Monday, November 25, 2013

The "They're Spending It Like They Already Got It" Tuesday Evening City Council Meeting Preview

Wheee!
You do know that the UUT 3 has some grandiose plans for the vast windfalls of cash the City hopes to receive from the 60% water rate increase. That plus the double digit utility taxes they hope to, er, augment. Or is that embellish. But as most of the more civil elements in this town are aware, it is just bad form to start spending the public's money before the tax and rate payers have even voted to approve such a thing. And yes, the rumors are correct. Tuesday evening the City of Sierra Madre will actually consider spending $150,000 on downtown "wayfinding signs." This is a part of Mayor Walsh's Buxton born "Marketing and Branding System." Something that has already cost the taxpayers a fortune and paid off with, well, just about absolutely nothing.

To be sure, this should be a rather instructive evening for the taxpaying public of our Foothill Village. It will show us how our money will be spent should the residents here somehow fall for the City's demands that we extend our utility taxes at the same State of California leading double digit levels they're at now. And all the way through to the year 2022.

Think of it as a boutique spending mentality in a dog food tax environment. With the taxpayers getting the pooch's end of the deal. So please, at least for this moment in time, won't somebody take the Mayor's credit cards away from her?

OK, so I have gotten way ahead of myself. There are a lot of other things on this week's meeting agenda that must be discussed before any of that.

First, the lawsuits portion of the meeting, which is always conducted in a private room. This because, as you know, we are not permitted to know what they're up to back there. It's lawyer stuff. For this evening's meeting there are three legal cases in effect, but we don't have a clue about two of them. So we'll pass on discussing those. But this other one is kinda interesting.

Pursuant to Calif. Government Code Section 54956.9(a)
The City Council/Agency finds, based on advice from legal counsel, that discussion in open session will prejudice the position of the local agency in the litigation.
Existing Litigation: Paul Woloski v. City of Sierra Madre - Case No EC061376

As has been my lot in life for the last 5 or so years of doing this blog, I scoured the Internet in search of any evidence of the existence of a Paul Woloski, and what I found was intriguing. Apparently Paul Francis Woloski resides on Sierra Madre's legendary Orange Grove Avenue, and is the President of something called the Delta Dawgs Foundation, aka "The Dogs of War." You can view what is quite a colorful website by clicking here.

This organization purports to raise money for military veterans and their families, which would be a good thing. I am fairly sure that this has nothing to do with the lawsuit, but who knows? I guess we'll find out someday. Oh, and "Calif. Government Code Section 54956.9(a)" means litigation has been formally initiated.

Let us now get to the money spending portion of Tuesday evening's event.

ACTION ITEMS
1. CONSENT - a) ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION No. 13-80 OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SIERRA MADRE APPROVING CERTAIN DEMANDS

The demands the agenda speaks of total up to $553,513.75. A relatively modest sum for a City Council meeting these days. Some of the more notable remittances flying out the door include $37,998.48 for Third World Edison, our electric power source. At least when the weather is good. $25,342.75 is for something called a "Smart Classroom 2012 State Homeland Defense." Ordinarily you don't read the word "smart" in any sentence that includes the term "homeland defense," but I am sure it is grant money so we should act nice. City Hall's personal law firm, Colantuono & Levin, gets $22,002.95 for providing legal cover for various outrages visited upon the residents. Our Washington DC lobbyists, The Ferguson Group, get $5,000. Since they will soon have to tolerate the jejune presences of Nancy Walsh and Johnny Process in Washington DC for a couple of days, they've probably earned it.

