Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, February 19, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page B:1




PROTECT SIERRA MADRE -STOP THE HOUSING PROJECT has filed an Initiative to place an Ordinance on 
the Ballot in this year’s election to be voted on by all registered voters of Sierra Madre. It would change the zoning of the 
Monasteryparcel(MaterDolorosa)andanysubdivisionsofit,from InstitutionaltoHillsideResidentialZone.Apetitionwith 
signatures of 10% of Sierra Madre registered voters will put the question on the ballot. 

If themeasure passes at this year’s election,the Retreat Center cancontinue to operate asa pre-existingnon-conforming use, 
aslongasthey choose. Butanychangeinuse,ordevelopmentofanypartof theparcel,would besubjectto therequirementsof our Hillside Ordinance. 

Over the years, recognizing that all Sierra Madre properties adjacent to the mountains, and part of the wildland-urban interface, 
require special protection, our elected officials enacted many General Plan changes and ordinances to protect what 
makesSierraMadrespecial,theEnvironment,thewildlife,treecanopies,theHillsides,andtheMonasteryparcel. IndiscussingtheHillsideOrdinance,
elevation, topography, views, vegetation, wildlife, fire safety and “things that would change the look and feel of this town.” 

The “Monastery” parcel is one of the only properties abutting the mountains that is not protected by a zoning designation of 
Open Space or Hillside Residential. 

In 2015, during the drought, the Sierra Madre Planning Commission and City Council added many Water Conservation 
the Monastery property as housing.The EIR was certified and the General Plan adopted in 2015, and in 2016 the zoning was 
amended to conform to the General Plan with no objection to any of these actions during the 90 day periods after enactment. 

The California Constitution gives voters the power to enact initiatives, to change laws in their City in light of the theory that 
all powerofgovernmentultimatelyresides in the people. We believe the citizensofSierraMadre know best what is rightfor 
Institutional to Hillside Residential Zone. 

Developmentcan happen on that land, butwith the protectionsof all ourvaluesthat ourCity Government has failedto enact. 

Original signed on January 25, 2022 by BarbaraVellturo,AlexanderArrieta, and Gary Bacio 


Petition for Initiative Measure to Change the General Plan Land Use Designation from “Institutional” to “Hillside” 
and the Zoning Designation from “Institutional” to “Hillside Management” for the Mater Dolorosa Property 


This initiative amends the allowable land use for the parcels owned by The Congregation of Passion, Mater Dolorosa Community. 
Specifically, the initiative changes the parcels' General Plan land use designation from “'Institutional” to “Hillside” 
and zoning designation from “Institutional” to “Hillside Management.” 

The Congregation of the Passion, Mater Dolorosa Community, is a California charitable corporation that owns the parcelslocated at 700 North SunnysideAvenue in Sierra Madre, California (APN: 5761-002-008) (“Mater Dolorosa Property”). The 
initiative does not amend the land use designation for any other property owner in the City. 

Currently,the Mater Dolorosa Property is zonedasInstitutional. Residentialusesarelimited in the Institutional zone. Single-
family homes are prohibited, whereas communal residential facilities are allowed with a conditional use permit and master 
plan amendment approved by the City's Planning Commission after a public hearing. 

Under the initiative, the Master Dolorosa Property would be zoned Hillside Management. Any subdivisions of the Mater 
Dolorosa Property created after January 25, 2022, would also be zoned Hillside Management. Residential uses are permittedin the Hillside Management Zone. Under state law, duplexes, single-family homes, and accessory dwelling units are allowed 
with a permit approved ministerially and without a public hearing by the Director of Planning and Community Preservation. 
The existing Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center would be allowed to continue operating as a nonconforming use. 

Ifyousign thispetition, youwill helpplacethis initiativemeasureontheballotforelectionbythequalifiedvotersoftheCityof Sierra Madre. 
If you do not sign this petition, you will not help place this initiative measure on the ballot. 

