Monastery Process Raises Questions
On Saturday, July 3rd, Sierra Madre residents received an envelope from the City in the mail.
Many folks were away for the long weekend; many busy celebrating the July 4th holiday and did not open their mail. The few that did were surprised to see a letter from the Director of Planning and Community Preservation providing ‘ Notice of Public Scoping Meeting for the MEADOWS At Bailey Canyon Specific Plan’. ‘The purpose of the meeting is to present the EIR process and receive written public comments and suggestions regarding scope and content of the EIR currently being prepared for the housing project at the Monastery’.
‘The meeting will not include a public hearing and no action will be taken. Participants will be able to provide written comments on issues to be analyzed in the EIR in an open house format’.
Little about this hastily scheduled meeting makes sense to those residents trying to stay on top of this development. The City has provided information on this process with the first four steps being as follows: Prepare Initial Study; Prepare/Distribute Notice of Preparation (30 days); Scoping Meeting; and Prepare Draft EIR. The initial study has been completed; the Notice of Preparation released on June 24, 2020. Numerous dates for the release of the Draft EIR have been given. The first was October 1, 2020. They further include the end of December, January , and most recently, in May, the former City Manager stated that it is anticipated that staff would receive a copy of the EIR for review in mid May 2021 with a public release date in June 2021. They made no mention of a Scoping Meeting months into the Draft EIR preparation process. Has there not been a draft EIR all along? Is the process just starting?
Why hold a scoping meeting 8 months after the original Draft EIR release date of October 1st? The scoping meeting takes place prior to the preparation of the EIR, not while it is in process; not months after multiple release dates have been provided to the public. What’s going on? Why hasn’t the promised Draft EIR been released as promised on multiple occasions? The usual answer is because of the Covid-19 restrictions; however, various meetings have been held outdoors during the Covid-19 restrictions, including our City Council meetings. Why, now, is there an urgency to hold a scoping meeting with such little notice?
This meeting gets curiouser and curiouser. ‘Participants will be able to provide written comments on issues to be analyzed in the EIR in an open house format.’ What does this mean? The letter states that last August 2020, the EIR was discussed in detail and public comments added to the record. Why, now, ten months later, is the City providing limited notice for a non-participatory meeting the day after the regularly scheduled City Council meeting? What’s the big hurry now?
This doesn’t bode well for the start of a multi-step process involving transparent, open communication between the City and its residents. Sending out a letter that raises more questions than it answers is a poor beginning that is causing confusion.
Again, is the EIR process starting all over? It is difficult to understand the purpose of this meeting. Is it informational as stated or scoping as stated? Why is the meeting not open for public comments and attendees permitted to ask questions and obtain answers? Why isn’t there an open discussion of the issues that are a concern for residents at a public recorded meeting?
There needs to be some clarification by the City of the statements made in this confusing letter and an explanation of the missing Draft EIR. Here's what you can do :
Email or call Vincent Gonzalez, Director of Planning, firstname.lastname@example.org, 355-7138; Mayor Rachelle Arizmendi, email@example.com; Mayor Pro Tem Gene Goss, firstname.lastname@example.org ; Councilmember Kelly Kriebs, email@example.com; Councilmember Ed Garcia, firstname.lastname@example.org; Councilmember Robert Parkhurst, email@example.com.
Attend the City Council meeting. Tuesday, the 13th at 4:00 pm, Memorial Park. Ask during Public Comment at the beginning of the meeting "what is going on?"
Attend the "Public Scoping Meeting ". Wednesday the 14th 6 - 7:30 pm, Memorial Park. Show them we ARE paying attention and we care.
Have your comments ready to submit. If you can't be there in person, email them to us and we will submit them for you at firstname.lastname@example.org