All very routine, I'm afraid. Let's move on.

b) QUARTERLY FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, FIRST QUARTER AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

Our very own one woman Greek Choir, Finance Director Karin Schnaider, will come on down to share with the City Council the parlous state of the City's finances. From now until the April 2014 UUT do-over extension vote, just about everything Karin says will point to certain financial disaster should it fail at the polls. Which it did by over 60% in 2012. How a City with the highest utility taxes in the entire State of California can be this broke is mystifying. But Karin, who is a nice lady and actually lives here (a rarity for staff members these days), will do her very best to convince you that this is the case. It is a job, I suppose. Bring your cleanest hankie.

c) APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION No. 13-81: POSTPONEMENT OF WATER CONSERVATION TARGET PENALTIES

Karin Schnaider gets to speak on this item as well, which makes you wonder about the current state of her Karma. A ways back the City Council approved penalties for the excessive use of water. This was done in hopes of lessening the demands upon our highly at-risk aquifers and water wells. The wells went dry anyway, so our waterless water company had to go and beg the SGVMWD to send us some from their supply, which they did. However, this made any fines for the over use of water here superfluous since we no longer needed to be concerned about our wells running dry. It already happened.

This item is basically a city face saving exercise. Karin will claim the fines are being rescinded because the residents conserved water, but should we behave irresponsibly they could come back. Which is silly. The fines went away because the wells ran dry.

2. PUBLIC HEARING –
ORDINANCE No. 1348, AN ORDINANCE AMENDING MUNICIPAL CODE CHAPTER 17.22 SECOND UNITS

The Staff Report has an Executive Summary for this item, and since we are all obviously managerial material, I thought I should share this information with you here.

The City Council will consider Ordinance No. 1348, amending Chapter 17.22 of the Municipal Code to revise various zoning standards related to Second Units, including minimum and maximum allowable floor height, parking and affordability requirements. The proposed revisions implement a housing program objective of the 2008-2014 Housing Element adopted by the City Council in June 2013, to encourage the creation of second units and meet the City's regional housing needs (RHNA). At its September 5, 2013 meeting, (the) Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the second unit code text amendments to the City Council.

The tragedy for small California cities today is that our corrupt state government in Sacramento has confiscated most development planning authority from such places as Sierra Madre. They ostensibly did this by claiming it would somehow help the environment, but that has been proven to be pretty much a crock of merde.

The real reason? Land use is big money, and the elected crooks that run the central planning regimes of this state know they can get beaucoup money (and free tickets to Josh Groban concerts), by peddling development planning rights to such rapacious interests as the Realty and development lobbies.

The Second Unit thing is a nice idea and all, and gosh it just might help us deal with SCAG head and Soviet expatriate Comrade Hasan Ikhrata's (linkSierra Madre RHNA number, at least for a little while. But the end result will be higher development density levels here, resulting in more congestion, more traffic, and therefore higher greenhouse gas levels.

Sometimes you just have to let Sacramento know that you're on to their lying.

3. DISCUSSION – CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT ORDINANCE AMENDING SECTION 3.36.180 OF CHAPTER 3.36 OF THE SIERRA MADRE MUNICIPAL CODE REGARDING THE UTILITY USER’S TAX EXTENDING AND MODIFYING THE RATE STRUCTURE TO PRESERVE AND FUND IMPORTANT CITY SERVICES

We'll just cut to the chase here. The City is saying that our utility taxes need to remain at the highest levels anywhere in the State of California because otherwise we will lose our public safety services. A claim that is both an act of ugly cynicism and dishonesty on the UUT 3's part. However, this is the story the hostage takers on our City Council will bleat about endlessly all the way to next April's election.

The actual reasons behind our continuing to have to pay double digit utility taxes is city employee union negotiated pensions, benefits costs and salaries. That along with this city's disastrous $15 million dollars in 2003 water bond debt, which currently we are only paying minimal interest on.

Personally, I don't see why I should have to pay a state leading 10% utility tax rate to financially support city employees for the rest of their lives. But that is what this is all about. Hopefully enough people will get it.

4. DISCUSSION – MEMORIAL PARK RESTROOM REMODEL

Mayor Nancy Walsh, using the Senior Community Commission as her human shield and funding source, is pushing just as hard as she can to spend $60,000 in resident cash and turn the public restrooms at the Hart Park House in Memorial Park into a "unisex family bathroom" and a storage space.