Signed by:Aleks R. Giragosian, CityAttorney, on February 9, 2022 


By Barbara Vellturo

 Our Petition will be available for signing on Sunday Feb 20 at Kersting Court or Memorial Park from 
9am to 3pm. If our Measure is adopted by the People of Sierra Madre at the Nov 2022 election -
ALL NEW DEVELOPMENT on the Monastery Parcel will be regulated by the requirements of our 
Hillside Ordinances. 

For those of you not familiar with Sierra Madre's Hillside ordinance, these are its purposes as created 
in 1994. It's purposes are what most of us want for our City, and represent the values expressed in our 
General Plan. 

17.52.010 - Purpose. The purposes of this chapter are to: 
A. Protect the natural environment of hillside areas from change by preserving and protecting theviews to and from hillside areas in the city to maintain the identity, image and environmental qualityof the city; 
B. Maintain an environmental equilibrium consistent with the native vegetation, animal life, geology,
slopes, and drainage patterns; 
C. Facilitate hillside preservation through the development standards and guidelines set forth in thischapter; to direct and encourage development that is sensitive to the unique characteristics of the hillside 
areas in the city, which include, but are not limited to, slopes, land forms, vegetation and scenicquality; accordingly, innovation in the design of buildings and structures is encouraged so long as theresult preserves hillside areas and is consistent with this chapter and with the General Plan; 
D. Ensure that development in the hillside areas is located so as to result in the least environmentalimpact; 
E. Ensure that all hillside development is designed to fit the existing land form; 
F. Preserve significant natural features of hillside areas, including swales, canyons, knolls, ridgelines,
and rock outcrops. Development may necessarily affect natural features; therefore, a major designcriterion for all hillside development shall be the minimization of impacts on such natural features; 
G. Provide safe ingress and egress for vehicular and pedestrian traffic to and within hillside areas, with 
minimal disturbance of natural features; 
H. Correlate intensity of development to steepness of terrain to minimize grading, removal of naturalvegetation; and to prevent the creation of land instability or fire hazards; 
I. Provide, in hillside areas, alternative approaches to conventional flat-land development practicesby achieving land use patterns and intensities that are consistent with the natural features of hillside 
J. Encourage the planning, design, development and use of home sites which:
1. Eliminate fire hazards,
2. Prevent exposure to geological hazards,
3. Provide adequate drainage controls, preventing erosion and siltation, which4.Use proper construction materials,
5.Make best use of natural terrain, 
K. Prohibit development that will cause hazards to the public peace, health, welfare, and safety. 
(Ord. 1994, § 1(Exh. A), 6-23-09) 


By Robert K Gjerde 

NIMBY’s fueling public rage because they don’t 
It sounds innocent enough, “Give the power to 

like some aspects of the project does not mean 
the people.” We are a country born out of the 

they are seeking the city’s best interests, includdemocratic 
process. It is ingrained in our very 

ing concessions like the three acre park (they 
soul. But the Founding Fathers knew that a di

have told me many times that the city doesn’t 
rect democracy was not enough to secure the 

need another park!) and the 37 acres to be placed 
rights of people when a group can simply strip 

in conservancy (which they have told us is unthem 
away with a majority vote. We have a con-

necessary while also trying to pass an initiative 
stitutional democracy that protects rights from 

to protect the hillsides!). The initiative will force 
the majority, and we have a republic which elects 

the Monastery, one of the city’s oldest religious 
representatives who understand complex is-

institutions, into the most restrictive residential 
sues so they can do what is best for those they 

zone and strip them of their rights to future instirepresent. 

