|Nancy never did take out the General Plan - link|
This was, when you consider what has become of our neighbors in Arcadia, a pretty good call. A General Plan Update Committee was formed, concerned slow growthers appointed to it, and all seemed to be well. At least until disaster struck. In 2010 the City Council was taken over by people who were the pronounced enemies of maintaining Sierra Madre's low density small town character, and had no desire whatsoever to include anything like what MaryAnn wanted in any General Plan, updated or not. The project looked like it was doomed.
So adamant were those on the City Council at that time to defeat MaryAnn's efforts they even tried to stack the deck by forcing what they mistakenly thought were their people onto the General Plan Update Committee. Only to later see them cross over to the other side and become nearly indistinguishable from the dedicated slow growthers they were supposed to be opposing.
The power of good ideas won out.
And then, of course, there was Nancy Walsh's infamous speech. Something that I have long thought was a major turning point in this community's struggle to win its new General Plan. I posted a link to it here again today just for old time's sake. I believe it is a remarkable piece of Sierra Madre history.
Ironically, that speech probably saved the General Plan Update Committee and their project. Because after Nancy's utterly bizarre and unfounded attacks upon that Committee and its remarkable Chair, Denise Delmar, nobody dared to oppose them. To do so would mean being on the same side as Nancy Walsh. Something not considered a good look.
All ancient history now, of course. And with last night's unanimous City Council approval of the General Plan that never was "taken out," it really is possible to see just how this town has changed over the course of the last six years. It certainly has become a much more civilized and thoughtful place.
Today it is hard to even believe that some of the wacky stuff that went down around 2011 ever actually occurred.
Special congratulations have to go out to now Councilmember Denise Delmar for not only holding everything together back during some pretty dark days, but also bringing together a diverse coalition of very smart Sierra Madre residents. In the process achieving some pretty remarkable things, and against truly daunting odds.
One Last Gasp
Showing up at the public comment podium during last night's final discussion of the General Plan were Father Michael Higgins and Jerry Pearson. Two gentlemen that were hoping to sneak in some special advantages for themselves and their erstwhile bumping big housing project on the grounds of the Mater Dolorosa Monastery.
It all goes like this. The 1996 General Plan had some very bad language in it about institutional zoning. Anyone can apply for a zoning change of course, but the 1996 General Plan for institutional zoning said that those landowners are "eligible" and "allowed" to down-zone their property to a number of different uses including "low-density" housing. While this didn't guarantee that they would be successful, it did open the door for them to attempt it. None of the other zoning categories opens the door quite as wide as that.
Mater Dolorosa's two worthies tried to argue that it was somehow secretly taken out and they never had the opportunity to properly protest. A conspiracy theory, I guess.The fact is, they were asleep at the wheel during some of the critical meetings where this was quite publicly discussed. You can bet they knew the importance of keeping that language in there because it takes away the discretion of the City Council to deny what would possibly be the largest housing project Sierra Madre has seen in decades.
That's why they sent their A Team. Father Higgins to tug on folks' heart strings, while Jerry "Arcadia" Pearson went in for the kill. And no, it was not a pretty picture.
Personally I think it is rather sad to see a Priest being used to peddle a specious real estate development deal. Should Father Higgins be spending his time on such things, especially given all of the problems currently facing the Catholic Church? There are many far more important things for him to do.
As one resident pointed out, of all the parcels in Sierra Madre, the institutional land owners are the ones that own over 20 acres, and can therefore have the most impact on this city. You want City Hall to hang on to its discretion over those kinds of parcels, especially when it comes to zoning.
Fortunately Higgins and Pearson and their claims were given short shrift, and the General Plan went through unscathed by what was basically a cooked up and desperate last minute appeal by a special interest.
Not a good evening for Bruce Inman
Bruce Inman was finally called out by a couple of members of the City Council over the town's endless yellow water problems. John Harabedian questioned him closely on this water quality issue, and raised a point that we have discussed here at The Tattler on several occasions. That being Sierra Madre's severe water quality woes are a warm weather phenomenon, and again the city was not prepared.
Here is how we described this here last March:
Last night, when Bruce Inman once again told the City Council he hadn't been hearing any complaints about water quality from the residents, he got a very different reaction from the dais. They let Bruce know that they have been hearing complaints, and wondered why nobody was talking to him about it.
The answer is obvious. The community believes that Bruce is no longer important to this process, or capable of getting anything done. Something the City Council now appears to understand as well.
Nothing Bruce has tried seems to have worked. Despite all of the money that was spent on consultants and materials. And now he has been reduced to standing before the City Council and claiming that because he hasn't heard any complaints, the problem is no longer there.
Something nobody believes. It might be out of sight for him, but it is certainly on a lot of peoples' minds.