Thursday, January 25, 2018

Not A Lot Of Enthusiasm Shown For Moving The Library At Last Night's YAC Forum

Where you will be able to both read and take a shower.
There were about 60 concerned folks in attendance at the big show, and most of them were of an age that many of us like to think of as that time when hoped for wisdom finally meets up with life's experiences. If only more people would just listen, how much better a place the world would be!

OK, sure. So where was I? Oh, Library Forum II. I think the best comment of the evening not surprisingly came from Gina Frierman-Hunt, who whipped up something along the lines of: "If you move the Library to Sierra Vista Park, it will become more conveniently located for Arcadia middle school students and dead people." It would be closer to the pool as well, so you'd be able to swim. Also where the Rose Parade float wiles away the days during its extensive down months.

This was officially a meeting for a couple of city commissions, so there was a little time set aside at the beginning for topics not on the agenda. One gentleman seized the moment and asked about an April ballot measure that will completely do away with the Utility User Tax. City Manager Gabe Engeland invited him to look at the city's Voter Guide for the response of those who would prefer that tax things stay the way they are. Which is just about everyone associated with the local government agency. Think of them as stakeholders.

Gabe Engeland commented that he had recently met with two residents on the tax question. One said that if taxes are raised he would have failed miserably at his job. The other one told him taxes must go up to save the Library. So how can a new City Manager win? Of course, I would have added that taxes had already been raised to save the Library, so why does it now need to be torn down? But then that would have been so 2016.

The Library Survey Postcard, which supplants the need for an actual and far too clear vote of the people, will be mailed out by its mysterious and remotely located Colorado creators within the next few days. There will be four questions there that will take your temperature about moving the Library. You will also be allowed to rate the mood of those answers on a scale 1 to 4 if you like. I will be making use of that here today.

There will also be some inquiries about your demographics, the results of which I am sure someone in the marketing field will find quite useful. I personally never answer these kinds of questions. Or sometimes I just make stuff up. A Zoroastrian eminence from Uzbekistan, perhaps. Age 26.

The attendees present then moved quickly on to the money issue. Something that I thought was rather moot since there are no architectural designs or building plans created yet for the proposed new location. Nor has the existing Library property been put on the market yet so, and as anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, who really knows how much money the city is going to get?

This question did come up. Would there be enough money to make this all happen without jacking up taxes? Gabe threw some happy numbers out, but I am not sure that really eased the skepticism in the room. He also noted that most people are against a tax increase. Or at least those he has heard from. Please rate this observation from 1 to 4. With 4 being the highest number, and 1 being the lowest.

The Sierra Vista parking situation came up. A woman whose name I believe is Nancy was of the opinion that since the current Library is in the center of town, there are plenty of places to park a car. In the new proposed location things could get quite tight. Sierra Vista Park has tennis courts, basketball hoops, several baseball diamonds, a pool, a kiddy park, an interesting stand alone snack bar, a gym, a picnic area, a Rose Float barn, plus some other stuff. Throw in a Library and things could get complicated. Mark 4 if you disagree, 1 if you'd prefer to ride a bike to get there.

Gabe added that we have work to do irregardless. Which is true. We all have clocks to punch.

Heather asked if it was the community that would be making the decision. The City Manager's answer was no, the City Council will be deciding that based on how the postcards are filled out. Of course, had there been a vote the community would be making the decision. However, the City Council decided that such a verdict might not be nuanced or flexible enough. Make sure you have your pencil ready. Mark 4 if you disagree, 1 if this was a moment of ecstatic peace for you.

A well turned out young man named Owen, who apparently was chosen to speak on behalf of the Foothill Village's youth, said if you build the new Library, the teenagers will come. Fitting for a Library located next to a baseball field. Hopefully they will be dropped off by their parents and therefore not require any parking.

Someone whose name I neglected to write down asked if the new Library would be able to provide the kinds of access the community needs. Gabe talked about the hard working $9,600 consultant and the space analysis he is doing. "Space is important," Gabe said. According to Star Trek it is also the final frontier.

