Monday, July 27, 2015

Did John Vandevelde Disqualify Himself For A Planning Commission Seat With This Speech?

A small portion of John's lengthy stemwinder. Link to video here.

Tuesday evening the City Council will vote to seat two new Planning Commission members. Since this particular commission had to make some very important decisions recently regarding unwanted and predatory mansionization in this town, and in the face of some pretty stiff pressures from the people who stand to profit greatly from their construction, this decision becomes one of the most important the City Council will be required to make in quite some time.

John Vandevelde went to the public comment podium at the critical January 27 City Council meeting and spoke in vigorous opposition to the Demolition Moratorium that all five City Council members later went on to approve. He also discussed the further changes being contemplated for the R-1 Zoning Codes. He was strongly opposed to those as well. Something that 3 out of the 5 City Council members also voted to put in place.

Vandevelde even managed to try the patience of the always accommodating then Mayor John Harabedian by refusing his request to wrap his marathon public comment up after going way past what had already been a generously extended amount of time. Probably the nearest thing to a filibuster this city has seen in quite a while.

The Planning Commission's job is to implement things like the General Plan and Municipal Code. Would architect John Vandevelde be the best person to do that sort of work when he has previously spoken out in opposition to everything the current Planning Commission and City Council voted for and enacted?

Things designed to keep Sierra Madre safe from the threat of mansionization?

If you listen to his remarks here, John says at the beginning that he had been an architect for 20 years. Something that people watching this video might assume would make him an unbiased expert. What John did not reveal is what his business stake in all of this might be. The rumor being he was the architect employed by the Brown family to design the large and generic house that was to replace what many here think of as a community heirloom. Plus configure what would have been a very controversial lot split.

That being the 1907 Craftsman home known as the Henry A. Darling House, located at 126 E. Mira Monte.


This perceived conflict of interest is not without relevance given that one of the main reasons the City Council voted on an Emergency Demolition Ordinance was to prevent places like the Henry A. Darling Home from being turned into a pile of rubble. Then replaced by a far larger and common looking home, and on a split lot. The architectural design is pictured below.


Given the popularity here of preserving Sierra Madre's architectural heritage, as represented by the City Council's repeated accommodation of measures designed to do just that, does it really make sense to place someone on the Planning Commission that advocated so fiercely against just those very things?

Do we really need to take that kind of radical step backwards?

Here is a portion of the Staff Report for the selection of two new members for the Planning Commission.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

75 comments:

  1. John Vandevelde is an architect who specializes in building single family homes in Sierra Madre. If people stopped building McMansions, he'd be out of business. Judging by that video, he was opposed to all the good improvements made by the Planning Commission and City Council to protect Sierra Madre. How possibly could he be an impartial arbiter to carry out those very same provisions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We need balance on the City Council and that balance should not just include so-called "experts". Sure, you want some people with some professional expertise, but you also need ordinary citizens with old-fashioned commonsense who may have their finger on the pulse of the community better than the expert has. Sierra Madre and indeed the present Planning Commission and City have spoken loud and clear that they want to preserve this town from over-development. At least one member running for the Plannng Commission did not think the moratorium, the improvements to the R-1 Zoning codes were even necessary.

      Delete
    2. True. Too often the so-called experts are people with financial interests in Planning Commission outcomes.

      Delete
    3. One important point needs to be made when you watch the excerpt from Vandewelde's comments at the January 27, 2015 City Council Meeting. He says at one point that the "new" R-1 codes were sufficient to prevent McMansions. It is very important to understand that he made those comments before the Planning Commission made all those further recommendations to the R-1 Codes to the City Council that were later approved by a majority of the City Council. In other words, he felt that the protections in the current R-1 codes were sufficient to protect against mansionization. Lucky for us, the present Planning Commission and City City Council felt otherwise and enacted significant further protections in light of what was happening in Arcadia and elsewhere.

      Delete
    4. I agree 7:36. If you have the Planning Commission stacked with too many architects, developers or contractors, you just have too many potential conflicts. Look that is their chosen profession. Of course they tend to lean towards developers. We've come to far to take a step back now. The Planning Commission has the potential to get cities into lawsuits. Sure the City Council can overrule them. But it sure looks good to the lawyers for the Plaintiffs suing the city to argue that the "experts" agreed with us.

