Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, April 2, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

Mountain Views-News Saturday, April 2, 2022 


By Robert Gjerde 


If there is one thing Los Angeles is known for it is traffic. Sierra Madre is so idyllic because it 
seems to escape the hustle and bustle of the “big city.” 

There is concern that the Meadows homes and three acre park will cause an unreasonable increase 
in traffic. The Environmental Impact Report (Appendix K), using the State required traffic 
standards based on Vehicle Miles Traveled, determined the impact will be “less than significant”. 

This metric doesn’t tell us what the tangible impact will be. For that we can look at the Fehr and 
Peer traffic study which shows existing trips to or from homes and the Monastery at 340 per day. 
After the Meadows project is complete that will increase that to 710 trips per day. The most impacted 
intersection of Sunnyside Ave. and Fairview Ave. will have just under 600 trips per day. 

That might sound like a lot, but if we look at the worst case scenario and assume all that traffic 
is squeezed into a 12 hour period, that is 50 cars per hour or less than one car per minute. If we 
compare that to the peaceful Upper Canyon, with 85 homes (served by a single 20’ wide street), 
there are about 1000 trips per day. That is 83 cars per hour or 66% more traffic than Sunnyside 
Ave. and Fairview Ave. will experience. 

The Meadows project will not create an unreasonable amount of traffic by adding less than one 

car every two minutes. 


Dear Editor: 

In his letter to the editor that appeared in the March 
26, 2022 edition of the Mountain Views News, John 
Doyle of “Neighbors for Fairness in Sierra Madres” 
asks: “What if it were your property?” 

He also invokes the 1st Amendment and damage to 
the property rights of Mater Dolorosa.
If it is the private property of “Mater Dolorosa” isn’t 
the disposition of the land their decision? 
Oh, they are a religion. The 1st Amendment says 
that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment 
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise 

And congress, via the tax laws, have decreed that 
churches (and non-profit organizations) do not have 
to pay property and other taxes. 

If I wanted to have a religion of the Great Green 
Grasshopper and have church property on which I 
don’t pay taxes then I have to comply with laws established 
by Congress that decide whether I qualify 
as a religion. That pretty much sounds like “Congress 
making a law respecting the establishment of 

The real questions are: 

1) Do the owners of a property have the right to 
dispose of it as they wish? Of course they do. 2) Do 

I’m not fond of bickering, but I am fond of getting 
facts right and John Doyle’s rebuttal of my letter to 
the editor had so many misstatements I feel I need 
to step up again. 

First he claims I was trying to hide the “real” purpose 
of the proposed initiative which asks the voters 
to require the Mater Dolorosa “monastery” development 
be consistent with current Hillside zoning. 

He claims the initiative secretly “seeks to outlaw any 
institutional expansion of the property ever and to 
restrict residential development to untenably large 
parcels, essentially rendering the Mater Dolorosa 
property incapable of development”. 

That’s simply wrong. The initiative asks that the 
citizens of Sierra Madre vote to require the developers 
to follow the current Hillside provisions in the 
city’s General Plan for buildings in similar parts of 
the city, if the project is approved. It does not prevent 
them from developing. It does prevent them 
from developing under a new Specific Plan they 
drafted, full of special provisions just for those 42 
homes and apart from and not approved for the rest 
of the city. 

More importantly, John claims the initiative and 
other efforts to resist the development of 42 homes 
on the property violates the religious freedom of the 
current owners, the Passionist Fathers organization 
of Chicago. Specifically, he cites the Religious Land 
Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) 
and claims the initiative violates it. 

The RLUIPA states: “No government shall impose 
or implement a land use regulation in a manner 
that imposes a substantial burden on the religious 
exercise of a person, including a religious assembly 
or institution, unless the government demonstrates 
that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly, 
or institution—" and goes on to detail how 
that is implemented.
It is a good law that helps protect against religious 

religious organizations, and other non-profit organizations, 
deserve exemptions from paying taxes? 
No, they don’t. There should not be any exemptions 
on the responsibilities of an entity under the laws of 
the United States. 

Take a look at the 14th Amendment to the 

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, 
and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens 
of the United States and of the State wherein they 
reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which 
shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens 
of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any 
person of life, liberty, or property, without due process 
of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction 
the equal protection of the laws.” 

Tax law considers corporations as a “person”. 
Churches and non-profits are therefore corporate 
persons. They too should pay taxes and have the 
same rights to life, liberty and property that are 
guaranteed to all citizens of the United States and 
the equal protection of the laws. They should also 
have the same responsibilities which include paying 

Let religions and other non-profit organizations pay 
their “fair share”. All is all. Equal is equal.
Ronald Walker, Citizen 

discrimination and government intrusion in toReligious activities. 

But building 42 homes is not a religious activity. It 
is a money making activity to generate up to $200M 
for the Passionist Fathers and the developer New 
Urban West. And it will forever impact and change 
our community if it goes on unchecked. 

