Saturday, July 18, 2015

Why is Mater Dolorosa's Fr. Michael Higgins Accusing Preserve Sierra Madre of "Misrepresentation?"

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Mod: I always find it annoying when people throw around big words like "misrepresentation," yet offer the reader no reasons for why they're making so loaded a charge. Here we have an e-mail sent to an apparently select list of concerned individuals by Father Michael Higgins, one making just such an accusation, while offering no explanation for why he made it. 

Father Higgins: As was suggested to us by several Council members, we are now meeting with Sierra Madre business and civic groups and city residents to seek their input on our preliminary concepts for the vacant 20-acre parcel on the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center property. The feedback we are receiving during these meetings will help us to refine our planning concepts, and at the conclusion of this outreach effort, we would like to share what we have learned with members of the Planning Commission and City Council. We look forward to those meetings.

We have recently become aware of continued misrepresentation of our early planning concepts. The below email addressed to you is one such example.  What is of particular concern with this email is the fact we share many of the goals of the Preserve Sierra Madre group with respect to responsible development that protects the uniqueness of Sierra Madre. Like most in this city, we also want to preserve the look and feel of Sierra Madre, and feel this can be done with a responsible approach that ensures that the new neighborhood would be an organic extension of existing Sierra Madre neighborhoods. We agree with Preserve Sierra Madre that our development must “preserve the village-like character of our town.”

We are not opposed to the alternative open space preservation concepts proposed by some of the Preserve Sierra Madre group.  We have not yet seen an offer from them, however, that is feasible and that provides a verified source of immediate funds which acknowledges the market value of our property to meet the goals established by Holy Cross Province.  We recently responded to the group and are awaiting their reply.

We want to continue our joint efforts with the Preserve Sierra Madre group but are also mindful of the larger community in Sierra Madre.  We have called Sierra Madre home for over 90 years and are grateful to this town, to you, and to our many friends that stretch from Michillinda to Vista avenues.  We are committed to reaching out to the entire community.

Please feel free to call me with any questions or to clarify anything you may hear about our plans. We have witnessed misstatements and exaggerations about our proposal and are committed to ensuring that our Sierra Madre neighbors and our elected representatives have accurate information on which to form their opinions.

Thank you for your consideration, and please let me know if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

Sincerely, Father Michael Higgins

Mod: The e-mail from Preserve Sierra Madre that has caused Father Higgins so much annoyance is the following:


Mod: As you may recall, the main impetus for the topic referred to in the PSM mass e-mail, and posted about here on the Sierra Madre Tattler (link), was this rather exasperating notice.


Mod: While I can understand the discomfort Father Higgins might have felt when this flyer became available to people he'd prefer didn't see it, I don't quite understand how reporting on this matter might be considered "misrepresentation." Unless we are talking about messenger blaming.

Rounding up interested groups within a community, people who stand to profit from an enterprise such as this one, is pretty much how business gets done. The Realtors here have some political influence locally, and getting them lined up behind a project involving the construction of fifty or so 3,990 square foot jumbo wickiups that will sell for about $1.2 million each would have some advantages. We are talking around $60 million big ones cash total once all of these cribs are sold. Obviously the real estate community would profit greatly through commissions, which is something I am confident will be pointed out by an authorized Mater Dolorosa representative at that meeting on the 23rd. 

Anyway, and as long as we are on the topic of "misrepresentation," let's take a look at two possible examples from this e-mail Father Higgins has been circulating lately.


Mod: As I am sure many readers here will easily recall, "Preserve Sierra Madre" was not the original name of this group. Here is what they called themselves previously:


Mod: To suggest that those backing the mega-housing scheme at Mater Dolorosa share the same goals and values as an organization founded upon the ideal of stopping just that very project is really quite a stretch. 

Another potential "misrepresentation" can be found here:


Mod: What follows is a possibly relevant article that ran in the Pasadena Star News in April of 2014.


Mod: Here is the link to that article. Now this is not to say there isn't a more recent offer under consideration, but if that is the case I have yet to hear anything about it.

Have you heard?

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

49 comments:

  1. I'm not sure if the owner's of the land in Chicago or Jerry Pearson from Arcadia, who is spearheading the effort to change this land into a housing project, share the same goals as Preserve Sierra Madre. From what I read, Preserve Sierra Madre has a different goal. They don't want that land changed into something that will so adversely impact on the community. As just one example, didn't many residents on Sunnyside come to a city council meeting to complain about the traffic to and from the retreat center. I can only imagine how they would feel if added to that traffic, you have the traffic from 50 new 4 bedroom homes with all its occupants and guests. Sunnyside would be busier than Baldwin. Mater Dolorosa is just focused on squeezing as much cash as they can out of that property that has managed to remain beautiful open space since 1924.

