Thursday, November 17, 2016

Preserve Sierra Madre Urges You To Attend Tonight's Important Planning Commission Meeting

Mod: The following went out last evening to all of the residents on the Preserve Sierra Madre mailing list. 

Preserve Sierra Madre's Steering Committee held an emergency meeting this evening to discuss the outrage many people are feeling about what happened to the 1907 Craftsman home located at 126 E. Mira Monte and how the present Demolition Ordinance was glaringly inadequate to prevent its destruction by an owner uninterested in preserving Sierra Madre's architectural and historical heritage.

We are now urging our supporters to attend the Planning Commission meeting Thursday, Nov. 17th at 7:00 pm (link). This is a very important meeting where they will be discussing how to improve the current demolition ordinance so that what happened to the Henry A. Darling house is never allowed to happen again. We need you to be there to urge our Planning Commission to provide further protections for older homes as well as stiffen the penalties for those who disregard our rules.

If you can't attend this meeting, please take a few minutes to write a quick email to our Planning Commissioners c/o Leticia Cardoso at LCardoso@cityofsierramadre.com.  

The Planning Commissioners need to know that we care about preservation and that we support their efforts to significantly tighten the Demolition Ordinance. If we don't do this, it is just a matter of time before older homes in Sierra Madre will be a thing of the past. Please don't let this happen.

Attend this important meeting or write an email! We need your help!

The pictures below don't do justice to the remarkable architectural details this house once had. If you Google the 126 E. Mira Monte address, you will see many more pictures.



The picture below does not do justice to the atrocity that was committed when this house was destroyed. The Planning Commission will be dealing with this specific owner in a few weeks. Take a drive by what's left of the home to see it for yourself.


In the meantime, we urge you to show your support for the cause of preservation in Sierra Madre before its too late as it now appears to be for what's left of the Henry A. Darling House. But we can save such homes in the future if we act now. Thank you in advance for anything that you can do to support our efforts.

Mod: Some bonus coverage. There is an informative website dedicated to legacy homes called Old House Dreams. They posted a feature in March of 2015 that goes into some detail about the Henry A. Darling home. The great pictures alone are worth the time you will spend there. There are also 22 informed comments from lovers of old homes (example below), and many are quite complimentary about Sierra Madre. None are apparently aware of what has since happened at 126 E Mira Monte Ave. You can link to this site by clicking here.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

68 comments:

  1. The Old House Dreams site is interesting. Especially the comments. Why is it people who live in other parts of the country get it about what we had at 126 E Mira Monte, yet our own city did so little to save it?

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    1. What's really sad is that people tried to save it. This was the very home that was the catalyst for the emergency demolition ordinance in the first place when the Brown family wanted to tear it down. The only difference is that the Brown family had the decency to be upfront about that from the beginning and that prompted the outcry. The next buyer and present owner was not honest about their intentions and did a de facto demolition before any one knew what had happened.

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    2. I am boycotting The Only Place in Town. I will never give Mr Kafales one dime of my money for what he did here. Despicable.

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    3. I won't go there either. Why give him money so that he can thumb his nose at us while destroying the town in the process. Any one know how to start an on-line protest?

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    4. People need to go to the meeting tonight. Speak if you can. If you don't want to speak, sit in the audience and clap. If you can't come to the meeting, send an email. Just do something or this stuff will continue.

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    5. At the very least, if people can't just take a minute to send an email, then forget about it. The criminals and developers own the city and its our own damn fault.

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    6. A lot of assumptions here about what the owner did or did not plan to do. Glad to see so many mind readers in our community. And by the way, I recall when someone else in town didn't agree with you, and suggested boycotting business in town, there was a general uproar. I will continue to go to the Only Place In Town despite the controversy.

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    7. It was just a year ago that we thought we saved the house. City Council thought so too. What a joke.

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    8. The weak link is city staff.

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  2. Another comment from Old House Dreams:

    "Nice robust example of the Arts & Crafts style similar to what was being designed by the Greene Bros. in nearby Pasadena around the same time. I’m trying to figure out if those wildly figured grain patterns in the front porch deck are original and derived from individual boards or from stone/tiles mimicking strong wood graining patterns? Some details look later than 1907 to me but perhaps some upgrades or changes occurred in later years. Seems priced appropriately based on the knowledgeable input from those who know the local market. A deep appreciation for nature and the surroundings is evident in the abundant windows throughout the house."

