Sunday, October 4, 2015

Preservation Vs. Mansionization: Sierra Madre Home Values Post-Measure V

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One of the big arguments those opposed to a ballot measure to control mass mansionization in Arcadia is that it would harm home values and cause people to lose money. This is, of course, pretty much the same specious argument put out in 2007 by those who opposed Measure V in Sierra Madre. And from some of the same people, I might add. Their point being that if entire downtown areas of Sierra Madre weren't turned into something approaching what you can see today in some of the more ersatz looking mixed use neighborhoods of Rancho Cucamonga, the town would suffer irreparable financial damage and the value of real estate here would suffer badly.

As the data we're supplying today will clearly show, this anti-Measure V argument turned out to be pernicious nonsense. What follows is a graph of the average market values from 2006 to 2015. The last peak in that market was 2006-2007. The nationwide market crash happened after that, driving down all real estate in the United States beginning in 2008 and lasting through 2012.

Somewhere around the middle of 2013 Sierra Madre recovered to its market value peak of 2006 & 2007. Since 2013 Sierra Madre has skyrocketed up to an average home sale price of $885,000 today. In the last 5 months Sierra Madre has been incredibly hot while Arcadia, dependent as it is on a constant supply of funny money being pumped into that market from a now economically unstable Peoples Republic of China, is actually tanking with all but the most elite housing demographics losing value.

Since the Sierra Madre City Council passed all of its new building regulations over the past year we have seen an incredible increase in the desire for Sierra Madre homes by buyers, driving up real estate prices here. Clearly showing that Preservation is far more attractive to home purchasers than Mansionization. This is taken from Zillow and includes condos and townhomes.


To break this down for you a little bit further, here is some more data disproving the anti-Measure V arguments from back in the day. The average 2007 SFR home sale price was $941,527. Today in 2015 the average SFR home sale price is $1,019,959

Please note that what follows are single family homes, and does not include condos or townhouses.

First here is 2007.


Here is 2015.


So if you were a homeowner concerned about the value of your home, based on what you see here which would you want to choose? Preservation or Mansionization?

Despite what you are hearing from certain parities in Arcadia these days, McMansion development does nothing for actual homeowners. It is only of value to certain individual fat cat developers, many of whom are actively opposed to any voter initiative that would curb their vast monuments to doofus gaucherie.

Remember, behind all the smoke, mirrors and dishonest accusations in Arcadia, the real issue is money. Just not your money.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

74 comments:

  1. In all fairness can you post the data for Arcadia for this time frame? Thanx!

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    1. 5:37, I'm sure that if you were to find that data and include it in a comment, the Mod would clear the post. He's done his share of heavy lifting already. Your turn.

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    2. 6:45 - sorry, pal, that's not how good journalism works. 5:37's post is not unreasonable, and should be expected of anyone supporting transparency.

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    3. This is a two parter. The other shoe drops tomorrow. Arcadia's housing bubble - with the exception of the top dollar joints - is bursting. This in direct contrast to Sierra Madre.

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    4. There's only so much "dirty" money out there. Arcadia was bound to take a tumble. Arcadia faces a perfect storm of mansionizatoin hurting home values and in imploding Chinese economy.

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    5. I hate to wish ill on anybody but if anybody deserves a market crash, its some of the money grubbers in Arcadia.

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  2. Great article today...John.
    I am proud to have been a volunteer for Measure V. Thank you to our little group who against all odds and big corrupt money won that one!
    Arcadia. ..you can do it too!!!!!
    Heard you on radio last night John.
    Thanks for getting word out.

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    1. You weren't just a volunteer Diane. You were critical in the success of passing the Measure - wouldn't have happened with you.

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    2. Many VOLUNTEERS made this happen with a huge effort. Only one ever got paid and that was the attorney we had to hire , a big name who gave former Mayor Kurt Zimmerman a discount I'm sure . We only had less than $30k to fight big development with...all donated by residents...many low income residents.
      Kevin and Katina Dunn had a lot to do with our success. Without the above mentioned people...I'm afraid we would not have won.

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  3. Mansionization is preservation. Just bigger and with all the bothersome aesthetics removed.