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    1. I would question why a Priest and a religious order are being as aggressive as your run-of-the-mill greedy developers who are destroying open space all over California. I mean don't the Passionists care about dividing the community, upsetting the neighbors, impacting on the retreat experience up there and scaring away the wildlife that live up there. I know they want their money but is it worth all the carnage that will be left in its wake.

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    2. They don't care. The Catholic Church is going to be irrelevant in about 10 years at the rate they are going. There wasn't even a peep from them when the statute of Father Junipero Sierra was taken down in Washington D.C. and replaced by a statue of the astronaut Sally Ride. Don't misunderstand me, Sally Ride did some important things, but Father Junipero Sierra almost single-handedly created California with its vast Mission system. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is too cowed by the Priest scandals to say anything about anything. That's why they will be irrelevant in 10 years. I don't want to see that happen mind you, but the leaders of the Catholic Church whether at Mater Dolorosa or elsewhere have simply lost their way. When you have Father Higgins spending all of his time as a salesman for a development project, you know their days are numbered.

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    3. I disagree 6:42. The church has a pope that is generating world-wide respect and admiration; Father Serra is one of the historical figures who absolutely shaped this country, but also was instrumental in genocide; the church is cleaning up the priesthood as fast as it can
      The church is doing much better on higher levels than it is at the monastery, where they've turned into remarkably greedy people.

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    4. Latest numbers on houses.
      40 houses, 3500 sq ft
      Will sell about $500/sq ft
      $1,750,000
      Typical village home that most of us can afford.
      LMAO

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    5. I find it touching how the Church reaches out to help the poor like that.

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  2. The only way that Preserve Sierra Madre could be accused by Father Higgins of misrepresentations is if Mater Dolorosa was not going to build a housing project on that land at all. Maybe its all just a mistake. If that's the case, then that's very good news for the people of Sierra Madre.

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    1. I don't think its all just a misunderstanding 6:03. They have been trying to do something for years on that land. However, they need a zoning change and I don't think they have the support from the community or this City Council. Even if we get an El Nino this year, that's still not enough water to solve the drought. If we start building right away and bringing more water users on line just because we got some rain for a few months, then we will then be in far worse shape with a lot less options were we to get another drought. Sierra Madre is essentially built-out. We don't have the resources to handle a massive housing project.

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    2. I sure as heck am not saving water and absorbing an occasional fine for over-use, just so there's more in the tank for the developers.

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    3. Don't forget that we're going to have 30 new water hogs on Carter, no matter what. That should be it for huge upsurges in water use for a long, long time.

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    4. Anyone can look at the 20 proposed houses for 1 Carter.
      I have heard they are really something "special".

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    5. They're legal brief houses. Gives Lawsuit Richie something to act all indignant about in Court.

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  3. When I read that email from Preserve Sierra Madre, they actually sound pretty reasonable in seeking a "win-win" solution. Maybe the problem is that Mater Dolorosa only cares about getting the highest amount of money they can for the land. They can take that position but its certainly a little surprising coming from a religious organization. With all the problems in the Catholic Church, doesn't Father Higgins have better things to do with his time than being the pitchman for a development project. It seems a little strange quite frankly.

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    1. I don't get what they need such a big sum for.
      Don't the priests plan on living simply?

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    2. The price of living simply has gone way up.

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    3. The Chicago bunch had property all over the State and I hear all were sold to help the retirement cause. But, in an "outreach" meeting, we were told after pressing questions that the money for the monastery property will not only help with the retirement but also with their mission in India. Plans are for less than 50 houses (46 as I remember - I didn't take notes) all two story cookie cutter looking.

      I firmly believe in the rights of property owners to build within the limits of prevailing laws. Right now, the property is zoned institutional. According to Pearson at the council meeting is that the General Plan Committee was sneaky about deleting a clause about them being able to change the zoning. With all the open meetings that the plan went through from committee, to planning committee, to council, I can't possibly see that anything was sneaky about the plan. That the City didn't personally notify them was not the committee responsibility. I saw Jerry Pearson at most of the meetings, he just failed to do due diligence.

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  4. Not one word about the gospel from this real estate developer who walled off a monument to our Lord so that he could build a case against easement claims.

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  5. Father Michael is playing the victim card. He is misundersttod.

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    1. We are all misunderstood. Unfortunately nobody cares.

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    2. At the council, he went further than "misunderstood."
      He had the gall to say "hidden."

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    3. What was he suggesting?

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    4. That the people of Sierra Madre were liars and crooks. Project much?

