Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Not Too Much Going On At Tonight's City Council Meeting

Apparently the City Council doesn't want to distract anyone too much from the important business of voting to raise your utility taxes, so they decided to not do much of anything tonight.

No important decisions will be made this evening, rather a few pleasant and congratulatory presentations will take place, and then a discussion about the important topic of water conservation will commence. Lucky you, right? Certainly nobody can ever have too many of those.

The good news here is Sierra Madre is actually hitting its state mandated water conservation numbers for the first half of March. After many long months of coming up way short in this regard, it does look like things are going much better now. So what is the reason for this dramatic turnaround? It is kind of a surprise, actually (link).


Let me ask you this. Is it now possible to say that Sierra Madre's past months of futility in regards to its failure to hit state mandated water use reduction numbers was due to water "distribution system leaks?" Kind of an odd thing since none of that was ever officially considered the cause in the past. We weren't even supposed to go there, or so I was told several times by someone in a position to know better.

As a matter of fact, weren't we also told by all the usual suspects that water main leaks could not be claimed as a cause for Sierra Madre's water reduction shortfalls because such things couldn't actually be measured? And therefore these shortfalls had to be considered the fault of water-wasting residents instead? As a kind of default position I guess. Somebody had to take that blame, and City Hall would never accept the honor.

Here is what Bruce "Master of Disaster" Inman told the Pasadena Star News last December 27th (link):


So now these things can be, to use the fat word, "quantified?" Does this mean that after a couple of years of being asked for this data, City Hall can finally cough those numbers up? Do the residents get an apology for being blamed for water conservation shortfalls when it reality it was those leaking pipes all along? 

I know, asking for carefully reasoned and measured consistency where none can ever possibly exist is pretty much the definition of folly. But for sanity's sake at least you do need to say something.

Speaking of which, I won't be able to watch this evening's meeting because of my now robust work schedule. If anyone wants to send me some notes about the goings-on tonight, I'll use them for tomorrow. Otherwise I'll just find something else to write about.

A Recent Statement From Preserve Sierra Madre

(Mod: I kept meaning to post this. Sorry about the delay.)

Dear Supporters:

There are three houses located at 86 E. Highland, 78 E. Highland and 70 E. Highland in Sierra Madre that are being sold together as a development opportunity to build 9 condominium units.  According to the Realtor multiple listing service, the asking price is $3,300,000 and the property is currently in escrow.   The combined square footage for all three lots is over 29,000 square foot and the property is in the R-3 Zoning.  The current gross rent for all the homes is $7,600 per month.

The link to the property and pictures can be found at:

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/86-E-Highland-Ave-Sierra-Madre-CA-91024/20884710_zpid/

If you drive by the properties in question, you are likely to conclude that it would not be an improvement to the neighborhood to tear them down in favor of another big condominium development.
  
86 E. Highland and 70 E. Highland were built in 1931 and 1933 respectively. We presume they will be subject to the demolition ordinance that applies to homes that were built before 1940.  While it doesn't prevent the demolition of these two homes, the applicant does have to show that the homes have no historical significance. 78 E. Highland was built in 1947 and so will not be subject to the demolition ordinance. Evidently there is also a fourth rental unit that must be located behind one of the other homes and we do not know when it was built.       

We are also presuming that the water meter moratorium will prevent additional water meters from being added to the property although there has been some concern expressed to us about the possibility of "sub-metering" to allow the 9 units.

We don't know what the new Buyers' plans are for the property so any actions would be premature until the new Buyers submit a plan to the city. We are still hopeful that the new Buyers will consider leaving the property the way it is.
   
If you have any further information regarding this property, please email us. Thank you for your support.

Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

81 comments:

  1. Wasn't it the Mayor, who just this month, I believe, touted his water savings ability at the State of the City address? Didn't he say the city could do better? To be fair, Inman told me that the pipe leaks were counted against us in the conservation effort, he just said it was impossible to figure out how much.

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    1. Yes, the overall water usage is counted against the city in the state findings, including leaks. They do not differentiate. But Bruce could never figure out how much was from pipe leaks. Now apparently he can.

