Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Big Realtor Roundup @ the Passionist Monastery Corral

They're dandies alright, but can you win them with cheese?
Ever since that rather nervous developer known as "New Urban West" figured out just how rough and tough Sierra Madre and its recalcitrant residents can be, and then quickly hightailed it out of town just as fast as their fat little legs could take them, the once supposed eternal guardians of that happy swathe of blessed property known as the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center of Sierra Madre have been trying to figure out a way to hawk their holy lands. And without very much success.

Now I should probably talk once again about the people who would be profiting from such counterintuitive real estate dealings. Jerry Pearson from Arcadia is doing a lot of the heavy lifting right now. You may recall his purposeful little talks about the great benefits of development impact fees at various community input meetings last month.

Jerry's claim being that if the people here would just allow him and his pals to build a gross or so of mini-mansions at Mater Dolorosa, all of Sierra Madre's financial woes would be peacefully laid to rest.

Then there is that noted bon vivant, Burbank investment advisor Cameron Thornton. Cam, as he enjoys being known, has also bought into the so-called community saving aspects of packing bodacious bumper housing development onto monastery grounds.

All of which leads me to ask you this. Isn't it simply astonishing just how many people are eager to selflessly put aside their own personal interests and save us all from, well, bad things? All done because they care?

I can only assume that "Saving Sierra Madre" in this quite special context means preserving things like the financial advantages of the 12 platinum members of the Sierra Madre Police Department. All so they will be able to continue reaping upwards of $180,000 in paid compensation every year.

Or, to look at it in another way, just about enough money in one year to keep the Library open and fully staffed for the rest of this decade, and well into the next.

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You might also want to consider this. Why is it poor Father Michael Higgins been turned into a pitchman for the Mater Dolorosa development project? Not that members of the clergy shouldn't get involved in mere commerce every now and again. We all have our mandatory sessions with Caesar. But does everybody have to go into real estate eventually?

These are all just blasts from the past, of course. Today we have a whole new chapter in the always evolving divide and conquer strategies going down at Mater Dolorosa. That being to try and get the Realtors of Sierra Madre to sell out the interests of their own community. It certainly is not anything new, I do know that. But it is also something that has not been put to use here since the dark days of the Downtown Specific Plan.

Here is how Burbank Cam and Jerry Arcadia roll out their latest unfortunate effort:


Now I enjoy wine and cheese just as much as the next guy, but is the concept being peddled here entirely appropriate? How exactly can consecrated grounds ever be described as "vacant?"

When I was a young lad receiving religious instruction from the good Fathers, I was always told that monastery lands such as those we find at Mater Dolorosa are filled with God. Making them exceptional places. So isn't describing portions of their own monastery as "vacant" in effect denying the sacred in so great a project as a religious retreat center?

I myself would hope that this is still the case. I'd hate to think that instead every such thing now must be judged by its value to development interests and the nearsighted wishes of those real estate brokers who choose to serve only them.

But maybe that is just me.

Pasadena can't get anything right

For seven months now we have been told that Pasadena was making great strides with its investigations into the $6.4 million Wootengate Embezzlement Scandal, and that this stolen money would be found and returned to the people of that city.

Well, it might actually be that none of that is going to happen. This from the Los Angeles News Group family of papers:


I think that people now have to start asking questions like "Will this embezzlement investigation ever actually get done?" I have always felt that Pasadena City Hall participated in a carefully planned cover up from the get-go. One designed to shield the rather posh backsides of some of the richly compensated bureaucrats working there. Michael Beck being one of them.


Though, of course, it is always possible that these people are merely incompetent and can't handle this kind of pressure no matter how much you pay them.

You can read the rest of this not entirely surprising article by clicking here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

94 comments:

  1. Its funny that the first greedy developer, New Urban West, went away after realizing that they would be in for the fight of their lives if they tried to develop that sacred property that has somehow managed to remain intact since 1924. Yet even more agressive than the greedly developers are a bunch of Priests that want to see it sold to to fund their own retirements. With the present bumper crop of priests who care more about selling property and their own retirements than saving souls, is it any wonder why the Catholic Church has lost its way.

