Sunday, May 15, 2016

National Catholic Reporter: US Sisters Turn Their Lands Over To Trusts, Preserving Them From Development

Mod: Quite a contrast between what the Victory Noll Sisters are doing with their land, and what is happening in Sierra Madre at the Mater Dolorosa Monastery Retreat Center. This report comes to us from the National Catholic Reporter. The entire article can be accessed here. Does anybody know if such an option might be possible locally?


The fight to save Glendora open space Mod: The following was sent to me by the San Gabriel Valley Task Force of the Sierra Club. Theirs is an important fight, and not much different from what is going on in Sierra Madre and Arcadia. The  article was written by Joan Licari.

Affecting the slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains forming the backdrop for Glendora, there is a proposal wending its way through the CEQA and city permitting process to build 19 two-story, single-family homes of over 5,000 square feet on 71 acres. The San Gabriel Valley Task Force believes that it would best serve the residents of Glendora and the larger San Gabriel Valley population to have these lands preserved as open space for wildlife and recreation. Although the development is small, it has larger implications to open-space conservation in the San Gabriel Mountains, the foothills of which are almost completely developed.

Little undeveloped open space remains, making even small areas valuable as habitat for wildlife and urban residents. The Gordon-Mull property is adjacent to Glendora Wilderness Park, which is in turn adjacent to the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Angeles National Forest. This parcel would be an extension of the preserved parkland to which it connects and gives access.

A recent biological study claims the property has “very high biological value.” The springs and oak woodland attract wildlife. Construction will require removal of 176 mature oak trees along with other tree and scrub species. There are three federal or state listed species present in the area — the coastal California gnatcatcher, cactus wren and three-leaved brodiacea. Bobcats, mountain lions (one even seen dragging off a deer), female bears with their cubs, ring-tailed cats and foxes have been observed on the property or near it.

The owner faces problems in approvals for the development. The biologically significant species on the property may prevent development of some lots. The Sierra Madre fault zone could prevent use of some and threat of landslides from possible seismic shaking exists on others. Only one access route is present. Access to water will be expensive, and concerns exist about necessity of waivers from Glendora’s slope-development regulations. Hillside-development codes could potentially affect several proposed lots. Residents have registered concerns about increased traffic congestion, air pollution, noise and cumulative impacts of this development because of other previously approved foothill projects.

The San Gabriel Valley Task Force hopes these issues will convince the owner to sell the property to one or a coalition of conservancies. The Trust for Public Land, Rivers and Mountain Conservancy, and the Glendora Community Conservancy have indicated interest in purchasing the property if the owner will sell at current market value.

The Draft Environmental Report is expected in late April or May. The goal of the San Gabriel Valley Task Force is to preserve this area of San Gabriel Mountain foothills to connect to already preserved open space for preservation of habitat and recreation, not only for the local residents of Glendora but for the several million inhabitants of the greater Los Angeles area.

We hope that the presence of the Sierra Club involvement in this fight will create awareness of and interest in the Sierra Club to the extent that a new East San Gabriel Group can be created.

To build these 19 homes on the Gordon-Mull property would destroy recreational opportunities for residents and for growing populations in the wider Los Angeles area. And it would eliminate its value for wildlife forever. For many visitors, our mountains are their first time in the tranquility of unspoiled wilderness If kept as open space — the goal of the San Gabriel Valley Task Force — the region would increase an area of contiguous, protected open space for people and wildlife.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

77 comments:

  1. Those nuns have a much different mindset than the people up at Mater Dolorosa where a bunch of developers have hijacked the Board of Directors. Mater Dolorosa is only focusing on getting the most money they can out of that land. They don't care about the open space, the sacredness of the land, the opposition from the neighbors and the community at large, the wildlife, and the adverse impact losing that open space will have on their retreat center. They don't care. Take a drive up to the Vedanta Center up in Santa Barbara. That Hindu center is thriving because they understand that the land around their buildings is not just "excess" land. It is vital to the spiritual experience up there. All the Mater Dolorosa folks want is to extract their 30 pieces of silver.

