And in 2016... We were hoping to relax a bit after the holidays but, unfortunately, our friends at Mater Dolorosa seem to be revving up their efforts to build one of the largest housing projects that Sierra Madre has seen in decades.
Many good things were accomplished in 2015 whether it was the tremendous improvements to the R-1 Building Codes, the approval of the new General Plan, the building and water meter moratoriums, saving the house at 126 E. Mira Monte, the denial of the first house proposed for One Carter/Stonegate or the demolition ordinance. However, the Monastery Development project now represents the biggest development threat we will be facing in 2016. If you recall, we beat back the previous developer New Urban West, but based on what we see emanating from Mater Dolorosa, our job is far from over.
June 14, 2016 State legislators are introducing legislation that will curtail the group homes/sober living facilities. Preserve Sierra Madre's stance is that these for-profit group homes should not be located in a residential area. If you live next to a group home, and sell your home, you must disclose that fact - which could impact the value of your property. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
June 13, 2016 The City Council, tonight at 6:30 p.m., will be addressing the issue of group homes (aka sober living facilities) in residential areas; one such facility is the Dedicato Treatment Center located at 22 W. Carter in Sierra Madre. The laws regulating these facilities are complex. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
May 13, 2016 The Sisters at the convent of Our Lady of Victory Missionary in Indiana, have taken the giant step of forever protecting 100 acres of natural undeveloped land. In an article by Dan Stockman, he quotes the Sisters' General Secretary: "the sisters understand that development itself is not bad, but that they wanted to make sure it does not come to Victory Noll, no matter what happens to the 42 sisters who live on the campus." A lesson that Mater Dolorosa should learn. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
May 11, 2016 The Pasadena Star-News has picked up the story regarding The Dedicato Treatment Center, located at 22 W. Carter in Sierra Madre. The owner of the property on record is Amy L. Heller. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
May 6, 2016 The Planning Commission could not specifically discuss The Dedicato Treatment Center (see April 28 and May 5), but the City Attorney did state that this was a surprise to them, and that the facility did not have a license. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
May 5, 2016 Planning Commission meeting. The Planning Commssion will discuss amendments to the Zoning Code including licensed and unlicensed group homes and group living facilities in Residential, Commercial, and Residential-Professional zones. Possibly under discussion is the Delicato Treatment Center, located in a residential area, at 22 Carter. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
September 13, 2106 City Council meeting, 6:30 p.m. The City Council will be voting on whether to approve the unanimous recommendations of our Planning Commission and City Staff to further amend the R-1 zone of the Municipal Code so that it is aligned with and consistent with the General Plan. Preserve Sierra Madre supports these changes and we would urge our City Council to adopt them in their entirety. Further details at The Sierra Madre Tattler!
February 10, 2016 We are happy to report that the City Council denied the CUP at the meeting on February 9. Council members Capoccia and Delmar had to recuse themselves because they lived too close to the applicant's property. Council Members Goss and Arizmendi voted to deny the CUP. Council Member Harabedian was the sole vote in favor of granting the CUP to Mr. Salisian.
Preserve Sierra Madre is grateful to Council Members Goss and Arizmendi for their own judgment in this matter as well as giving due deference to our experts on the Planning Commission and due deference to the rule of law. A powerful message has been sent that Sierra Madre's General Plan and Municipal Code exist to be followed and not flouted. These rules and regulations exist for many reasons, not the least of which, is to insure the health and safety of those who will be inhabiting the structure - namely the applicant himself.
February 9, 2016 6:30 p.m. Tuesday City Council Meeting. 156 West Highland Avenue.
Preserve Sierra Madre urges the City Council to uphold the decision by the Planning Commission denying the CUP. Details below and at The Sierra Madre Tattler!
