Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Tuesday Night Pod Show: Cannibalizing Sierra Madre

Yes sir, I believe you heard that right. Video link here.

City Council meetings seem so scripted these days, and if you didn't know any better you might actually believe they've been rehearsed. There is rarely any real conversation or spontaneity, just statements of complete agreement followed by a unanimous vote.

Of course, that would be illegal and you know Sierra Madre's seemingly eternal partners in legal propriety, the Colantuono Crew, would never allow such things to happen. Or at least let the likes of you know if they did.

Last night was no different, of course. And that the Councilmembers could go from not being able to afford the legal expenses involved with fighting mansionization two weeks ago, to giving city employees a raise at the very next meeting, and with no apparent sense of embarrassment whatsoever, really is quite a feat.

Maybe they really should be checked out for a pod infestation. Humans normally can't do that sort of thing.

There was a comment last night that I thought summed up the coming development explosion in Sierra Madre quite well. All done to current up-to-date planning standards, of course. In my opinion it is the way things are going, though you'd never know that from watching The Pod Show.

The city is not fighting development at One Carter not because they cannot afford to do so, they are caving in because they really want to. The city is facing some financial challenges and the last best resort they have to raise any significant amounts of additional tax money (etc.) are the few remaining scraps of undeveloped land. The city is being cannibalized in order to fund its local government agency and cover for its many past financial blunders.

I think lot of people understand that. It isn't about the City Council not being able to fund a legal fight to stop mansionization in Sierra Madre. The just don't see it as being in the city's interest. It's not a priority. Despite the strange empathy show put on by Madame City Attorney a couple of weeks back.

Preserve Sierra Madre's take on these shoddy affairs

Thank God at least some people get it. This went out yesterday.

Dear Supporters: When the "alarm bells are sounded", it can be done too soon or too late.  Usually though, they are sounded too late and then nothing can be done and the damage becomes irreversible. In the case of Sierra Madre and over-development, we are starting to see indications of a trend - and it's not good news for those who want to preserve the charm and character of our "village of the foothills". So we are going to "sound the alarm bells" now because nothing is more irreversible and permanent than demolishing homes or replacing our open space with housing projects.

First, we lost the battle to save the Henry A. Darling House at 126 E. Mira Monte - that 1907 Craftsman home with the exquisite architectural details.  We then started to see green fences around so many homes in our city and an uptick in the number of demolitions. Most recently, our City Council overturned their  prior denial of the first inappropriate house at One Carter evidently because it wasn't worth the cost to stand our ground in the fact of a persistent developer with a good lawyer.

Meanwhile, our existing rules are being exploited by determined developers.  Our demolition ordinance is weak as pointed out in our last email and our City Council has not made any progress on conducting an historic survey of Sierra Madre's inventory of historic properties.  

We face a difficult task because the changes we have pointed out don't happen all at once.   They happen one house or project at at time just like the way over-development in Arcadia started.  By the time the residents wake up, we have lost the eclectic nature of our community.  It's kind of like the 210 freeway. Some of us can remember when that was wide open with no traffic.  Then as more cars hit the road, it started to change and the changes happened one extra car at at time until we now have a freeway as crowded as the 405
    
We don't want to sugarcoat things. Sierra Madre is now the new focus for developers and flippers, and right now we are unable to stop it and our City Council seems impotent as well.  

Thank you for your continued support. - Steering Committee

My only real quibble here would be the "our City Council seems impotent" part. They're not. They just don't want to fight mansionization. Their priority is strictly all about the numbers. That is what they care about the most. Everything is now on the table and ready to be taxed, fee'd, permitted and billed. One Carter, the Monastery, Stone Fake, you name it.

Ironically, the two most potent forces for mansionization in Sierra Madre right now are this City Council and the Tea Party "property owners' rights" wing nuts. Both of whom are now working towards a similar end.

That is quite a remarkable coalition if you think about it.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

65 comments:

  1. You can tell when John Harabedian is telling a whopper. He does strange things with his hands and fingers.

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  2. I think the council thinks it's doing what is best for the town.

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    1. So an "Arcadia West" at One Carter isn't a problem for you?

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    2. On the contrary, I hate it. I was posting what I think the council thinks, trying to understand how they got there.

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    3. Oops, sorry. You're right.

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    4. Always remember that the City of Sierra Madre exists as a retirement program and employment agency for government employees and does services to the residents on the side. Whenever their is a short-fall in revenues take a guess where the cuts are made?

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  3. This could be a game changer. Take away a big chunk of money from the SMPOA and other "associations" and maybe the city council won't be so afraid to act on behalf of the residents.

