For Current News, visit our Home page.
July 29, 2015 At the July 28 City Council meeting, two new Planning Commission members were selected for four-year terms: Lesley Hinton and John Hutt. Congratulations! These two are eminently qualified for this position and care about our community. It is a great plus to this beautiful town!
July 28, 2015 City Council meeting, filling two vacancies on the Planning Commission. Those two positions are critical to preserving Sierra Madre and making sure that existing Sierra Madre residents are protected from inappropriate development projects.
July 15, 2015 At the July 14 City Council meeting, the Council unanimously voted to adopt the General Plan update. This has been in the works since 2009 and is a major victory for all of the residents of Sierra Madre. A heartfelt thank you to Council Member Denise Delmar! The Sierra Madre Tattler!
July 14, 2015 City Council meeting, discussing the General Plan update.
July 11, 2015 Mater Dolorosa's spokesmen are now trying to entice the realtors in Sierra Madre to submit "Ideas for the Development of the Vacant South Portion of Our Property." The Sierra Madre Tattler!
September 6, 2015 Is the Martin Weese home slated for destruction? This 1931 936 sf Spanish Revivial Bungalow at 358 North Canon (shown to the right) could be replaced by a 4,600 sf house. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
September 30, 2015 The city of San Gabriel became the latest in the region to begin to investigate solutions to the problem of mansionization. One particular sentence stands out: "Rather than ignoring the problem, or pretending that each private property in the city is a laissez-faire island that doesn't affect its neighbors, San Gabriel is beginning a straightforward look at the effects of building too big a house on too small of a lot."The Star-News Editorial
August 21, 2015 The Planning Commission has requested changes on another One Carter plan of architect Adele Chang's, nicknamed "The Toaster" for its angular, modern design (clients are the Yih's). The Sierra Madre Tattler!
August 20, 2015 6:00 p.m. The Passionists of Mater Dolorosa have issued an invitation to another presentation, "Ideas for the development of the vacant south portion of our property." The invitees are the 'special 'neighbors. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
August 11, 2015 Arcadia: mansionization continues. Los Angeles Times
June 23, 2015 6:30 p.m. The City Council will deliberate and decide on how to balance the City's budget. See June 8 below.
June 16, 2015 Meeting of the Arcadia City Council, City Council Chambers, 240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia. The Arcadia Highlands are also fighting to control the overbuilding of their neighborhood under even greater odds than Sierra Madre. The Arcadia Highlands HOA is presently in a lawsuit with the City of Arcadia after the Arcadia City Council voted to overturn the HOA's rejection of two oversized 2-story homes that were to replace the existing 1-story homes. There were about 150 homes destroyed in Arcadia last year and replaced with large inappropriate houses; this destruction has now come to the Arcadia Highlands.
On Tuesday the Arcadia City Council discussed zoning code updates and exclusion of the Highlands from the historical survey. Preserve Sierra Madre attended this meeting to support our neighbors in the Highlands. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
June 8, 2015 The Sierra Madre Tattler! has a recap of the Town Hall Budget Meeting from June 6. The townspeople have stated their thoughts - the salaries in the City are too high. Ten employees' salary adds up to $1,730,859; the highest was City Manager Elaine Aguilar at $146,302.42. Add benefits to the salary and the total is $220,208.80.
June 6, 2015 The Sierra Madre City Council hosted a Town Hall Budget Meeting at the Fire Station. Residents were invited to view material pertaining to various possible reductions and provide input. The information collected at the Town Hall Meeting will be presented to the City Council for consideration as the Council deliberates and makes decisions on how to balance the City’s budget at their regular meeting on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 6:30pm in the Council Chambers. The Sierra Madre Tattler! weighs in on the financial chart provided by the City.
May 15, 2015 110 Ranch Road, Sierra Madre. This property sold in October 2014 for 1.8M; the new owners are Gina Felikian and her husband. The Felikians wanted to raze the current 2,544 sf house and build a 6,400 sf plus one. According to The Sierra Madre Tattler!, former Mayor John Harabedian convinced the City Council to accept his recommendations to increase the building size for lots above 30,000 sf (this property is 40,616 sf) to 17%, which would allow the Felikians to build a 6,842 sf house.