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    1. The Catholic Church and the various orders are on the ropes right now for obvious reasons. They need to re-group and start doing some smart PR moves to regain the support of the faithful. Selling off 20 acres at Mater Dolorosa only causes further animosity towards them.

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    2. I agree, 6:38. It is sad to see who Father Higgins and his order have brought into our community.

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    3. Father Higgins needs to focus on the spiritual needs of the flock and not schlepping a housing project. It really is sad to see him show up at various meetings trying to push this project. The priests need to take some lessons from the nuns as to the true meaning of their faith.

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    4. Judging from the article in the Catholic Reporter, the nuns seems to have their priorities right. The Priests in the Passionist Order could learn a thing or two from them.

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    5. An easier drive than the Vedanta Center in Santa Barbara is the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades. Can you imagine the money they could get if they sold that exquisite property?

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    6. You're right about the Self-Raalization Fellowship properties. They wouldn't think of selling off their beautiful land. They don't see it as "excess land" that can be sold off to make some money. They understand better than the Priests do that the land is intrinsic to the whole experience of when you visit those properties. They are a place of peace, refuge and spirituality that can't be quantified in only monetary terms. Its too bad that Mater Dolorosa and their developer Board of Directors can't see that. Is it no wonder the Catholic Church is having problems while other religions are thriving.
      "

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    7. We need a place in the San Gabriel Valley that gets you away from it all. Mater Dolorosa is the only place. Please don't sell the property.

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    8. difference to me is that females are doing the right thing and the males are just being pious jerks

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  2. Leading the charge to develop the land for Mater Dolorosa is Arcadia resident Jerry Pearson, Burbank resident Cam Thornton, other non-resident Developers on their Board of Directors and the Passionists in Chicago. Me thinks they have too much interest in money and not the spiritual side of things.

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    1. Seems like alot of people from outside of Sierra Madre think they know what's best for Sierra Madre. However, they won't be around when a big housing project exacerbates the water crisis, causes traffic congestion on Sunnyside and throughout the city.

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    2. They're only here for the cash. We'll hear all sorts of protestations about their deep concern for Sierra Madre, but their words mean nothing.

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    3. I wonder when the Passionists in Chicago last visited the property. They don't care. I guess the sale of land is probably the least to their worries right now. They are cashing in and getting out. They are not focused on the long-term.

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    4. If Mater Dolorosa put the same energy and passion that they have in promoting a development project into some other focus, the world would be a much better place and they would solve whatever financial issues are facing the Order.

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    5. I'm sure Bart Doyle is all for this development

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  3. Some of the individuals named may stand to profit from the sale of the Monastery land. They don't care about the retreat center or the community. Its just greed for those folks.

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    1. Isn't it always about the money. Its a little disappointing when that mindset comes from a religious organization.

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    2. Jerry Pearson's life's work seems to be to sell off the property and put a housing project on that sacred land. I sure wouldn't want that to be on my tombstone.

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    3. He certainly does seem to spend a lot of time trying to do something that shouldn't be done. What would Jesus do?

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  4. Can someone answer a question that bothers me. Why will Mater Dolorosa not have an open mind to other uses for the property besides a big housing project that nobody seems to want? Of course, I wish they would preserve it as open space and leave it alone. But if they are so focused on the money, maybe their are alternative uses that would be more acceptable,

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    1. I'd like to see a wellness center up there or a vineyard or some such thing. Anything but a housing project.

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    2. There are so many great ideas for that property if only people will think outside the box and keep an open mind. It doesn't have to be a win-lose proposition. It can be a win-win for everybody.

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    3. The organization that is buying the Victory Noll sisters' land is offering "fair market value." I bet that takes a while to agree on, but that's a successful way to do it.
      I agree with 6:54 and 9:14, and if the Mater Dolorosa folks would just open their minds a bit, and stop grabbing at every cent they can get, they could find a win-win.
      Maybe they should take it to prayer?

