Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Tattler Preview Of Sierra Madre's City Council Meeting

"That's it, I'm suing!" said a visibly upset Richie.
Tonight is different from all others this week because it is a City Council meeting night. And while about 90% of this community has no idea that so momentous an occasion is taking place, we the 10% (or so), highly aware and deeply concerned, are enrapt with anticipation. So let me bid you welcome to the Tattler Preview of the singular most important event of April so far. That being the first of two vibrant City Council meetings this month.

There are a few things on the menu that are rather crucial this evening. At least in my freely given opinion. The first being a meeting with the City Attorney, which sadly we are forbidden from attending. And that is a shame because it appears those mean stinkers from CETT are suing Sierra Madre. Which would not be big news in itself because who doesn't sue Sierra Madre? Even I tried that once, though I was only asking for $1. I didn't get it, either.

No, this lawsuit is a big for two reasons. The McMansions at One Carter issue is one, and the sheer volume of money at stake is the other. Here is how CETT's evil treachery was described in last week's always informative and oftentimes true City Manager Report.


They're totally daffy, of course. But I suspect the lawyers involved are telling the CETT people they're going to win and, being clueless outlanders and all, they are going for it. There is also the possibility that CETT intended to sue all along, and those bizarre shenanigans we witnessed in Council Chambers were just preliminaries for what they always believed would be the main event.

After that wraps up the City Council will step before the TV cameras and, once the rituals are completed and the blood of those sacrificed to honor the Gods mopped up, they will together delve into the Consent Calendar. Most of which will seem hideously boring to anyone still among the breathing, but there is one thing that needs to be noted. They will be spending over $1.2 million dollars tonight.

Apparently even though the city claims it is slipping into the red and needs to raise taxes every two years, they still have the potential for the odd million dollar spend every once in a while.

However, not to get too dramatic here, it is two previously discussed items that are driving so mighty a figure. One of which was funded by Measure R. Here they are:


The balance comes due someday.

The first of two main events on tonight's agenda is up next, and this one is of great importance to anyone hoping to stop the kinds of atrocious and predatory development exemplified by that pair of wincing warthogs on Camillo Road.

But rather than attempt to explain all of that myself, here is how the good folks at Preserve Sierra Madre described it in their Sunday e-mail.

Dear Supporters:
Some of you may remember that a month or so ago we congratulated the Planning Commission which, after extensive discussions and two public hearings, reached agreement on important changes to the R-1 single family zoning standards as found in Sierra Madre's Municipal Code. 
    
Those changes include such things as lowering the CUP (Conditional Use Permit) threshold, lowering the Floor Area Limits (how big a home you can build on a given sized lot) and making a CUP mandatory for all new 2-story homes or additions.  Preserve Sierra Madre attended all those meetings and wholeheartedly supports these changes.  You can find the entire Agenda Report for this issue linked here.

As the Agenda Report by staff noted, these changes were done  "… to encourage development that preserves the small town character of the community, to promote architectural diversity while maintaining neighborhood consistency, and to protect valley and mountain views of residential properties."

In order for these changes to take effect however, they must now be ratified by the City Council at their meeting on Tuesday, April 14th.   If you agree with these changes, we would urge you to email the City Council by hitting "reply all" to this email and briefly let them know your thoughts.  Of course, it's also effective to speak at the public comment portion of the meeting and tell the City Council in person. 

We might add that these are the kinds of improvements that not only preserve the Sierra Madre we all know and love, but save everyone a lot of time in having to battle projects that do the opposite.  Over-development is not the only challenge facing Sierra Madre in the future.  The more we can do to put reasonable rules and regulations in place that prohibit what we don't want, the more time can be spent on solving some of these other challenges.

Thank you for your support.
Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

Strongly reasoned and realistic stuff from the PSM folks. As always. Be there and do speak up.

The other item I would like to point out to you is this one:


As we all know, the voters of Sierra Madre let it be known two times that they want this City's utility taxes to sunset back to 6%. It now falls upon the City Council and its hired staff to somehow make that twice resident approved revenue reality work.

However, I am not completely sure they are up to it. Especially after Mayor Harabedian vowed in his State of the City address that he was planning to go out into the community and ask the residents what they want to do. Which is not what I'd call leading the charge.

It seems obvious that, having already voted twice to cut their utility taxes, the residents have made their wishes quite clear on this matter. Sunset the UUT and live within the resulting budget.

