I have been told by one City Councilmember that City Attorney Teresa Highsmith is very dedicated to the preservation of Sierra Madre. And that Teresa sees this as some of the most important work she's ever done for the Foothill Village. Proof that hope can come from many different quarters, I guess.
So who am I to doubt any of that? The world has been turned upside down, after all. Somebody is going to have to seize the burning legal sword, raise it flaming into the sky and rescue the villagers. Do you have any better candidates at this point?
So a lot is happening tonight. But in a different and out of view way. A month or so ago the City Council meeting agenda listed these five items for discussion:
Out of that original list of 5 items only the Strategic Plan Update and Turf Removal Program now remain. In other words, 3 full discussion items were bumped out of the agenda to make certain there is time enough for all of the legal issues that need to be discussed in closed session at the end of the public portion of this meeting.
Here is the list of those closed session items.
This is most likely the Hildreth case. Jeff and Taryn spoke at the previous City Council meeting, and explained to all seated at the dais that once next month's trial is over the full reasoning behind their legal strategy will become clear and even sympathetic.
If I may throw my two cents in here, why is it the city fought tooth and nail, and at considerable legal expense, against a guy who dug himself a very large basement, yet with the wave of a $1.00 pen gave approval to an aggressive out of area developer to build those completely out of character mutant eyesores on Camillo Road? I am not sure I see the balance in this.
We've discussed this one a few times in the past, and at length. But it is a good indication of just how badly some "development at all cost" minded people plan to make a lot of money here. Sierra Madre is widely perceived as a place where you can make a killing at this sort of thing, but you'll need to break down the city's resistance first. That people are willing to go to the legal wall so hard and get it is a clear indication of just how much cash there is to be made building new houses here.
Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe they're sue-bots not yet awakened from hibernation yet.
That this one is wedged in with all of those other legal issues comes as no surprise. The Sierra Madre Police Association has long been among the most litigious unions of its kind. And with the City's apparent move towards yet another round of UUT ballot advocacy, the SMPA could be making certain that their interests are made clear.
As you may recall, it was not too long ago that in a letter to Leticia Cardoso and Elaine Aguilar the attorney for the developer, Richard McDonald, stated that litigation had never been a part of CETT's strategy. After obtaining McDonald's letter in a PRA request, I posted it here on January 17 of this year (link).
Here is the most relevant passage:
Fourth, and lastly, since we have repeatedly denied that we threatened any litigation over this matter at any time, and in fact have not done so, please inform them that we regard the closed sessions with the PC and Council on this matter under the rubric of such a threat as a violation of the Brown Act. we, therefore, request that such sessions cease immediately.
I guess the situation has changed a little.
The fight to preserve Sierra Madre from predatory overdevelopment may now be going beyond residents asking their City Council to do the right thing. With the next round of battles moving us right into the Courts.
The good news is that, with the possible exception of the Hildreth case, this could all take years. Something that would at least temporarily stop the mad rush to predatory development. The bad news is this could cost the taxpayers some dough. Plus a huge increase in the City's lawsuit insurance costs.
Especially if City Attorney Highsmith doesn't run the table and win them all.
There are a couple of other items on the agenda, but not that much. The demolition permit question will finally resolve. Plus the City of Sierra Madre could be saving a couple of bucks and pulling out of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. Which makes sense since they have done very little for Sierra Madre as far as bringing any new business here.
There is going to be quite a City Council meeting tonight. But none of us are going to see it.