May 13, 2015 Mater Dolorosa has not stopped their plans for development... The City of Sierra Madre held a budget presentation event at the Kiwani's Club on May 12 at which three surprise visitors attended: Father Mike Higgins from Mater Dolorosa; Cameron Thornton, an investment advisor, Cameron Thornton Associates, who lives in Burbank, and past chair of the Mater Dolorosa Board of Directors; and Jerry Pearson, who lives in Arcadia and is a landscape designer and fellow of ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects), and a senior principal (not confirmed) at Peridian International Inc., a Newport, CA landscape architecture and design firm, and (current or past) president of the Mater Dolorosa Board of Directors. Father Higgins made a short presentation about the development. Per The Sierra Madre Tattler!, his thrust was that "Sierra Madre's budgetary problems could be solved by the development impact fees." He also mentioned the unbelievable "net-zero water."j Net zero water is the concept of an enclosed system that catches rainwater and treats it on site. Rainwater...
May 12, 2015 After what was effectively three separate votes, the Sierra Madre City Council at last night's meeting approved the recommendations of the Planning Commission to improve the R-1 Building Codes. These measures are a huge victory for those who want to preserve the small-town character of our community and for those who believe that existing residents have property rights right too that need protection from being trammeled by developers who want to maximize their profit at the expense of the neighbors' views, light and privacy.
We also want to thank Mayor Capoccia, Council Members Delmar and Arizmendi who reaffirmed their commitment to preservation.....and did it three times no less. We appreciate their vote and the entire city of Sierra Madre owes them a debt of gratitude.
May 9, 2015 "Protecting the Village Character. The latest community action group in Sierra Madre has demonstrated that it is possible for citizens with diverse ideas and a common goal to work together." This is a great article in The Mountain View News
May 7, 2015 The Sierra Madre Tattler has reported that New Urban West, the developer for the Monastery project, has decided not to continue their effort to build one of the largest housing projects that Sierra Madre has seen in decades. The Preserve Sierra Made coalition has not been able to confirm or deny this story but you can find the link at: The Sierra Madre Tattler!
April 24, 2015 Sierra Madre hires a new Director of Planning and Community Preservation, Vincent Gonzalez, whose previous job was as Community Relations Manager for the Metro. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
March 25, 2015 Concerned that large, inappropriate homes are changing the character of Los Angeles neighborhoods, the Los Angeles City Council moved to temporarily restrict development in 20 areas. They unanimously passed the Neighborhood Conservation Interim Control Ordinance, which put a two-year ban on the size of new, single-family dwellings in some neighborhoods. The Los Angeles Daily News
March 21, 2015 Preserve Sierra Madre's booth at the World WaterDay 2015 was a wonderful success! Thank you to all who stopped by.
March 18, 2015 A Sierra Madre resident attended the Open House for the Henry A. Darling house and wrote about what she found: although this 1907 house needs repair, it is not as extensive or costly as the owners are claiming. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
March 17, 2015 Save the Arcadia Highlands has filed a complaint against the City of Arcadia, in hopes of halting the imminent threatened encroachment of the kinds of aggressive mansionization that have overtaken much of the rest of that city. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
March 11, 2015 The Henry A. Darling house at 126 E. Miramonte is back on the market, asking price is $998,000 (it was purchased for $925,000 in 2013). The current owners had submitted an application for demolition in order to replace the 2,052 sf 1907 Craftsman with one at 3,520sf. Unfortunately it appears that Julie Tschida Brown, one of the owners, has threatened litigation against the City of Sierra Madre. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
March 5, 2015 The Planning Commission passd Resolution 15-01 (you can access the Staff Report here, search for Staff Report Dev Svcs 3/5/15). In part, this resolution requires a new formula to calculate the maximum allowable floor area; requires a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) for all two-story new homes and additions; and additional scrunity for homes over 3,500sf.
This very important Resolution "was adopted to encourage development that preserves the small town character of the community and promotes architectural diversity while maintaining neighorhood consistency."
February 24, 2015 City Council meeting regarding extending the demolition moratorium and enacting further historical preservation measures. The City Council extended the demolition moratorium for another six months, and directed City Staff to complete the revised Demolition Ordinance by April 30. Once the revised ordinance is in place, the demolition ordinance will be lifted.
The decision on the Historical Survey was defered to a future meeting.
February 21, 2015 At last night's meeting, the Planning Commission directed city staff to lower floor area limits (how big a home can be built on a given size lot), lower the CUP threshold (which homes will receive additional scrutiny from the Planning Commission) and made a CUP mandatory for all second stories. These all represent significant improvements to the current code and will hopefully be enacted at the March 5th Planning Commission meeting after one more review. The Sierra Madre Tattler! (please note that this article comes after the article on sex offenders)
February 21, 2015 The property at 186 W. Highland, previously a church but currently owned by the city of Sierra Madre is back on the city's development agenda. Heritage Housing Partners (it was incorrectly named as "Heritage Housing Project" in the article) has proposed plans for "adaptive reuse;" their mission is to promote long-term affordable homeownership through the preservation of existing historic homes. Preserve Sierra Madre will not comment on this issue until more information is forthcoming. Mountain View News The article is from February 14, 2015.