Property rights are not religious rights if the use 
is not religious. And the wider community has a 
say when builders do something that impacts their 
neighbors. Would it be violating the Passionists’ 
religious freedom if the city prevented them from 
building a slaughterhouse or a nuclear powerplant 
or a skyscraper on that property? 

When I joined the SM General Plan Steering Committee 
(GPSC), the property was already zoned as 
“institutional”. Institutional zoning means the owners 
are free to develop anything they want that is 
institutional in nature; such as a church, religious 
school, or whatever religious activity they want. It 
does not allow them to build housing. 

The GPSC spent years polling and meeting with our 
fellow citizens to develop a plan that reflects their 
desires for Sierra Madre. When the city approved 
the General Plan, we did not do anything in particular 
aimed at Mater Dolorosa; we established guidelines 
that the community as a whole desired for all 
of Sierra Madre. The zoning of that area has a long 
history, starting with its original zoning as low density 
residential. This was updated, along with the 
rest of the city, in a long process starting in the 80’s 
where zoning for hillside portions of the city and 
for institutions such as churches and schools were 
designated consistent with the long standing desire 
of Sierra Madre residents that this town maintain its 
small town character and ties to the natural mountain 

As honored fellow citizens, the owners of the Mater 
Dolorosa should honor the General Plan when 
they develop their property and do so according to 
the Hillside provisions. That is what the initiative is 
asking the citizens of Sierra Madre to vote for.
Ed Miller, SIerra Madre 



by Deanne Davis 

“Wistaria…this violet vision carries me 

to a magical dreamland!” 

The weather was perfect for the Wistaria Festival 
last Sunday, crisp, sunny, not too hot and everyone 
who came to see wistaria got to see it at City Hall and 
around town. Hopefully, tours through the actual 
vine will be available again next year, but a good time 
was had by all who came to Sierra Madre. There now, 
a little good news! 

Here’s a little more good news: Savor the Flavor looks 
incredible and is incredible in their new location on 
Baldwin. Such a beautiful store, filled with unique 
goodies. If you can’t find the perfect gift in there, 
you’re just not trying. 

And a little more…A new sandwich shop where Subway 
was! How delightful to find something delicious filling an empty space. 

And one last piece of good and exciting news…Shelby Scribner has opened a small lash 
salon on Baldwin and East Highland. You can call her or text her at (626) 755-7404 if 
you’d like your eyelashes augmented and glamorized. 

There now, good news abounds, including the rain last Monday night. Chuck Seitz, my 
official rain measurement expert tells me 2.6 inches soaked into our dry and thirsty 

“Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye?” 

“Throughout the years, amidst my tears, I will call your name.” 

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, 
neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain...” Rev. 21:4 

“How blessed I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to.” This 
Friday, April 1st, would have been our 55th anniversary. This coming Monday, April 
4th, is my birthday. Alas, it is one of those significant birthdays which will be celebrated 
with great gusto and enthusiasm by my family. I shall celebrate by changing my age. 
I have been 29 a number of times but, as I mentioned, this is one of those significant 
birthdays and so I shall change my age to 39, like Jack Benny, who was 39 about as 
many times as I was 29. I shall also celebrate by going to dinner at P F Chang’s with 
our daughter, Crissy, her husband, Chris, and granddaughters Jessie and Emily. It is my 
intention to order dozens of dumplings, some sushi, some kung pao shrimp and everything 
else we could possibly want, including dessert and Mai Tais. 

As is our custom, we shall take pictures by the giant stone horse out in front and have 
the best time imaginable, trying hard not to notice the empty chair that should be occupied 
by John, my dearest friend and husband of 55 years, who will be celebrating our 
anniversary in heaven where I am sure they must have pan-fried dumplings, sushi and 
really good wine. Jesus talked about wine many times. In fact, his first public miracle 
was turning water into really good wine at the marriage feast in Cana. Remember? 
When the master of ceremonies of the wedding tasted the water that had been turned 
into wine, he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Wow! Everybody brings out the 
choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had plenty to drink; 
but you have saved the best till now!” Jn. 2:9-10 

April 4th is also the birthday of my friend Arne Kalm, who will be celebrating his birthday 
with John in heaven. Celia, Arne’s wife and best friend wholeheartedly agrees with 
me that we are saying goodbye to beloved friends and family way more often than we 
ever expected we would, and finding ourselves wondering what we’re going to do with 
the rest of our lives now the person we expected to be going out to dinner with someplace 
fun for the next fifty years or so, instead is sharing bread and wine with the Lord 
Himself. How blessed we both have been, Celia and I, to have known and loved such 
exceptional men for so many years. Men about whom it was said their lives were well 
lived. As another good friend pointed out to me, good persons need to be talked about! 

If you know a good person who should be talked about…talk about them! Tell the 
world how grateful you are you know them. I have a really good person who should be 
talked about who is also an April 4th birthday guy: Grandson, Brady Benjamin Davis, 
who is going to be 7! Here he is with his mommy, Michon. Seeing that happy face is just 
one more little bit of good news. 

