Monday, May 11, 2015

Freedom Is Not About Trampling On The Rights Of Your Next Door Neighbors

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The big deal at tomorrow's City Council meeting is yet another crack at the same thing that was discussed at the previous couple of City Council meetings. Yes, it does seem like this one has been going on for a while. It would be one of two second readings of ORDINANCE No. 1364 AMENDING CHAPTER 17.20 “ONE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL ZONE” OF TITLE 17 OF THE SIERRA MADRE MUNICIPAL CODE. Sorry if it seems like I am shouting.

Here is how the increasingly popular folks at Preserve Sierra Madre describe what is at stake.

We also want to bring to your attention that an important City Council meeting will be held this Tuesday, May 12th at 6:30 pm.  We hope that the City Council will finally approve the changes to the R-1 Municipal Code as recommended by the Planning Commission particularly as it relates to the lowered CUP thresholds and the mandatory CUP for any 2-story new home or addition. 

We have had a majority of the City Council vote in favor of all of the CUP provisions on two occasions now.  However, because a slight change was made at the last meeting to increase the floor area limits, there has to be another vote on the entire package of improvements.  We hope that our City Council can now move swiftly to enact these provisions that are so critical to protecting our village in the foothills.

This all seems remarkably logical and clear to me. But just to make certain, I will also use someone else's carefully chosen words as well. Here is how one commenter described it yesterday.

The houses on both sides of us have added a second story to their properties. Both are well planned and well done. I have no objection to adding a second floor to houses. I do object to one that totally destroys the integrity of a neighbor's property. A CUP will make sure that our community does the right thing for property owners …

Freedom in matters such as these is a two-way street. There is the freedom someone has to enhance the desirability of his/her home by adding some new stuff, and then there is the freedom of that person's neighbor to protect what he/she thinks is just fine about the way things are already. This is only fair.

I don't see how anyone would have a problem with this. And if you do, you can always take it to Sierra Madre's Court of Appeals in matters such as these, the Planning Commission.

They even look like judges at times. Stern and all. All they really need are wooden hammers.

However, there is a new kind of thought that has been making the rounds in town. Well, it isn't exactly new. Maybe it is more like a zombie that, after years of a-moldering in the cold dark earth, has decided it is time to take a spring hike and see what's up with you all.

These are anonymous zombies, too. None of them seem to want use their names, at least in public. I personally don't have a problem with that. At The Tattler anonymity is a sacred trust, and we are all about that. However, it does bug me that these guys are now borrowing a piece of our shtick.

One of these mysterious fellows calls himself The Watchman of Sierra Madre. He often writes choleric letters to the Sierra Madre Weekly, a paper that enjoys printing all kinds of opinion. Even eccentric opinion. As do we.

The Watchman has a rather unyielding one-sided take on this "freedom to build" issue, however. I mention it because this opinion seems to have gained some traction in town lately. Even a couple of City Councilmen appear to have bought into it, much to the surprise of this community's more thoughtful residents.

Here is a fairly recent missive from The Watchman of Sierra Madre titled "How Absurd Can Things Get?

As one watches and listened to the things that take place at the Sierra Madre City Council, and Planning Commission, only one conclusion has to be made – “How absurd can things get?” The people that speak and the government officials have only one thing in mind and that is to put up as many restrictions and costs they can put on the property owner in the City.

The talk about not counting portions of a lot that is on a slope. If this were to be the case, there are 50% or more of the homes in the Canyon Area that would have to be torn down. They talk about reducing the percentage of area of a lot in an effort to control and restrict the size of the home that can be built. They also do this to restrict the building of a second story to a home. Question – “Do they want to do this?”