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    2. Inman is clueless and a political pawn.
      He has previously stated 1/3 of our total useage is leakage. But that was when he was trying to drum up $upport for extra funding to replace water mains.
      Same old City Hall problem -justifiable lack of trust in anything they say.
      To be fair, Elaine did say honestly "Gimme dat red Benz" Credit where credit is due?

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    3. How is saying we've gone from not meeting our conservation rates, to now meeting them because we've plugged up leaks given Bruce Inman the exact answer on how much the leaks contributed to the previous deficits? That's not a numerical answer, it's a general observation.

      Jeez Louise, people here just want to be angry.

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  2. How much do you bet that the water dept. finally figured out some valve was in the wrong position and was dumping water straight to the sewer?

    They haven't been replacing pipes so how would the leaks decrease?

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    1. We are right before an election. This way Mayor Capoccia can claim he has solved the water conservation problem. With just two week's figures no less.

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    2. Good question. Why have the leaks suddenly stopped, resulting in Sierra Madre's water reduction rising to over 35%? Is that "quantifiable?"

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    3. they have been replacing many pipes in the canyon

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    4. I knew it. This was always the Canyon's fault.

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    5. You need to apologize!

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    6. 8:17 Do you live in Sierra Madre? They have been replacing leaking pipes 16 hours a day for the last 2 months. You can see the shoddy patches in front of many many homes in N.W. Sierra Madre where I an blessed to live.

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    7. OK. You're sorry.

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    8. 9:50 - the pipes are not being replaced throughout the city, just in a few of the worst affected neighborhoods. There is not enough money to get all of them done. But you are saying that the inability of the city to hit its water conservation goals in the past is due to leaking pipes, and not resident overuse?

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    9. 9:50 You got it!

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    10. i love how every time i get a naughty naughty water waster reminder that i get to watch the city blast them out of the hydrants to water the asphalt. it's so cool.

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  3. Trust is a five letter word but to really trust you have to look at those persons who are expounding your need to trust them. You all know a politician's words are cheap confetti at best and they will charge you for delivering the BS confetti and later for the clean up of another mess they talked the voters into supporting. Suggest the voters go with a new person who will work harder to back up their claim to that elected office.

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  4. Remember!

    When you write in "Barry Gold" for City Council you MUST ALSO fill in the oval "bubble" box next to his name or the vote will not count. Goooooooo, Barry!

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    1. Yes. First you write in Barry's name, and then you vote for him. Just writing in Barry's name won't count as a vote.

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  5. We have had a little rain, the property owners sprinklers have been turned off. That's the water savings. City hall fails to show that they have the ability to reduce water usage or reduce spending. The CAPPS guy

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  6. It's politics. After the election everything falls apart again.

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    1. Highland Ave over development.
      Kudos to Tattler for alerting us to this over a month ago.
      READ IT ALL HERE FIRST !
      "February 12, 2016 at 5:20 PM

      We need to watch this carefully.
      Investment / Development Opportunity in coveted Sierra Madre, California. (3) Three Adjoining properties for sale by owner: $900,750 (3) = $2.925M

      86 E. Highland Ave [2 homes on 9,205sf lot]
      78 E. Highland Ave [1 home on 9,684sf lot]
      70 E. Highland Ave [1 home on 10,113sf lot]

      All properties zoned R3: (9) NINE POSSIBLE UNITS"

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  7. The brute force of government spending on autopilot
    http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/saunders/article/The-brute-force-of-government-spending-on-6921037.php?cmpid=fb-desktop

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  8. Let's all follow the golden rule!March 22, 2016 at 10:24 AM

    The city's success in getting the leaks under control is excellent news. Let's congratulate Bruce on this success to show our civility as compared to others who would tear our town asunder.

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    1. "Let's all follow the golden rule!" Is that a comment about the color of Sierra Madre's water for the last couple years?

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    2. I think 10:24 is confusing civility with valium.

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    3. I think 10:24 is confused. Civility has nothing to do with butt kissing.

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    4. let's all follow the godlen rule!March 22, 2016 at 11:40 AM

      No butt kissing. Just common sense, not to mention the second great commandment.

      We should praise the city when it does well, so that they don't ignore us when we criticize it for doing stooped stuff. Like wasting $4.8M over the next 8 years on the police department.

      And we should always be civil and kind with our words, so we don't end up in an anti-Semitic hell hole like the Yes on UUT crowd.

