Friday, August 21, 2015

Planning Commission Meeting: The Toaster Gets Popped

The Toaster.
We've taken to calling the new Adele Chang design for One Carter "The Toaster," mostly because it sort of looks like one. Or maybe a toaster oven, perhaps even a microwave. Or, as one commenter insisted yesterday, something of extraterrestrial origin that landed atop the hillside and quietly sat there, blinking and winking, hoping to make contact with the inhabitants of Earth. Of course, you might think that none of these descriptions are appropriate, which is fine with me.

What is true is that this design has become a subject for the local public imagination. And if anything positive has been said, or at least in any way favoring what Adele hath wrought, I've yet to hear any of it.

The discussion about The Toaster took a familiar course at last night's meeting. It was presented by Adele Chang, the Planning Commission then sliced and diced it, and in the end Adele said she would take the recommended changes back to her client and see how many of them would be acceptable.

Which, if history holds true, will be nowhere near as much as requested. This will then be repeated at the next few meetings, nothing will be resolved, followed by the inevitable lawsuit.

And who knows, maybe that is the intent. You have to wonder why these meetings are even held. If the developer has a legal rather than a building agenda, maybe this whole ritual shouldn't even he allowed to happen. Why do we have to step in it?

It's done.
Some of the comments went this way. John Hutt focused on the west side balcony being made of glass. Bob Spears asked if this glass would be reflective. The inference being The Toaster could end up being a kind of unwanted beacon on the hill. Something that would shine down on the lesser beings in the valley below.

According to Adele, the Yih's approached her to build a house for them back in 2012. They had many pictures of what they wanted, and their hope was for something linear and white. Which is what Adele has struggled to bring them. This is a custom home said she, and since her clients travel so much they are hard to get together. Two thoughts that don't necessarily belong together, yet here they were.

This is a familiar pattern from Adele Chang's most special past Planning Commission moments. Her clients always seem to be too busy for this kind of stuff, and therefore it will be hard to get them to focus on changing any of their original dreams.

Adele spent a lot of time playing the retirement card. Though remote and located way up on a precarious and windy hilltop, this would supposedly be a cocoon where two retired people would play out their remaining precious years on the planet floor. I'm not certain if this retirement image provoked any hoped for waves of sympathy from those in attendance.

There would be an elevator and a caretaker suite, so there is that. Though the car drive to get to this caring abode, and the precariousness of parking on so steep an incline, also seemed to contradict the claim that this is an old folks home.

Adele was also certain sure the citizens of Sierra Madre would have comments, and she was here to listen. She was taking a passive and soft-spoken approach this time, so perhaps the criticisms of some of her past performances had been heard.

Marguerite Shuster thanked staff for their well-conceived report. Her remarks centered on the applicant's baffling insensitivity to the natural in this area. Not that the modern structure that was wrong, it just didn't belong there. It would be more at home in an industrial area. City of Industry perhaps. In her opinion it looks more like a detention center.

Barry Gold said the design of The Toaster is about as far away from the hillside ordinances and General Plan as you can get. These are successful people, and have done many buildings. You can't tweak this building enough to make it fit its intended building site. They must know what the city wants, and it is not the Planning Commission's job to do their designing for them. 

Teryl Willis spoke about wildlife issues. The reflecting pool that this place would shine brightly down upon would create problems with mountain lions and bears. They like to drink the stuff. If you are looking at some kind of retirement spot you don't want snakes, lions and bears mixing it up with the old folks at home. They would need to be safe and keep the animals safe, and you just don't get that in a wildlife interface zone by including pools and walls. 

Judy Webb-Martin, who lives on Miramonte, has had bears and mountain lions in her spa. Judy also  thought this two story structure had to be below the mountain, not at the very top. The look is far too industrial. It just doesn't reflect the village of Sierra Madre. She wanted the project denied and the public hearing closed.

Newly seated Planning Commissioner John Hutt didn't like the bulk and mass. It looms obtrusively. He was very clear when he said, and more than once, that the changes had to be substantial. A little tinkering around the edges would mean sure denial.