We'll have to wait and see if City Hall can handle that.

sierramadretattlet.blogspot.com

124 comments:

  1. Yes, its a pretty big meeting tonight. The Planning Commission did a great job on their recommendations. Let's all just hope that the City Council doesn't go sideways on things here. All the updates to the R-1 Code are reasonable and important.
    Regarding CETT, they will continuie their bluff unitl we blink. We can't blink. We will win this lawsuit so long as we stay the course and don't fall for their tactics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least we don't have to sit through another MacDonald performance...

      Delete
    2. Good point. I guess now that he is suing us he won't be strutting around council chambers anymore barking at people.

      Delete
    3. McDonald has to be one of the most obnoxious people ever to grace the City Council chambers. Now he's leading his clients down the path to bankruptcy. I just hope our City Council doesn't lose their nerve.

      Delete
    4. In the last couple of years Sierra Madre has become the city that fights back. I am proud of that.

      Delete
  2. That is the problem with process. It gives city governments the opportunity to drag things out for years without actually making any decisions. And once the public's backs are turned, they sell out to the developers. Community activism is no part time job.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The changes proposed for the code will be a good thing for the whole town, but I'm nervous that the council will be getting a lot of behind-the-scenes pressure from developers and their pals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree. All done in the name of being fair.

      Delete
    2. Anyone want to bet that architect Vandevelde will be there with a rehearsed chorus of builder types, to explain why we have plenty of rules in place already.

      Delete
    3. Vanderblabber appears to believe that the town exists only for the profit of himself and those he does business with.

      Delete
    4. 8:16 - time to get out the violins.

      Delete
    5. If Vandervelde does speak, he's one guy they need to hold to 3 minutes.

      Delete
  4. Mod, lol, "mean stinkers" is the best description yet of CETT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CETT's architect was very gifted at giving stink eye.

      Delete
    2. Yes, 11:18, wasn't she? Remarkably so. Architect Chang's stink eye and MacDonald's disgust - they make quite a team.

      Delete
    3. They were there to provoke a negative reaction, not work with Sierra Madre.

      Delete
  5. What's with the flexible $2 million? $30-$32 million - why not $29-$34?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How about 57 million?

      Delete
    2. With the floods, fires and dead bodies found there, that land is worth zero.

      Delete
    3. Can CETT argue ignorance, as in "We did not know that the development had problems."

      Delete
    4. A claim of ignorance would be very believable from CETT.

      Delete
  6. Interesting to figure out how we got in this law suit . And the other law suits - for example the vindictive suit against the Hildreths.
    Weak, poorly led City Council, closet petty political agendas, nefarious special-interests influencing the Council ? Having a pension greedy & often incompetent ( at best ! ) City Staff doesn't help.
    It could be so simple if the Council just acted and voted in the best interests of Sierra Madre. In future, I think my primary criteria for voting for a prospective council member would be if they had a stellar record serving with "Preserve Sierra Madre".

    ReplyDelete
  7. 8.18 "there with a rehearsed chorus of builder types, to explain why we have plenty of rules in place already"
    From the perspective of a long time homeowner in Sierra Madre, my experience is that there are way too many rules for modestly improving your home. If you are a 'Pro' you get special treatment and all the loopholes are known to you. If you want to do self-build ,they will obstruct you every inch of the way.That obstructive and selective approach (Danny Castro was the most egregious example) & hostility toward homeowners creates an awful situation of non-Permitted building.
    In San Diego it was very different - more of a collaborative - well ,let's see what we can figure out for you approach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is one of the big enduring mysteries of Sierra Madre. Why did the city go nuclear on a guy who dug himself a very big basement, yet gave a very quick and private ole' to the guys who built those two things on Camillo Road?

      Delete
    2. I think I'll just build a deck right over the sidewalk. Nothing to see here.

      Delete
    3. Not saying any of this was right. But it sure is a double standard.

      Delete
    4. Perhaps 8:50 is inferring he/d be better off in San Diego? I-5 South should do it.

      Delete
    5. I don't think that was the point. Sierra Madre could be improved by adopting some of the better policies used elsewhere. Even we can learn from others.

      Delete
    6. We shouldn't make it to difficult for homeowners unless of course, they want to build something or add something that screws over their neighbors.

      Delete
  8. because the camillo project tho ugly did not go against the code when it was approved

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It didn't appear to go against code, but because it was given a cursory over the counter city employee approval with absolutely no oversight whatsoever from any of the usual approving bodies - how will we ever really know?