A gentleman named Bill, who was amongst the few there that actually wants to move the Library into the Community Recreation Center, said that we need "a Library for the 21st Century." He really did say that. And since taxes are too low to accomplish this futuristic imperative, imposing a $200 dollar a year parcel tax would be just the thing. Circle 1 if you don't think so, 4 if you'd be happy to cough that up. Mark down 2 or 3 if you'd rather have been at Lucky Baldwin's hammering down a few highly fortified Belgian beers.

A guy named Rex had an idea I would have rated a 4, except for one problem. He suggested building the new Library where the current one now stands. But then how would you be able to sell the property in order to fund a new building? Also how would Andy Bencosme be able to make any commission? You know they wouldn't approve of that in Arcadia.

Someone asked if there was a reasonably good description of what the Library by the Pool would look like. Gabe said no. Such planning would cost money, and the city first wants to know what people want first. Judging by what I heard at this meeting Gabe could be waiting a long time for that. Mark 4 if you agree, 1 if you haven't formed your opinion yet.

A woman named Helen wanted to know what the costs are going to be. Gabe said costs are going up. I was not surprised to hear this. I'm going to put down a 4.

MaryAnn McGillivray, who I used to talk with often but not so much lately, said we'd be foolish to sell the Library property. Once sold it will be gone forever. She also said the city needs to adopt a Green Plan. Keep the open spaces and think things through a little more. Gabe countered by observing that Sierra Madre is difficult to develop, that the current library is not ADA compliant, you know, the usual rhythm.

That only gets a 1 from me. Just make the damn place ADA compliant and let's get past this already.

It was then asked what would be built on the Library property once it is sold to someone we're probably not going to like very much. Gabe said it is in the General Plan. I am pretty familiar with the General Plan, and I cannot recall seeing anything about building condos on the lot where the existing Library stands.

The last question I wrote down came from a thoughtful gentleman named Gary who said that the people of Sierra Madre should be able allowed to look at some bids on this project. You know, like how it is usually done. He suggested 3 of them. Gabe said that can't be done. I would have asked why, but instead I marked down an empowering 1.

That's all I got. See you at the cyber cafe.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. I am against strongly expressed opinions. I vote 3.

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  2. Why not put the SAMPLE BALLOT all over the town on the windows of all the shops so more people know about this?
    Seems not many people know and that the Library Board may know about the deveopment?

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  3. Books and showers go together. That way we know they are clean.

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  4. Great article, Tattler. Thanks for attending and sharing the information.
    I now have hope that Sierra Madreans will make good choices and keep the library where it is.

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    1. Don't forget, 7:41, the people who turned up last night are the people who know what's going on. Most people here are not paying attention.

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    2. 7:52 or like me and don't care one way or another what happens to the library. I for sure will not pay $60 for a couple of glasses of wine and some bites of cheese.

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    3. you sound awesome.

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    4. So do you. Are you a sparkle buddy?

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  5. The teenagers will come to the library if it is at the Rec center?
    Nah. The great majority of them in our town would haha and smh if you suggested that they go to the library for something.

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  6. I don't get why there's this big push to spend so much money.
    I thought the city wanted to bring down expenses, not increase them.

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  7. I was at the library yesterday, with about 3 other patrons.

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    1. Gee the library has about 700 visitors a day. I have a bridge for you.

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  8. The "Friends" of the Library are very organized and have an extensive mailing list. If only 300 or so postcards are turned in they will dominate the returns and this will pass. IMHO that is why the city opted for a card instead of a vote.

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    1. I was at the Pasadena main library with about 4 other patrons. So that isn't relevant. However, not all Friends are in favor of the move but support the fundraisers because they support the programs not the building. The monies set aside for an improved building cones from other sources.

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  9. If they sold the library, anyone know how many condos could be built on land?

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    1. I haven't heard. Not even sure anyone knows who is interested in buying the property.

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    2. The land is zoned for municipal use, not condos. So right now, as-is, the answer is none.

      The City will have to change the zoning to allow for development of condos. If they are changing the zoning anyway, it's just as easy to allow many condos as to only allow a few, and the land will be worth more. So the real answer is as many as the City Council wants.

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    3. 9:40 is correct that a zone change would be required and the City Council will determine what the new zoning will be. If they stick with current zoning, the standard multi-family zoning allows 13 units to the acre. The library property is about an acre, so that would be 13 condos. However, there is also a special high density zoning passed along with the housing element that allows 20 units per acre. Or of course, the City could just make up a new, higher zoning to increase the value of the land.