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  3. But aesthetically that house had some problems. Note the dining room- craftsmanesque beamed ceiling clashing with the Jacobean revival fire surround then the later installed modern horizontal window all made worse by the reproduction chippendale influence dining set. Really a bastardization. That house was no masterpiece. The open plan living area with river rock chimney looked much more in keeping with the local arts n crafts style though.

    I challenge the new renegade owner to build something better.

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    1. So you think the furniture was reason enough to raze the entire house? Nonsense. I challenge the owner to get the hell out of town before he does any more damage.

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    2. I challenge you and other posters to actually do what PSM advocates. Go to the PC meeting tonight or at least send them an email. Comment on the official public record, not just here. I bet the property owner will.

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    3. The Kafales's should never have bought this house. Their intention all along was to demolish it. They exploited a loophole in the demolition ordinance and did their damage before it could be determined whether the home is historically significant and now with most of the house gone it makes it very difficult to now comply with the ordinance. I think they knew all this and that's why they moved so quick. They knew if that historical assessment was done it would undoubtedly come back as being historically significant. So they destroyed the house and then have the nerve to ask for an after the fact demolition permit. Talk about a pair of stones.

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    4. Unless the city starts enforcing its codes then more desecrations like this will happen. What good is a city government that does not back up its own laws?

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    5. The Planning Commission needs to back up the strong words they expressed at the last meeting with strong actions.

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    6. 6:32 - Do plans for what these people want to do even exist?

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    7. 7:44 - I have faith that they will. I am more concerned about the City Council.

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    8. Kefales and that slimy contractor of his had this all planned from the beginning. They knew they were going to demolish the house. They knew it was going to come back as having historical significance so they did everything possible to destroy the house before it could be done. Now they ask for an after-the-fact demolition permit. Its outrageous. In order to get the demolition permit, you have to do the historical assessment first. By destroying the house, they impaired if not prevented the ability to do that. What is there to assess? The house is almost all gone. Kefales needs to be punished for this. And keep in mind that the only reason that Kefales was able to buy this house is because it was saved by the emergency demolition moratorium in early 2015. The Henry A. Darling House was the very catalyst for the moratorium. He and his realtor had to know that and they proceeded to demolish anyway. They should be run out of town on a rail as far as I'm concerned.

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    9. I think the new toughened up demolition ordinance should be named after Henry A. Darling.

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    10. If any good comes out of it and granted there's not much, but perhaps we can save future houses from the likes of a Kefales. And believe me, owners and contractors like Kefales are waiting at the gates and watching to see how we handle this egregious breach of our codes. They will either have a green light to do whatever they want or our actions will send a strong and clear message that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. We shall see.

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  4. I wonder how much money the owner made if he sold the wood and inside fixtures. This guy saw the loophole in the code and parlayed into what he always wanted to do: tear it down! If you can't be at tonight's meeting, write the PC through Leticia Cardozo and tell them to tighten up the loopholes. It won't save this house but it could in the future. Let the PC know you support them. Then write the CC and ask them all to back the PC for once. No pas for the owner. The inside of an old house is as important as the outside. The rules need to be changed for that, too.

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    1. They may have been so ignorant of the value of that stuff that its all found in those piles of rubble around the house.

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  5. It will be interesting to see what kind of penalties the Planning Commission will come up with for future barbarians. I hope the fines are in the six figures.

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    1. I like the idea of forcing them too stop work for at least two years.

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    2. The $1,000 fine is far too small.

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    3. Maybe if owners like that were made to wear orange jumpsuits and pick up trash alongside the 210 this kind of behavior would stop.

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    4. I think they should be required to wear pink underwear.

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    5. Yes, but on the outside of their cargo shorts.

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    6. Kefales lied through his teeth at the last meeting and almost got away with it. Glad Hutt and Spears saw through it v

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    7. Kefales needs to get the severest penalty allowed. He should have to rebuild it the way it was and he should not be allowed to expand it. That will serve him right.