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    4. While I think its a big mistake to carve up that property, Mater Dolorosa should put it out there to the community and solicit some ideas. But you have to be open to that process. Right now the Board of Directors was hijacked by a bunch of developers who only see the dollar signs.

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    5. Money is God - Praise God.

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  5. Those nuns have it right. The land itself has value and value to the retreat center. There is no place like it in the San Gabriel Valley. Keep it the way it is and do what the nuns did.

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    1. The nuns see something other than dollar signs.

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    2. Amazing. I didn't know if that was possible anymore.

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    3. The nuns have not lost their way as with the Priests. They are looking ahead and care about the future. The present group of Priests are focused on their pensions and retirement. Doesn't that sound familiar?

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  6. I hate to say this but when you hear about all the carnage done to the Catholic Church, it wasn't caused by the nuns if you know what I mean. They have still retained a modicum of decency and want to do the right thing.

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    1. The Priests need to quit doing more damage to their cause. They need to look for redemption and perhaps even salvation.

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    2. They could be heroes in this community. All the need to do is the right thing.

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    3. Wouldn't it be a great PR move for them to reach out to the community for ideas as opposed to shoving a development project down our throats. You'd think they've caused enough damage already - why cause any more?

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  7. Lets not forget that the always looking for a buck city manager of Sierra Madre is pushing for development at Mater de loa rosa. Got to fill those city coffers and pay Calpers.

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    1. Indeed you are right 7:06. The consequences from paying the public employees exorbitant salaries and pensions goes well beyond higher taxes for all the residents. Its puts pressure on the budget in all sorts of ways that end up ruining cities beyond just high taxes.

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    2. It also puts pressure on cities to support bad development projects in order to get the development fees. That's what Mater Dolorosa is banking on.

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    3. Tragic to think that Sierra Madre's last remaining open spaces could be sacriced to help City Hall pay down its $9 million in unfunded CalPERS debt.

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    4. Overpaying City employees has consequences that we are only just beginning to see. Pasadena has now realized that they are going to have big problems as well You can't pay a majority of your budget to people who are not working in the form of too generous pension than you do to the people who are still actively performing services to the residents. We are reaching that tipping point with these extravagant pensions paid to people who are way too young to retire. Unfortunately, it puts pressure on cities to sell assets, decrease services to the residents, and accept development projects that end of ruining the quality of life found in cities like Sierra Madre.

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  8. This article puts a most welcomed and fresh perspective on the Mater Dolorosa problem.

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  9. The sycamores grow tall along the Wabash.

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  10. It is sad to see so much being sacrificed for such little purpose.

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  11. I saw a hawk, several coyotes and some deer up on the Monastery grounds and that was just in the past week. That property is amazing. Do they really want the money that bad that they will carve up the property and take all that away.

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    1. Some people, such as yourself, see living land; others see nothing.

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    2. I bet St. Francis would care less about his pension and retirement and more about preserving the open space for the abundant wildlife that inhabit the majestic grounds of Mater Dolorosa.

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  12. I used to belong to the Sierra Club, but when they'd come around looking for more money I'd ask them what they were doing or could do for Sierra Madre, and they never had an answer. I'm happy to see that they are finally getting into the fight for preservation closer to home, and I may think about rejoining and donating.

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    1. What dd the Sierra Club contribute to stopping the demolition of the hillsides at One Carter?

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    2. 11:30, the organizations that should have protected that land all failed, as did our city government. Lessons learned. The loss of Carter and some of Stonehouse land mean that the Monastery is all the more essential as wildlife habitat. And don't trust any organizations (local or otherwise) to come through, then you might be pleasantly surprised.

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    3. The City should buy the land and connect it to Bailey Park.

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  13. With 20 million at stake Sierra Madre will lose this battle. No more Village of the Foothills. And just to house the 3 or 4 priests who still live there.

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    1. The "retired priest" pitch is a bunch of rubbish. This is a stone cold real estate deal, and they are dangling millions of dollars in fee and tax benefits in front of city hall to get it done. Fight and fight hard.