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    1. The Catholic Church is having alot of issues right now. I read an article about some parish that the Catholic Church is trying to sell and the people who have been attending that Church have been actually living inside it for years trying to stop the sale and the Catholic Church is trying to evict them. More recently, a convent in the hills of Los Angeles is up for sale and the nuns who live there don't want to see it sold to pop star Katy Perry because of the values she represents. They want to see it sold to a different buyer. The Catholic Church is suing to force the sale to Katy Perry because she will pay the most money. I really do think that the Catholic Church needs to find its moral compass again. Likewise, why are they so eager to sell off a huge portion of Mater Dolorosa? Why now? What's different about these Priests' retirements than from 20 or 30 years ago? I just don't understand what they are thinking over there. Its very sad actually when supposedly religious people care only about the money and monetize everything without any concern for the community or the neighbors or even their own flock who I'm sure don't want to see the property sold off.

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    2. Father Michael Higgens is now spending more time on development projects than on what Priests should be doing. God help us.

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    3. A Realtor of the Lord.

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    4. I might RSVP as a fake realtor - free wine and cheese

      might as well get something out of the church screwing over the community

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    5. There is something rather unseemly about Father Higgins being the ptichman for a real estate development. Is that all he is doing up there - trying to figure out how this massive housing project is going to be good for the community. Why also is Jerry Pearson so motivated to sell this land. It would be hard for me to muster the energy to push this project as hard as Jerry has been doing for the last five years? I'd like to know what is his motivation? At the end of the day, will Father Higgins, Jerry Pearson and Cam Thornton really feel good about themselves if they manage to succeed in destroying that sacred open space? I just don't get it.

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    6. The key is the institutional zoning. There is no way that the City Council as presently constituted is going to approve a down-zoning of the property for residential use particularly in this drought. Even Goss was against it when he was running for City Council. They also may have an issue with prescriptive easements that run all over the property from when there was no fence and gate around their property. I heard that some people who walked that area are getting a lawyer to try to establish their rights. They have five years from when the gate and all those signs saying "by permission only" were put up. If no body asserts their rights, then the claim for a prescriptive easement will be extinguished. That time has not run out yet, but its getting close.

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    7. The drought ain't over yet. Even if an El Nino comes, that's only a temporary solution. If we bring all those new users on line, we'll be in even worse shape. I for one am tightening my belt and using less water so that we have more water for developers to build massive housing projects.

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    8. As New Urban West came to realize, any developer would be wasting their time and money in pusuing a development project at Mater Dolorosa. Why would they want to enter the buzz saw of opposition they would encounter.

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    9. Someone should notify the Feds. Any project up there needs to provide low income housing. I'm not sure the developer is going to want to build a McMansion to meet low income housing. That alone should not make the project feasible.

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    10. I guess they need a spokesman for the project. What better person than someone wearing the white collar. In this case, its going to back-fire. A priest should be doing other things (except for certain things) or get out of the priesthood. Can you imagine St. Francis working to displace the wildlife in favor of a housing project. I don't think so.

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    11. I spoke to God - he doesn't like you eitherJuly 11, 2015 at 7:34 PM

      If this is the Church's idea of God's divine intervention for Sierra Madre

      makes me glad I'm agnostic

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    12. If God wanted houses at Mater Dolorosa He would have sent rain.

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    13. Why are only realtors invited? Do they hope they will sell out Sierra Madre? Why divide and conquer? Well, because developers know it works. They are trying to pick off people one by one. They try to meet with influencial people to line up their support. Then they go to the neighbors and say I'll give you some open space near your house in exchange for your support but screw over the other neighbors. That's the playbook.

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    14. I'd like to see someone secretly videotape the meeting or record it so that we can expose the sellouts.

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  2. Let's see which realtors decide to attend that meet and greet session to plot how to sell out Sierra Madre to the highest bidder. Someone should attend that meeting and let the good residents of Sierra Madre know the names of who all attends. Kind of good to know who has the best interests of Sierra Madre in mind. Those names should be published in the Tattler for all to see. On the other hand, while the Priests up there are clamoring for their "30 pieces of silver", it would also be nice to know that certain realtors do care about Sierra Madre and will not sully themselves by having anything to do with these machinations.