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    8. 5:25 PM - The owner got the severest penalty allowed, i.e. $1000. Plus, obviously you and most of the ones complaining, if not all, haven't looked at the plans nor read the CUP (which was promulgated by SM Tattler under a seperate article). The owner is doing just that, rebulding the house the way it was, per approved plans. Some complain that a replica is not like the original. true, but that is no replica; most of the structural modifications and upgrades are required by Codes. If you're angry at the house being torn down, blame it on the City and their ridiculous plan checking requirements, and the CUP covenants. The facade craftsman like windows and siding, including porch and ornate outside ceiling covers were imposed by the City on him to remove and replace with fire rated material due to the house being in a Very High Fire Hazard. That's the Law, whether you like it or not. The owner agreed to do so, and the plans, which I reviewed at the meeting, provide to restore the house to its ORIGINAL architechture, shape, and every features it had priorto the demo. Ther is no Law whatsoever that would prohibit any change to the interior. as for the roof, I had a chance to talk to the City, and I can see some confusion and misunderstanding that lead to undesirable consequences. Apparently, there was some damaged ceiling rafters that were discovered by the inspector and owner during construction. the ceiling was bowed and need to be straightened. The owner proposed to the City to double-up on the ceiling rafters with soem 2x8 and shore them up from the inside, all to bulding code. However, the City building deparment rejected his solution under the fact that this would lower the ceiling from the inside by 4". They were Ok with the use of deeper beam,but the ceiling clearance would have to be maintained at 8' min. That left the contractor with the only option to remove the ceiling and roof to accomodate the deeper beam and rafters. Once the structure is reinforced, the roof would be restore to same shape, pitch, color and whatever else as per existing. Costly mistake that could've been avoided altogether if the inspector, building department, city planners, and owner alike communicated better and pre-evaluated the consequences.

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    9. If this same house was found and placed on the historical registry, then it would not be worth half as much as it was sold for. I am quite sure most, if not all the constituents, who are calling for city-wide historical preservation and demolition measures, haven't gotten a clue of what this entails and what consequences they would be enduring and nighmares they will be inheriting to their real estate properties and lifelong nest. I strongly invite everyone who so-called want to save the town to educate themselves thoroughly about this subject matter and evaluate the fallout from declaring a home a historical monum=ent, not that too many houses in Sierra Madre would qualify. You can pass though a City ordinance to impose certain architectural resstrictions to homes, much similar than San Marino and other cities and districts in order to preserve some uniformity and interest in architectural styles and features, such Solvang and some part of LA, but jumping into historical designation blindly is nothing but the product of a historian devil's advocate pure interests and politians alike who use them and use the naivety of constituents to sway their own interests and motives. Few examples, the so called Caltrans-owned historic houses located along Caliornia Avenue andthe 710 fwy corridor - in an effort to block the fwy extension (and I don't care either way), the dozen or so of the houses were declared historical monuments, and Caltrans was obliged to rehab them. Cost averaged between $1.4M-$1.8M EACH, and once rehabbed, they couldn't be rented out as restrictions imposed on the renters and the rent cost were outrageous. Another example, Pasadena Bungalow District; the houses rest in shackle and owners cannot touch them because the exhorbitant cost in maintaining them due to their historical designation. Consequence, house value went down, and no one is interested in them anymore; low-income moved in and changed demographically the area; and property taxes and revenues went down, and the City cannot support them anymore. Another exaample, the Arroyo Secco District located along the 110 fwy; the victorian houses are gorgeous, but no one can even dare to think about how much they would cost to rehab them, much less to jump the historical preservation and building code hoops. The few houses there were estimated to cost between $32M and $42M to restore. Even the City, County, and state cannot afford putting that much grant money to restore the. Consequence, they turn out into homeless and drug addicts heaven, and the city cannot keep up with crime in this neighborhood. Those are few examples, though there are many successes as well, but the measures were extremely costly, and unless the City of Sierra Madre has that kind of money to spare, you better think twice before stamping houses with the historic seal.

      Some may call this Bull---t, and that's fine and I respect their opinions; but before you get out with your pitchforks and torches, just educate yourself about what you are advocating for and know what you're getting into, and please don't be fooled by your emotions and get suckered by small group of politicians dressed as historians. They are counting on the innocence and naivety of the constituents and their emotions, all while mostly rooting for their own interests and te politicians supporting them.

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  6. If you apply for a Permit to do some small job, the Building Inspector will hound you on the most most trivial details,make you reapply for the whole thing if you stop work for longer than they like or generally impose their authority. Yet this huge,blatant transgression ,they dither over. Could it be that Mr.(shifty) Kefales is well connected at City Hall ?

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    1. There has always been an in-crowd in Sierra Madre. People who believe the laws don't apply to them.

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    2. I think something went wrong at City Hall too. Everyone is now trying to cover their behind. Meanwhile, we just lost another house unnecessarily.

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    3. City Hall screwed up. I think they were hoping nobody would notice.