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  4. Drove through Ontario a couple of days ago, extended down below the 60 west of the 15 and the bulldozers are in full force. Agricultural lands (mostly dairy farms) going, going, gone (with one exception which will cause much uproar over the smell when the buyers get a full whiff). In Saturday's LA Times Real Estate page one, the following: PARK PLACE IN ONTARIO OFFERS OUTSTANDING SCHOOLS FOR ALL AGE (that's right--no plural on the last word) and the target group from translation into English has grammar misses throughout the promotional language. The real give away is the spead of colleges and universities that is stated to be "nearby" where many of them a gastly 30 mile commute. Then there is the rendition of the "Planned future elementary school in Ontario." No mention of lack of water. Never mind!

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  5. This is what Chandler, GemCoins and Tay do not want you to know.

    "Since the Sierra Madre City Council passed all of its new building regulations over the past year we have seen an incredible increase in the desire for Sierra Madre homes by buyers, driving up real estate prices here. Clearly showing that Preservation is far more attractive to home purchasers than Mansionization."

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  6. Nothing says nouveau riche like a turret with a pencil point top.

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  7. One reason values go up is that if you buy into Sierra Madre, you can have some peace of mind in knowing that it will be difficult for some developer to buy a house next door to you and build a big 2-story home the size of an aircraft carrier which causes you to lose the views, light and privacy of your home. In other words, in development free-for-all cities like Arcadia you are always vulnerable to a profit-hungry developer buying your neighbor's property and ruining the character of a neighborhood and reducing the value of nearby homes adversely affected by building too big a home on too small of a lot. Sierra Madre has reduced the size of the homes you can build which discourages developers from tearing down existing homes and put in place a mandatory CUP (conditional use permit) if someone tries to add a 2nd story or build a new 2-story home. With the mandatory CUP, neighbors no longer have their hands tied as they see the neighborhood ruined by a developer like Mur-Sol, but have a mechanism to fight back and try to influence the outcome in their neighborhood so that one person's gain is not another person's loss. Values go up when you have the security of knowing that your investment cannot be harmed (for many people their home is their most important asset) and that your enjoyment of your home's attributes - whether its views, light coming through the windows, privacy - cannot be harmed.

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    1. I get sick every time I pass that "aircraft carrier" being built on the Arcadia side of Orange Grove, right next to the tennis courts.

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    2. Some people, developers in particular, have no regard for their neighbors. Its a disgrace.

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  8. Another reason that Sierra Madre is so valuable is that it has a certain charm, character and village-like feel to it. You change that character by tearing everything down and building McMansions. When you allow that to be done, Sierra Madre becomes just like any other city in the San Gabriel Valley. Consequently, buyers have lots of choices. The more you keep Sierra Madre unique and different from other cities, the more valuable our real estate becomes because there is simply no place like it. Preservation of what makes us unique adds value because what we have here in Sierra Madre is like a scarce commodity.

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    1. True. And parts of Arcadia have become so butt ugly that many homes are fetching much lower prices than their owners thought they would get when they put them on the market. That is what is hurting property values in Arcadia.

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    2. That's right. Unless you buy up a buffer of homes around your property, you can never have a restful sleep because your neighbor may put their house up for sale which gets bought by some developer whose only concern is squeezing out every last drop of profit from their "project" at your expense.

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    3. Where Am I? The Power of Uniqueness
      This talk was given at a local TEDx event; Ed McMahon sets forth a compelling argument for the economic, psychological and social value of uniqueness. “Communities that can’t differentiate themselves,” McMahon observes, “have no competitute advantage.”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB5tH4rt-x8

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    4. As a big believer in private property rights and freedom, I draw the line when one person's right to do something impacts on someone else's right to be free from harm. That's what this all comes down to. While I would hope the people would always be good neighbors to one another and do the right thing, then we wouldn't have to have strict rules in place. But it was one our founders who designed our political system of checks and balances who said we wouldn't need to have that if "men were angels". But they are not, so we have to protect people from harm by those who are only looking out for themselves. Most developers are only looking out for themselves and that's legal and its to be expected. Its our job to protect our communities and our neighborhoods from the harm they can potentially cause by their projects whether its ruining the views of neighbors, causing excess traffic and pollution or whatever it might be. But if the developers and their team of lawyers care more about their profits then we care about preserving our community and neighborhoods, then we have nothing to complain about when we wake up and Sierra Madre or some other poor city turns into what is happening right now in Arcadia. Fortunately, Sierra Madre has taken action to stem that tide. I hope Arcadia can do the same.