      Delete
    2. Camillo was legit. A terrible thing to happen, especially considering what was there before, but it was legit at the time. Vadevelde argues that the code that allowed those things has already been fixed, so I guess it has, but I think we still need more. The barbarians are not just at the gate.

      Delete
    3. True. There are internal forces at work here as well. Speaking of which, anyone know why the completion of the General Plan was pushed back yet again?

      Delete
    4. Developers will always find a way to skirt the rules that's why things have to be tightened up further. The Planning Commission spent the time on all this and ended up making some good improvements. They need to be ratified by the City Council

      Delete
  9. What I resent is that City of Sierra Madre is suing Hildreth in our name. Among the construction community in Sierra Madre ,it is well known that this is just a City Staff vendetta against Hildreth. He had the temerity to point out that the City had turned a blind eye to projects similar to the one he wanted to build and questioned why they rejected his plans. Imagine - he had the temerity to question fickle abuse of their authority ! Particularly Inman who escalated the whole issue- why? because his fragile and precious ego was exposed.
    If he had just flattered and fawned on them ,it would have been different.And that fellow tax payers is why tens of thousands of your taxes are being wasted on this disgraceful victimization.
    It is intended to send a message to all Contractors and residents - bow to 'God' your City Staff and you may be spared. But challenge them and you will be ruined -at taxpayer expense.
    I have only spoken to Hildreth once and most of the time it was about his dog ! He is a decent and principled guy.I liked the dog too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just saw a water tanker drive by, Is Bruce going to flush into the tanker instead of to the Ocean?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would make too much sense. Flushing water down a storm sewer is just so much more dramatic.

      Delete
    2. It's Sierra Madre's version of Raging Waters.

      Delete
  11. Don't know if KGEM will work tonight....
    Please somebody post if you know the meeting has started.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Watching it on my computer. Seems to be OK.

      Delete
    2. John Capoccia is praying for enough money to fund public safety.

      Delete
    3. Capoccia's prayer rocked.

      Delete
    4. KGEM is working? We should all play the lottery.

      Delete
    5. You don't often hear a prayer for utility taxes.

      Delete
  12. I love the way this council has figured out that if they give reports, they should be brief. And having "no report" is great.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Shall we sing a chorus or two of "Pennies from heaven"?

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Hildreths are now fighting for a business license. She's sounding like she has learned a lot about lawyer speak.

    ReplyDelete
  15. God voted for a 6% UUT. He also controls the sunsets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was so much more said than that.

      Delete
  16. Regarding Mr. Inman's presentation, is it legal for the councilmen to ask questions or discuss the issue, when it hasn't been agendized? Are they going to allow for public comment?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was waiting to ask when my yellow water would run clear, but didn't get the opportunity. This was the most annoying, frustrating meeting I have been to - and I've been to many!

      Delete
  17. The ocean tides have turned and we the residents are discussed with the Actions of city council and city governance. These hired employees are fund by the city residence which are continuing to make costly mistakes and think that the city residents will continue to fund them. I completely disagree. We the residents need a smaller government and less lawsuits. The object is to take away city monies and let them face realty. The Cadillac salaries - health plans - death benefits and retirement plans needs to be reduced and get in line with reality. Our family and friends have made up our mind to repeal all taxes and franchise tax fees. Small government is better! GO HILDREATHS... Just think, the city of sierra madre could be suing you...

    ReplyDelete
  18. Goss is at it again So way off it's sickening.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Harbedian and Goss are proving tonight that they like to say they are for preservation - but actually implementing code modifications to help implement that? Not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goss is a mealy mouthed knucklehead.

      Delete
    2. I wish - he's fixing to do damage.

      Delete
  20. here we go... Goss is bringing up the elderly

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow. Goss is dragging Matt Bryant's name into his BS argument.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Goss said he didn't hear anything about why there should be a CUP for second story additions - he had to work very hard to not hear the many, many cases of people getting screwed out of their own property rights because somebody wanted to exercise their.
    He has not been listening.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Goss has a theory that preservationists are full of fear and ready to go all Hitler Youth on neighbors. What an idiot. Far worse than I thought.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Goss: "Free people do ugly and dangerous things sometimes and you've got to roll with the punches." WHAT?????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Idiotic quote of the night.

      Delete
    2. Goss must be talking about the useless daily testing of the fire horn.

      Delete
    3. Hey 7:26, email the new mayor re: your opinion of the horn: jcapoccia@cityofsierramadre.com

      Delete
  25. Thank you Rachelle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Worth more than your weight in gold councilwoman.