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    1. Didn't the Tattler break the news of some pro-development petition that was signed by Arcadia resident and Sierra Madre realtor Reni Rose which backed the two McMansion projects in the Highlands where now the Save the Highlands coaltion is now having to sue the City to stop those projects. In other words, Reni Rose voted with developers who want to turn the Highlands into what we see in the south part of Arcadia and against the residents who want to preserve the architcture and the character of their neighborhoods. It will be interesting to see which side Reni Rose decides to take with the Mater Dolorsoa project. By what she did in signing that petition against the residents of Arcadia where she is in fact a resident, its not hard to imagine what she will do in Sierra Madre where she merely has her money-making business. I suspect she will side witth the developers who can give her the biggest commissions.

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    2. Any realtors that attend that meeting should be black-balled. We know realtors are greeds and only care about their big fat commissions but this will be the last straw.

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    3. Reni is only looking after herself and making as much money as possible. She couldn't care less about what happens to the open space over there. She's your typical realtor which is why when I sell my house I'm going to sell it myself.

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    4. in today's world you really don't need a realtor for the amount of commission you are losing

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    5. I remember Judy Webb Martin being one of the only realtors who spoke up at a City Council meeting to support efforts against the mansionization in Sierra Madre. Let's see who else has the courage to do so also.

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    6. I remember Judy Webb Martin hosting a boiler plate plate call room against measure V because her and the pro development group wanted the town to look like Pasadena you will notice how much that decision hurt her business you don't see Webb Martin realty anymore !she does your deeds under the Podley umbrella so let's not sing grand dam Judy's praise. She is all about the money

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    7. You could fill whole pages with the names of pro-development people who claim they're against development.

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    8. Judy Webb Martin had the courage to speak up at public comment against what was happening in Arcadia at the risk of losing some developer clients. She was one of the only realtors to do so. I hope that came from her core beliefs and that she actually cares about Sierra Madre. On the other hand, Reni Rose signs a petition in support of the developers doing all their bad deeds in Arcadia. She didn't know that she was going to be outed by the Tattler for that.

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    9. Judy still needs to explain her position on the DSP. It has made it very hard to trust her.

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    10. Wasn't Clem Bartolai against Measure V and look what a staunch preservationist he has become. He even admits that was a huge mistake.

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    11. Clem has discussed his thoughts on the DSP with people. He has also admitted that in retrospect he was wrong. That took guts, and the respect he has won in the slow growth community is immense.

      Judy has chosen to say nothing.

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    12. please, Webb-Martin was completely silent when the One Carter was an option for her agency and herself to sell and represent

      this is all about Chinese realtors cutting out the other realtors and keeping the sales and listings within their own community

      and I don't know Reni Rose, but I certainly don't trust the position or vision of our city with commission sales reps

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    13. Reni Rose not only signed the Arcadia developer generated petition to convince the Arcadia City Council to go forward with the McMansions in the Highlands at the expense of the poor neighbors who would be adversely impacted by those 6,000 square foot monstrosities but she was also the realtor to the Browns who bought and later sold 126 E. Mira Monte. Remember "shame on you" Judy Brown. Reni sold them the house and probably told them how they could tear down that beautiful 1926 Craftsman home also known as the "Henry A. Darling House". I bet she or a surrogate is going to that meeting at Mater Dolorosa to try to convince them to turn that sacred land into a housing project so that she can get some listings.

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  3. If I was a real estate professional I would go and have as much cheese and wine as possible. Then, once that all runs out, I would tell them I am not interested and leave.

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    1. Do we know what kind of cheese it is? I'd hate to go only to discover they're only serving brie.

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    2. I say to heck with the developer's marketing meeting being only for realtors - if you have questions just show up - what is a church going to do?

      turn you away ?

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  4. The people who are selling the land are the Passionists in Chicago. Spearheading the local effort is Jerry Pearson from Arcadia and someone named Cam Thorton from Burbank. I guess they know what's best for Sierra Madre.

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  5. Anybody going? Be nice to get a copy of that presentation.

