July 15, 2014 The City Council’s decisions to adopt Ordinances and a Resolution that declared a water emergency and imposed moratoria on all new water service connections (with exeptions) would preclude massive developments such as the one the Passionists are trying to force through.
So Cameron Thornton, the previous chair of the Mater Dolorosa Board of Directors, was mistaken when he replied “The short answer is, nothing” to a question asking what impact this moratorium would have on the project (of developing around 50 houses on the lower portion of the Mater Dolorosa grounds). Until the reservoirs are replenished, which could take five years, or if the City Council, against the voices of the townspeople, rescinds these decisions, the project at Mater Dolorosa does not seem viable.
The City Council did adopt Urgency Ordinance 1356U, the Water Shortage Emergencies of the California Water Code. It can “deny applications for new or additional service connections” as long as the emergency lasts and until the water supply has been replenished. Chapter 3, Section 350-359.
Click here for information on the current Ordinances and Resolutions adopted by the City Council.
See the What You Can Do page for the contacts of those listed listed below.
The Passionists have a number of very powerful organizations that are working with this project or on the Board of Directors:
Joe Sanders, the 2014-15 Chair of the Mater Dolorosa Board of Directors, and a Director since 2011, was also the Senior Vice President, Operations, 2006-2013, of Charles Pankow Builders,
Cameron Thornton, who lives in Burbank, an investment advisor, Cameron Thornton Associates, Past-Chair of the Mater Dolorosa Board of Directors. The current Chair of the Board is Joe Sanders.
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. He is, apparently, the landscape architect for the Mater Dolorosa project.
Laer Pearce Laer Pearce and Associates, a public relations firm
Calendar of Updates
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. 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 was a City election coming in April 2016; perhaps the Board waited until after the election to push forward their agenda. Read the web pages on the "Mater Dolorosa Project."
History In 1924 the Passionists of Holy Cross Province, headquartered in Park Ridge, Illinois, purchased this 88 acre lot, and have been holding religious retreats there since 1925. The bottom part of the lot (above photo in the lower right-hand corner), has always been left open, home to the many wild animals in the area - deer, foxes, squirrels. The first permanent structure was build in 1931, and in 1949 the new retreat house was built and dedicated.
Mater Dolorosa, or the Monastery as it's known locally, has been an integral part of the Sierra Madre community. Many of the townspeople walked the lower part, and up until a number of years ago, attended a popular annual festival. The festival was open to the public, and especially welcome for the residents of Sierra Madre. Good Friday's services are very well attended, and that 20 acres becomes the parking lot.
In 2007 the Passionists decided to sell off the lower 20 acres to a developer (it is zoned institutional), but it wasn't until 2013 that this became common knowledge (Mt. Views News, 11/16/2013). This was horrifying news to a town that loved the bucolic, gentle quality of life, and that would hate to see it ruined by massive construction. The 20 acres could be turned into a development of almost 50 large, 3800sf plus houses.
The festival was unfortunately permanently cancelled, and a metal gate was installed, barring those walkers. The thought of that massive construction coalesced the residents into saving their town from over-development . And so Save the Monastery was formed to stop this construction and later merged with other Sierra Madre groups to form Preserve Sierra Madre.
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!
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
May 12, 2015 The City of Sierra Madre held a budget presentation event at the Kiwani's Club at which three surprise visitors attended: Father Mike Higgins from Mater Dolorosa; Cameron Thornton, and Jerry Pearson. 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." Net zero water is the concept of an enclosed system that catches rainwater and treats it on site. Rainwater. See "Drought" above.
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!
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!
These deer would lose a part of their habitat if this area was developed.
Concrete instead of grass.
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...
September 20, 2014 New Urban West (NUWI), the developer for Mater Dolorosa, provided the city with a document entitled "Early Thoughts." In the letter to Mayor John Harebedian, dated September 18, it listed "benefits" to Sierra Madre...including the promise that no new water would be used. Mountain View News Volume 8 Number 38. Apparently the document can be viewed by the public; go to the front desk at city hall.
It is our sincere hope that the owners of Mater Dolorosa will reconsider their decision and remain open to keeping this beautiful property intact for future generations to enjoy. Preserve Sierra Madre believes that it is short-sighted to carve up a property that has managed to remain intact since 1924. It would be a mistake for Mater Dolorosa and it would be a mistake for Sierra Madre if it is forced to absorb all of the negative consequences resulting from such a project.
November 26, 2013 The town reacts to the news about the possible development The Sierra Madre Tattler!
November 16, 2013 The Mt. Views News breaks the story of the Passionists planning to sell and have developed the lower 20 acres of the Mater Dolorosa grounds.