Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre edition

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Political Ad:

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Sierra Madre Police Blotter

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Arcadia Police Blotter
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Best Friends and More:
The Missing Page
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The Joy of Yoga
Katnip News!
SGV Humane Society

Education & Youth:
Chef Peter Dills
Table for Two

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Easter Message

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Christopher Nyerges
Out to Pastor

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Lori A. Harris
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Recent Issues:
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Issue 10
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Issue 6
Issue 5
Issue 4
Issue 3
Issue 2

MVNews Archive:  Page 1

MVNews this week:  Page 1


 SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2018 

VOLUME 12 NO. 13


On April 10, 2018, voters in Sierra Madre will go to the polls 
and select three people from a field of four to sit on the City 
Council. They will also vote on Measures D which attempts to 
abolish the city’s current Utility User Tax and Measure A an 
Advisory Measure. The Mountain Views News is committed 
to providing our readers with comprehensive coverage of this election. 


SIERRA MADRE By John Capoccia, Former Mayor and current City Council Member

 Measure D must be defeated on April 10. Mayor 
Arizmendi and Council Member Harabedian, in drafting 
the Argument Against Measure D, for which every 
member of the City Council is a signatory, clearly described 
the devastating consequences to Sierra Madre should this 
sham of a measure pass. 

 Sierra Madre’s Kiwanis, with the League of Women 
Voters, planned a Measure D discussion this past Tuesday 
March 27. The intent was to provide an unbiased forum to 
debate the pros and cons of Measure D. Mike Alexander, 
President of the California Tax Limitation Committee 
and an ardent backer of Measure D (He does not live in 
Sierra Madre), was invited to argue in favor, and I was 
chosen to argue the No on D position. Mr. Alexander 
had stated publicly on his KRLA radio show that he would 
send someone. Ten minutes before the forum was to 
start, Kiwanis was informed via a text message that Mr. 
Alexander decided it wouldn’t be a good idea, and no one 
would be coming to argue in favor of Measure D. I’m sorry, 
but that was incredibly rude and disrespectful to Kiwanis, 
the League of Women Voters, and Sierra Madre’s citizens. 
I wasn’t surprised. Mr. Alexander is not one of us either in 
body or spirit, and does not care about Sierra Madre - He’s 
got other motives.

 And, it deprived me of something that I was really 
looking forward to - I couldn’t wait to go toe to toe with 
ANY proponent of Measure D even though I was advised 
that it’s demeaning to enter into a battle of wits with the 
unarmed. Yes, the proponents of Measure D are indeed 
unarmed. The only rational justification for this stunt 
is vindictive - its purpose is to destroy our Village of the 

 In preparation for the debate, I listened to two recent 
sessions of Mr. Alexander’s “Radio Free LA” show that’s 
broadcast on KRLA. Last week, Mr. Alexander purportedly 
featured a distinguished guest, Dr. Rod Kiewitt, professor 
of Political Science from the prestigious California Institute 
of Technology to help him make the case that Measure 
D is good for Sierra Madre. As I was listening, a thought 
occurred: Wait, is he arguing for or against Measure D?? 

 Dr. Keiwitt did a wonderful job of articulating common 
concerns about the chronic underfunding of public 
sector pensions, and the resultant unsustainability of the 
current CalPERS system. The taxpayers of all California 
cities, including Sierra Madre are suffering as a result of 
ever-increasing statutory demands from CalPERS. Each 
year, pension obligations chew up a bigger and bigger 
percentage of cities’ General Fund expenditures. Each 
increasing dollar spent on pension obligations is one less 
dollar that is available for public safety, parks, library etc. 

 All cities know that they cannot get out of their pension 
obligations, so to deal with the problem, other cities are 
raising taxes, while Sierra Madre is reducing expenses. 
Cutting Sierra Madre’s revenue by 24% will do absolutely 
nothing to fix the pension problem. But you can count on 
this: stripping $2.6 million per year from the General Fund 
will devastate public safety and other services valued by 
Sierra Madre citizens.

 For more information, please take some time and review 
the “Transparency” section on the City of Sierra Madre 
website. For your convenience, just google “City of Sierra 
Madre Transparency” and you’ll quickly be redirected to 
the website destination. 

 A few years ago, the City of Sierra Madre held several 
town halls to plan budget cuts resulting from the Utility 
Users Tax sunsetting from 10% to 8%. Hundreds attended, 
and as a result, freshly informed voters overwhelmingly 
sent the message that they want to maintain the current 
level of services by approving Measure UUT by 72.3% at 
the 2016 election. Measure UUT set the utility tax at 10%.

 If Measure D passes, we WILL face bankruptcy or 
disincorporation or both. It will be a messy, costly disaster. 

 Mr. Alexander’s guest, Dr. Kiewett agrees. I’ll 
paraphrase a few of his comments from the radio 
show: “Bankruptcy (for cities) is messy and expensive,” 
and “Bankruptcy won’t solve your problems entirely.” 
When asked about how cities emerge from bankruptcy, 
Dr. Kiewett said: “Bond holders get stiffed, they lose 
everything. Unions come out well, they might take a 
haircut on OPEB” (Other Post Employment Benefits). 
When he says unions come out well, he means that their 
pensions remain intact.