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  7. 6:32am. You certainly know your Architectural styles.
    If anyone knowingly moves foward on a build or demolition, outside of City codes; including set backs etc. Penalties should be applied. I'll follow the Planning Commission meeting. Excellent time to address this section in codes and zoning and how communications are documented between City and Owner of home/ property.
    Still enjoy the zuchinni bread at the Only Place in Town.

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    1. In case anyone hasn't figured it out, 6:32 and 8:39 are the same person.

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    2. The Zuchinni bread is not enough of a draw for me. The food is lousy anyway. Not to mention that Kefales prepares it. That's enough for me. I will never go there again. Thank god is its not "The Only Place in Town".

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    3. The Zuchinni bread is a holdover from the previous owner/cook. Nothing new there and nothing the Kefales can take credit for. If you want good Zuchinni bread you have to make it yourself. Those slices are a greasy mess. Just look at your hands in between handling each slice from plate to mouth.

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    4. Im 6:32 and I don't know who 8:39 is but I partially agree- penalize those mofo's for any infraction. But the HD house was neither historic or particularly architecturally significant. It just happens to be near a swath of really lame post-war tract houses.

      And I've always thought the the 'only place' to be pretty deadbeat. Never went back after eating a lousy salmon salad there

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    5. I think it woud take the Kefalas to demolish half the town, including City Hall, before I stop going to the Only Place In Town... and then, I might only think about it!

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  8. I've boycotted (Not) The Only Place In Town. And I'm fat so that should sting nicely.

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  9. 9:43am. Living life as a fat head, is just your excuse for being cantankerous.

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    1. The Only Big Hat In Town.

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  10. The house was staged for the Open House when it was on the market. It had been used as a rental for a good portion of the 44 years that I have lived in Sierra Madre and knew of this house and one of the previous owners. The comments of dining room furniture being of some other style is flaccid for goodness sake. And any house lived infor decades may have changes.

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    1. This house found the wrong buyer. They need to be punished for what they did if for no other reason than to send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated in the City of Sierra Madre.

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    2. How Trumpian of you

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  11. 7:03P 6 people in the audience. All PC present. No comments from audience for non-agenda items. Considering MC to implement Gov. Brown's bill effective Jan. 1, 2017

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  12. Will go before CC 12-13 as an emergency ordinance. Need to comply senate bill 1069. Allowable floor are" SM has 800 sq limit. New code 50% of existing home plu attic. 1200sq. SM doesn't allow tandem parking, the senate bill does. Pevsner is absent.

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  13. Set backs for converted garage. Our code needs to be amended. Height limits on 2nd story. 1069 is in opposition to our code. Change height to 15 feet. Would keep second additions down. Alternatives: adopt new code PC makes conditions.

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  14. Hutt: discretionary review: restrictions on localities. If someone tries to build a second unit for single family-can we still require permitts. Attorney says that's logical but not the case. Needs to go to court. Has no answer. Cannot apply any discretionary measures. Can build a second unit without CUP if a rental. With this change we can not say no as long as the lot is big enough. No design review.

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  15. State has stripped the city of discretionary review.

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  16. Spears: how many properties are there like this in M? Ms. Cardozo-are you comfortable with a room over the garage-no bathroom, etc. converted to an apartment. There could be privacy issues. 3 more people have arrived in the audience.

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  17. Mr. Gonzalez is going through changes to be made to comply.

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    1. Is it just me, or does he look like one of the Pep Boys?

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  18. In other words the state doesn't care about our municipal code, the state wants to make it easier to add on 2nd dwellings.

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  19. One more person arrived. 2 have stepped out as this agenda item is so long. Important, but long and boring.

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  20. Going on 1 1/2 hours discussing how the state is going to force change in our municipal code.

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  21. Gina addresses shortage of housing in California. octal responsibility to allow . But not allow them to take advantage. How do we get there. How do we satisfy the citizen and not allow sneaky people to take advantage. Hutt asked if the bill could be amended next year. Attorney says he thinks so.

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  22. Spears feels we lose control of that 1% that wants to take advantage of state law. Would like a semblance of some control.

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  23. Another person left.

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  24. Not sure I can hold out to hear the second item on the agenda. Going on 9:00 and the next item could go much longer. May be leaving soon.

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  25. 2 more people left. Attorney says you can't require covered parking. Attorney said this is one of the conundrums. Gina says the front yard could be for parked cars. Desai doesn't agree. Spears says to allow the same envelope. Height requirement would be for new construction. Use cities definition of conversion.

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  26. If anyone was watching this on tv i bet they're not watching anymore.

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  27. So my query was: Does it actually matter?

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