Friday, January 8, 2016

Fort Sierra Madre - Five Essential Planning Commission Recommendations Now Being Sent To The City Council

These five Proposed Municipal Code Text Amendments were signed off on last night by the Planning Commission and will now be sent to the City Council for final approval. They are designed to reinforce the General Plan, and should be considered essential for the continued integrity and effectiveness of that document.

The text amendments do allow for development of course, no one is calling for the City of Sierra Madre to remain forever frozen in place. However, each of these does place some very key and specific controls on that development. There was nothing reckless or spontaneous about what happened last night, either. These have been under deliberation since June of last year, so plenty of caution was taken. Nothing was rushed.

Here are those 5 main items:

1) Front Yard Setbacks: Whenever fifty percent (or greater) of the properties on the same side of the street in the linear block where the project is located have set backs greater than thirty feet, the prevailing setback shall be calculated by adding all of the front yard setbacks, except for the smallest and largest setbacks and dividing by the number of lots in the calculation.

2) Flag Lots are prohibited for newly created lots and for newly configured lots resulting from lot line adjustments.

3) Conditional Use Permits. The location of a project on the site will be taken into consideration.

4) Additional Burdens of Proof have been added for permits for single-family houses. This section is meant to impose significant, separate, and additional burdens on proposed project with the understanding that in many cases satisfying such burdens may call for significantly reduced development intensity than is allowed otherwise under this title.

5) Modified Front Yard on Cul-de-Sacs. This section was deleted entirely.

It will be interesting to see if these Municipal Text Amendments will be agendized for City Council consideration before next April's election. Any delay past that date should be seen as a cause for concern.

Letter from a Resident

(Mod: I received the following recently, and it is a very well informed letter. The article it refers to was called "Sierra Madre Falls Short Of Its Water Conservation Target Again - This Time By 12%," and was posted here in Wednesday.)

Dear Mr. Crawford,

I read your article in The Tattler this morning. I happen to know someone in the city government and have been told several things of which you may not be aware. There is a water patrol. They apparently send violations to the city. The city issues a courtesy letter, but no fines have yet to be levied. Fines are only issued if people go over their tier numbers.

Mr. Inman may have been given a way to figure out the city's water leakage, but he insists there is no way to do it.

Several people have told me that they offered to volunteer to help do billings in the water department. Elaine Aguilar never answered them.

My thoughts are that if the city isn't fined $61,000, the city manager will use this money instead to help pass the UUT. There is already a committee set up to figure out how to best present the UUT to the citizens. Something along the line of the firehouse get together much touted by Capoccia and Goss.

Elaine has always made the recommendation that money never be taken from the 2 million in the water fund nor the General Fund to repair infrastructure. Many of the worst leaks in the pipes would have been fixed by now. She may have to take from the water fund to pay the CALPERS balloon payment that is due soon.

Mr. Inman has readily admitted that the water leaks go towards the state quota. How can anyone in the city blame the citizens when there have been leaks all over the city? I'm sure Elaine was not pleased that that info got out! Mr. Inman may be all that people think, but he has become the fall guy. He is not his own boss. He does as he is directed by Elaine as does our Mayor.

I have also heard that no one seems to know who these 30 water wasters are. The city says they know, but no average citizen has been able to point to any neighbor that waters that excessively. I'm sure the water patrol would be able to answer that!

In case you didn't know, there are a lot of people who drive, walk, and jog in the wee hours of the morning. Many have wondered where the police patrols are. If these patrols are seen they are the same 2 policemen and they don't work that shift all the time. The cars are usually parked in front of the police department.

I have a couple of friends who received parking tickets, misplaced them and waited for the notice to come in the mail. The notices never came and no fines ever showed up on their registration. This is outsourced, but does anyone ever check it? Does anyone check to see if cars parked in wee hours have permits? There sure are a lot of them parked without stickers. Doesn't that count as revenue?

No one wants to run for City Council because they are afraid of Capoccia or Harabedian. Ask yourself, who would want that job? The city is in such a mess and with many townies who can't see through the fog that is spun by city hall, so it will remain so. Both of these noble candidates feel the city has turned a corner-sure, right into a dead end.