 When asked how cities fare after bankruptcy, Dr. 
Kiewitt responds: ”Cities get hammered - far less level 
of fire and police services. Municipal services are far 

 Dr. Keiwitt made another interesting statement: “I 
personally believe strongly in a nice level of municipal 
services.” That’s rich - in other words, go ahead and 
bankrupt your own city, Sierra Madre, but stay out of 

 Dr. Keiwitt was very impressive when talking about 
subjects within his formidable area of expertise. But, 
he was completely uninformed and demonstrated that 
when he was lured by Mr. Alexander onto a subject 
with which he is unfamiliar - Sierra Madre. He was 
asked about the effect on Sierra Madre with the loss of 
revenue should Measure D pass and he responded, “They 
(Sierra Madre) have options, they can shift police to the 
County”. Satisfied that he extracted that little tidbit from 
Dr. Kiewitt, Mr. Alexander quickly thanked him for his 
participation and broke away. Please realize that he DID 
NOT say that we’ll get pension relief. He knows that 
won’t happen.

 Sierra Madre has “been there, done that” with police 
services. We looked at contracting with the Sheriff in 2016. 
We entertained proposals for various levels of service 
and concluded that we should retain and maintain our 
own police department, consistent with the wishes of the 
majority of voters. This time, if we lose our UUT revenue, 
we will not be negotiating with the Sheriff, instead, our 
hands will be tied. We’ll simply abandon our own PD and 
hand police services over to the Sheriff. They’ll provide 
a minimum level of service, which of course we’ll have 
to pay for. We will also be forced to abandon Paramedic 
Service, and turn that over to the County. Sierra Madre 
will not get the two to (Cont. on page 4)

Chairman of the ANCA Pasadena, Boghos Patatian, and committee members receive a Proclamation 
in Recognition of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, from Mayor Rachelle Arizmendi and the 
City of Sierra Madre. Council Member John Harabedian spoke on the importance of recognizing the 
Armenian Genocide (April 24) and remembering the 1.5 million people who died starting in 1915. 


Sierra Madre City Council approved a motion for a second 
reading by title only of Ordinance 1396, which addresses 
nonconforming land uses and historical preservation 

 Specific modifications to the ordinance would affect 
Title 17, Chapter 17.56 of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code: 
Nonconforming Uses Ordinance, and Chapter 17.82 of the 
Historical Preservation Ordinance. The motion, approved 
during the regularly scheduled meeting on March 27, also 
waived any further readings and recommended that the 
City Manager prepare a summary of Ordinance 1396. 

 Chapter 17.56 of Ordinance 1396 regulates land/
structures that at one time were in compliance with zoning 
ordinances (conforming), but as a result of changes in 
regulations, are no longer in compliance (nonconforming). 
On August 3, 2017, the Planning Commission appointed a 
subcommittee to provide recommendations on a complete 
overhaul of Chapter 17.56, which includes laws on items 
such as alterations, repairs, maintenance, unlawful uses and 
nuisance abatement. 

 The Planning Commission found that the ordinance, 
as it stood, was inadequate in addressing issues that 
commonly occur in situations involving nonconforming 
land use. The ordinance had not been updated in several 
years and property owners’ hands were tied when it came 
to making necessary improvements to structures that had 
become nonconforming over time. 

 The three-member subcommittee took cues from similar 
ordinances in surrounding cities, including Pasadena, in 
order to set a template for an amended ordinance for Sierra 

 After several meetings, the Planning Commission 
appeared before the Council once again on December 14, 
2017 and recommended approval of Ordinance 1396. 

 On March 13, 2018, City Council approved a motion for 
a first reading recommending adoption of Ordinance 1396 
concerning amendments to the City’s Nonconforming 
Uses Ordinance. Though the Council voiced concern 
over the vagueness of some of the terminology in the 
ordinance such as ‘structural alterations’ and ‘expansion of 
nonconforming use,’ they approved the ordinance without 
any additional changes.

 In addition, the Council also reviewed amendments 
to Historic Preservation Ordinance Chapter 17.82 which 
deals with adaptive reuse of structures in residential zones. 
The City didn’t call for any additional amendments to this 
Chapter. The Planning Commission initially recommended 
changes to the Chapter including allowing historical 
properties to be used for professional businesses, and 
converting single-family residences to bed and breakfast 

 To read the entire ordinance and resolutions, visit, click on the 
City Council tab on the left menu, the agenda for March 
27, 2018, and Consent Action item C on page two of the 
Agenda. The next City Council meeting is April 10, 2018 at 
6:30 in City Hall Council Chambers, 232 W. Sierra Madre 
Boulevard. K. McGuire/MVNews

Screenshot of text recieved 20 minutes before Debate was 
to begin. Teapac, on behalf of the proponents of Measure D 
requested and was granted the opportunity to present their 
arguments in favor of Measure D in this edition, but never 
submitted anything.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website:

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Mountain Views News 80 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. #327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.604.4548