They already have a volume of regulations that are preexisting and is such a size that takes weeks to read and digest and we certainly do not need to add anything else. If they want to compare what other cities have done, then they would find that the average size of a City lot is 50 x 100 feet or 5,000 sq. ft. and more than 50% lot coverage is allowed. This is the only City that requires a Conditional Use Permit. Why, oh why do we have or need all these restrictions to the use of property. If a lot is more than 5,000 sq. ft, then make the zoning R-2 or R-3, which would allow more homes on larger lots and would eliminate the necessity of lot splits.

People came to live in Sierra Madre because it had the freedom from big government and the local government was always helpful and didn’t charge a fee on everything that they touched. What has happened to that spirit? Why doesn’t the Government restrict themselves? The way things are going, it is going from bad to worse. Are they trying to kill this town by making things impossible to live with? How soon will it be when a person has to raise their hand for permission to go to the bathroom?

All of which is to my point. In the eyes of The Watchman, along with that mysterious host of freedom phantoms, the rights are all on the side of the person who wants to build. And therefore they should be allowed to build whatever they want without any regard to the hopes and desires of whoever happens to be unfortunate enough to live next door. No matter what the consequences might be to the non-building party.

Which is not necessarily a good thing. Existing homeowners have rights, too.

I suspect that the real issue here for these folks (outside of cash money, of course), is they have now been forced to actually consider the rights of others. Something that makes them feel unhappy and put upon.

It also means that they are going to have to talk to their neighbors and face the real possibility that perhaps those persons might not particularly like what it is they want to do. And could even decide to stand up for their own rights.

Rights that apparently some would now like to take away. And do so in the name of freedom.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. So how many new approvals have snuck through since Harabedian and Goss started tripping?

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    1. That will be an interesting thing to see as time goes by...just what is built because of approvals garnered now.

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    2. There is a regrettable lag between good changes and their implementation.
      Any developer is well aware of it and plans accordingly.
      The majority of residents may not follow city business, but those in the realty/development industry are all over it.

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    3. It's the money. Sierra Madre is a rich mother lode of commisions. If only the damn residents would shut up.

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  2. It would be interesting to have anyone who had a construction project ruin there homes view show up at council. I have shown up and spoke and it was like spitting into the wind, council could have cared less. It was like, ok, let him talk then it was next. Later on it was project approved. Nothing has changed except at that time I was threatened with, we could build 112 apartments and you wouldn't like that now would you, that was directly from the mouth of the contractor. In the end there were so many code violations going on it was obvious who's side the city was on. Not the tax paying resident that was for sure.

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    1. We had the same experience. Finally things improved somewhat when I hired a lawyer. It wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be, and it did give us some protection. Unfortunately that's my advice to anyone who expects to get help from city hall.

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  3. We had a problem with new house plans next door and went to a PC meeting and a CC meeting to voice concerns, they both said think you for coming up. We wont bother again and they know it works that way.

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  4. Come on 7:08 and 7:44 - this town is worth fighting for and this is the best Planning Commission and best City Council we've had in a long time. They do listen, and if you don't show up when it affects you directly, the developers will get their way, especially with the new Director of Development Services (or whatever he is euphamistically called now).

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    1. People sometimes get down at the mouth on Monday mornings.

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    2. Blue Monday.

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    3. 8:38, it's very hard to continue going and speaking up and seeing nothing change.
      I'll agree that this council is better, but so far it's just in a holding pattern. When the new attitude of preservation got more real, as in the codes, what happened? Harabedian started working like it was his future macmansion that was a little less easy to build, and Goss went wacky and paranoid himself.

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    4. Anyone notice how the new Director did at the first Planning Commission meeting he attended?

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    5. No. What did he do?

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    6. I heard there were only a few residents there. Must have been a nice night for him, stress-wise.

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    7. 11:11, this guy is an expert in PR.
      He's not gonna have any stress from residents.
      He'll just play them.

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    8. He is a redevelopment planner who also did PR work for Metro. Spinning BS is what he does.

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  5. My take is that the Watchman and the mysterious phantom protesters is the same person with a vested interest in what building codes are changed - or not changed. Someone that owns several pieces of property in town? Someone like the all caps guy. Yep, one and the same.