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    5. There are 4 new posts up on the Yes On UUT site in the last 24 hours bashing Barry Gold. Obviously they are digging their hole even deeper.

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    6. 11:49AM Both Barry and I have attempted to answer the posts on the YES site. To no avail. They are always removed.

      Judy Gold

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    7. They are some of the worst people this town has ever seen.

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    8. Bounce the bigots.

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  9. Just love it when anti-taxers complain about paying for the things they use. Little things like infrastructure and city services.

    It's the same mentality of those who engage in a little shoplifting here and there, or those who don't tell the cashier that s/he gave them too much change. Many of them rationalize it away because they think the prices are just "too high." Some are just "takers." Most probably never shared their toys. All are hirudinea.

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    1. So you don't think it has something to do with $9 million dollars in unfunded CalPERS debt, or over $20 million in water bond debt. A lot of which the city has only been making interest only payments on?

      Measure UUT is not going to pay for infrastructure or city services. It will be used to pay CalPERS costs.

      So let me ask you a question. Have you been paid to lie like this? If so, who are you lying for?

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    2. They should make this an IQ testMarch 22, 2016 at 10:59 AM

      Can't I use the sheriff instead of SMPD, fire the Chief, and have 20% more patrol hours and an extra $4.8M city verified dollars to spend on civic improvements to parks and the library? Or does that make me a "taker."

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    3. You are absolutely right 10:47: There is $9 million in CalPERS DEBT and (taking your word for it) $20 million in water bond DEBT.

      What is the operative word here? (I'll give you a hint. It's in CAPS.)

      So let's repeat the operative word: DEBT.

      You miss a salient point: You have ALREADY received the services underlying the CalPERS DEBT. You have ALREADY AND CONTINUE to receive the services underlying the water bond DEBT.

      Put another way: You did NOT YET pay for those portions (CalPERS DEBT/WB DEBT) of the services you have received and continue to receive. You, me, and everyone in SM has postponed paying for those portions.

      You pay your DEBTS, don't you. So let's pay those DEBTS.

      Now, if we can only think of a way to pay public DEBT. Hmm, maybe we can print the money! But wait, we don't have a Sierra Madre Bureau of Printing and Engraving. Maybe we could create one, but we'd probably need to float a bond to buy the equipment. More DEBT ... DOH!

      Maybe there's gold in them there hills behind us! The city could issue every able-bodied resident a pick and a shovel and send us up into the hills!

      Or maybe it would be a little easier on our collective spines to sneak into Arcadia at night and swipe it's cache of amber.

      Hmm, there must be a better way to raise money to pay our DEBT ... what is it? What issssss it?

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    4. All the "dohs!" on the part of Civility Cindy above aside, here are a couple of points that need to be considered.
      1) Deciding to make interest only payments on the 2003 water bond debt was sheer idiocy on the part of the city. The cost to the taxpayers on that blunder is over $8 million dollars. The actual math can be found here: http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2015/05/massive-doyle-stockley-era-water-bond.html
      2) If Civility Cindy is giving away CalPERS benefits, then I am sure she'll have a lot of friends today. Unfortunately that $9 million dollars in stupidly committed debt isn't going to help you at all. Rather it has caused Sierra Madre to try and raise utility taxes 3 times in six years.

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    5. Oh we have to pay our debt NOW says the Yes crowd. How comeBart Doyle and the rest went interest-only on the 2003 debt?

      Here's why: they didn't have the alas to raise the water rates enough, they kicked it down the road for all of us to pay. What a crock of (ahem).

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    6. 11:45, you just don't seem to understand that you are arguing against decisions--and more importantly for purposes of the comment thread beginning at 10:38--monetary obligations (DEBT) already incurred and owing. You also don't seem to understand that you have more money in your pocket now than if you had already paid your share of the expenditures that underlie those DEBTS.

      You don't like interest only payments for the water bond? You don't like the outstanding, unpaid CalPERS debt (that is likely increasing due to interest)?

      Then the city must either raise taxes to pay down the WB principal and the existing CalPERS shortfall, OR float another bond or two (calling for principal and interest payments) and use the funds to retire the WB and CalPERS DEBT.

      If neither are palatable to you, don your ski mask and go get that amber.