Leslee Hinton she was there when the story poles were put up, and noted that from the lower lot you would no longer be able to see mountain. Which defeats one of the main reasons for building up there. She recommended that instead of using concrete, use stone. The lighting inside would make it look like a lighthouse or a beacon. She could not approve with the water feature because of the wildlife issues. Besides, where would that water come from?  

All of which was reflected in the Planning Commission's recommendation to Adele Chang that she completely change The Toaster into something that it isn't now, and then perhaps come back and try again.

She said she would try, though her clients travel a lot. They're very busy said Adele, which I guess implies that they do far more important things than listening to Planning Commissions and residents.

But haven't we heard all that before?

Adele Chang strikes again!

A Wallace Neff classic home at 1040 Oak Grove Ave in San Marino has just been given the OK for demolition. In its place, Chang has designed a massive 9-bedroom house. This in spite of the fact that she was advised of the historic significance of this site. The new owner wants a crass McMansion design, and Adele apparently had few qualms in coming up with just that.

Here is what is slated for destruction:


To view the whole Zillow presentation click here.  

sierramadretattler.com

116 comments:

  1. What a crying shame to demolish such a work of art, a beautiful place. It looks like it is built so well and the layout on the property does not intrude on the neighbors.

    This is very saddening, depressing, downcast and joyless.

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    1. I bet that house has a wonderfull flow, and probably feels very spacious inside. Elegance and room without being overbearing.

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    2. If you go to that Zillow link you can take a look at the interior of that house. It is tasteful and elegant. Unless you are a barbarian.

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    3. That's no work of art. Sprawling pseudo-ranch boring won't miss it. Still better than the toaster though.

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    4. Really? To me it shows an understated confidence in one's position in society. The Neff home that it. The Toaster looks to me like the pop tarts are just about done.

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    5. 1-story ranches are getting torn down so fast they will soon be. Collectors item. Does someone really need 9 bedrooms.

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    6. What is up with this multiplicity of bathrooms?

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  2. Is this what Japan did to China during the war, tear everything up.

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    1. We need to face the fact that the entire San Gabriel Valley is undergoing one of the biggest demographic changes in history. These changes will manifest themselves in a myriad of ways not the least of which is differences in architectural tastes. Of course I'm talking about the Chinese influx. There don't care about a Wallace Neff home. They probably don't even know who he is. They don't have any sentimentality for our mores and traditions because they didn't grow up living it. For most of them it would be ok to just bulldoze the city of Sierra Madre so that it can look more like Arcadia. That's the mindset we are up against.

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    2. Great post. 7:20.
      But remember, the Planning Commission of San Marino must have said "Ok" to this demolition, right? In all of the towns in this huge demographic change, the commissions are deciding our fate.

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    3. This was approved by the Design Review Commission which has gone rogue under the protection of the gang on CC.

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    4. Once the pro-development mindset gains a beachhead on the Planning Commission and City Council or the population reaches that tipping point then all is lost. We will see how long Sierra Madre can resist the pressure. Whether it's the Stonehouse project, One Carter or some other recent projects that are offensive to the sensibilities of Sierra Madre residents, change is in the air.

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    5. San Marino does not have enough protections in place, and the preservationists have to make a lot more noise to get that changed. A lot more.

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    6. They have no idea how to do that. They need to borrow Pasadena's model:
      Pasadena has a great resource page
      http://www.cityofpasadena.net/Planning/Historic/

      There's three methods for designating historic properties:

      http://www.cityofpasadena.net/Planning/Historic_Designation/

      1. Self-inflicted under things like the Mills act, where you get tax breaks that go with the house when it's sold

      2. Landmark designation (Anyone may file an application to begin the nomination process; often, a property owner initiates the designation)

      3. Landmark district (increases property values, mostly applies to the facades of the homes as a group inside a designated neighborhood that votes for it)

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    7. 8:25 - the movement to control development in Sierra Madre has never been stronger. Stow the gloom and doom, please.

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    8. I think when the Spaniards enslaved the indigenous locals was a greater demographic change.