The day the Lord created Hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” Bern 

Rejoice dear friends, it’s Spring! Look for flowers, look for hummingbirds, look for 
amazing sunrises and sunsets. Speaking of hummingbirds, Ken Fong’s photos of hummingbirds, 
which I see frequently on Facebook are absolutely awesome! 

One last thought: Until further notice, celebrate everything!! 

My book page: Deanne Davis

Easter is just a few weeks away and “The Crown” my story about what happened to

that infamous crown of thorns is now a real book in addition to a Kindle. 

It’s available on and it’s only $3.99

If you want to check it out, here’s the link where you can see a short video: 


The Sierra Madre Community Foundation 
(SMCF) recently awarded the following grants 
to local organizations: 

• The Sierra Madre Post Office Landscape 
project received a grant to install a drip-
irrigation system and purchase native plants. 
• The Sierra Madre Elementary School 
received a grant to promote mental health issues 
for students and staff through art, essay, 
poster, and video contests. 
• The Sierra Madre Public Library 
received three grants to support several 
o The annual Bookmark Contest, a 
community-wide outreach program 
o The outdoor reading program “Walk 
This Way Story Adventure” in Memorial Park 
o Family Science Workshops, a six-
week summer program hosted by local teach-
For a couple of weeks, we’ve been talking to 
people about the current “Mater Dolorosa 
Hillside Zoning Initiative” being circulated 
throughout Sierra Madre. It seems as if many 
of those who have signed the petition either 
have a misunderstanding about what will be 
asked of the voters or what effect it will have 
on an institution’s ability to use their private 

Others who have signed the petition have the 
misconception that the proposed project will 
change the character or quaintness of the entire 
City. In our 58 years of living in Sierra 
Madre, first in the Canyon, and then on East 
Grandview, we have seen many changes, including 
several housing projects – all except 
for the Jameson property, are above Grand-
view. We can honestly say that in those years 
the character or quaintness of Sierra Madre 
has not gone away. In fact, it has been enhanced 
as our new neighbors have brought 

their talents and individual personalities to 
our City. 

The claim of some is that the wildlife that interface 
with our City will be displaced. This 
is simply not true. The wildlife will have 
space around and behind the Retreat Center, 
in Bailey Canyon Park, and all of the foothills 
behind Sierra Madre. In fact, where we live 
the deer have chosen to graze and rest under 
our Jacaranda tree even though there is 
a “Meadow” just three doors up from our 

Mater Dolorosa has been a major part of Sierra 
Madre’s fabric for 100 years. The Initiative 
is directly aimed at violating the very 
purpose of the Mater Dolorosa's existence. 
The Initiative states, “The intent of this Initiative 
is to permit the continued operation 
of the Mater Dolorosa Passionists Retreat 
Center without expansion, significant physi

cal alteration, or change in use, as a nonconforming 
use.” (Italics mine). This is the 
most restrictive covenant that can be placed 
on their property without it being a complete 
taking. The Initiative covers the entire property 
owned by Mater Dolorosa, not just the 
area of the proposed project. It negates the 
current Institutional zoning. In other words, 
hypothetically, should the Passionists want 
to convert their Retreat Center into a Retirement 
Home that would not be allowed under 
the proposed change to the Hillside Residential 

Further, under Section 5, the Initiative states, 
“It is the intent of the voters that the City of 
Sierra Madre retains its authority. . . . However 
no such authority shall be exercised in 
a manner that undermines or is inconsistent 
with the provisions of this Initiative, unless 
an amendment of this Initiative is approved 
by the voters” thus restricting Mater Dolo

er Dany Richey. 

Combined with earlier grants, the SMCF has 
awarded $4,400 in grants this year to support 
local civic and community organizations, including 
the City of Sierra Madre’s Mt. Wilson 
Trail Kids Fun Run and the Sierra Madre 
Search & Rescue team. 

“Through the generous giving of residents, 
we’re pleased to support local organizations 
which provide engaging programs and 
key services for our community,” said Frank 
Moore, Community Foundation chair. 

Sierra Madre Community Foundation is singularly 
devoted to the Sierra Madre and solicits 
donations to support and enhance the 
community. In addition, the SMCF assists 
other Sierra Madre community groups in the 
collection and distribution of their funds that 
enable ongoing program support and continued 

If you would like more information about this 
topic or would like to donate, please visit sier

rosa from making any changes to their property 
unless they create an Initiative of their 
own to be placed on the ballot. Not even 
City officials can change the zoning by application 
or request to the Planning Department 
should this Initiative pass. How is this 
fair? Any other property owner in the City 
can apply for a permit to build, a change in 
zoning, or other use of their property. Why 
discriminate against this particular property 

By supporting this Initiative, you are, in effect, 
approving the violation of a 100-year 
religious institution’s right to further expand 
their ministry. Please do not sign this petition 
or if you have already done so, you may 
request to have your signature removed by 
contacting the city clerk. 

De and Pat Alcorn, Sierra Madre Neighbors 
for Fairness 

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