The city manager should have been long gone by now. There is no fix as long as CalPERS remains. It is up for renewal in 2018. God only knows what limitations will be in that renewal. The city could file bankruptcy and hope like heck they get a decent judge. The retired benefits would have to be paid until the retiree passes, of course.

And lastly the Passionist Monastery. Does anyone out there really believe that the city won't allow them to build? Think money, folks. Millions of dollars being dangled in front of City Hall eyes. That money and the money generated by One Carter has put stars in the eyes of city employees as well as the City Council. Money being the all-purpose solution to everything.

That same bunch that shamed the city as well as embarrassed the Sheriff's Department are just waiting for the call from their noble leaders. Sad.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

32 comments:

  1. Opinion based on speculation about skewed inferences drawn from rumor.

    The letter writer should produce hard facts.

    What was the way to figure out water leakage, who gave it to Inman, and when? Who volunteered to help with billing? Why would anyone want volunteers to look at their bills and especially their payment methods and account numbers? (Perhaps we can outsource the payment methods and account numbers to the kindly volunteers in Nigeria who frequently offer mutual banking assistance.)

    How can $61k that might be used for fines be shifted and used for political purposes without anyone finding out?

    You say your "couple of friends" received tickets, but then suggest that permit-less cars are not being ticketed. Which is it? Ticketing or no ticketing?

    Where are these Millions of dollars you say are dangling? Are they hidden in a pinata somewhere? Where's the stick? I'd like a turn.

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    1. This was posted here before, but here is the money the Passionists are waving beneath the nose of city officials:

      Development Fees: The City charges a development fee of $45,000 per unit. Based on 40 to 50 units, that would be $1.8 to $2.3 million. The City also charges a Conditional Use Permit Fee of $3,500 per unit, plus other fees of about $500 per home. Together, these fees will add another $160,000 to $200,000 in one-time City revenues. To be conservative, we stated that development fees would be $2 to $2.5 million.

      Property Tax: The new property tax revenues the city would receive were computed by using a low of 40 homes valued very conservatively at $1.5 million and a high of 50 homes valued at $2 million, a property tax rate of 1% of assessed value, of which the city receives 21 cents on the dollar. That yields approximately $125,000 to $210,000 annually in new city revenues. Because the land’s current owner is a non-profit, it currently generates no property tax revenue for the City. So, in year 10, the City will have received between $1.25 and $2 million. These new property tax revenues will continue to be received by the City each year.

      Other Taxes and Fees: In our community presentations, we haven’t stated the amount of utility tax, sales tax, vehicle in-lieu fees and other revenues the City would receive with the addition of these new homes, but since the new homes would represent an increase of about one percent in the number of homes in Sierra Madre, it’s likely that revenue from all these sources would increase by about one percent.

      Link to it here. Bring your piñata broomstick. https://passionist.org/materdolorosaproject/#what-fiscal-benefits

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    2. That Bruce Inman cannot come up with any facts about how much water is being lost to leakage, and could be the cause of what will be a huge fine, isn't a good thing, right? You can see where that might be a problem?

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    3. 6:45am, you must be one of the yahoo's of whom I speak. You probably haven't been to a council meeting since the Sheriff's Dept. was there. Do you ever do any research? It's there for you to find. I did not say where my friends received their parking tickets, you presume you know. The key to finding out water leakage is to do all the city water meters at one time. Yea, it might be a big job, but it would tell you, and it would only have to be done once. It's easy to read a meter. Volunteers could help. But maybe we should out source that to Nigeria. Get off your duff and drive around town on your own. See what you see. I verified as much as I was told. It's your turn to prove me wrong.

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    4. "He does as he is directed by Elaine as does our Mayor."
      Inman has estimated 30% of our total consumption leaked some years ago.The major leaks have been repaired now but many others remain.
      Think of it as passive replenishment of the aquifer -for the benefit of our neighbors in Arcadia.

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    5. 6:45 would have known about the passionist money deal if he read the tattler more often. it is the only way to stay informed about what is going on.

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    6. All conjecture. Give us sourced facts.

      Building moratorium = no money deal.

      Volunteers with agendas, who may later demand compensation and benefits? Yeah, that will work.

      Unless there are some Sierra Madre Geysers that I'm not aware of, I don't think driving around is a good leak detection measure.

