Below is a chart from Zillow (link) that shows just how radical and relentlessly consistent property value increases have been in Sierra Madre since 2012.
Here is a little additional information from Zillow that sheds some light on what has been going down.
The median home value in Sierra Madre is $1,008,000. Sierra Madre home values have gone up 6.5% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 2.3% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Sierra Madre is $576, which is much higher than the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim Metro average of $420.
There has been nothing quite like Sierra Madre's success story anywhere else. But how did this happen? What has made the good fortune of Sierra Madre homeowners so much better than that of their fellow residents living in the San Gabriel Valley?
There have been a number of factors. But perhaps the leading cause for the rapid and dramatic increase of home values here has been community preservation. Unlike neighboring towns that succumbed to such scourges as mansionization, or a stack and pack mixed use style of development, Sierra Madre remained what it had always been. A wonderfully eclectic mix of traditional, and at times even idiosyncratic, homes.
The people of Sierra Madre, or at least some of them, made a conscious decision to prevent the town from changing too much. In many ways Sierra Madre has remained the place that time forgot. And because it did many hopeful homebuyers are now willing to pay stunning amounts of cash to live here.
Sierra Madre never underwent the wrenching development disasters places like Arcadia and Pasadena experienced. Rather this town has succeeded greatly by changing as little as possible, despite intense pressure from predatory development and real estate interests.
The purchase of a home in Sierra Madre is the best investment many of the hard working people living here ever made. But can that last?
The 2018 City Council Election
The one non-incumbent candidate in this race, Andy Bencosme, has been running an issue-free campaign designed to appeal to people who don't know anything, and feel uncomfortable around those that do. He is having some success as few here care enough to grapple with the real issues.
As an example, a volunteer campaigning for a preservationist incumbent has been having some fairly unsettling conversations. Here is one she shared with The Tattler.
I've had a number of conversations about the election. Distressing to learn that one mother of an 8 or 9 year old had already voted, and she voted for Andy because “he has kids here.” Andy is working the parent angle. She also said she wasn’t opposed to all development, as though we were, and inferred that it was unreasonable to keep a good father off the council.
Astonishing voting criteria, right? Then there is this:
Two different people have told me about Andy’s stance on the library, approvingly. He did himself a lot of good with his damn mailer. Don't they understand his word is useless, and that he completely flip-flopped on the library issue?
No, of course they don't. And even if they somehow did care enough to learn the real story, where would they turn to find out? The information-free Mountain Views News?
The AAR also pushed fiercely for a project here that would have leveled much of Sierra Madre's classic downtown area and replaced it with the kind of generic piles found most everywhere else in the SGV. The only thing that stopped them was Measure V.
Which is why Sierra Madre is different today from much of the rest of northern Los Angeles County, and potential homebuyers are so willing to pay crazy money to live here.
But look, people vote against their own interests all the time. Whether because they're poorly informed, irrationally resentful over something, or just fools. It hardly matters which.
There is a ton of money to be made in Sierra Madre should the barriers to predatory development crumble. But not by you. Development and real estate interests are spending a ton of dough on Andy Bencosme hoping to make it happen, all while keeping that property values thing on the down low.
It really could happen. There likely are enough clueless people willing to cast the necessary votes to bring all of that crashing down.
And who knows, maybe they already have.