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    5. He must be an angry man.

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    6. Father Higgins has issued some misrepresentations about misrepresentations.

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  6. I've heard mention that some people are getting together to assert claims for the prescriptive easements that are running all over that property from before they put the fence and signs up. Mater Dolorosa has five years from when they did that to reclaim their property. If those prescriptive easement rights are asserted by all those dog-walkers, runners and neighbors who used that property for the last 80 years, then they won't be able to build. But thoe prescriptive easement rights have to be perfected by a judgment of the court. Any developer would be a fool to waste their time on this project just like New Urban West realized when they pulled out. Just too many problems over their and not just with the community opposition. I also heard that they would have a problem with the EIR because of the earthquake fault that destroyed the original Monastery building some years ago and with some protected wildlife that inhabit that area. That project would run into problem after problem.

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    1. So if the Passionists are so eager to coexist with the community that surrounds them as they claim, why have they cut themselves off like this? You can't walk up there anymore without some security lout getting in your face.

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    2. Can I come walk around in your back yard? Private property mean anything to you?

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    3. God's Little Acre is now on the club plan system?

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    4. 10:33 - the welcome sign used to be out at the monastery. But that was before they went over to the dark side, put up gates and hired security guards. Read 6:49's excellent post on prescriptive easements. It is a real issue.

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    5. Ever heard of liability, one of you trespassers gets bit by a rattle snake you'd sue the crap out of them, should have shut it off years ago. As far as building on or near a fault zone, you've got to be kidding, everything west of Vegas is on or near a fault zone, so the houses bordering the southerly property line are out of danger from seismic activity, Christ almighty wake up!

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    6. Given the topic I find your taking the Lord's name in vain doubly troubling.

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  7. Who is handling PR for the monastery these days? This particular campaign stinks.

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  8. I would make a comment about all of this, but it might drive Father to another drink.

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    1. Maybe it is those same guys out of Covina that Arcadia uses. OU812 or something.

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    2. 789, Inc. Or "7 ate 9" I guess. Whatever that means. Maybe you have to be high to understand it. Set the ACC back around $70K.

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    3. Ah c'mon 10:00, it's a funny elementary school joke. Why was six scared of seven? Because seven ate nine.

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    4. Thanks 11:25. I didn't know that 1

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  9. from the wiki page on Passionists... is this true?
    Characteristics of the Congregation[edit]

    "The members of the congregation are not allowed to possess land, and the congregation collectively can only own the community house and a bit of land attached to it. They rely completely on their own labor and on contributions from the faithful in order to maintain themselves financially. The habit worn by members is a rough wool tunic bearing the words "Jesu XPI Passio", meaning "Passion of Jesus Christ" and the congregation was historically discalced, wearing sandals rather than shoes."

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    1. Not what you'd expect to find on the resume' of such a big time real estate and development outfit.

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    2. This is a topic that's near to my heart... Take care!

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    3. I'm afraid that the particular group of people who landed here are far, far from the spirit of the order they joined. Maybe they were different when they were young.

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    4. Yes, I agree. And they inherited an impressive legacy. One they can find nothing better to do with but sell off piece by piece.

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  10. Br. Joseph S. promised my mother the property would never be developed in her lifetime. She is now deceased as is Brother Joe. Let the carnage begin.............

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  11. Off topic, and weird for july:

    Flash Flood Watch for portions of Southwest California through the Monday evening.

    A moist and unstable air mass associated with tropical storm Dolores will move over the region through Monday evening. The Tropical Storm Center is located about 750 miles south of Los Angeles, but a deep and moist air mass streaming north into the region will produce the potential for the flash flooding and debris flows.

    Flash Flood Watch in effect through Monday evening.

    The National Weather Service in Los Angeles/oxnard has issued a Flash Flood Watch for a portion of Southwest California. Including the following: Antelope Valley, Cuyama Valley, Los Angeles County Mountains excluding the Santa Monica range, Santa Barbara County Mountains, and Ventura County mountains.

    Through Monday evening.
    Periods of heavy rainfall is expected through this weekend across the watch area as a moist and unstable air mass associated with tropical storm Dolores moves over the region through Monday evening. Rainfall rates in excess of one inch per hour are possible.

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    1. A little reprieve for the hillsides.

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  12. So where was this 10 Million dollars supposed to come from, not a penny of my tax money and definitely not your taxes Crawford, seeing as you are no longer are a contributor to this community. Was it coming from Matt Bryant?, his old mans inheritance, Dan Bryant who used to own Prudential in town, so where was it gonna come from?

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    1. Do you often spend your time talking about all the things that never happened? You must be some really exciting company.

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