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Evaluating the Draft EIR

As reported last week, the Preserve Sierra Madre Steering Committee has been studying the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the housing project of 42 large homes (2700-4000 square feet) on the Monastery property, as well as their Specific Plan, 13 appendices, zoning changes, and the City’s General Plan. We have come to the conclusion that we cannot support this Monastery project (The Meadows at Bailey Canyon) as presented for many reasons. The major ones are:

TREES - The developer’s Specific Plan for the project named The Meadows at Bailey Canyon calls for the removal of 100 irreplaceable mature trees, 10 of which are protected Coastal Oak. Removing over 100 trees is a significant environmental impact, not only to the Monastery property, but to the neighboring community as well. This is in defiance of the General Plan’s goals and policies of continued preservation and protection of existing trees, increasing the City’s community forest, and continuing to develop tree preservation and protection measures.

TRAFFIC - Goal 3 of the developer’s Specific Plan is “preservation of quiet neighborhoods with limited thru traffic.” In reality, the project does nothing to preserve quiet surrounding neighborhoods to the east and south. It does, in fact, increase thru traffic by a minimum of 300-400+ car trips a day. To get to the project, the cars will have to travel local streets including Sunnyside, Lima, Carter and Grove. There is no mention of the impact in the EIR of traffic on these streets.

WATER - The developer has assured the City of ‘net zero’ water usage, which they interpret to mean they will purchase water up front for the next 50 years and store it for future use. California and surrounding states are in an unprecedented drought. The Colorado River is the lowest it has ever been, and its water usage is already being rationed for Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico. Imported water is not as sustainable as ground water. General Plan Objective R12 is to optimize the use of water resources. Building 42 large homes will be counter to this.

FIRE - The project site is located in a very high fire severity zone, according to the Cal Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection and our Fire Department. It is inconsistent with our General Plan that states clearly that we not expand development in these areas. Local streets can’t support emergency equipment. Parts of Sierra Madre have been evacuated three times in the last 35 years, and the incidence and intensity of wildfires has been increasing.

EARTHQUAKES - The project is located near the Sierra Madre Fault as well as the Raymond and Clamshell Faults. In 1991, the Sierra Madre earthquake damaged one of the Monastery buildings beyond repair and 22 homes in the proximity of Sunnyside were condemned, with damage to 403 structures, resulting in $12.5 million in damages.

The Specific Plan disregards the five years of work that volunteer citizens spent creating a comprehensive vision and its guiding principles for Sierra Madre, called the General Plan. The developers disregarded our vision and replaced it with a poorly written Specific plan which is inconsistent with many of our goals, objectives and policies. They call the Specific Plan: “Sierra Madre quality’. The project fails to develop high quality housing, fails to address traffic issues, and fails to ensure community compatibility with our distinctive small town. If this concerns you as much as it does us, please send an email or letter with your concerns to: or you can drop a letter off for Victor Gonzalez, Director of Planning and Community Preservation, City Hall, 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. Comments must be received by 5 pm on Monday, October 4. Please let City Council know how much you care about our town.

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