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    7. All conjecture, give us sourced facts.

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  2. Thanks to the Planning Commission for their good work.

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    1. Agreed. They are the foot soldiers who make our preservation a reality.

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    2. It looks like this will be agendized for City Council consideration sometime in February. Way before the election.

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    3. Don't want to harsh anyone's mellow, but we all better keep that meeting in mind & be prepared to show up. You never know what kind of ruckus the pro over-development community wants to hatch.

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    4. According to the latest City Managers Report, these code changes are coming to the City Council on January 26th.

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  3. If 50 homes were built times $3,000,000 that's $150,000,000 dollars in sales. That's almost 2 million in new property taxes. Based on the acreage cost, there will be no $1.5 million dollar homes!

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  4. Will City Hall take the bribe?

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Sorry dude, we cover local politics here. Look at it this way. There are about 1,000,000 sites in America that cover national politics. There is only one that covers the local stuff on a daily basis. Why not go to one of those? I'm sure you'd fit right in.

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  6. The city raised my water meter rates again.

    For the cost of the water meter fee, I could buy a new water meter!

    FYI... The city pays $65.25 for a brand new 3/4 inch water meter!

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  7. Mr. mod...

    yesterday I emailed you a copy of my recent Athens Trash bill.

    What do you think about all the UUT Taxes on top of the franchise taxes? (THATS A TAX ON A TAX)

    Do you think that 25%+/- of trash bin taxes is excessive for each billing period?

    My 25% of trash bin taxes must be paying for PENSIONS & CADILLAC HEALTH CARE COSTS, where do I get my NEW CADILLAC, I SURELY HAVE PAID FOR ONE!

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    1. Sierra Madre residents pay top dollar for everything. Not sure they are getting their money's worth.

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  8. I think the policy of the CC to fine residents for minor excessive water usage is an outrage when they are amongst the biggest water wasters and without meters to account for it. What a sham!

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    1. IMO that is why Bruce won't cough up the numbers for how much water is wasted in Sierra Madre through leaking water infrastructure. It would destroy the myth of resident - rather than city - guilt.

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  9. The UUT tax shoudl be on the cost of the service provided, not on the cost of the service plus all the other taxes that jack up the bill. Geesh!

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  10. Simple proposal:
    No new building until the water restrictions are lifted and water rates reduced to pre-drought levels. Otherwise how do we know the water problem is over(note I did not say "solved").

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  11. Oh for heavens sake, the "inside information" that the letter writer sent to Crawford has been known for months, the water patrol for maybe a year. The issue of fines was discussed in at least two city council meetings, and it was decided that letters be sent to the violators but no fines. As far as the volunteers for the water department is concerned, Elaine hasn't been able to figure out how to have the confidentiality issue solved (she doesn't want to) with a simple document signed by the volunteer. And, come on, why don't you stake out the police department all night and report back to us about the night patrol. I know of at least one who was willing to run for city council but didn't file, not because they were afraid of the two Johns, but because they were not able to garner enough financial support it would require to unseat the incumbents. I believe that at least John Capoccia has more support than you realize.

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    1. Asking questions are genuinely good thing if you are not understanding anything totally, however this paragraph gives good understanding yet.

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  12. 'I believe that at least John Capoccia has more support than you realize.'
    If true, how sad a comment on the apathy of the uninformed residents.If they read Tattler they would know why Capoccia is an appalling elected official -in terms of keeping his word or explaining when he does U-turns.

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    1. Capoccia told everyone he was a tax fighter in 2012. Everyone believed what he said and elected him. He has been pompomg tax hikes ever since. In 2016 Capoccia is telling everyone he's a big time preservation guy. Want to guess what will happen once he is reelected?

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    2. That should have read "pimping tax hikes ever since." No way will Capoccia turn down Higgins' money offer. Elaine won't let him.

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  13. Slightly off the topic -- just a quick note to warn folks of the regular "road tax" collecting points in town: 1. west bound Sierra Madre Blvd (between Michillinda Ave and Washington Blvd); 2. south bound Santa Anita Ave (between Grandview and Sierra Madre Blvd). Two cars were pulled off Sierra Madre Blvd onto Washington Blvd by cops on motorcycles within minutes of each other earlier this afternoon.

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