Monday, March 30, 2015

Why The Monastery And Stone House Projects Are Likely To Be On Hold For Years

Yesterday was an enjoyable Sunday because I got to spend a little time basking in the warm wifi of a beloved local coffee shop researching some of the more recent and beneficial Sierra Madre water use ordinances.

Ordinances that I think are just great. Particularly those having something to do with the non-issuance of new water meters for the sorts of unhappy projects certain people would like to build at such bucolic locales as the Monastery and Stone House sites. The good news here being that while the drought might be a first rate natural disaster, it does have a distinctly slow growth bias.

And would you like to know what's up with all that? In particular the effect it is going to have on certain large housing development projects here in Sierra Madre? From what I can tell it certainly does appear like these developers are screwed. In a big and possibly even irreversible kind of way.

The necessary background is this. The water levels in Sierra Madre's at-risk wells continue to drop. Despite the fact that most of our water is being piped in from the Chlorameanies at the SGVMWD, and this is supposedly the rainy season.

Back when the weather behaved as we thought it always would, this was the time of year when wells and aquifers would be replenished to the point where there would be adequate water to get The Foothill Village through the rest of the year. Including those summer and fall dry seasons.

As we all know, it doesn't happen like that anymore.

What this means is that Sierra Madre's waterless water company will not have adequate supplies for a long time. City Hall has estimated that this period of liquid insolvency could last for seven years, or the length of bad luck you could suffer if you broke a mirror. And that is only if it starts to rain again some time fairly soon. If it doesn't? Then all bets are off.

So here is what my coffee shop research turned up.

1. June 24, 2014 Staff Report - This one goes into detail on the specifics of both the Water Code and Government Code moratoriums. Here is an overview.


2. July 8, 2014 Staff Report - this was the night the City Council voted in Phase III of the Water Conservation Policy, Ordinance 1357U and Ordinance 1356U.


3. Ordinance No. 1357U - This is the Government Code for the celebrated two year building moratorium that includes no new water connections.


But as good as 1357U might be, it is the next one that could easily cripple any attempts to start building at the Monastery and Stone House, and for quite a few years.

4. Ordinance No. 1356U - Water Code - Moratorium on new water meters, which is in effect until Sierra Madre's water supply has returned to normal.


You get that? And will Sierra Madre's water supply ever return to normal? Do we even know what normal is anymore? It could be that this has been going on for so long now nobody even remembers.

On July 8, 2014 the City Council voted in Phase III of the Water Conservation Policy, ordinances 1357U and 1356U. As the drought continues, and our water well supplies continue to drop even further like they did last month, you can easily draw you own conclusions about when any development will finally begin at the Monastery and Stone House.

All the signs point to that being a long long time away.

There is one catch

We all know how unhappy some folks are with the city for imposing fines for water overuse, especially with the yellow water problems. But many of them are the same folks who want to keep the water moratoriums in place.

However, there is this problem. The city needs to be able to show the world that it takes this drought seriously, and one way to do that is imposing fines on water hogs. Because you know that sooner or later one or both of the developers mentioned above will be pounding on some Superior Court door, claiming there is no "water emergency" in Sierra Madre. Their claim being based on the huge amounts of water being used to water lawns, and at all hours of the day.

And if City Hall hasn't done anything to curb the over usage of some of our more carefree residents, then how will they justify not allowing developers to build at places like the Monastery because there isn't any water?

It is a good question.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

76 comments:

  1. So if the drought never ends the monastery development never gets built? Talk about good news, bad news. Or is that bad news, good news?

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  2. Thanks for starting my day off with this good news.
    I had a rough weekend.
    My home has been invaded by lizzards!
    A dear friend told me "lizards are very good luck"
    Well, I won a very big bet yesterday at Santa Anita!
    This Tattler this morning should put a big smile on the face of my friend who told me about lizards.
    To you...Yippee! !!!!!!!

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    1. Wow. Congrats! When's the next race? I need to find me some lizards!

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    2. There are a number of reasons why those developments should not be built but the water emergency only compounds the problems. Why should we all tighten our belts to allow for more water users to come on line. That makes no sense. You have a certain amount of water for a certain number of residents. That's not being exclusionary, its just what it is. We need to take care of the existing residents first.

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    3. As the dought continues, the preservation groups continue to get stronger and stronger. New Urban West is facing challenges to many of their developments - not just at the monastery. And don't fall for their "divide and conquer" strategy of having "small group" meetings to pitch their snake oil to divide the community. They are pros and they follow a certain formula when facing community opposition. They try to line up a few prominent people and isolate the opposition. They try to cut deals with neighbors at the expense of other neighbors. Its really quite dispicable.. Please don't fall for these tactics because that's all they are.