The current lady's room will be turned into a storage space for the Hart Park House crowd, while the current men's room will be transformed into a unisex lavatory that will be able to accommodate only one person at a time. Real excitement if you have more than one kid.

The thing is, this building has two public restrooms now, and families have been using them for decades as they are right next to the playground. So what we are actually being asked to fund is turning one of the restrooms into a space for storing bingo boards and plastic birthday party cutlery, and the other into a unisex one-at-a-time lavatory. Wait'll this one starts making the rounds.

Along with the $150,000 "wayfinding signs" mentioned above (and below), this brings Mayor Nancy Platinum Card up to $210,000 in completely unnecessary expenditures, and in just one meeting. And we haven't even voted on the do-over UUT extension yet.

5. DISCUSSION – SAN GABRIEL VALLEY ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP

The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership is run by former Sierra Madre Mayor Bart "El Monte" Doyle (click here), the author of such Sierra Madre catastrophes as the $15 million in 2003 water bond debt we are currently paying interest only on because we cannot afford to do otherwise. That plus the Downtown Specific Plan, a nasty predatory development scheme that led to a city-wide citizen revolt, Measure V, and a level of resident hostility Sierra Madre had never seen before, and has yet to recover from.

The SGVEP is essentially an organization run by utilities, banks, Realtors, developers and various large corporations that would love to be able to make some dough by throwing this town wide open to the kinds of development most Sierra Madreans don't want here.

Expect Nancy Walsh, Johnny Process and Josh Moran to fall all over themselves to try and convince everyone that we need to join this awful organization. We've always known that they are in Bart's pocket.

6. DISCUSSION – CITY SIGNAGE PLAN

Nancy Walsh wants the City to shell out $150,000 it doesn't have yet for something called "wayfinding signs." These would be like the ones you can find in Pasadena directing to you to such attractions as Old Town Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. We don't have any of those, but you do know how beneficial to the unique character of our community aping Pasadena would be.

This is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a handful of signs. I think that if you were to put this one out to bid it could be done by a local sign company for around $2,500. And perhaps one of the arts organizations in town might take on some of the design aspects, and for free?  That would be a good use of their talents, I think.

Please, stop the madness. Take away Nancy's credit card.

7. DISCUSSION – APPROVAL OF STRATEGIC PLAN FROM OCTOBER 15, 2013 RETREAT

This little tin can got kicked down the road at the last CC meeting because nobody thought it was important enough to make some time to discuss. So here it is, back again. This is what I said last time:

This thing just never seems to go away. It just mutates. I swear that if I ever have to read things such as "Preserve our Small Town Character with a Vibrant Downtown" or "Maintain Financial Stability and Sustainability," or "Attract, Develop and Retain Quality Staff," I am going to do something desperate. Like wash my car. Or comb our long haired cat.

These are meaningless concepts. You should require no further proof that this city needs a new City Manager. The one we have now is fresh out of ideas.

I am sticking with that. See you at the meeting.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

72 comments:

  1. If the Hart Park House lavatory is approved and built, it shall ever be known as The Nancy.

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    1. with a throne in it

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    2. I've heard Nancy has put the word out that they need volunteers to serve as attendants.

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    3. Will it be a committee or a commission?

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    4. Is the wayfinding sign maker a relative of Nancy?

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    5. Will there be a "Depends Dispenser there?"

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    6. A unisex bathroom for children? At a playground? Has this city lost its cotton picking mind?

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    7. I am sorry, but in a city that gives passes to pedophiles, this is frightening.

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  2. Maybe one of those wayfinding signs can point the way to bankruptcy.

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    1. Thank you!! Couldn't agree more.

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    2. How about one that points to City Hall and says "Nuts"?

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  3. Tattler, in your precise account of the palaver that spews forth during the Strategic Plan updates, you left out one that appears every single time, like a ritual prayer: to improve transparency.

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    Replies
    1. Don't you mean "gransparency"?

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    2. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

      Oh, hi Bart!