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    9. 9:23 is right. Sierra Madre has been on a roll as of late. One thing missing is basing the floor on the buildable lot size and not the overall lot size. That's how some of these houses appear too big for their lot and seem to be shoehorned onto the pad.

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  3. This is all a farce and a lie. The idea that the Yi's intend to retire to Sierra Madre is a joke hik joke. These people don't want to be a part of this community. They just see Sierra Madre as a place to make some money at our expense.

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    1. Retire, retirerment, retiring, just want to retire, heading into retirement, retirees; I felt like I was listening to a sales patter based on used cars.

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    2. C'mon 6:37. The elevator will be for these crippled old people (like maybe the gal who came in late with the fancy bedazzled high heels), they'e throwing in two bedrooms for the children to be guests in, and another bedroom for the live in nurse, the 20 foot space above the dining room is so that no one feels crowded. Ya know, the basics.

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    3. Evidently they are willing to say anything to get their project. What do they think? That we all just fell off the turnip truck.

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    4. I am really interested to see what Adele comes back with. Will these clients make the necessary changes? Will the house be redesigned enough to please the commissioners? Will the Yihs try to get away with tweaking?
      And were they there last night? Adele had 3 companions. Funny how we never get to know who she's hanging with.

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    5. I think they like being way up on the mountain. It's not personal. They had a chance to buy a beautiful view and went for it. It has nothing at all to do with our town, our hillsides, our regulations. We are just a speed bump. They obviously haven't even the smallest inkling about the fact that they are building in nature.

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    6. Welcome to Sierra Madre. Has anyone seen today's editorial in the Star News about Arcadia? The Gem Coin crowd will hate it.
      Arcadia’s fight against upscale blight of mansionization: Editorial
      http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinion/20150820/arcadias-fight-against-upscale-blight-of-mansionization-editorial

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    7. Thank you. Arcadia is finally waking up.

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  4. Thank goodness for John Hutt and Leslee Hinton. I sleep a little better at night knowing they are on the Planning Commission.

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    1. Me too, 6:38.
      I think of both of them as more pro-development than some, but I know they'll be fair and hold close to the city's requirements.

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    2. No one is going to pull anything over on John Hutt. He knows this stuff cold. He's too smart for them. He also cares about Sierra Madre. Leslee Hinton will be to the Planning Commission what Denise Delmar has been to the City Council.

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    3. 6:38. Leslee prodevelopment? Have you lost your mind? You obviously don't know her.

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    4. Trolls must be out today.

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    5. If Leslee Hinton is pro development , I'm the tooth fairy.

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  5. Can anybody report on what happened at the wine and cheese party at the Monastery? Did the developers, I mean Priests, tell people how God is calling them to carve up the property? How many attended?

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    1. It was one of those parties when you're all dressed up with nowhere to go.

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    2. I was there. They tried to explain their position,not very well.About 25 persons attended mostly from Sunnyside and few uninvited who live near 1 Carter.

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    3. Did anybody challenge them or did they just listen. Also did they offer up that commitment letter for people to sign?

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    4. There were a few challenges,a few statements from invitees,some questions,the usual snickers. They did offer the letter I saw no takers.

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    5. Was anyone there for it? Outside of the Passionists, of course.

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    6. Nobody in the audience spoke in favor of it. The Passionists also state they would rather not develop but must.
      One statement I found interesting was they have offers for institutional use if they are unable to do residential they will continue to look for an acceptable institutional use

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    7. So now they are trying to threaten us with an institutional use. Just when I thought the priests up there had hit bottom.

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    8. The laws on the books allow them to do institutional.

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    9. They are just blowing smoke. They should sell off the whole property to some entity that recognizes the value of keeping it intact.

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    10. Maybe they can get into the private prison business. It's a real money maker.

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  6. It's gratifying to know that Judy Webb Martin is on the bandwagon. She lives in Sierra Madre and has put the community ahead of
    potential commissions. She also has spoken out at a city council meeting against McMansions and spoke out against the Monastery project. The silence of some other prominent realtors in town has been deafening.

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    1. I will only do business with a real estate agent who cares about Sierra Madre. Too many realtors are willing to see Sierra Madre ruined as they chase the money.