The property at the above address was purchased by Steve M. Salisian and his brother Robert Salisian, in 2012. There were three rentals on the property, plus two other buildings. Mr. Salisian demolished a 200sf structure, replacing it with a 1,322sf rental unit, without a permit by the city and using unqualified and unlicensed workers, including himself. The structure does not adhere to the R-3 Zoning requirements. He also does not have a business license. When confronted with his illegal building, he applied for a retroactive Conditional Use Permit (CUP) which was denied by the City Planning Commisssion. He is appealing the decision at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday February 9.
A great many people have spent countless hours formultating rules and regulations pertaining to zoning and building requirements - both of which seem to have been egregiously violated by this applicant. Were this applicant to receive a mere slap on the wrist for such actions, that would send a very bad message: namely, that the rules and regulations of Sierra Madre can be ignored with impunity.
Do you have a question for the Passionists? Or wish to make a comment? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 26, 2016 The City Council ratified changes to the R-1 Building Code!
The Planning Commission and City Staff unanimously supported the latest amendments to the R-1 Building Code which are the culmination of several of their meetings, and much discussion. These amendments do such things as improve the set back requirements, prohibit flag lots and, most importantly of all, augment the CUP findings providing further guidance to applicants and preventing projects that are harmful to neighbors and the community at large. Preserve Sierra Madre supports these changes wholeheartedly. We have tremendous confidence in our Planning Commission and their expertise.
We greatfully thank our City Council for ratifying these improvements so that we can preserve our "village in the foothills" for future generations to enjoy.
January 5, 2016 Although the Mater Dolorosa seems to be quiescent on its goal of building a multitude of large houses on the lower property, it is definitely not true. Read their web page FAQs linked below. The Sierra Madre Tattler! has posited that the owners of the property, The Passionists of Holy Cross Province in Illinois, and the Board of Directors of Mater Dolorosa are still working at convincing the City of Sierra Madre that it would be in their best financial interest to proceed with the development.
There is a City election coming up in April and perhaps the Board is waiting until after the election to push forward their agenda. Read the web pages on the "Mater Dolorosa Project."
The photo on the right is taken from their web site, showing a conceptual plan of 41 houses (no pools), with each site being approximately the same acreage as its currently existing neighbors. A sampling of the surrounding houses show an average of about .30 acres or 13,068 sf. Average house size is 2,243 sf.
April 23, 2016 Glendora, CA. The Pasadena Star-News had a front page article titled "Wild Dispute" by Courtney Tompkins, regarding an attempt by developer Derek Ng to build 19 two-story luxury homes on the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, destroying wildlife habitats and requiring the removal 176 mature oak trees. The location is a 41 acre expanse of wilderness known as the "Gordon-Mull" property. Ng represents Zh Glendora LLC, which filed and purchased the property in May 2013, and whose listing agent is Zhiwu Zhuang.
Sierra Madre is not an island unto itself. What happens in Glendora affects the entire southern portion of the San Gabriel Mountains and all the foothill communities. The developer is facing a number of very determined preservation groups who don't want to see that pristine land turned into another big housing project. Mr. Ng is quoted as saying, "we are businessmen." Well, for a lot of people, preserving our foothills for future generations is more than just about "business."
April 22, 2016 It's finally official: the two anti-mansionization candidates, April Verlato and Peter Amundson, won seats on the Arcadia City Council. This represents a huge victory for preservationists in Arcadia. Just recently, the Arcadia City Council also enacted floor area limits for the first time in Arcadia which adjusts the size of the home that can be built based on the size of the lot.
The Sierra Madre Tattler! describes what went on behind the scenes in that election as the battle for the preservation of Arcadia was being fought - namely, how developers tried and failed to get their pro-development candidates elected.
This really represents a titanic shift in Arcadia that quite frankly surprised us here at Preserve Sierra Madre. I guess it just goes to show you that we can't underestimate the power of the people wanting to preserve their neighborhoods from the pernicious consequences of over-development.
April 12, 2016, Tuesday, City County Meeting, 6:30 p.m. While Preserve Sierra Madre will not be making any endorsements in the race for City Council, we do want to bring to your attention the candidate statements from John Capoccia, John Harabedian and write-in candidate Barry Gold so that our supporters can determine which candidates share the same vision for Sierra Madre as we do.