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    5. on sturtevant last month there were two hoses for sale just a few hundred feet apart. one was for sale for about $450k, the other for $4.5M. the first humble but a true canyon-style original. the other gigantic but in a sincere craftsman aesthetic. I like that kind of livable diversity.

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    6. I'll take the humble canyon-like original.

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    7. Speaking of, 8:40, I wonder what is happening with Adele's lawsuit (or should I say CETT Investments), since she didn't get her way with the One Carter cookie-cutters.

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    8. CETT lawsuits are ongoing last I heard. They have plans for 25+ houses sitting in the Planning Department.

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    9. I hope the city doesn't cave in to their demands. CETT needs to comply with our rules.

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  9. Can you imagine what it would do to values in areas like Bungalow Heaven in Pasadena if developers were allowed to tear down those houses and build big glass modern McMansions. The neighborhood would go to hell and lose all its charm and character. Because they have preserved the architectural consistency of that neighborhood, it has become a very desirable place to live and values have skyrocketed. No one who lives there or who buys into the neighborhood has to worry that the next door neighbor or developer will do something crazy to change everything.

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  10. The current meme in Arcadia is that if you oppose mansionization you are somehow racist. That is how loathsome and ugly the development crowd is there.

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    1. AS soon as they fall back on the racism argument, you know they've lost. That's the desperate straw man that comes out when the pro-development people have no other arguments.

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    2. The notion that a privileged majority is somehow being oppressed in Arcadia requires some further explanation.

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    3. They've also trotted out the civility strategy. Old dogs, old tricks.

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  11. Not sure anyone here is aware yet, but Lawsuit Richie McDonald is working for the McMansion crowd in Arcadia. Small world.

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    1. Whether is McDonald, or the Groh family from Mur-Sol or some of these others, they make alot of money from forcing McMansions down our throats. Its pure profit for them. They don't care about the communities or the neighbor's. That is not one of their considerations. All they care about is building the biggest home they can so that they can make as much money as they can. Don't get me wrong, if they play by the rules, they are allowed to do that. And if we are stupid enough to elect people to public office or have rules in place that allow them to do this, then we get what we deserve.

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    2. 8:11, can you give us more details? 8:18 and everyone reading this, please thank our current City Council for staying strong and passing some tough zoning laws. Thank you, of course, to Preserve Sierra Madre.

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    3. Our Plannng Commission and City Council have done an outstanding job in protecting Sierra Madre. Can you imagine where we would be if the old gang was in charge.

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  12. Practically every neighborhood preservation measure in Sierra Madre can be marked by a gastly reminder of the last piece of ugly that went up under the old code: corner of NW Grand View and Santa Anita, twin uglies on Camillo, the White Whale building to the north of Montecito Parking lot, NE corner at Baldwin, the White three story megamansion (yes we have a megamansion) at the east end of Lotus Lane (now prohibited by the old and revised Hillside Ordinance. Sierra Madre has continued to be alert but each of these instances point out the greed push of developers. It never ends. It never will.

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    1. Developers spend hours with their lawyers scrutinizing all the codes looking for loopholes. While we have done a great job in Sierra Madre, we now need to bring the Municipal Code completely in line with the General Plan. For example, we need to make it a little harder to do lot splits by increasing the minimum sized lot.

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    2. Yes, 10:43, there are still some holes that need to be filled and gaps that need to be plugged but we are almost there. While we always have to remain vigilant, we will then be able to relax a little bit.

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  13. Parts of Arcadia now look like what you can see from your car as you drive the eastern end of the 210.

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  14. Foothill communities are being raped by speculators, developers and real estate agents who work in concert with city halls to create a false bubble to draw in buyers and leave them and the rest of those cities residents to deal with the over building mess left behind. No matter what your local bobble head city manager or city council representative says about how much tax revenue will be generated by these so called gifts by the developer by building the project inflation and CPI will exceed any amount brought to the cities tax coffers. Be careful about looking that gift horse in the face.

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    1. Lousy City Halls pols then turn around and lavish their development impact fee and increased real-estate tax haul on municipal employee unions in exchange for support. It's corruption California style.