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    1. Somebody should take a clandestine videotape of all the realtors tripping over themselves in trying to exploit that property for their own benefit. That would be fun to watch. Another Tattler expose.

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    2. Jerry Pearson and Cam Thornton can only be motivated by greed. Why else would they want to see that land sold off?

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  6. Let some of our ethical realtor friends report back to us on the rot they will be presented. We need them inside to give us the scoop.

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    1. Perhaps a portion of the presentation will be about how to present this new partnership to the public? You know, like claim it is being done to save Sierra Madre?

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    2. Everything bad happening in this town is invariably described by the perpetrators as being done in the name of saving Sierra Madre. It is the biggest crock imaginable.

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    3. 8:02, you mean the one or two ethical realtors in the San Gabriel Valley.

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    4. There are many more than that. C'mon. There are bad apples of course, but there are doe good people as well.

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    5. Maybe the good Realtors could band together and try to save the land as open space. They would be heroes in this town. That may actually be good for business too.

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    6. I couldd never do business with any realtors who would damage this town for selfish personal gain.

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    7. I've been trying to think of the few good realtors but keep thinking off all the awful ones

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    8. I hope nobody shows up to that meeting no matter how good the wine and cheese are.

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  7. I expect the monastery to be hit by lightning someday soon.

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  8. So they are having a hoe-down and shing ding for the Realtors. That gives me an idea. Turn the property into rodeo grounds. In all seriousness, the folks at the Monastery are trying the old "divide and conquer" strategy. They have these little secret meetings (not so secret thanks to the Tattler) and try to pick off people one by one. This is what developers do. They buy you off. With the realtors, they hope to dangle some future commission opportunities in front of them to see who is willing to bite and sell out the town.

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    1. Oh come on! When have realtors been above hustler meetings? Both going to and putting on themselves. That's what they live for.

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    2. Like many people uncertain about themselves and what they do, they are easily flattered.

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    3. it's all about the Benjamin's

      praise God

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  9. What amazes me is that despite all the community opposition, despite the people who go to the retreat center who don't want to see that "excess" land sold off, despite the opposition of neighbors including the people on Sunnyside and wherever the other ingress/egress point is going to be carved out, despite the open space advocates and wildlife advocates from around the San Gabriel Valley - despite all that - the religioius folks want to press on and have what will undoubtedly become a very divisive fight. I could maybe understand if it was some greedy developer who owned the land. But for a religious organization to want to do this is hard to fathom. With all that has happened with he Priests and the Catholic Church, I would think they would want to mend fences, heal old wounds and create some good will for themselves. I guess the allure of the almighty dollar is just too much for them. What a shame.

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    1. That's it, 8:25. Well said.
      And who should know better about the love of money? Shame on them.

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    2. They seem to be chasing the "30 pieces of sliver". Didn't somebody do that a long time ago? Its a sad commentary on the times.

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    3. This is going to be a huge public relations disater for the retreat center if they succeed in ramming this project down our throats. It will create alot of ill will towards them. They should sell off the entire property to a buyer who wants to keep the property intact.

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    4. I don't think they care. They think everything is about them. The years of disruption in the NW corner of this town will be immense if they get what they want and this development is built. Why should so many have to suffer because they didn't save up for their retirement like everyone else did?

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    5. of course there were several homeowners up around this project that were anti-Measure V because it really didn't affect them directly

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    6. I remember at a City Council meeting not too long ago how the residents living along Sunnyside were concerned about the traffic to and from the retreat center. Can you imagine how its going to be for them when in addition to that traffic, you now add about 40 or 50 giant homes up with 3 or 4 cars each, all their visitors and god forbid if they have a party too. Sunnyside will have to be declared an interstate highway.

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  10. For those who want to join the effort to stop what will be one of the largest housing projects, Sierra Madre has seen in decades, email the people at Preserve Sierra Madre who will be leading the effort. Their email address is PreserveSierraMadreNow@gmail.com Get on their email list to know what's happening in this town.