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    1. ALL CAPS has a different writing style.

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    2. The anti-tax 'group' is like the slow growth 'group' - all kinds of people with all kinds of political persuasions.

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    3. The more you know about Sierra Madre the more you realize what an ideologically diverse and idiosyncratic bunch we are. It is one of the things that makes the place interesting.

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    4. Thanks for a great laugh 11:07

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    5. I think the Watchman is John Govorchin of E Orange Grove fame. Wonder who is typing his posts, I don't think he uses a computer.

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    6. Maybe he just yells at his typist.

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    7. The propitty owners! The propitty owners!

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    8. Tiered rates are just another way to screw the consumer!

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    9. They aren't?

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  6. What I object to the most in all this is summed up nicely by the Mod. In the name of freedom, take away your neighbors' property rights.
    Damn, it's pure double think.

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    1. Yes it is 10:21. Argue for your own rights as supreme? Crazy.

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    2. Watchman Uber Alles.

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    3. Orwell:
      To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink.'

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    4. Who would have ever thought that George Orwell was actually writing about the state of city and regional govts in the San Gabriel Valley. How did he know?

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  7. There are people for whom the phrase "The common good" is a sure indication of the left wing wacko commie you know whats.
    Promoting the "general welfare" on the other hand is founding fathers' verbiage and met with approval.

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    1. I think of the Build-em-big movement as a public health issue, so what do we do for the common good when it's a disease?

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  8. The watchman just doesn't get it. He thinks people are against big houses, not getting that some of the people who are working for the preservation of our town live in big houses! It's not the size of the home by itself; it's the size of the home compared to the size of the land it's on, and the impact on neighbors. I think people like the watchman are just deaf. They only hear their own thoughts, undisturbed by what anyone else says.

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    1. People like the Watchman only think in extreme and broad terms - very simple minded.

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    2. Trampling the rights of your neighbors is not freedom, it is tyranny. These people are idiots.

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    3. It's a very strange coupling - the raw aggression of some of those in the development profession and the claim to ideological purity. Huh.

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    4. Maybe he's compensating for something. Guilt maybe.

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    5. Size matters.

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    6. When discussing home design it is an inverse ratio.

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    7. The intended house is on a slope. The plans meet all the requirements. However, if they don't grade the lot to ground level, this house will be a monster. Many of the newer houses are built this way so they get a view.

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  9. Just saw the plans for 1145 Grandview. Another Camillo on it's way. Thanks Danny. The best reason for not allowing the head of Planning Development pass a house on their own. One reason why a review committee would be good.

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    1. Was it Danny or Mr. Redevelopment?

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    2. Probably neither - it is under the need for any scrutiny, so "staff" handles everything, right?

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    3. Staff handles what they are told to handle. And how to handle it as well.

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    4. 11:45 what dies the second story roofline look like?

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    5. Depends on the quality of the materials used.

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  10. Thow shalt attend thy city council meeting on the morrow and place a curse upon the ones who shalt not pass thy ordinance 1364.
    THE PROTECTOR

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  11. A jazz cat has got to hear jazz - The Village Vanguard.

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  12. Bill ShakespeareMay 11, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    Get Thee to yonder Council meeting!

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  13. 851 post
    I believe that the watchman and the all caps guys are not one of the same.
    but, one thing is certain, this city has major issues and is being led down the road to bankruptcy by our city servants!

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  14. Nobody has said "Dirts in a day or so? So yes Dirt's,dirts, dirt's, dirts' dirts. Thank You

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  15. Is true, the Dirt's are still at work. For those who don't know who the dirt's are does anyone still have the list? Yes, the Dirt's are alive and well, well like excited by the work of their 2 councilmen speaking in their behalf, Harabedian and Goss. Those who have watched over the years know them when we hear or see them.

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  16. Your storyline is the exact motivation behind my pseudonym ...

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