We would assume that the candidate statements reflect the views, vision and priorities for these candidates for the course of their term in office. Understandably, we are paying particular attention to each candidate's stance on mansionization, over-development.and preserving our "village of the foothills."
The candidate statements can be found online at the Mountain Views News and in the Sierra Madre Weekly and can be picked up at a local newsstand in town
We encourage all of our supporters to vote on Tuesday. Each of you has made a difference in the past and together we can make a difference again.
April 7, 2016 City Council Meeting, 7 p.m. General Plan Implementation Update. Preserve Sierra Madre sent an email to Chair Goldstein and Planning Commission members, asking that they please consider addressing and hopefully elevating the lack of provision, either in the R-1 Code or in the Hillside Management Zone, that addresses the situation of buildable lot size on a steep slope.
Under the current rules, the floor area ratio for what size home can be built will be based upon that entire lot size and not just on the buildable area. The result is a very large house that will seem disproportionate to its surroundings.
An example of this is a home currently for sale at 751 Oak Crest Drive well-known to many people as the "Pyramid House," which sits on a small flat pad with the remaining acreage a steep slope. See details on the Demolition Alert! page.
April 28, 2016 The Dedicato Treatment Center, a drug abuse rehabilitation center has opened up at 22 Carter, close to where Mayor Pro-Tem Arizmendi and Planning Commissioner Goldstein live. The Sierra Madre Tattler!
October 2016 The Henry A. Darling House has been destroyed! Many of you will recall the herculean effort to save the 1907 Craftsman home located at 126 E. Mira Monte known as the "Henry A. Darling House." At that time, the new buyers for the home were proposing its demolition and there was a huge outcry in the city as people rallied around its preservation. In fact, concern for this home prompted the City Council's enactment of an Emergency Demolition Moratorium and later the permanent Demolition Ordinance that provided protections for homes built before 1940.
Because the first Buyer couldn't do what they wanted to this home, it was sold to a second Buyer who we all understood wanted to preserve the home. That didn't happen. In fact, they tore the home down to its studs and demolished it to such a degree that the City had to issue a "Stop Work" order. Now it transpires that this second Buyer, after completely disregarding the City's building and demolition rules regarding this historic property, is going to appear before the City's Planning Commission on Thursday, November 3rd at 7:00 pm to evidently ask for forgiveness and apply for an after-the-fact permit to continue their destruction.
November 4, 2016 City Planning Commission meeting from Thursday November 3. Nothing was decided at this meeting regarding the post-demolition of the majority of the Henry A. Darling house. See below. Preserve Sierra Madre sent a letter to the City Planning commissioners and City Staff decrying the almost complete destruction of this house. Read the letter and the details about the meeting in The Sierra Madre Tattler!
November 3, 2016 City Planning Commission meeting. 7:00 p.m. The owners of the Henry A. Darling house (William Kefalas, Kefalas Investments, a property management company, and owner of The Only Place in Town) who demolished this 1907 historical house disregarding the City's building and demolition rules, forcing the city to issue a "Stop Work" order, will try to apply for an after-the-fact permit to continue their destruction. See below or The Sierra Madre Tattler!
Here at Preserve Sierra Madre, we are saddened and shocked about what has happened to this once beautiful home. We are also angry at why the hard-fought rules and regulations that were put in place to protect and preserve our "village in the foothills" were so egregiously disregarded. It seems to us that a mere "slap on the wrist" is not an appropriate penalty for this travesty. Our Planning Commission and City Council and City Staff need to be united in sending a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the City of Sierra Madre. Keep in mind this now has a significance beyond just the destruction of this house. All eyes will now be on our Planning Commission on Thursday, November 3rd at 7:00 pm. The question to be answered is whether any owner, contractor, or developer ever needs to ask permission again and follow the rules found in the our General Plan and Municipal Code. Meanwhile, the damage has been done and the Henry A. Darling House has been destroyed.