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    1. Or/and visit the website @ http://www.preservesierramadre.com/

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    2. Spread the word about the free spread to all the neighbors

      The heck with the Passionate Fathers marketing shin dig - everybody show up or send a few spokespeople that are concerned about the development and take over the event with questions

      let the realtors know who attend that there greediness will cost them referrals and business from the rest of us

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    3. Would it be a good idea to hang up "Free Cheese & Wine" signs in town? Everybody likes cheese and wine.

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    4. great idea 10:50

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    5. I heard they're serving Mad Dog and Velveeta.

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  11. I guess that 4:00 weekday start time is to keep the working stiff homeowners out.

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  12. The "unused land" where God and his creatures dwell is zoned institutional we must be sure it remains properly zoned to avoid desecration by its guardians who are being used by the devil to destroy Gods' beauty.

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    1. They still have to get that zoning change. That could be the saving grace. That can only be done with the City Council's approval and all the city council members who ran in the most recent election including Goss opposed a project up at the monastery. Maybe Goss can spearhead the effort to save the land.

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    2. I think Goss has slipped his mental tether.

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    3. He is the SMPOA's special doggy.

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    4. I believe that the City Council will give approval to destroy the open space. Elaine needs the money for pensions and golden benefits. The two ladies will vote No. The "Wolf" Cappacia will be the key swing vote. We already know the he is a financial turn coat, Bucanan's best friend and does what Elaine tells him to do.
      It's all about the money for the city coffers.
      Local Homeowners better get ready for a lot of construction for the next few years and traffic for a life time.
      Good Luck!
      The City has already has made up it's mind, it's too late.
      It would be like saying that the 710 freeway won't be built. That one is a done deal Too!

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    5. Its not too late. The opposition can make life miserable for any developer. It won't be feasible to develop that project. Don't discount Goss. When he ran for office he said he used to live on Sierra Keys or whatever the street is called and his kids played on the Monastery grounds. He knows what that land means to Sierra Madre.

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    6. some ugly rumor got started that John Buchanan was going to run for Council again - he did nothing on the Council but try to railroad the residents with development projects which in turn benefits his employer, So Cal Edison.

      he'd do the same with the Monastery, he'd blubber it up and give us the shaft - awful Councilman he was and we don't need him still sticking his nose in the city business - he's got an agenda and it's always about him, his image or his employer

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    7. Max Tax Buchanan is going to run? Again? The lyingest SOB this town has ever seen? Damn.

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    8. Buchanan will have no chance after what he did to the City at One Carter. That's the "gift" that keeps on giving. He will have no chance.

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    9. Buchanan is a human resources lawyer for SoCal Edision, why is bothering us so much? What's his angle?

      I hope he will butt out of city business - as a resident yes he has a voice but he's meddling in policy and approving developments (as a Councilman) and all his decisions regardless of his reason benefited his employer and I lost all my trust in him when he tried to sell us the UUT and the methods and misinformation that was put out under his tenure.

      Now he has the ear of Goss, Harabedian and the other dude.

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  13. "Special Realtor Update." Good Lord.

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  14. Here's the institutional land "law" in the 1996 General Plan:

    L.36.3 Allow for the re-use of existing institutional properties as appropriate for the following:
    a. Relocation of large institution
    b. Retreat center, healing spa or other such uses operated by religious, non-profit or health organizations.
    c. Housing for institutional uses such as dormitories.
    d. Parkland, open space, and public recreation facilities.
    e. School.

    L36.4 Allow for the re-use of large institutional properties (over 20 acres), recognizing that such parcels in urban areas are unique and shall be considered eligible for future conversion to other uses including, but not limited to, public recreational facilities and low density housing, subject to appropriate regulatory and zoning processes.

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    1. Nothing there about packing in 60 or so near 4,000 square footers.

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    2. Sure, they may be "eligible". But every parcel is eligible to be re-zoned. But it still has to go through the approval process and I don't think the residents will stand for the City Council to vote in favor of it. I'd say it would be 5-0 against allowing the re-zoning.

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    3. 3:31, at least we have in our favor that SM developers are the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality and finances so they'll posture and threaten to sue us but in the end they are just bottom feeders

      the problem is when we elect those that help the developers out and push their projects against the will of the residents

      those that got us in all this mess, don't vote for who they support in elections - I'm not going to vote also for anybody endorse by Goss or Harabedian, two endorsed by Walsh, Buchanan, Moran and Doyle.