January 15, 2015 The Planning Commission has ruled that any one-story house rebuild that is requesting a second-story, must get a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Also,the plans for any new house in excess of 3000sf to 3200 sf must come before the Planning Commission. Currently it is set at 4000 sf, so plans for 3999 do not need to be approved. The Sierra Madre Tattler
January 15, 2015 Sierra Madre resident John C. Hutt sent a letter to the Planning Commission regarding R-1 Conditional Use Permit (CUP) thresholds. View the entire letter on the Letters from Residents page.
January 14, 2015 Long-time Sierra Madre resident Caroline Brown wrote to the Planning Commissioners, regarding the building of large and inappropriate houses. View the entire letter on the Letters from Residents page.
Sierra Madre and other towns have started to put the brakes on demolition and mansionization:
January 7, 2015 At the City Council meeting of January 6 the City Staff and the City Attorney were instructed by the entire City Council to create a home demolition ordinance. This newborn tear down moratorium ordinance will then be finalized at the January 27th meeting.
Bad new though - apparently there were 14 home demolition permits issued in 2014, with 4 additional ones in the pipeline now. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
January 10, 2015 On January 8 the Acting Director of Planning & Community Preservation Department sent out a memo to the City Council, the Planning Department and other departments regarding an application for demolition on a historic house - the 1907 Henry A. Darling house, the beautiful craftsman shown below. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
November 6, 2015 At the Planning Commission meeting on November 5, the Commission requested that the Planning staff, the owners, and the architect accurately measure the square footage of the addition. Back to the drawing board. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
November 5, 2015 Planning Commission meeting to discuss plans to add to the existing size of the Henry A. Darling House at 126 E. Mira Monte. A while ago, a herculean effort was launched to save this 1906 Craftsman house from a date with the wrecking ball. In fact, the proposed demolition of that historic property was one of the catalysts for the emergency demolition moratorium and later the demolition ordinance.
After failing in their efforts to demolish the property, the previous owners sold the property to a new buyer. Although the new buyer is not demolishing the house, they are proposing to add an additional 2,279 square feet to the existing house which is 2,052 square feet for a total of 4,731 square feet - effectively doubling the size of the home.
While this home did need to be updated, the concern is whether the modifications and interior remodeling is so extensive that it results in what is effectively a demolition of the house. For those who had the opportunity to see the inside, the Craftsman architectural details were about as good as it gets.
The City Staff has recommended that the project be approved. Details of their analysis in the Planning Commission Staff Report for November 5th can be found here.
October 9, 2015 In a September 22 City Council meeting, Cam Thornton (an invesment advisor who lives in Burbank; he is the Past President of the Mater Dolorosa Board of Directors) claimed that many of the surrounding homeowners favored a development at Mater Dolorosa. He also claimed that dozens of people had signed a specially prepared document acknowledging this surprising contention, thereby somehow committing themselves to keeping an "open mind" about such a project. The Sierra Madre Tattler! disputes these claims.
October 5, 2015 Arcadia's real estate market is experiencing problems. Part II of Preservation v. Mansionization. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
October 4, 2015 Preservation v. Mansionization, Part I. Has the Measure V campaign to control development in Sierra Madre's downtown area or the more recent efforts to prevent mansionization in Sierra Madre hurt or helped property values? According to sales from 2006 to 2015, it has definitely not hurt, as Sierra Madre's housing market value has skyrocketed since the decline in 2009...while Arcadia's - except for the most elite housing - has plummeted. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
July 23, Thursday, The above banner picture (courtesy of The Sierra Madre Tattler!) shows some of the ordinary citizens (100 to 150) who braved the heat and humidity and trudged up the Sunnyside hill to the gates of Mater Dolorosa to send a loud and clear message to our Mater Dolorosa friends that we do not want that beautiful open space turned into a housing project. The police were present for this respectful demonstration and there were no problems.
Mater Dolorosa is aggressively pursuing their massive development of 40-50 large houses on the last remaining open space in Sierra Madre. They solicited the local realtors at a wine and cheese reception on July 23; their goal was to gather support for their development. About 8 realtors attended... and some of those expressed dislike of the project.
Peaceful demonstration a success!