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    2. Money is usually what drives all this and that's what the developers can count on in trying to garner support for projects that nobody wants. Mater Dolorosa is playing the "budget" card big time hoping that we will sell the soul of our community for the 30 pieces of silver that they are craving.

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  15. Today's Real Estate section, LA Times has the Cańon Street (address not mentioned) just east of Alegria advertized again: Sierra Madre/$998,000 Including opportunity to build your dream estate on a flat 25,097 sq. ft. flat lot w/plans to build a 4,500 sq ft home plus garage on a serene tree-line street smongst magnificent estates. Michael Lachtman (626) 215-4331 www.Lachtman.com
    (with a redition of the façade).
    So there you have it, a million dollar lot in Sierra Madre!

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    1. Micha is pushing pretty hard to tear that thing down. As a supporter of Preserve Sierra Madre, I was happy to receive an email from them announcing that they will now be giving us a "Demolition Alert" each month so that we know which homes have a date with the wrecking ball.

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  16. The realtor continues to report the size of the lot incorrectly as 2,866 feet have been carved off for a drive-way when the lot was divided to make the lot in the rear.

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  17. Protecting the character of the community is critical but it should not have been done with reactionary and ill conceived new codes. I can live with the maximum gross square footage allowed, but not the trigger for the conditional use permit. We have height restrictions, setbacks on all sides, plenty of protections for the neighbors. So why does one need to go through the aggravating, expensive and drawn out process of a CUP to build more or remodel more than 3500 sq ft including garage and patio on any size lot. It's not just second stories that trigger, it's everything, basement and crawl space too. You can not comprehend the lunacy of this requirement until you go through it. It costs a lot of money to wait and to amend, especially when the application process is completely vague and staff can not handle the work load. This could have been handled in a much more efficient way, but unfortunately a mob mentality does not allow for logic. You want to keep out the developers, ok, but what about the rest of us trying to raise families? At the end of the day, you have left room for only deep pockets and developers. Just try and remodel something in this town. The permits and city imposed fees will run you in the 10's of thousands, not to mention the months of waiting while paying your mortgage, your astronomical water bill and property taxes. I understand the victory celebration, but try and understand that not everyone is a developer trying to rape the community for profit.

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    1. Unfortunately for you Tay, Wuo and Chandler refused to do their jobs. Now you are going to have to learn to live with the result.

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    2. I don't feel it's fair to blame "mob mentality" for the changes to the code. It would be fair to blame the city and the city manager for the high fees.

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    3. And that is why people hate government, because we accept the ridiculous as necessary to achieve our goals. If it doesn't work, it needs to be fixed, not accepted.

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    4. The mandatory CUP is the most important provision. Sure it will cost you a few thousand dollars but it safeguards the neighbors. I bought my house because of its existing views, light and privacy. You now want to change things without any input from me even though what you do affects me. You want to build a bigger home. That's great. Maybe consider buying a different home that meets your size requirements before you add onto your home in such a manner that it decreases the value of my home. Sorry pal. Move to Montana if you want to do anything you want and you have a few acres of land around your home. Here is Sierra Madre, we live in close quarters with one another and I don't want to take any chances on getting screwed over by what you want to do.

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    5. (;23 needs to realize that too much is at stake for the neighbors not to have the CUP. I know you want a free hand but even the best codes don't provide another protection. The neighbors needs to be able to give their input to prevent a neighbor from screwing them over. Its not just developers who can be selfish and don't care about their immediate neighbors. How many time do you see a home where someone added this big second story which gave them great views of the city lights or the mountains. But the neighbors behind just had their views eviscerated and the neighbors in front have lost all privacy in their backyard. I know 9:23 that you want a free hand to do whatever you want. I get that but what you do affects other people.

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    6. 9:23, northwest corner of Santa Anita and Grandview.

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    7. If you are building or gutting a 3500 square foot house, the cost of the CUP is very small compared to the cost of the new house. The review process protects everyone. If you do t like the idea of a CUP you can always build a one story home that is less than 3500 square feet

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  18. Thank you former 3 time Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray and the Canyon Zone Committee for finally making sensible building laws in the canyon.
    Giving some credit where credit is do.
    Elaine Aguilar and Danny Castro helped...when preservationists control the majority city council
    City officials help. When the development crowd control they help them and bad things often happen.

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    1. Yeah. That's the lay of the land.