      Delete
    5. Think about this. You are a resident of Sierra Madre and an out-of-town developer just tore down a house next door to your 1-story home and is going to build a 2-story house the size of an aircraft carrier that, if built, will destroy your views, light, privacy and result in lowering the value of the home you have lived in for the last 40 years. But thankfully under the new R-1 rules recommended by the present Planning Commission and passed by a majority of the City Council (but opposed by Mr. Vandewelde), the developer is required to do a CUP and notify the neighbors so that they can have the opportunity to tell the Planning Commission all the ill-effects of allowing the developer to build such a home. Based on that video and other comments, do you really want John Vandewelde on the Planning Commission helping to determine the outcome?

      Delete
    6. What Anthony Kennedy is to the Supreme Court, John Capoccia is to the Sierra Madre City Council. He will cast the deciding vote and I sure hope he does the right thing here.

      Delete
    7. You would never see Vandewelde do what Desai did when Desai stood up at the podium at the City Council meeting and deflected the onslaught coming from Harabedian and Goss who were opposed to some of the Planning Commission's recommendations to further improve the R-1 Zoning Codes. Desai and Gina were heroes for what they did.

      Delete
  2. Is a lawyer going to be opposed to lowing legal fees or putting a cap on legal judgments? Of course they are. Is an architect who makes his living building single family homes going to be opposed to restriction on development. Most are but not all. Chairman Desai is an architect and yet was very willing to support rules that preserve this town. But Vandeweldt is opposed to all those measures. Why in the world would he be selected to be on the Planning Commission.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sure sounds like he was attempting to change city policy for the benefit of a client. Not sure that is what we need on the Planning Commission right now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. leslee Hinton and John Hutt, who are also applicants for the planning commission, served on the general plan steering committee and I believe are eminently qualified to serve on the planning commission

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John Hutt is a developer although a reasonable one and while he is in favor of development, he also wants to make it consistent with preserving the look and feel of Sierra Madre. If you want to compromise candidate for the more developer friendly Harabedian and Goss, John Hutt should be selected. The guy's also a genius. If you want to throw a more staunchly preservationist candidate town all the people more included toward that viewpoint, it seems to me that Leslee Hinton or Barry Gold should be selected as the other candidate. That Blain guy I understand to be an architect and don't know anything about him.

      Delete
    2. The 2 people who worked so hard for our General Plan....worked for years in spite of vicious comments by past city council member Nancy Walsh. .......should be appointed to the PC.
      Leslee Hinton and John Hutt. They are good enough to apply after all those tough years on the General Plan Committee. They should be strongly considered by all members of the Council.

      Delete
    3. John Hutt is the smartest guy on the planet when it comes to these issues. I trust him to be reasonable voice in regards to development in this city. Through all Leslee's work in the General Plan and elsewhere, she is a citizen-expert who I would also trust to guide Sierra Madre into the future.

      Delete
    4. I'm sure John Vandewelde is a good guy. He's just not the best person to safeguard and implement all the good things that the City Council and Planning Commission have put in place to protect our village.

      Delete
    5. Capoccia is a wild-card. It comes down to his vote and I have to believe that he would not for for someone like Vandewelde.

      Delete
    6. My feeling is anybody but Vandewelde.

      Delete
    7. I don't know anything about Blain at all. He is an architect and maybe very pro-development but I don't know. But why take a chance when you have known quantities like John Hutt, Barry Gold and Leslee Hinton.

      Delete
  5. There is no way the City Council would select someone who opposed everything that the majority of the City Council adopted and often unanimously adopted. Because our City Council didn't listen to John Vandewelde, the house at 126 E. Mira Monte was sold to a family that intends to preserve it. Vandewelde put his architectural fees ahead of saving that 1907 Craftsman home. That's what we don't need on the Planning Commission right now. Too much good has been accomplished to take a step back now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. This is hardly the time to put someone on the Planning Commission whose personal agenda is more in line with community destruction than preservation.

      Delete
    2. While Goss and Harabedian have done some good things, it wouldn't surprise me if they included Vandewelde as one of their choices. It would surprise me if Delmar and Arizmendi did. Delmar and Arizmendi are too smart to select someone who opposes everything they were in favor of. That leaves Mayor Capoccia to break the tie. That's how I see it. But Mayor Capoccia voted the same way on all these issues as did Delmar and Arizmendi. So hopefully, Mayor Capoccia will select candidates who will not undue all that he has supported.

      Delete
    3. Yep. We don't need his type of "expertise"for his own profit.
      That's what's destroying the world's economy.

      Delete
    4. How come Harabedian's buddy, Dave Loera didn't apply again?