      Delete
  26. Thank God for Arizmendi - the threat is very real and what is going on in Arcadia could easily happen here.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I wish we could just make Delmar Mayor. For a decade.

    ReplyDelete
  28. OK. Harabedian is talking. Wait for it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Harabedian and Goss both have worked out straw man arguments for arguing against 2 story CUPs. Ya dunces, of course there are 2 story houses everywhere. That is NOT the point. Their brains are just too little to get it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Johnny Process is getting his slippery on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He truly is. And he's prepared to do it, too.
      I'm kind of glad this is happening - people who are new to the preservation movement will start to figure out the way pro-development happens. Say one thing, and do another.

      Delete
  31. Whoa Harabedian, why would second story Conditional Use Permits make neighbors enemies?
    Maybe because one neighbor wouldn't want it, and you don't want to hear about that person's property rights?

    ReplyDelete
  32. How long is this jerk going to talk?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Goodness gracious, Harabedian and Goss both are seeing a kind of hysteria instead of sober reflection about development. That is a frightening lack of leadership ability on their part - so yes, councilmen, you have now scared me.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Take the damn vote, would ya?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Damn, Capoccia is holding firm.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Well good, the pretense is over.
    If you oppose the mansionization of Sierra Madre, it's because you are paranoid and delusional.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Capoccia is doing a great job - now c'mon and bring it to a vote. Shut Goss and Harabedian out where the belong.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Goss is now patronizing Capoccia.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Oh so now Goss is talking about reasonable people have reasonable differences of opinion...what happened to the fearful idjits.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Good grief Gene. You are arguing for massive homes. What's the difference between 8000 and 6000 square feet? Seriously?

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have hit my limit....I'll have to rely on the Tattler to tell me what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  42. NONSENSE Harabedian. He is now quite clearly CLUELESS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what happens when he has a goal (do not pass these modifications) that he can't say outright.

      Delete
  43. I think Johnny wants him some big house in his future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it is the money the city gets for development impact fees. He is selling the city out for pension cash.

      Delete
  44. So Harabedian wants to do mailings out for the community to respond. - beyond the 4 meetings that have already happened. I figure that means the development lobbyists have told him they need more time, to get somebody besides Vandevelde to show up at a meeting.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Commissioner Freierman-Hunt 1, Harabedian 0.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Thank you Commissioner Gina!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Harabedian can really be a jerk when he wants to be. Richard McDonald has nothing on our Johnny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is a font of false arguments - no one is forbidden from developing by any of this.

      Delete
    2. He's lawyering. So who is his client?

      Delete
    3. Tap dancing like Mr. Bojangles.

      Delete
  48. Development impact fees. As always it is the money.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Gina, thank you for schooling Harabedian. He is woefully ignorant of the simplest environmental facts. Does he read newspapers? The New Yorker? He's talking as if he never graduated from high school, let alone a college. He actually thought to argue back with Gina and her explanation of thoughtful water-wise gardening? I'm at a loss...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whole-heartedly agree, 10:15.

      Delete
  50. Harabedian and Goss are making this a much longer and less effective meeting than it has to be. They are acting so dense that they are dragging the whole council with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is what a lawyer does. Now Johnny is trying to buy some extra time. I am disgusted with him.

      Delete
  51. Johnny has accomplished his mission - he just wanted to get rid of the second story protection for neighbors, and it looks like he will.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I wish Capoccia would go ahead and push this through with 3 votes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He did! With a big push from Arizmendi. A good change for Sierra Madre.

      Delete
  53. Harabedian habitually says "I understand". But he doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
  54. The planning commissioners are wasting their breath on Harbedian. He does not understand what they are saying.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Harabedian does not want to hear from you peons in the audience. He's "tolerated" applause but that's it, peons.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Yeah Capoccia!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Good for John go for it.

    ReplyDelete
  58. The council has made it clear that they do not care that residents come to the meetings. All you have to do is send an email. So if you make efforts to participate and be there, forget it - you have become irrelevant to this council.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Wow.
    Some sane adjustments to our codes to help slow down MacMansions. Got through by the skin of our teeth.

    ReplyDelete
  60. What an insult to all of the people who put up with going to meetings.

    ReplyDelete
  61. The opposition to preservation doesn't show up in person because they are cowards.

    ReplyDelete
  62. You've got to admire Capoccia for trying to come up with an alternative and when the two dolts still didn't understand, John struck to his principles.

    ReplyDelete
  63. How can cities even operate like this?

    ReplyDelete