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  19. Good point.
    It is lost on most readers because ,as you mention ,they have not tried to get Approval for a modest home improvement.
    It is very sad that the new rules were not written to enable existing home owners some relief from burdens intended to stop mansionisation.This is the issue that persuades home owners to make non-permitted construction and all the grief that eventually produces.

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    1. Maybe the new rules aren't perfect but we should err on the side of maximum protection for the neighbors whether the threat comes from a developer or an existing resident who want to dramatically change things.

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    2. Are you looking for multiple lawsuits? Two sets of rules? Are you nuts?

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    3. People who go on about property rights are usually only concerned about the rights of out of town developers.

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    4. You can't have it all ways. Sure, some of the rules aimed at developers make it tougher for residents too but in the end, its worth it if you think Sierra Madre is worth saving. If you don't then let it turn into Arcadia and watch your property values plummet.

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  20. We still have the monastery to fight. Because the city needs money don't expect much support from the CC to keep it from happening. And the ad for Canon? Really? surrounded by mansions? Are they no longer offerring the plans for free? There are some lovely oak trees on that property! A nice home could be built there. I have no problem with that. But a dream home has that Felikian feel to it. I want what I want and Harabedian will help me get it!

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    1. Felikian knew Harabedian and was able to secure a change to an entire class of properties - those lots over 20K or was it 30K square feet who know get an additional 5% building allowance. When used for a garage that allows significantly more interior square footage. The benefit to the Felikians by Harabedian was to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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    2. Yup, 9:48 and 10:54 - It was pretty obvious that the Felikians were the posters. The rest of us are just trying to protect what we have, and raise our families, too.

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    3. It's a very small group of properties you're referring to, 10:54. If you want to insist it was a victory for mansionization, okay, but only mansionization on huge lots and there still are many more restrictions than ever before....

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    4. Your're right to some extent 1:38. When you look at the big picture, passing those R-1 improvements were a huge gain even if things got changed a bit on the edges. The Harabedian change only applied to a very small number of properties, really just the Felikians, so it wasn't worth a big stink.

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  21. The Felikian project is hard to fault. Is it big? Yes. Can you tell its mass from the street no. And its a single story. It is very well done, and the neighbors came out to support it. So what argument are you making exactly. Is it because they have money?

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    1. I think someone/s is grinding the ax about it because of the suspicion that it was allowed to happen through a political favor of Harabedian's.
      I am a long-time slow growth supporter, and I have no objection to that big house because of the size of the lot and the placement of the house.

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    2. I think it is the perception of favoritism.

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    3. I don't think people mind the house so much. It was just the idea of cronyism that was behind it. In other words, if you know somebody in a high place, you can get the rules adjusted. It is 1-story and it is a very big lot. In the future, we just have to pay attention to what the City Council does because other people may want the rules changed and it does seem unfair to change all the rules to benefit one friend.

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  22. A lot of us are responding to years and years of bald faced lies: I just want to build a house for my family...owner builder, nice guy and bam...last nail and up goes the for sale sign. As a good friend of Sierra Madre said years ago regarding the nice "local" hillside builder whose plan morphed into 'oh, yeah, he added maybe one for a family member or friend' "...even if Mother Teresa wanted to build that house it would be wrong." I have even had builders in the past, who heard me at the podium speak against extravagant, gargantuan projects, call me to tell me how good their project was and would I support them...Not only no, but hell no.

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  23. Sierra Madre is a wonderful place to reside. However the price of housing is way overpriced. Value understood is based on supply and demand but I cant figure out the type of person who is able to afford $800K for a 2 bedroom home on a 7500sf lot must be educated enough to have a great career would spend that kind of money to live in a home that is really suitable for a very average middle income person. Ive searched for years in SM and its like paying $50K for a 73 volkswagon bug. There is so much better value in Pasadena, Monrovia, Altadena even Alhambra and San Gabe. I could kick myself for not buying in SM pre 2002 my investment would nearly have tripled. Then I would wait a couple more years and sell it to some Chinese for 1.5 million to tear down and I would sit pretty on my lakehouse in the midwest....

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    1. You owe it to yourself to try and move now. The midwest is still there.

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  24. Don't worry, the Chinese will never invade Sierra Madre cuz the school distrct (PUSD) sucks ass.

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