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  4. Nancy and her senior committee is being selfish and short sighted. The park needs more restrooms not more storage.

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  5. Would you have your child use a unisex bathroom that is used by the day workers and cleaned once a day? I wouldn't.

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  6. Why wasn't storage incorporated into the recently rehabbed Hart House?

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    1. They wanted an enormous kitchen which is useless because you can't cook in it.

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  7. The senior commission and Nancy do not give a hoot about the public. They have their nice new bathrooms in the Hart House. They will not be using the unisex bathroom for us commoners.

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    1. Park users don't even know there are public bathrooms behind those closed doors.

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    2. Knowing kids, the Memorial Park shrubbery will be well watered.

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  8. The city says since the seniors have the money they should be able to do it. That is how they city works now.

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  9. Women and children having to use the same bathroom as men is gross. Take a look at the current men's bathroom. It predicts the future on the unisex bathroom.

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  10. Family bathrooms are in museums, malls and airports. The is going to be one nasty mess.

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  11. A bathroom with a lock will have a lot on interesting activity.

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  12. A recipe for disaster. My God!

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  13. It becoming increasingly difficult to believe our community is being managed by human beings!

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    1. Uni-Sex bathrooms are a big issue in this state. Sacramento has ordered that they become common in schools from Kindergarten all the way the 12th grade. People are outraged and 500,000 signatures have been gathered to put the matter on a statewide ballot. Shame on the mayor for doing this!

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    2. The mayor apparently has no shame!

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    3. The gender confused don't like to use the bathroom that is assigned to their sex.

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  14. What is the pressing need for more storage - are we talking about Christmas decorations or something like that. Has the interior space in the Hart Park house been fully organized? Is there really no space left elsewhere in city property for the stuff?

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  15. This is pure Mayor Walsh. All she cares about is her small group of seniors. Children and young parents in this town are way underserved, and this is a glaring example of it.

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    1. He who has the $$$$ make the rules. That is the way this city is run.

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    2. Hey, 12:37. It's our money, not Nancy's. So I guess we should make the decision.

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    3. just another reason to vote no on the uut.

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  16. Haven't been there lately, but there are how many stalls in there now? It's more than one. I thought the ruse of using Community Redevelopment Agency funds to build that brick thing to the north of the tennis courts was the end of bathroom shenanigans.

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    1. Each restroom can accommodate two guests at once. We will lose three accommodations.

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    2. Not true. One at a time, with a lock on the inside.

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  17. Why not make one of the interior bathrooms, currently used by the seniors into the storage room?

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    1. Great idea - make that restroom unisex. It's a small number of people who regularly go to Hart Park House.

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    2. A small number of apparently very privileged people. The Lords of the Bathrooms.

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    3. Nancy's idea of being mayor is taking care of only those she cares about. Sadly, that is not a very large portion of our community.

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  18. Both restrooms (do not lose the current "ladies" restroom) should be unisex: if you have a family of several kids, the mom or dad, in the restroom together is the best way to manage the potty problem. You don't even all have to pee, but you can keep your eyes on the group while those who do do. Only one bathroom near the picnic and playground area is not enough. And the double unit behind the City Hall at the tennis courts is out of sight for sending an almost old enough to go alone kid and parents will not be able to use that as well as ones in the place they are now. The seniors have two lovely remodeled restrooms, one mens and one womens inside the Hart House now. Someone has to call out the mayor on her age discrimination. What a disaster she is!

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    1. In the current restrooms there are two commodes on the women's side, a commode and a urinal on the men's. The conversion calls for one commode. Hardly enough for a rest room near the children's playground. The Seniors also want to have the storage room so they can put sofas and other "comfortable" furniture inside the Park House. That means it will be unusable for the groups that meet there at night. What short-sighted folly. The Community Services Commission denied the project. Watch and see, all the selfish seniors are going to show up to plea their case and of course nasty Nancy will lead the charge. Shouldn't she recluse herself from this discussion since she has been openly outspoken about her decision and will not have an open mind about this? We citizens already feel that the council doesn't listen to us when we get up to speak. Especially since Nancy has already said that in expressing our opinion we will "look foolish" if we don't agree with her. Remember her lookie here moment?
      By the way, the Senior Commission believes that the conversion is their right because they are paying for it from their funds and the Park House is "Theirs".