tutional religious development. As I understand 

it, any homes would be limited to two-acre lots 
The Monastery is looking to use a portion of 

which means they could build about six homes 
their old fiesta parking lot to become part of Si-

on the 17 acres if they scrapped the plans for the 
erra Madre’s 4000+ home community. A group 

park. I’ve asked numerous times for clarification 
led primarily by neighbors of the Monastery are 

on how many homes could be built and they 
opposing the project. Understandably, no one 

never answer, which tells me they know it will 
wants to be inconvenienced with construction 

not go over well with informed voters. 
noise or a less than significant (according to the 
EIR) increase in traffic, but that desire doesn’t 

This initiative singles out the Monastery for dis-
necessarily trump the rights of a property owner. 

criminatory spot-zoning. Their existing build-
These NIMBYs will do almost anything to stop 

ings will be grandfathered in but any future 
the project (at least, that is what one told me last 

buildings would be disallowed. If they apply 

for a variance or zoning change, they have to 

go through another expensive ballot initiative 
Property owners have a right to due process and 

which costs us taxpayers around $50,000 each! 
to have their project fairly considered. There will 

Speaking of costs, we are also paying many thou-
be numerous meetings with public input and 

sands of dollars for processing thousands of pagconsideration 
of all the facts by both the plan

es of vague Public Records Requests related to 
ning commission and city council who must as-

the project through numerous similar frivolous 
sess the thousands of pages of information relat

ing to the project. Most people will not make this 
commitment to understand the complexities. 

This stripping of rights is an egregious violation 

of a religious institution and will likely lead to 
The group(s) opposing the development are tak

a complex legal entanglement that may not playing a drastic step by using a ballot initiative to 

out for ten to twenty years after some future projstop 
the project without the normal due process 

ect is denied, but it could cost us, the city, dearly 
that takes into consideration the rights of all 

if we choose. There are federal laws protecting 
property owners involved. A majority of voters 

religious properties from drastic downzoning 
can engage in overreach and simply strip the 

unless it is the least restrictive option available to 
Monastery’s rights without understanding what 

accomplish a particular goal like protecting the 
the ramifications are. These groups are publicly 

hillsides. The development nothing to do with 
condemning the planning commission and city 

the hillsides and there are far less restrictive ways 
council for not taking steps to stop the project 

to protect them. The development area is almost 
when they have not had any action items to act 

identical to the neighbors to the west, which 
on. At this point, city officials are limited in what 

aren’t subject to the hillside zone and also just 
they can say or do. There have also been insinu

happen to be some of the people pushing these 
ations of the planning commission, city council, 

unfair restrictions on the Monastery. 
and prior city manager being in bed with the 
developers and even getting kickbacks, as evi-

This is a horrible precedent for the city to set and 
denced by a public records requests searching for 

should be a warning to all religious institutions 
“Any and all monetary or financial contributions, 

within the city’s borders. Every future project 
donations, or campaign contributions” made by 

by any church or private religious school could 
the developer to city representatives. These are 

become the next target anytime a group of resishameful 

dents oppose some project. 

We have one of the most well-respected plan-

Do not sign this horribly devised initiative. It 
ning commissions and city councils in the 25 

does not even deserve to be on the ballot. Trust 
years I’ve lived in Sierra Madre. They are all 

the city council that you voted in to make the 
dedicated volunteers who do not get paid to put 

most informed decision. You can vote NO right 
up with these false allegations. These are OUR 

now by doing nothing and save the city $50,000duly elected representatives, WE voted them in 

by avoiding this initiative process. Independent 
and they have the right to consider the needs of 

of what you think of the proposed develop-
the city as a whole and should not be so casually 

ment, no religious institution should be unfairly 
thrown under the bus. They are the ones putting 

stripped of their most basic property rights be-
in the time and effort to assess the relevant facts, 

cause a small group of people don’t feel they are 
including having legal representation to under-

getting their way. 
stand the city’s risks and obligations. 


MORE ON THE MEADOWS CONTROVERSY...................................Pgs 2, 3 
WHEN THE STORY BROKE.....November 2013................................Page 4 
OPINION....................................................................................... Page 5 
LEGAL NOTICES...............................................................................Pgs 6,7