Throughout the discussion of Ordinance No. 1364 last night, John Harabdian and especially Gene Goss kept referring to people they had spoken with who opposed things like having to get a CUP for putting a new second story on a house. According to Gene there were a lot of these folks. Yet unlike the many people who showed up at this meeting to support what will now become an essential tool in stopping Arcadia-style mansionization here in Sierra Madre, Harabedian and Goss's allies were nowhere to be seen. Actually they have never been seen. Not even once.
Nor did they ever do things like send e-mails to the City Council, or make phone calls, or even let people know what their names are. Nothing like that. They're like ghosts.
Yet these were the very people whose point of view was being quite aggressively represented by both John Harabedian and Gene Goss. Which is funny, sort of. People complain about anonymous comment posting on this blog from time to time, but what about the opinions of anonymous people having that much influence at a City Council meeting? Kind of unprecedented.
So who exactly were Harabedian and Goss advocating for? You really have to wonder what it is these people have to hide. Why won't they show their faces in public? Are they fugitives from justice? Are these people even from this country? Do they represent large amounts of foreign capital?
Shouldn't the residents of this city have the right to know something like that?
At the end of this rather lengthy two meeting rhubarb John Harabedian won a very small victory, and at the last possible minute. He also bought himself a little more time. It took him an awful lot of talking to get even that. But it seemed like little more than a face saving exercise at best. This was a sad way for someone who had done a lot of good on the McMansion issue to end his year as Mayor. And to what purpose?
And, perhaps more importantly, for whom?
As was discussed last night, the Preserve Sierra Madre folks supplied the City Council with a packet of photos showing two story development has negatively impacted neighbors, robbing them of things like mountain views, sunshine and property value. Here are the addresses.
190 N. Lima
415 N. Lima
88 Vista Circle
55 Victoria Lane
65 Victoria Lane
565 W. Montecito
(481 Foothill ?)
540 Sierra Meadow
622 Valle Vista
561 Alta Vista
264 W. Grandview
460 East Grandview
Once again the residents of Sierra Madre won a big victory over Arcadia-style mansionization. But it was no easy thing this time. And given the mysterious and anonymous nature of the opposition to the Planning Commission's recommendations regarding changes to the Municipal Code, it was all just a little strange as well.
After that a new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem were chosen, and everyone went off to have cake.
Dear City Council,
I cannot attend the meeting tonight as I had originally planned, hence this late email.
I urge you all to support the Planning Commission Recommendations regarding changes to the Municipal Code without modification. The evidence, if you are of the legal variety, or the data if you are of a scientific bent, clearly support the recommendations. In summary:
· The Planning Commission deliberated for several months, took public testimony, incorporated testimony and information gleaned from the General Plan Update process and applied their collective experience in reviewing projects to formulate the changes.
· You, as a council, have taken public testimony that supports the recommendations. There is ample data available within the General Plan Update process to date, including the results of town hall forms attended by hundreds, yes hundreds of residents, an on-line/mail survey, and many months of public input at the General Plan Steering Committee meetings.
· The Preserve Sierra Madre Coalition has clearly articulated the rationale for the changes in public comment at City Council meetings and in numerous emails and letters directed to you; these communications summarize the positive aspects of the changes directed at “preserving” the character of our city by carefully managing land.
· The City Attorney explained the merits of the recommendations to you at your last council meeting.
The Planning Commission, the members of which trump the council’s land use expertise and longevity of experience, was deliberate and thorough. They considered many iterations and consequences that might occur as a result of the changes they were recommending, but always with a focus on the common good and the desires of the community to “preserve” its character within the confines of individual property rights.
To go outside of that based on personal opinion or opinions gleaned from a limited number of individuals in a more personal sphere is arrogant and inconsistent with your campaign promises and your obligation to your electorate.
It is always best to have a unanimous vote of the Council on matters of this import and the Mayor Pro Tem tried to get there. But to compromise the consensus of the citizens of Sierra Madre to get that vote is not in the best interest of the community.
This preservation effort is real and incipient. In addition to the projects already of concern, there are a number of large properties that have been held in families for many years that will be disposed to heirs in the next decade. These heirs may feel differently about or may not wish to live in Sierra Madre and these properties then are at risk of development.
Living in Sierra Madre has value and it may just come with the cost of following the rules.
Former Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray
The other statement had nothing to do with any of the above, and it involves a very different kind of development. Apparently in Sierra Madre you could be subjected to half a decade of legal harassment, and at a considerable expense to the taxpayer, if you dig yourself a really deep basement. Yet if you build something like those two awful (and quite unsold) buildings on Camillo Road, you will receive the full and complete cooperation of City Hall. And perhaps a couple of councilmembers as well.
Here is what Taryn Hildreth had to say last night:
As you are aware, we have been defending ourselves from the City initiated lawsuit claiming our property is a public nuisance for the past five (5) years, and the City will finally be required to prove their allegations against us when our trial finally begins.
We know that many of you have an interest in knowing what is going on with our case. I doubt anyone other than the City Manager has any idea of the true facts, or the excessive amount of money spent on the retaliation against us.
In a response to our Request for Public Records for invoices the City received from the Dapeer law firm related to the prosecution of our case, the City provided invoices dating from October 2010 to April 2013, which totaled over $282,000. The City failed to provide invoices beyond April 2013 and has not responded to our request for confirmation whether such invoices exist. Since I can’t imagine the Dapeer law firm working for free, I expect that the City has incurred at least another $280,000 to perpetuate this prosecution.
That does not include the upcoming trial that will most likely run another $100,000. Is it just me or do others agree that the $600,000 of taxpayer money could have been used in a more productive way?
For those of you, who have an interest in knowing more about our story, please go to: http://www.Sterlingoak.wordpress.com (link).
For those of you that have an interest in understanding how the current Public Nuisance laws are being misused, go to: http://www.PublicNuisanceSham.com (link).
The month of May will keep us busy with trial preparation; however, we are open to answering any questions and speaking with anyone who is interested in knowing the truth about our case.
At this time, we would like to thank all of you who have shown your ongoing love and support. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by many wonderful people and that has given us the strength to keep striving to expose the truth.
For others who may be interested in supporting us, we totally understand your fear of retaliation, so you may anonymously support us by going to: http://www.GoFundMe.com/Sterlingoak (link).
Thank you and we are looking forward to complete and total vindication.