    NPR: Supreme Court Deals Blow To Government Unions
    https://www.npr.org/2018/06/27/606208436/supreme-court-deals-blow-to-government-unions

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    1. No more pro-tax postcard blitzes when the city council tries to raise the UUT take again? What a loss to the culture of our community.

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    2. Best news in a long time. Take the boot of the public unions off the necks of our strangling cities.

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  4. What does that mean the City Council is doing what's best for the town?
    The Council is doing what's best for City Hall.
    The increase in employee's pay when the town is being resuscitated doesn't speak well of the Council, very poor decisions on their part.
    Now their next approach will be to ak the resident's for more money!

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    1. This is just a guess, but the council might feel it is a necessary sacrifice to let the hillsides be developed into MacMansions, because of the money - too much money to try to stop that, more incoming money that the new developments will bring in. So the point is to get more money to keep the town going. Again, just a guess, but people will usually justify their decisions that way. Ya know, "I'm doing this for your own good, and you just don't understand the facts."

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  5. If only Governor Jerry Brown's ponzi scheme of CalPERS was part of the Supreme Court decision.

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    1. Yes, but if municipal govt union money raising power has been curbed they won't be able to smear city council candidates that don't want to give them continual raises.

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  6. The Sierra Madre 10% forever tax decided on by this council is just the beginning.
    It is clear that the new City Manager is the only person making a difference in spending practices.

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    1. Gabe is a numbers guy. He is all about spreadsheets and financial analysis. And what he is graded on is getting Sierra Madre's bizarre finances in line with the rest of western civilization. He was hired to be a financial fixer. Remember, he is only here for 5 years. If he has done what he has been asked to do he will more than double his salary at the next city he works for. Unfortunately the fight against mansionization takes a back seat in this scenario. One Carter and the monastery are assets that can be cashed in for a lot of money. He needs that to get his job done, and then move on to far greener pastures.

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  7. Did anyone ask the council about having City Hall back on regular working hours?

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    1. They already work a 9/80 and didn't they return to regular hours in planning and public works? No more velvet rope at 2:00 pm. Boy that was some baloney, "With One Carter and Stone Fake, We're going to have so many permits and plans to process with so few employees we have to close to the public early in order to do so."

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    2. I had hoped that when Elaine Aguilar left, the victim culture in city hall staff would change. No such luck, huh?

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Has it ever occurred to you that the Tattler and Preserve Sierra Madre don’t represent the majority of the town? Or even more than a handful of you? You sure as hell don’t speak for me.
    I think there is a fare amount of schizophrenia around here. One minute the city council is super duper awesome and if we don’t re-elect them, Nathaniel Carters ghost might shoot a bolt of lightning out of his ass to smite us all, and five minutes later, the same council is called the worst ever, and accused of snacking on children while they dream.
    Go smoke a bowl and call it a day.

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    1. Then why are you here? Beat it why don't you? Go guard your lawn.

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    2. 8:25, do you suppose that you represent the majority?
      The majority does not vote. The majority does not know who is on the city council.

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    3. 8:25 --- As we saw by the vote on Measure D, the majority sure as hell isn't you. Sorry, but I am going to take the rest of the morning off so I can finish laughing at you.

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    4. I'd love to have all the important decisions particularly in regards to preservation come down to a city-wide vote. Then we will see who the majority is. I suspect that people moved to Sierra Madre because it's Sierra Madre and not Arcadia.

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    5. Sounds productive 8:25.
      8:34 I know landscaping is evil as is keeping your property well kept. Ugly and overgrown is a concept we all can rally around.
      Meds. Many and often please.

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    6. So grateful you're not my neighbor.

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  9. How is the Bond rating for the city of Sierra Madre,California these days? If it's good then there is a start to create money revenues? And of course their is the Utility Tax rate increase? Let the revenue hunt begin.

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  10. Ha, that's not a problem in Sierra Madre 8:23am.

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  11. When is the water moratorium lifted in Sierra Madre?
    Carter One has the water hook up's, it will be developed lot by lot as soon as buyers purchase the land.
    The other large property located off Grand View is privately owned.

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    1. When will the Library ever get mentioned buy City Hall again? Now that they cannot sell the property for $3 million or so they've lost all interest.

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  12. Great day for teacher's can't be fired for not paying Union dues.

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    1. I second that!

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    2. Hopefully members of the SMPOA will soon be enjoying similar savings.