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    2. Money speaks louder than words at city hall.

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    3. There is now an entrenched vested interest that is selling off Catholic land for their own personal gain. They are taking advantage of these priests who are at best naive and at worst have simply lost their moral bearings. In most countries, the Church is in full retreat and may never recover. Its sad but it was all due to their own moral failings. Maybe a few people up at Mater Dolorosa can say stop, re-open the gates, start holding the annual fiesta again and become a part of the community as they used to be.

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    4. 1:18, will you volunteer for the Fiesta? They'd need a Chair to run it.

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    5. Huh. Talk about turning the other cheek ..

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    6. I will run the Fiesta. Are you authorized to approve that annual event? There will be no shortage of volunteers.

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  14. It only takes 3 city council members to approve the 50 new houses. I can think of 4 who will vote for it. Two of them have hopes for higher office. This will get them big time union support.
    There are two more that can't figure out how to run the city without more millions of dollars. The current and just past mayor. We are cooked.

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    1. Nah. Don't be so negative. At worst this thing will drag out for so long those old priests won't need the retirement any longer.

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    2. I hear the Sierra Club is looking to get involved.

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    3. A zone change can be overturned by citizen initiative. People get ready.

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    4. Yes, 11:00, that's what is necessary. Hate to say it, but we should also be getting a legal war chest together. Any lawyers in the crowd? Nothing more important in a preservation fight.

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    5. If you have a friend who is a lawyer (yes, they do have friends), ask them to get involved.

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    6. The only organized opposition right now is Preserve Sierra Madre. Send them an email at PreserveSierraMadreNow@gmail.com or visit their website at www.PreserveSierraMadre.com Get on their email list. The first developer, New Urban West, finally realized they were walking into a buzz saw here in Sierra Madre and stopped their efforts. The same thing can happen again if we resist hard enough. I know of people who will literally lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop a housing project up there. I don't think any City Council Member wants to be on the wrong side of what is sure to be a firestorm.

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    7. it's those dang nebulous forces

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  15. And the pope is studying whether women have the capability to be deacons of the church.

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  16. The National Catholic Reporter says that "many other communities of women religious in the United States" have preserved their land from development. Unsung and only recently acknowledged, the nuns are the most effective conservation movement around.

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    1. You contrast the nuns with the priests, not just with conservation efforts but also bad behavior. The juxtaposition is stunning but not surprising.

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    2. 1:24 - are you seeing words in 11:35's comment that thexrest of us can't see? Are you a magician of some sort?

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    3. Somebody is upset. My guess is it's 1:24.

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  17. After seeing the majority of the SM residents vote for higher taxes, this issue seems boring. Instead of agreeing to pay for higher taxes, these people should have been smarter
    and pooled money together to buy the open land. Now it's time to let the property owners do what they want with their property. Go forward.

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    1. Is there a beer bash at The Watchman's house today?

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    2. Propitty owners! The propitty owners!

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  18. For those who read the SGVT Sunday 5/15/2016 edition page 25 has great article concerning property rights abuse by local governments using powers to encroach on peoples civil rights.

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  19. U2's The Edge and his decade-long fight to build on a pristine Malibu hillside: The guitarist and his partners have enlisted scores of lawyers, lobbyists and consultants. What does his struggle illustrate: the excessive regulation facing developers, or the ability of the rich to get their way?
    Even the Coastal Commission couldn't stop this. Sierra Madre has no regional organization looking out for its undeveloped hillside areas, so the residents have to do it, or engage a group like the Sierra Club in this battle.

    http://static.latimes.com/the-edge/#nt=oft03a-1la1

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    1. Yeah, the Edge just wants to blend into the mountains. Honest, it'll be like the 5 mansions are invisible.

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    2. U2: Pompous blowhards and hypocrites.

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  20. The last development group told a group of citizens that they tried to come up with alternatives for the property but they just didn't pencil out. When pressed, Pearson confessed that it wasn't just for the priests retirement, but also for their mission work in India; nothing else will do but a housing project.

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