      Delete
    5. Maybe Harabedian and Goss will surprise people with their selection. Afterall, alot of the good stuff that was passed was supported by them also. I don't think they have a vested interest in seeing over-development.

      Delete
    6. The Brown house was done by Vandewelde. His name is on the plans.

      Delete
    7. Harabedian and Goss have to understand that those that supported them politically and continue to bend their ear were some of the worst Councilmembers we've ever had. Trust us, John Buchanan doesn't have much respect in town other than being a resident. He used us as a SoCal Edision employee and Joe Mosca did the same for his utility company employer.

      Delete
  6. Does anyone know for sure if Vandewelde was the architect for the Brown family for 126 E. Mira Monte? If he was, he should be disqualified from serving on the Planning Commission. If you go to the Sierra Madre city website and watch his entire speech as I did, you will see that in the beginning he talks about his credentials and how he is speaking as a citizen of Sierra Madre, a 20-year architect and as a former member of the Planning Commission. So he puts himself forward to the people in the audience, the people watching at home and even the City Council as a neutral expert. If it is true that he conveniently left out of his introduction that he is also speaking as the architect hired by the Brown family and as an advocate for tearing down that 1907 Craftsman, that would be an extraordinary omission to conceal that from a City Council that was about to vote on a very significant demolition ordinance to protect historically significant homes from the wrecking ball. If he was indeed the architect for the Brown family, he should withdraw his name from consideration immediately.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! !!
      Good find 7:30 am

      Delete
    2. Sure walks and quacks like a conflict of interest.

      Delete
    3. Is it confirmed that Vandewelde was employed by the Brown family as the architect for the new house slated to replace 126 E. Mira Monte after it was bulldozed? I really want to know that because not to disclose that to the City Council and everyone else would really be reprehensible.

      Delete
    4. yeah, same dude. how much cow methane can we handle? he's got a lung full.

      Delete
  7. As I recall, the first time I saw him go before the Planning Commission after he was termed out of the PC, he was lobbying for a Conditional Use Permit to build a McMansion on Rancho, which he was granted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet if someone had the time to research the homes that he has designed, you'd see a guy right in the middle of the whole McMansion fever that has caused so much opposition.

      Delete
    2. This should DQ him. We had enough of this guy....pass.

      Delete
    3. The old slash and burn development tactics aided and abetted by City Councils and Planning Commissions is over. People are starting to realize that it affects their quality of life. People are simply sick of it now. Let Vandewelde continue his architectural process and try to keep building the big homes that no one wants any more except in Arcadia.

      Delete
  8. Having watched years of Planning Commission meeting ever since the passage of Measure V, you get to know who is for preservation and who is out for themselves. Mr Vandewelde always took the approach to limit any policy that would cut down building to the max. No matter what the consequences. The same was true of Mr Posner, glad he was as termed out. City council needs to put a voice of common sense on this commission. Mr Vandewelde is not that voice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is how cities get into lawsuits - when you don't put people in place who support the views of the community or who have conflicts of interest and hope to cash in from their service.

      Delete
    2. 8:28 Pevsner, not Posner, and you're right. They were the build-em-big twins. If someone was slow-growth, Pevsner and Vandevelde called them racist. Yep.

      Delete
    3. Pevsner and Vandervelt never bet a big building they did not like.

      Delete
    4. Why in the world would we want to go back to that? It would be akin to bringing back Nancy Walsh for a swan song.

      Delete
    5. exactly 11:44, he's a male Nancy Walsh - frivolous banter -

      Delete
  9. Vendewelde an Architect ? He is a developmentally handicapped doodler. He knows one shape - a rectangle.Most 4 year-olds have a more impressive shape-portfolio

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the Tattler. You don't have to hold back, 8:59 AM.

      Delete
    2. So, 9:34AM, I am tired of people like you who get their facts all messed up. Did you really believe that many of us already knew that Mr. Hutt had nothing to do with that project? I think you owe him an apology. I see that you haven't done so yet! John Hutt is a genius. All you need is one conversation with him to know that he listens, he offers sound advice, he loves this city, he is reasonable, willing to compromise and just an all around good guy. Do your research before you start making brash comments about someone you obviously know nothing about!

      Delete
    3. genius is as genius does

      yup

      Delete
  10. I get a little tired of tattlers saying John Hutt is a "genius ". Look at the genius job he did building on the corner of Baldwin and Alegria. One house gone 4 cramed in its place. And look at the fine building materials used. Took the money as and laid low, know he is town hero......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess mudslinging and unsubstantiated gossip die hard in this town. I didn't do that project.

