|He's in property management.|
Attorney Highsmith made it clear that the only way to penalize the owner with a fine was to turn it over to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution. The DA, in her opinion, would not be interested. So what do we have as a financial remedy to this kind of act? Not enough. The Planning Commission does have the ability to stop the work for two years. That was the only possible punishment. Talk about a stacked deck in favor of dishonest developers.
The owner started off by thanking the community for showing an interest, and then apologized. Yep, thanks and I’m sorry. No, really. “I realize the situation has put you in a dilemma,” he said to the commissioners. The "situation” did it, not him, huh?
William had questions about the “technical feasibility” of the suggestions the Planning Commission made. When he said “There is a huge project undertaking here,” it was as though this had not occurred to him before.
Commissioner Hinton showed she has the chops to have been an effective prosecutor. Twice she asked him to answer whether he had been told by the agent that the house was potentially historic. He waffled and wiggled, so she asked again, stressing the word potentially. When Kefalas threw Reni Rose under the bus by saying “No,” Ms. Hinton asked if he would provide the disclosure papers to the commission. They would be interesting reading.
Commissioner Spears asked if the owner had inspected the property before he bought it. Was he aware of the challenges with the foundation? When the owner said yes, Spears inquired “So you went into this with your eyes open?” Then Spears, with some open eyes of his own, asked the owner what he meant when he said “my crew,” and was he a contractor. The owner replied that “We are in property management so I do have people who work for me.”
Hinton asked if the owner would be will to reduce the size of the house, to get it back closer to what it was, and he said “No.”
An architect got up from his seat to say they should hire an architect. One versed in the special needs of 100 year old houses, because obviously what they had now was clueless.
Richard Crea (?), who resides in the Canyon, asked “What did you buy it for in the first place?" The owner knew exactly what he was doing and tore it apart as fast as he could. Crea said it would be fitting if they had to give it back to nature for awhile, and then start again.
A woman named Laurie told the commissioners, “Your response should match what was done to this house. Otherwise, you’re saying it’s okay." Heather Allen said it was both tragic and ironic.
Mary (Radford?) gave a great talk about having seen the house and wanting to buy it. She also said the realtor did not identify the Henry A. Darling house as being historically significant, but that when she saw the house being hauled away in dump trucks it was terrible. Everything should have been salvaged.
John Hutt asked Mary if she was certain the realtor never disclosed the historic nature of this house to her. She said yes, and that part of the mystery then deepened further.
The Planning Commission was pretty tough on Kefalas, especially Bob Spears. Bob seemed quite determined to convince William that there are consequences to such wrong acts, and that he needs to put on his big boy pants and accept that.
The biggest penalty they could give Kefalas is to reduce the size of the home he can build because that add-on to the left side impacts on the historical nature of the house. That's what Kefalas was most worried about. Smaller house, smaller profit. Or maybe none. He was ok with everything else because it doesn't deviate that much from his original plan.
The catch here is that if the city had the Historical Resource Report in their hands in advance of the CUP, the Planning Commission would never have allowed what they did. And should Kefalas get impacted in that way, that would be a far better penalty than even a 2-year stay on building.
Pleading poverty, Kefalas suggested that if he didn't get his way, he might just walk away from the project. Nobody seemed all that bothered by the threat.
Bob Spears said at the meeting that in his 10 years on the Planning Commission, he and the rest of the commissioners have never received so many emails against what Kefalas did.
This will all pick back up at the second Planning Commission meeting in January.
Preserve Sierra Madre weighs in
Dear Supporters: First, we again want to thank our supporters for taking an interest in preservation and, in particular, what happened to the 1907 Craftsman known as the Henry A. Darling House. At last night's meeting, Commissioner Spears said that in his 10 years on the Planning Commission, he has never received so many emails about one issue as he did in this case. So thank you to all those who were able to take the time to do that as well as attend the meeting. It makes a difference when the Planning Commission knows the pulse of the community before they are called upon to make a vote.
In briefly summarizing the meeting, to say the Planning Commission was not pleased with the actions of the present owners of 126 E. Mira Monte would be an understatement. They concluded that the owners had violated the Demolition Ordinance and they agreed with the Historical Resources Report that the Darling House has historical significance. The only problem is that they received the report after the demolition had occurred. If the Planning Commission had received it prior to the demolition as called for in the Demolition Ordinance then they would not have allowed the owner to do certain things to a home that had been deemed historically significant. It appears now that what already was improved in the CUP, now needs to be modified in light of this new information.
The Planning Commission is now left with the dilemma of whether to punish the applicant by imposing a 2-year work-stoppage on the project and perhaps further damaging what little is left of the house or allowing the project to go forward but under very strict guidelines that are consistent with the determination that the home is historically significant. Before that can be done, the applicant was asked to get a Certificate of Appropriateness which will now put the historical aspects of the home at the forefront. Once the Planning Commission has all the facts, they may be able to make a final decision as to the fate of the Darling House and punishment for the owners at their January 19th meeting.
It cannot be overstated what a great job our Planning Commissioners, City Attorney and City Staff are doing to ensure that the people's desire for preserving our historical resources is taken into account. If you weren't at the meeting, you can go to the City's website and watch it online for yourself.
Thank you for your support.
Preserve Sierra Madre
They haven't even started the recount yet and a third of Trump's Pennsylvania vote lead just vanished. Click here for details. Also, the Trump camp is now trying to stop the recount in Michigan. Which strongly suggests that they know his victory may fall apart under examination. Here's the complaint his lawyers filed - link. Tang has now also filed a similar lawsuit in Pennsylvania (link). Why would he do that?