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    4. Those are exactly the kinds of tactics we saw in play during the Carter hearings. They worked, too.

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    5. They only work if people are dumb enough to fall for it. Sometimes the neighbors try to cut a deal for themselves and sell out their other neighbors. But if they present a united front, the developer will lose. That's why developers will try to pick you off one by one.

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  3. Wells researched post, Mr. Tattler.

    The unintended consequence about the water meter hookup moratorium is that the Carter 1 lots already have water meters in and many are activated for irrigation. That makes those Carter 1 lots PURE GOLD. Expect Attorney Richie Rich McDonald to turn up the heat for more McMansions. Ka-Ching!!

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    1. True, but the settlement agreement for One Carter is over. The CETTlers would actually have to pay attention to HMZ and R1 ordinances. That will make them unhappy.

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    2. I really think that the settlement agreement for One Carter still stands. As a matter of fact, one of the lawsuits is till open, just in case CETT wants to carry on Galletly's case. Bleh.

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    3. No, it actually is over. Timed out. Kaput.

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    4. Where's the documentation on that? I would be thrilled if that's the case.

      However, to the best of my knowledge the settlement still stands.Does anyone have solid proof so we can party?

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    5. I will post the documentation tomorrow. The One Carter Settlement Agreement ended on March 23rd.

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    6. I think it's crazy to make that development exempt. Just because they have water meters in place, that means there's plenty of water for 20+ households?
      Crazy.

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    7. I was at the Planning Department this morning and asked Leticia about the expiration date concerning the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement still stands. It is the exceptions that are spelled out in the agreement that have expired. The exceptions are for height and square footage have expired. Now all properties must comply with the HMZ and R1 standards.

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    8. Yes, that is my understanding. Without the exception CETT and whoever else shows up at One Carter are just like the rest of the kids. I will post the documents tomorrow.

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    9. My understanding is that they will have to now build smaller homes to comply with the HMZ. That old Indian curse, just keeps haunting these developers. But that's what you get, when you build on an Indian burial ground.

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    10. Even those won't be built. There is a timeless and awesome power in our hills.

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    11. Thanks for the information Ms. Hinton. Can always count on you for clear thinking.

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    12. Leslee has done so much good for this city. People don't always realize how much she does.

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  4. Any LA Times readers out there check the Op-Ed page. Our guy Robert Fellner has the lead article.

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  5. the only ones who loose in the One Carter development is the citizens of Sierra Madre Maybe nothing will get built up there but now we have a bunch of empty lots that will look worse than having nice looking homes with enhanced landscaping. I think we shot ourselves in the foot...

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    1. Troll alert.

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    2. "lose", not "loose". Grammar saves lives.

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    3. The wild life and the mountain will reclaim the land.
      It will become a city park in the future...
      Hope they name it Preserved Sierra Madre Park

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    4. Those empty lots will soon develop scrub vegetation and eventually perhaps some Manzanita.Then it will be pretty.Nature will conceal the scare of greed.

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    5. It would be nice if by some miracle the trees Galletly murdered for no real purpose were to magically disappear.

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    6. A hillside of Macmansions? What a pity that will be.

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    7. It'll be Sierra Madre's shame, 11:21.
      The Stonegate suburb of shame.

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    8. Shot ourselves in the foot my "....". It would be the best thing that ever happened to Sierra Madre. Nature will turn those scars into a beautiful area again.

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    9. I think if it were to have come up today, the Carter property would have been protected. People tried very, very hard to save it, but it was a steep learning curve in what was necessary, and the slow growth groups at the time missed the mark. Of course the deciding factor was that the council majority lacked wisdom.

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    10. I agree 12:55, but it would tale a long, long time. Galletly was very thorough in scraping everything off the land and reshaping the hillsides.

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    11. I think giving Mother Nature the chance to undo all of that damage is worth a shot.

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    12. One Carter was mishandled in alot of ways although it ain't over till its over. We can't make the same mistakes with the Monastery property. Right now we have a great City Council that would never have betrayed us the way that past city council did.