      Delete
    2. The struggle for power in Sierra Madre can get rough. Serious business fought at gut level.

      Delete
    3. Perhaps a partner did the project. On a few occasions I have heard John criticize the project.

      Delete
    4. John Hutt has been a vocal supporter of the growing preservationist movement in this town. The thing about John is that he is reasonable and smart in what he suggests and has the foresight to recognize the unintended consequences of various policies. Every suggestion that I have heard him make in public comment has always been well-thought out and tending towards keeping Sierra Madre the way we all like it.

      Delete
    5. I heard that John Hutt was a big supporter of Maranatha and pushed that project down our throats....

      ....oh wait, he wasn't living here then

      never mind

      Delete
    6. 9:34A & 6:16P must be the same person! You need to apologize to Mr. Hutt for giving misinformation. If you had ever had a conversation with Mr. Hutt you find that he listens, is non-judgemental, thoughtful, compromising, able to have a discussion, loves Sierra Madre, and is well versed in almost everything. In my opinion he is a genius. You? Not so much! More like a hater.

      Delete
    7. 6:16 - Who are you? John just stated before City Council tonight that he is a "newbie," only lived here for 18 years. How could he have shoved Maranatha down our throats?

      Delete
  11. Not sure, but I think VanDeVeld was the architect on an historic home on west Laurel several years ago. It had blue Asian tile roofing and was engulfed by a later muck-up. Richard Trader was on the Cultural Heritage Commission who spoke to the historic importance of that early Sierra Madre home but it was not saved. If I am wrong and VanDeVeld was not the architect somebody correct me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. To me this is a no-brainer.
    The Planning Commission is responsible for implementing the General Plan.
    Pick the people who know the General Plan the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also pick the people who support the policies in the General Plan and not ones who may subvert it.

      Delete
  13. http://www.vandevelde-architects.com/portfolio/portfolio-residential-single_family.htm
    It could very well be that John VdeV doesn't know modest. From the original school of architects first mentioned in Sierra Madre's 1980's slow growth movement as GGG (Gastly, Grandiose and Gargantuan) School of Architecture! You'd have to look this up on microfilm in the SM library. It was a hoot!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I hear the term "social justice" used a lot in local government. I realize there are no term limits for serving on the Planning Commission, but wouldn't it be more "fair" to allow Leslee Hinton or Barry Gold a turn? Hutt and Vandevelde have already been on the commission. (More than once, perhaps?) I think the City Council should give Leslee or Barry an opportunity to serve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm getting more and more to the point of thinking Commissioners should be two terms lifetime, per commission. No one is that important.

      Delete
    2. 3:51 I'd say the same for the Council because of the John Buchanan complex but it eliminates those that have served two terms and did some good which wasn't many in the last 15 years except for Mary Ann and Don Watts.

      problem is, John Buchanan thinks he's that important - he's still muddling around with local politics when he's a SoCal Edision employee

      Delete
    3. Hasn't Hutt been on for two terms - I'm for new voices but not Vandevelde, he's out there and out of touch

      Delete
  15. which two current commissioners are "retiring" from their posts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pevsner and posner I believe.

      Delete
    2. There is a term limit. Two consecutive terms and then you must sit out for a year before you can be considered again.

      Delete
    3. The reason there are two vacancies is due to term limits

      Delete
  16. It's not about being fair. We need the commissioners that have the town's best interest at heart and not their pocket book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and we don't need someone especially who can't keep his mouth shut and his mind open

      dude reeks of contempt

      enough with the brats please

      Delete
    2. We don't need special people with complicated agendas.

      Delete
  17. Please remember, all applications for commissioners in Sierra Madre are online.

    Check 'em out at http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=212393&pageId=235185

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm really glad the City Council finally decided that transparency for Commission posts was important.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Maybe it's my lack of sophistication, but the design for the Brown residence? Really looks like a bunch of doublewides arranged together.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The term limits for City Council, because they are elected, makes it a two year step off before someone can run again. That was voted on twenty or so years ago. BUT a citizen can reapply for a commission after only one year off. That was decided on by some city council thinking they should follow this pattern based on the city vote on council term limits. Why didn't they go for a two year stand off? Maybe that should be discussed. It was not a city-wide voter issue, merely a city council feel good decision. Not even sure if it was done as a resolution but probably.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What is that gadfly Barry Gold upto,has he any experience or just opinions?

    ReplyDelete