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  19. One person at a time - so the day laborers and the kids and moms get to line up.

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    1. Why doesn't city hall understand what this means to parents of young children?

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    2. The day laborers should start using city hall bathrooms and the ones inside the Hart House.

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    3. The city and many of the senior commissioners lead and nancy don't give a damn about the safety of children.

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  20. Such silly, non-essential expenditures are maddening when you hear all the woe is me talk about not having enough. Like somebody's buying magazines when the kids need milk. Makes me wonder about the capacity to reason.

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    1. The disconnect is immense. We will go from Karin's poor mouthing to Nancy $210,000 in spends for a storage room and vanity business signs. Only one way to describe it. They've lost their minds.

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  21. 1.95 MILLION hits. Good thing no one reads The Tattler.

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  22. The bathroom north of the tennis courts is not safe for a child alone.
    You must always remember that you live in a town where a man like Robert 'Bob' Matheson was not required to register as a sex offender, and where he is allowed to go wherever he wants. Also, don't forget his career level proficiency with cameras.

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    1. In this day and age, parents shouldn't let a child go into a restroom alone no matter where it is. But with the conversion that means a parent with two or three children playing in the park, it means having them all crowd into one small space each time a child needs to use the facilities, or stand outside while a toddler tries to manage alone. As one poster said, short-sighted folly.

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    2. Or complete indifference.

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  23. When the ping pong table, tables and chairs are stored outside the hart house in the new storage room, who is going to get the stuff out? Staff will on your dime.

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    1. No, I understand will be up to the organization using the park house, that means the Garden Club, Rotary, Civic Club, CERT and others will have to make sure they have strong members attending at all times who will agree to set up even when it rains. You don't think the Senior Specialist who works there will do it, do you?

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  24. "Public Restrooms--All Welcome" That sign should be put on the door of the Hart House

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  25. I was at a meeting in the Park House when a man came in, went to the restroom, then walked through the meeting into the kitchen, and left the way he came in. We all looked at each other and said, "who was that?" No one knew. lol

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    1. Making a statement. The other restrooms were in use.

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    2. Here I sit
      Broken hearted
      Went to the Hart Park House
      And only farted

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  26. You can add a 10x10 storage room to an existing structure for about $25K (assuming normal construction bids). End of story.

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    1. Arrow 8 ft x 6 ft steel shed from Amazon.com - $399
      http://www.amazon.com/Arrow-Shed-SA86-A-8-Feet-Storage/dp/B001F0A3NI/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1385426807&sr=8-9&keywords=backyard+shed

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    2. Or, if you want to get real fancy shmancy, you can get the 10 ft x 14 ft stainless steel Arrow shed from Amazon for $659.99. Plenty of room for ping pong tables and that difficult to store bingo spinner.
      http://www.amazon.com/Arrow-Shed-LX1014-A-Lexington-10-Feet/dp/B00097D1OQ/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1385426807&sr=8-12&keywords=backyard+shed

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    3. That works for temporary storage. For permanent storage area (foundation, roof, a window and door) and some shelving/cabinets with electrical outlets & lighting, you end up in the 25K range.

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    4. Everything is temporary.

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  27. Just heard that the monastery development plan is for 40 houses. Forty.

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  28. Will there be wayfinding signs around town so we can find our way to the unisex restroom?

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  29. If yeah got a complaint then attend and yell it out;
    Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 06:30pm

    City Council Meeting on Tuesday, November 26, 2013. Closed Session begins at 5:30 p.m. with Open Session to follow at approximately 6:30 p.m.
    Location City Hall, Council Chambers
    Contact 626-355-7135
    232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
    Sierra Madre, CA 91024

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

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