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  6. A bold approach to supplement water budget allocations is net zero water. Ordinances must be developed to ensure that there will be no net increase in water use from pre-existing development for all new and redevelopment. If a proposed project needs more water than the pre-existing use, then the developer should be required to conserve twice the amount of the increase on another project off-site. Also, the net zero water use requirement should kick in upon the sale of any property. The city of Santa Monica may soon consider such an approach. The net zero water approach could be applied in both urban and agricultural areas.

    http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2015/03/time_to_ratchet_down_on_water.php

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    1. Great!! Sounds like a policy that may actually be effective.
      And since there were just a couple of private homes on the Carter property...maybe it'll be a community of tiny houses. That's about the only way they could do it if they had to match previous water records.

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    2. The developers of the monastery property are trying to use the ploy that they can come up with net zero water scheme in Sierra Madre even tho they want to build 40 plus two story houses. Because this drought has been going on for so long, and even the City has converted to low water landscaping, there is no way they will be able to do this.

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    3. The net zero water scheme is a sham. Whatever drought measures the developer wants to help us with, we can do anyway. We don't need 50 homes up there. The Monastery should have taken that 10 million dollar offer from Preserve Sierra Madre and give the citizens of Sierra Madre a chance to buy that land. Can you imagine what a great recreation area that would be. How many cities still get a chance to preserve open space like this.

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    4. If the houses don't get built then we don't need their help saving water. Simple as that.

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  7. The People's Republic of Santa Monica? Yeah, I always want to follow them.

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    1. Actually, everyone is going to be following us.

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    2. True. Linking the water shortage and drought to development is a real important event.

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    3. I hope the rest of the state follows.

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  8. This sounds extreme .Until you ask how long the drought will last ? Then, if you do some simple research, the answer that emerges is - 'possibly for at least a century'.
    One expert is Scott Stine,Professor, Cal State East Bay.Just google his name and 'drought tree+rings'.
    The idea of "golden water meters" shows the short term thinking that will prove ludicrous if this drought is like some in the past.There is no factual basis to assume this will be a 7 year drought ,nor that any subsequent drought will be of any specific duration.Some California droughts lasted for over a century.We should prepare for a long haul solution.

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    1. That is going to be a long time for the Passionists to wait for retirement.

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    2. The Passionists want to sell off most of their holdings to pay for the retirements for about 63 priests even though they had a fundraiser a couple of years ago to raise 5 million for that purpose. It was announced as a success. You won't find that on their website any more. If you go to places like the Self Realization Fellowship in Mt. Washington and elsewhere, they have beautiful grounds. They would never think of selling it off. I tell you, the Catholics have lost their way. It wouldn't surprise me if they need the money to pay off legal judgments because of the pedophile priests. The church has been decimated in Ireland and elsewhere because of the cancer that attached to the church. The damage must continues and now, after owning that property since 1926 and surviving the Great Depresssion, the Passionists suddenly are selling everything off to pay for their own selfish retirements. Go figure. Talk about selling out for the 30 pieces of silver.

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    3. Such a difficult and heart breaking time for the Church. You say it well, that the pedophiles were cancers on the body of the church.
      One question - my understanding is that when nuns retire, if ever, they live at the poverty levels they have been living in all of their lives in the church. Do the 63 monks really need that many millions?

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    4. That's the ostensible reason for the sale is that they need the money for retired priests. But I don't buy it. The same fund raising that raised the 5 million can raise more money if they needed it. But they stopped the fundraising rather than increase the amount that is needed. Instead they sell off that beautiful sacred ground for the 30 pieces of silver. Once you sell the land, you can never get it back. Its very sad that they don't want to preserve that land for future generations to enjoy - quite frankly that would be the godly thing to do. St Francis certainly would not want to see the wildlife that is seen every day on that property displaced. But greed is a funny thing. If Priests can molest children, they certainly aren't immune to the temtations of avarice.

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    5. 2:20, you rock.

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    6. The Monastery property needs to remain intact. There is no place like it the entire San Gabriel Valley and there never will be again if its sold off. Why can't the present Passionists be good stewards of that property the way the past ones did. Its because they have a Board of Directors controlled by development interests who stand to personally gain from its sale. I would like to know how much money that guy Thorton would make if it sells. They all have a vested interest in its sale. Its just like the damage that can be done by a controlling majority on a City Council. Once you get a Board like this, its tough. They all see dollar signs.

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    7. The Passionists are not being honest with us. They have very few priests who will be retiring and even less who are joining the order. They told a group that met with them, that retirement is only one of the things they are going to do with the money. The other is to continue their Mission in India. I hope they will eventually be honest with Sierra Madre Citizens..