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  7. No one in San Marino is protesting the tear down of a Neff home? This is a beautiful home that looks as if it is in very good condition. I guess there aren't many left to protest. What a shame. The only good thing about the Sierra Madre house is that it bound by today's rules. I guess Adele's clients were so busy traveling that they couldn't make the settlement deadline. There was a bit of the old Adele last night-can't remember what she said, but there was a snicker from the audience, and she turned with arms out and said, "You're laughing." She calmed herself. Of course we snickered, her whole deal about this being a home for a retiring couple was laughable.

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    1. It wasn't a snicker. I think Judy Webb Martin let loose of something closer to a guffaw, and then she was joined by others. I remember exactly at which point: Chang said, "My clients want something simple."

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    2. You don't seem to get it. Most of the Chinese buying property did not grow up in this country. They don't care about Wallace Neff. They would tear down that tired old San Gabriel Mission if they could. It doesn't make them bad people. They want big and new and showy at a time when native born people like historical, quaint and sustainable. Sorry but that's what is going on. Do you think they want to preserve the village-like character of Sierra Madre? Not likely. As a realtor, no one sees the writing on the wall more than Judy Webb Martin.

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    3. even the commissioners smiled and looked at each other.
      ten foot ceilings, elevator, outdoor kitchen, five bedrooms, mirror pool. Yeah real simple

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    4. The Urban Dictionary definition of tacky applies here.
      Tacky - In bad taste. This usage, as opposed to the physical description, originated in the rural South but has since been adopted for use nationwide and in urban settings. "Wearing a translucent blouse and a black bra is downright tacky."

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    5. How many bathrooms?

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    6. Enough to fill a reflecting pond.

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    7. I just counted toilets on the plans. Six.

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  8. Passive and soft spoken - Adele Chang? Passive?
    Maybe if you never looked at her.

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    1. She definitely was working on a new schtick.

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    2. Adele is trying to change her image. I'm not buying it nor am I buying that "retirement" nonsense.

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  9. Has anyone told the Yihs that they are building someplace where they are guarentedd to go through wildfires?

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    1. It is also sacred ground to many generations of Native Americans. It is sometimes called a "spirit vortex."

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    2. 9:15 - please provide evidence to your claim.

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    3. Nancy Walsh.

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    4. That site is a completely unrealistic choice for anyone whose main goal is the ability to age-in-place.

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    5. It is actually the set for a new cable reality show called "Extreme Retirement."

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    6. Ooooo, I want to see the rattlesnake episode.

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    7. Don't forget the dead body. I thought the Chinese are superstitious. I guess somebody forgot to tell them about that.

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  10. Before we move to sainthood Judy Webb Martin lets all remember where the no on Measure V headquarters were located.

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    1. We have moved on, 9:18. Unless you are a part of the Arcadia Realtors Assoc, you are allowed to forgive and forget.

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    2. I think Judy has seen what has happened in Arcadia and doesn't want it to happen in Sierra Madre

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    3. I see over-development as a threat to both the town and to the hillsides, but I've learned that some people care more about one than the other. It's a free country.

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    4. Sure, if you are looking to divide people.

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    5. I can accept that Judy doesn't like the design and doesn't want to see SM overbuilt and maybe it's because of preservation, however I still have the lingering suspicion that part of the resistance is that the local realtors can see the handwriting on the wall that if this and the other developments continue in SM, it will be dominated by Asian development and realtors - shutting them out of commissions.

      Sure Measure V was a few years back, but don't forget that the NO side was pushing for a large scale development of condos and multi use multi story buildings in SM and that would have certainly changed the city wouldn't it?

      So, I can't toss my unchecked support to straight commission salespeople.

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    6. I have heard some realtors complain that their client base is shrinking every year because the Chinese almost always do business with fellow Chinese which you don't see as much with other ethnic groups. So yes, many realtors are losing market share. It's only exacerbated by nonChinese using Chinese agents because they fall for the line that Chinese agents have special access to overseas buyers. So the non-Chinese agents are getting hit at both ends.