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  15. Message from Preserve Sierra Madre via email:

    Dear Supporters:
    Today's Sierra Madre Tattler reveals that Mater Dolorosa is now reaching out to local realtors to enlist their support in promoting the massive housing project proposed for the lower 20 acres of Monastery grounds. The link to that article can be found at:

    http://www.sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-big-realtor-roundup-passionist.html

    Mater Dolorosa representatives have also been attending the City budget meetings to promote the idea that this massive housing project that would eliminate the last large open space in Sierra Madre, displace the wildlife, significantly increase the traffic on Sunnyside and wherever the additional ingress/egress point is carved out, exacerbate the water crisis and generally increase pollution, traffic and congestion overall in Sierra Madre will somehow be in Sierra Madre's best interest.

    We hope the realtor community will support the wishes of Sierra Madre residents and others to preserve that open space and not eliminate it and preserve the village-like character of our town.

    Despite what the Passionist Order owners in Chicago and the local Board of Directors at Mater Dolorosa envision for the land, Preserve Sierra Madre believes their must be a better solution for that land than another unwanted housing project. We also believe that there is a win-win solution out there if only everyone is committed to that goal.

    A number of years ago, the Huntington Library in San Marino was facing some financial difficulties. If they had looked for the "quick buck", they could have sold off some of their "excess" land and made a lot of money. Instead, they had the vision and foresight to retain the land and now we can all enjoy the beautiful Chinese gardens. We hope that the leaders of Mater Dolorosa can rise to the occasion, be a good neighbor and work with the community for a better solution that will be good for all concerned.

    Thank you for your support.
    Steering Committee
    Preserve Sierra Madre

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    1. good luck with hoping straight commission salespeople will show restraint and character over a quick buck

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    2. just show up to the event - don't be disrespectful - just listen - don't shout - just eat the food, drink the wine, empty their liquor cabinet and walk home - laugh at the absurdity of their position as being a church that pays no taxes and wants to use city resources for it's own tax free benefit

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    3. if you don't this city manager will jump flips to help out local church developers, you must have forgotten how the Congregational Church did a major addition to it's old Church, right under the nose of City Hall, hammers, noise and then it's revealed that the Church never got permits, nobody from the city noticed the construction and permits were issued after the fact.

      try doing that as a resident

      it also helps when the Church has elders on past city councils or sitting planning commissioners

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  16. Preserve Sierra Madre is trying their best once again to protect this City. We need to all support their efforts. If people come to the City Council meetings and email their representatives the Monastery project will not be built. Its that simple. It all comes down to whether the residents of Sierra Madre and other supporters care more about preserving that open space than Mater Dolorosa and its chosen developer care about maximizing their profit. Whoever care more wins. Its really that simple.

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    1. It is that simple - but we also have to be willing to sue any treacherous councils, like the one of 2004.

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  17. I've got some nails and a hammer, when do we start building? As soon as possible I hope!!

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    1. Sorry dude, they got guys who do that for $3 an hour. Try McDonald's.

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    2. Bring your civility. Especially when you ask the 'fries' question.

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  18. I just want to point out to the loyal Tattler readers why we all read the Tattler. If the Tattler hadn't got the scoop about this solication to the realtors, that meeting would have been held in secret and we all would have been oblivious as Mater Dolorosa and the realtors plot to destroy the Sierra Madre will all know and love. Thank you Tattler for once again giving the residents vital information about issues that will affect Sierra Madre for generations.

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    1. that's why the residents within a couple blocks or the area should just crash the event just cause the church is being sort of whiny brats

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    3. Wasn't the land to the south of the Monastery at one time Monastery property? So the people against the development of the unused land at the Monastery had the homes they live in built on land that was open to the people south of them.....oh, I get it, I got mine, bunch of hypocrites if you ask me.............scrape it, rake it and stake it, let's go!!!

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    4. You have been saying this nonsense for years, 8:12. Yet nothing ever gets raked and staked. You must be extremely uninfluential.

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  19. The Passionate Fathers are gonna "make it rain"

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