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  9. I think some sierra madre residents need to re- think their thoughts. By my past reading, sierra madre residents stated that developer's are pigs, only with the thought of making money. Then all home owners must be pigs also awaiting appreciation for structures which they purchased, built by developers. 2) are doctors who save lives. Which make the big bucks pigs aldo. We can all change our profession if we like

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    1. Umm. I am sorry, but the only person I have ever read using the term "pigs" on this site is you. Are you talking about your own language usage?

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    2. I gotta figure 10:01's been in the medicinal marijuana again.

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    3. Those are some bad voices that one has been hearing.

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    4. What a reach - developers benefit society just like doctors do? Maybe once upon a time there was some sense of honor in the development/realty corporate interests, but it ain't there now.

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    5. 10:01, most physicians actually help people; most developers ruin others' neighborhoods.

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    6. Unfortunately developers just want to maximize their profit now at the expense of the neighbors. Their is a reason the land that they now want to build on has not been built on - but that's all that's left now and that's why developers are hitting alot of opposition. They increasingly trying to develop in those sensitive areas that are sensitive for a reason. Don't forget too, in the olden days, they would build those 1-story ranch homes. Show me some new 1-story homes in Arcadia or Sierra Madre. You can count them on one hand. All you see now, is the grotesque 2-story houses the size of aircraft carriers that have no regard for the surrounding neighborhood or the impact on the neighbors. Please don't compare developers to doctors or call us pigs for rejecting this new breed of developers.

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    7. We are establishing a new rule at the blog. It is called Neil's Law. No using the word "pig" in a derogatory way. It starts now.

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    8. I agree, call them anything but the p-word. This may be the one time I'm going to be for politcal correctness.

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    9. Piglitical Correctness.

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  10. What about Neil the pig?

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    1. Neil would have patiently explained how inappropiate the poster's negative usage of the term "pig" was.

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  11. Large scale change always has consequences that are tough on some entrenched institutions. The development game has been over in Southern California for at least a decade, since the residents woke up and found that development was reaching the point of breaking the resource bank. Add a drought of unknown length, and that industry is in a natural cycle of weeding out and reforming. There will still be constant work to be done, but it's in readapting and remodeling, and not enough for all the profiteers the industry has spawned.

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  12. "...Overall, the drought of 2015 will be a challenge. We can complain and suffer with the usual lament over water waste (by others, of course), or we can make inconvenient and sometimes costly changes for the better."

    http://californiawaterblog.com/2015/03/30/the-california-drought-of-2015-a-preview/

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  13. The other personal wealth crutch that has been kicked out by a long drought is Home Equity. A long drought will be an economic negative. Inevitably demand for homes will decline. As the signs along the 5 Fwy in the Central valley say :"No water= No Jobs".
    Jobs will move to where the water is and maybe the drought regulations will be the tipping point for many businesses hampered by California's high cost of living, regulations and hostile attitude to entrepreneurs. Just the decline in land value will bankrupt speculative developments based on overpriced land bought in boom times.

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  14. Back to the issue of issuing fines...

    More than a couple of my neighbors have received warnings that they're using water inappropriately. I think the problem is their sprinklers are still set to water everyday instead of the 2 days that odd / even houses get each week.
    Regardless of all of our feelings about development in our city, we need to get serious about water conservation. The state is in a serious and likely prolonged drought. It is going to get worse.

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    1. Jeez, who are these people?

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  15. I guess those rich farmers in the central valley will have to stop watering their nuts!

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  16. Tree ring expert Stein was writing about this as early as 1994!

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  17. do the passionists water all that tax-free land of theirs?

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    1. The Passsionists should lose their tax-exempt status. They just want to make a profit from that land and that property has been subsidized for many years by the taxpayers.

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    2. Before they put up all the security fences and hired the security guys I used to walk up there with my kids. They allowed that land to lie fallow. The grasses dry up as the summer goes on, but that is how things happen in nature. It is quite beautiful to see.

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  18. Good thing we got connected to MWD, we'd really be up a creek without that secondary source of water.

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    1. Yes, where would we be without our piped in Mellow Yellow?

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  19. Alternatively we could have:
    1. Repaired the "Leakers" to reduce our City wide consumption by 30% -that is if you can believe Bruce Inman .Instead the money was squandered elsewhere.
    2. Started mandatory conservation earlier -but with a sensible scheme - not the Inaman/Aguilar fiasco
    3. Operated the Sluice Gate in a timely manner to spread water on the Spreading Grounds
    4. Made an example of the gross abusers of irrigation water -still they get a mere slap on the wrist.
    Then we would have had less mellow yellow

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