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    7. I agree with both 2:54 and 6:17. It's about self interest. Measure V was a great victory for our town. I never will trust Judy again.

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  11. Here might be a solution to the "Toaster" The owners sell the lot to an individual who puts up a tasteful one story, with a great view. Then they take the proceeds and move into the Kinsington. Comes with bulit in caretaker and no Bears

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  12. Why don't our future neighbors just forget about the toaster and buy that stupid glass pyramid? It has an even better view and is equally ugly. So ugly it's on the market at a relatively cheap price.

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    1. That thing is a scar on the mountain and the only livable space is in what went through the PC as a garage. It should be demolished.

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    1. If you are a Realtor who supports slow growth, the Arcadia Association of Realtors will go after you.

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    2. Their new GAD is a lunatic.

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  14. It was interesting that staff and applicant had to clear up that CETT was NOT associated with this house.
    Everyone connects the One Carter disaster with CETT and their hired guns, and the few people who own lots independently of them have to distance themselves. They might want to think of going in a different direction with their choice of architect.

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    1. Freierman-Hunt was super about that. She made a statement that the commission was looking at this structure on this piece of land, period. Who owned it before or any other past interactions regarding other sites were not the point.

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    2. Planner Cardoso explained that the notice card that was mailed out had the wrong information on it.

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  15. The architect herself said that her clients were interested in a "pristine cube with a reflecting pond." They looked at "beautiful white boxes."
    What are hell are they doing in the mountains?

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    1. One of Ms. Shuster's remarks was the fact that the applicant could even think of this as suitable pushes us to despair. Amen. It's almost like they have no capacity to notice where they are.

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    2. The house is supposed to blend with the natural environment and reflect the contours of the hillsides.

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    3. They're changing the name of the mountain to Toaster Top.

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    4. It's different tastes here in operation. Many don't care about the environment at all. You think China has an environmental movement or cares about sustainability? Hardly.

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  16. Hutt made some excellent points - the applicant could always reduce the appearance of mass and bulk by actually reducing the mass and bulk; back up from the lot and consider the hillside as a whole, and work from that perspective; the applicant could think of the usable portion of the lot and reduce the size based on that; redo the landscape design entirely. He does help them design. But maybe if they'll listen to him, and the others, they can make something work.

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  17. I think none other than Robert Ho was in the house last night, sitting behind Adele. Wonder what his stake is?

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    1. Did he yell and wave his arms?

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    2. I find it weird that we are never introduced to the people who push Chang out in front like a shield.
      Why don't any of them speak up at the meetings? If they don't now English, maybe they can get up and introduce themselves in Chinese, and Chang can translate. It's very peculiar because it comes across like they are all hiding.

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    3. They are at the gates.

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  18. The Chinese developers have taken over Arcadia and San Marino, not to mention the southern parts, so why not Sierra Madre? They are also moving into Pasadena. Robert Ho, if that was him, has everything to do with Adele. Didn't he have something to do with Camillo and 1 Carter? Who was sitting next to Adele? And who was the lady with the glitzy shoes?

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    1. My guess was that the lady with the glitzy shoes was the soon to be retired and infirm Tammy Yih, but I guess the Yihs weren't there. The lady arrived very late into the meeting.
      Don't know who the younger man was sitting with Adele - maybe an intern or junior architect at her company?
      At one time, Mr. Ho was the realtor for the lots. I'd also heard once that he owned 1 or 2 of them.

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    2. true and when they do they only use Chinese real estate agents for both the buyer and seller

      there wasn't much opposition within the realtor ranks to One Carter when it was open territory for selling

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    3. 2:56. right, not much, but Webb Martin was there. She has always worked to preserve the hillsides.

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  19. I noticed that everyone on the Commission and our City Attorney were very careful about their words. I think they will be very careful about what they say about the project so they won't get into the bind they are in with the first one. They made their point very clear without saying what most of us felt. This plan is completely awful.