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    7. Maybe you are right, 12:25. Maybe. But look at it this way. What if the city had admitted that these are the actual reasons why Measure UUT needs to be approved by the voters. To pay for past blunders. But they didn't do that. Instead they lied. Said it was for the library, or the PD, or the Mt Wilson Trail Race. I find that to be offensive. If you want more taxes from me, then at least tell me the truth. They did not. My vote is NO.

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    8. 12:25, when we go to LASD, we'll start to pay down the CalPERS balance owed because the police share of CalPERS debt will no longer be growing.

      Water debt gets paid down by water rates (not a penny of UUT goes to water debt or pipes).

      This proposed 66% UUT increase is about a boutique SMPD ( or half of it) and paying ever-increasing Platinum Pensions.

      I say NO and have voted that way.

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    9. Pay the debt? Sure, after we spend less with LASD. Don't need a big ass tax increase.

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    10. I get that people can disagree on whether and how various expenditures are made. But I don't quite understand why a tax to pay debt must be coupled with some sort of admission that there were "blunders" or negligence or some other wrongful conduct.

      If there is evidence of misconduct, present it: Who did what, when, and what specific law was broken. Take it to the DA or file a lawsuit. Otherwise it's just political disagreement.

      The DEBT exists. Perhaps you would prefer that UUT funds should be used solely for paying down existing debt and then sunset. That's a far more viable approach than complaining about how the debt was incurred and basically saying you won't pay for it.

      We certainly know that those who do not want to pay will continue to use the infrastructure and services. In fact, I do not doubt that those who strive to pay the least are the most vocal complainers about the level and quality of infrastructure and services.

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    11. I guess you don't get the "truth" thing, 1:01. The reasons for the city taking responsibility for past mistakes seems to have escaped you as well. That's OK. It explains your support for Measure UUT.

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    12. And going with the Sheriff's Dept. will, over time, lessen our CalPers obligation.

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    13. or those that expect city services or lead a Yes on the UUT to raise other people taxes as a "fair" tax yet those same Yes leaders are Prop 13 welfare property tax recipients

      they paid 1/10 of the fair market value property tax and instead of paying up fairly they want to tax our utilities?

      no thanks, I'll vote NO and it'd be welcome if Prop 13 was reversed - all of the local yokels who squawk about the UUT should pay up on property taxes

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    14. Absolutely unfair for long term property owners to freeload via Prop 13. I'll bet they're among the biggest complainers about taxes.

      Too bad there aren't any dirt roads and manual pump water wells that we could make them use, and maybe let them have only 3 or 4 hours of electricity a day, since they're not paying their fair share!

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    15. I'll try posting again. 11:45 - take the bond and put it into a calculator at fixed interest for 30 years. Compare the interest owed to what we had to pay. Is the difference 8 million dollars? If it isn't, then stop saying we had to pay 8 million dollars because of the way the debt was structured.

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    16. Go look at the link you stupid fool. That $8 million figure comes from the city's own numbers.

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    17. I'm a stupid fool? You seem to be under the impression that the money could have been obtained with no interest paid, because that's the only argument you could make to explain this statement "Deciding to make interest only payments on the 2003 water bond debt was sheer idiocy on the part of the city. The cost to the taxpayers on that blunder is over $8 million dollars."

      If you took on a 6.5 million loan, and paid a fixed interest rate of 5% (not interest only), you would pay 6.061 million dollars in interest.

      So how much did it cost the taxpayers to structure the debt "interest only?"

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    18. Yeah, pretty much. The numbers cited here came from the city. If you have a beef with them go fight city hall.

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  10. Your "truth," 1:05. As I said:

    If there is evidence of misconduct, present it: Who did what, when, and what specific law was broken. Take it to the DA or file a lawsuit. Otherwise it's just political disagreement.

    It's political and the majority ruled on those issues. You may not like it, and maybe things did not turn out as desired, but the decisions were made by the MAJORITY.

    I'll join you in lobbying for admissions of "blunders" when (1) you provide evidence re who, what, when, above; and (2) Bush/Cheney acknowledge their WMD/yellowcake lies.

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    1. Exactly what was the majority that ruled on those issues 1:20PM?