      So, in summary, the the number of condos that could be built on the library property is 13 or 20 . . . or a whole bunch more.

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    4. BTW, there is currently a water moratorium, so there will be no condos anytime soon.

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    5. The water moratorium expires shortly after Arcadia Andy is sworn in.

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  10. Don't be fooled, this isn't about a modern 21st century library or an old school library. This is about a cadre of grifters, developers and unethical building officials wanting that land to develop. Century 21/Arcadia Realtor Man running for CC, through out a number of $2 milllion for the value of the Library. Imagine Mursol and friends could fit 10 or more nice condos and sell them for $1milliom each...not a bad little profit.
    Don't be fooled...been there done that (remember the water bonds/leaky pipes/French Canadian expert consultant that made a quick $50,000 and left us with chloramine). Gabe, I like you better than the last CM. I hope you too can smell the coffee...

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    1. Supposedly the library land appraised at $5,000,000, but the City's "transparency" webpage doesn't say how they came up with that number or who did the appraisal.

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    2. So how many condos for five mil?

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  11. Having been at last nights meeting, I heard a couple of things: 1. People asked questions that demonstrated they were totally unaware of what goes on in the city. 2. No real answers. 3. The City Manager answered most of the questions. Where were the library board members? All in all, move or stay, the library is going to cost millions we don’t have. Lest anyone forget, we have water infrastructure to fix as well as water debt. The UUT was to save the library-right!

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    1. Nowhere in any of its materials did the UUT campaign say it was to "save" the library.

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    2. If you asked the avg. resident in Sierra Madre why the UUT had to be kicked back up in 2016, they would have told you it was to save emergency services and the Library. Sure, no legally binding document from city hall ever said that, but the postcards intimated that this was the case. It was slyly done, and a big fat lie.

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    3. That is not true. The "postcards" said that the UUT helped fund city services which is 100% true. No one ever claimed that the UUT would solve the cities fiscal issues forever. A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be "attacking a straw man". If the current proponents of the UUT repeal make this claim they are the ones who are lying.

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    4. I can see why you are sensitive about this. I do not support getting rid of the UUT.

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    5. The library board members were all there,seated with the Community Service Commissioners at the table.

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  12. MaryAnn McGillivray must be aware that SCAG is providing grants to cities that want to have a public process that implements a Climate Action Plan.

    http://www.ca-ilg.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/california_jurisdictions_addressing_climate_change_pdf_0.pdf

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  13. What an impressive night for our town. The number of Sierra Madres Finest that showed up just shows us the community cares. As we live our everyday lives we tend to forget what a beautiful unique little town we live in. The talent that our friends and neighbors have is very special. With all the energy spent up to this point I was anticipating more information. As much as I hate speaking out, I had to at least point out the need to spend wisely and do get bids from 3 different reputable, licensed and local sources. After hearing the cost of just getting some plans drawn up, I better understand the problems the City faces. Utilizing the parking area and the lot behind while keeping the front of the Library the same we could have an open contest for drawings of a design that would be voted on by City Hall and the Community. With Cal-Tech and JPL as neighbors I could see some advanced designs that would take advantage of Solar, Geothermal Energy Technology and be a demonstration of what the future can hold. The Sierra Madre Library could be the Library of the future offering various study/learning rooms. A library that would digitize important documents in a safe and educational bases. Imagine going to the library and being able to study in a place that is a forest or beach setting with all the feel and smell of actually being there. AS a community we are sitting on an opportunity to have a library that would help support it's self and the community around it with the latest of what science and technology can provide. For this I would get more involved.

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    1. 3 bids from local resources? Have you not seen the Masonic logo in the cornerstone of City Hall? The bids will come from the Masonic Members. All others will be shut out. Their bids, although lower, will never be considered. A handshake and the deal is done!

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    2. I have a friend who used to work at City Hall. Wow, she told me the same thing.

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    3. MaryAnn is not a fan of SCAG or green/climate initiatives. She said not to sell the land because it is a valuable asset . If sold, a developer would build to the max allowed and, as MaryAnn pointed out, this is not consistent with the intent of the General Plan. Also, the General Plan identifies a need for more open, green space not less as would be the case if the library is moved.