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  20. Reality is we're at a cultural stand off and no one is willing to stand up and make it very clear that we the people of Sierra Madre will not sell out to the wishy washy diversity
    garbage .
    This is our way of life,our cultural heritage,and if they can't be bothered to understand what we hold dear to our hearts why do we need to bother with trying to understand about where they came from and what they're "tuhoa ideals "are .
    "Tuhoa is a term for the new monied class in China"
    Why is it we're turned into ugly Americans on our own soil?
    When it comes to the ideals and whims of this new monied class I find myself amazed at their audacity and me me I self importance that always gets excused because it's all about money .
    The brazen audacity of these people makes me imagine someone in the Khardashian clan visiting China and wanting a Panda
    Bear Fur Coat ...Everyone winces at this thought I'm assured... But somewhere in China this imagined scenario could happen and why ?
    Greed and a culture that feels justification is a mere formality because money can buy everything and anyone.

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    2. It's a different class of people 2:32 and Americans aren't used to it. Corruption is also part of doing business in China and is accepted. It's now come to American shores in general and the San Gabriel Valley in particular. They have no thought, concern or respect for what is already here.

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    3. The corruption is endemic, and it's being fostered by our Federal Government, with Green Cards for sale, cheap. Time for an uprising...

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  21. I am sorry I could not attend the meeting last night, but when I saw the design, it appeared to me to be a "throw away".
    Something done to be an ice breaker to start the process.
    Not very serious, and a waste of people's time.
    This is just to clear the way to be ammunition for any future legal action.
    The reason for zoning standards is to set limits and guidelines for buildings. It is obvious that the standards were completely ignored.
    They are not serious, and are simply recreating another confrontation with the city.
    In school, most Architects are generally taught to do no harm, particularly in ecologically sensitive sites. This is Architecture of Confrontation, and an intellectual insult.

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    1. It was a total time waster. Adele knew this. She had not even bothered to prepare one of her PowerPoint presentations. She knew this house would not fly even though it looked like it had just landed. Hey Scotty, beam her up, up, and away.

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    2. Don, thanks for that clear take on it. Appreciate your input more than you realize.

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    3. Nope 3:51, all those lovely 3Ds set in some other fantasy hillsides were Adele's. Everything in the staff report after the first section was all from Ms Chang. She sings for her supper.

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  22. Mr.Watts,
    You're talking about ethics and a culture that doesn't believe in them .
    For all we know that reflecting pool is really a way to trap a bear ,sedate it,house it in the basement,stick a shunt in it's liver and milk it for the bile that cures everything from arthritis to erectile dysfunction in Chinese medicine and costs lots of money per gram .
    Sounds far fetched ?
    It's not and happens regularly to Sun Bears in China .
    What makes anyone think it can't or isn't happening here .
    Just a thought.

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    1. Heaven help us all.

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    2. You sound like a bigot. Are you? The Chinese culture has no ethics? They catch bears and keep them in their basements for bile from their livers? Regularly? Are the Gays also after your sons, the Mexicans pushing drugs on them, Negroes raping white women? You are not only a bigot you are delusional and hateful. Suicide is an option............

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    3. I knew that 5:30 post was coming. It was just a matter of time.
      I think we can all agree that there is no lack of greed or cruelty all around the world and in every culture.

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    4. Sorry Dave it's not about bigotry it's a reality. They have no regard for what is here, for their neighbors or for the community. You don't have to look any further than Arcadia. Let's call it for what it is and not inject race into the discussion. If the Chinese weren't tearing everything down I would be the first to welcome them with open arms.

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    5. Thank you. Dave was out of line here.

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  23. Maybe the applicants are not worried abput the wildlife because they figure they'll just shoot 'em.

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  24. Didn't Chinese women who were not legal citizens of the United States using the Santa Anita Inn on Huntington Drive as a place to give birth to babies who would then be citizens?
    The city of Arcadia cracked down on this....maybe they are planning to use these big houses up at one Carter?
    Just askin

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    1. It's one explanation for the six bathrooms.

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    2. This is all so crazy . I'm going backwards I live in town because I thought I was over paying for a shack to escape all the rest of the 'developing' parts of the world. Apparently not so. What a mess. God help us all and have mercy !

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