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    2. The voters that turned down a utility tax increase in 2012 and 2014. The Yes On UUT people are so brain damaged they have forgotten that.

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    3. and instead of working to find saving solutions, they yammered, postured and now are selling the same BS to us a 3rd time

      trust them, this time they are telling us the truth....

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    4. 4:16: The majority that you believe gave away the store resulting in (1) CalPERS obligations and (2) water bond obligations, which is what the discussion above was about if you were paying attention.

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  11. "It's political and the majority ruled on those issues. You may not like it, and maybe things did not turn out as desired, but the decisions were made by the MAJORITY."

    Yes, you're right. A majority of Sierra Madre residents voted NO on utility tax increases in 2012 and 2014. When are you going to acknowledge that?

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    1. Yes the majority did vote no on the increases. But, of course, you knew the discussion above involved DEBT obligations, obligations incurred by MAJORITY votes. Do you think a minority somehow approved contracts that resulted in CalPERS obligations and water bond obligations? Do tell us how.

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    2. People voted for CalPERS and bond debt? You have proof of that? I thought it was done by faithless council members and the city employees they allowed to line their own pockets at the cost of the taxpayers. You know, the same sell outs that ignored two votes of the people to limit utility taxes.

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    3. 8:31 is smoking crack yet again.

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    4. Somebody needs to call the Sheriff and arrest the poor fool before he destroys his life.

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  12. 1:01 The extra money raised by measure UUT will not be used to reduce our debts, which we do need to pay off. The extra money will be used to support the police department which will add to our debt. I will not give the city more money if it does not fix the infrastructure and reduce the debt.

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    1. the biggest debt drain are the welfare pension plans that pay public sector employees almost full salary for forever in retirement, at an early enough retirement age where they can double dip on the taxpayer dimes and UUT rate increases

      then we have the SMPD who claimed they were understaffed, had part time officers and racked up hundreds of overtime hours to pad pension payouts

      imagine our own PD officers ripping taxpayers off, say it ain't so?

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  13. 1:20 doesn't seem to be able to quantify a majority vote.

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  14. What does Bush have to do with any of this?

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    Replies
    1. When you can't play at politics it's always best to bring up Bush or blame him...Your car doesn't start, blame Bush,
      Your dog pukes ,blame Bush .
      It's safer than attending a Trump rally.

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    2. Nothing. That's what they do when they're losing the argument.

      Cheney! Halliburton!! Aaaaah

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    3. They watch a lot of cable news and think they know something.

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    4. It seems, 2:43, 4:17, 4:25, and maybe (though obtusely) 5:51, something (mid-late afternoon libations?) have fogged your jest detectors.

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    5. It seems, 8:27, that your inane babbling has made you think you're cute. You are annoying. Like a small fly. Begone, babe.

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    6. Sorry you were stumped by obvious jest, 9:24. Goodnight sweetheart.

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    7. I think 8:27 has a drinking problem.

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  15. Gosh. Soon Gene Goss will be our Mayor. What a fabulous thought.

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  16. At least Gene is the same person he was as a candidate.

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    Replies
    1. Someone who can't make up his mind and doesn't understand financial statement? True and true. Although that may not be something to be proud of.

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  17. Mayor Capoccia wouldn't let that woman finish. I guess he hates the truth.

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    1. yeah -- why should she keep to the rules and 3 minutes...if they were going for Yes on UUT and they went over - you'd be squaking about staying to 3 min

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    2. Maybe because the No On UUT supporters didn't have the full use of city taxes to put out mailers that only told half the story. There is a high level of frustration in town with such obvious corruption.

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    3. For Mayor Goss' gift, let's get him a NO on UUT victory and a full-time police force courtesy of LA Sheriff's Dept.

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    4. Maybe the Sheriffs will let him ride one of their horses in the 4th of July parade.

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  18. What did Ms. Alcorn say that had to do with anything except her misguided opinion?

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  19. Did you get you post card from the city (ie you the taxpayer) correcting the language error in the sample ballot? If anything, I hope this is a plus for the NO position, (i.e. the city staff can't even get the language right much less spend the UUT fiscally responsible. The bullet point: Increase the existing 8% UUT tax to a maximum of 10% July 1, 2016. Hey, this reinforces why the NO is the correct vote to cast.

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