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  13. Truthfully, I've never seen this council do a damn thing.
    Really, what has been their role except to raise taxes and pay the poor overworked city employees more, just like clock work.
    I guess the council thinks of themseles as Robin Hood for the employee's.

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  14. Nathaniel Carter? i could have sworn that the Community Commission voted for a name change and that all of City Council gave their approval!

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  15. When did Highland ave become a private street for Pasadena parents?
    We were told to turn our car around, we we not allowed to drive down the street because Sierra Madre Elementary school was being let out.

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  16. 8:45am good luck passing off any new tax increases in town.

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  17. Summet between Russia and the United States will take place.

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    1. Trump needs to remember to pack his knee pads and rubber sheets.

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  18. RIP Joe Jackson.

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  19. We can only hope that President Trump takes crazy Maxine with him and she stays.

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  20. I posted this too late yesterday, so here it is again:

    Hillside Development Standards for the Carter lots were lost at the point the track map was approved in 2005. It was approved under the threat of law suit. To get out from under that threat the city allowed for the most lots that could be squeezed in. The number of lots equated to a bigger profit. They were created without real understanding of the hillside geography. And now we have a developer trying to maximize houses on those poorly designed lots. The blame goes a long ways back.

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    1. Seems to me there's plenty of blame to spread around.

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    2. Whoever owns and develops any of that land is still bound by the applicable ordinances and guidelines, no matter how badly the original lot map was.

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    3. Our city attorney disagrees, 12:20.

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    4. She is a jr. partner of Michael Colantuono, a shyster who never met a developer he didn't want to marry.

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  21. The Hillside Ordinance and conditions have changed over these many years, but so has the way resident involvement has changed.
    The Law Firm that represents Sierra Madre no longer matches the reasons they were hired.
    Changes need to be made and expenses reduced from this firm.
    Fitting in with the natural terrain appears to have various interpretations.
    Houses that cannot be seen from natural grade should still be honored, although the illegal grading makes for various interpretations again.
    FAR and close proximity to the hillside should be upheld.
    We witnessed this council voting in favor not to uphold this condiction.
    None of the council had prior education on the settlement agreement and the City Attorney declined to give past history or chose to not be transparent to the public, ignoring this for the arguments of money.
    But why then turn around and increase staffers pay?
    Sierra Madre City and the Library share a similar fate. Sad.

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  22. Cool!!
    Justice Kennedy just announced plans to retire.
    We wish the swing vote Justice a happy and relaxed future.

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    1. I hear Trump plans on nominating Benito Mussolini IV.

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    2. *this post translated from the original Pravda article

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    3. Don't want to loose our air, food, health care, same sex marriage, education, national parks, second amendment,roe vs wade and see trump have a court which says he does not have to testify. He'll try to be the king, just look at all the lies and power grabs he already has shown.

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  23. I wonder if the council notices that they have some new friends.

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  24. 11:42am only makes left hand turns in life.

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    1. The radical left and the radical right have a lot more in common with each other than they do me.

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  25. Che Guevara is not available, the Progressives must be crying.

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    1. Have you asked Milo? He's not very busy these days.

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    2. he was assasinated by right wing racist radicals in our government

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    3. They shot Milo???

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    4. Milo shot himself
      In the foot

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    5. I hope his shoes are OK.

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  26. Thank You CouncilJune 27, 2018 at 3:50 PM

    I am not sure where Preserve Sierra Madre is coming from in criticizing OUR council. Yesterday the wife and I were driving by the Darling house and noticed that the new house looks exactly like the old one - only bigger, better, and with more bathrooms! Just like the owner promised. So, it seems the council was doing the right thing when they approved the complete, irreversible and final demolition of the original.

    And OUR council was equally correct in approving the giant house at one carter. Everyone knows how amazing giant houses look on little lots! Think Manhattan Beach with a mountain at the border instead of an ocean. And for having assisted OUR council in taking these actions (along with the apparently scuttled effort to "unsave our library"), OUR awesome staff deserves a raise. Heck, they earned that raise when they pushed though the city's overwhelmingly approval of a giant UUT increase.

    So, Preserve Sierra Madre sore heads, rather than grousing you should be sending "thank you" notes to OUR council, OUR manager Gabe, and the rest of OUR staff. And be sure to to patronize the Only Place in Town, whose owners brought us a Darling House in every way superior to the original.

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    1. You could see all those new bathrooms while you were driving by? Mmm... maybe another red tag on the way!

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    2. 3:50, sorry, dim witted here, but I really can't tell whether you are being sarcastic or not.

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    3. Assume sarcasm.

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