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    4. Not everyone confuses SCAG with being green, 7:30.

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  14. I fear the bait-and-switch.

    Promise: sell the current library, use the money to build a new one at the YAC, no tax increase.

    Reality: oh you thought there was only going to be 13 condos at the old library property, too bad. Prepare yourself for 20 or more. Don't like it? Vote a tax increase to pay for the new library.

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    Replies
    1. Stack 'em and pack 'em. It's OK, it's for the library.

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    2. Moral of the story, don't sell the library.

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    3. Fix it or close it. No move.

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  15. http://andy4sierramadre.com/

    Jose Andres Bencosme's website is up using his fake name "Andy". He apparently intends to represent local business owners which are 1% of the population. Doesn't say when he moved to Sierra Madre. He sure is ugly.

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    Replies
    1. It might be that he owns properties in Monrovia and rents in Sierra Madre.

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    2. "Andy" is not a fake name, it's a nickname. Many people have them. Also, his looks are not an issue, his political views are. Stay out of the gutter and quit throwing mud.

      He's a realtor who is in favor of over-developing the town and he wants to sell the library. Isn't that enough to vote against him?

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    3. Politics gets practiced at many levels. Some are not very nice.

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    4. Let's vote on Bencosme's new nickname:
      Arcadia Andy
      Blandly Andy
      Bibliotheca Jose

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    5. Arcadia Andy. His ties to the Arcadia Assoc of Realtors is toxic. They contributed thousands of dollars to defeat Measure V.

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    6. I agree, stick to the facts, that he is a realtor, with money to be made.

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  16. I think Sierra Madre is lucky to get a GM like Gabe. He is open to discussion, he presents a friendly atmosphere for conversation while giving gidence and expertis without prejudices. This is a person who can guide our city out of the financial mess we are in. He has demonstrated that in his first few months.

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  17. Mr. Patzert(sp) spoke last night about , being an affluent community, we should all agree to a parcel tax of maybe 200.00 for 5 years. I could afford that, however, how many homes are rentals? How many rentals are there in the city? Sure the property owners pay the tax, pass it on to the renters, and 10 plus people, get to use city services. What about people on fixed incomes? $200.00 a year may be a lot for them. To add on to the rec. center will cost 3,000,000 dollars. Of course that doesn’t include cost over-runs, etc. Then you have all the high tech equipment that was vaguely touched on with no cost amount given. I understand the Andy guy did the appraisal which is not the same as having an appraiser do it. And, yes, watching him last night did not give me fuzzy feelings. He makes very unattractive faces! All of this doesn’t matter as the CC will make the final decision. So it seems it’s more pandering from the city and library people. No real transparency, as stated in the library info. So we tax ourselves and 5 years from now something will be needed and the tax will remain or be increased for another 5 years. Meanwhile our water infrastructure still stinks. Water availability hasn’t improved. No parcel tax was recommended for those repairs. Not to mention how are we if we have an emergency? A fire? An earthquake? Flooding? I know FEMA and neighbor cities will help. But it could be devastating city wide. Is the library worth the money it will cost? Is city government believable when they’ve lied before? Much to think about people. And you know 50% of the people in this town won’t be doing that.

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    1. Mr. Bencosme could not have prepared the appraisal for the City because he is not a licensed appraiser. He is a licensed real estate broker, so he can give "price opinions" not appraisals.

      So either your information that Mr. Bencosme prepared the appraisal is wrong, or the City is misrepresenting what it has.

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    2. I addressed that before. The rumor that Andy appraised the Library property is untrue.

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    3. Andy provided a value. Call it what you want.

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    4. He delivered the Community Services Commission for selling the Library property.

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  18. So if the City is all about transparency, why have none of these info shindigs been televised? They could have been held at City Hall so everyone who couldn't make it could watch on youtube. Instead they're at the senior center or the YAC. What gives?

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  19. Info Shindigs will never be recorded it might track down and expose the lies and who are telling them plus it can be used in court - if the audience is planted with 75% pro what ever they are trying to sell you, kind of reminds you of those 'time share' seminars where they feed you lies and take your money?

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