Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, April 9, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

Mountain Views-News Saturday, April 9, 2022 


 What to believe? There are two sides to this story: 

on one hand -new buildings will energize the com

munity with no or little downside. On the other hand, 

those who oppose the building say this will cause ir

reparable harm to our special town of Sierra Madre. 

Post cards have been sent, each claiming their side of 

the issue is the correct one. The pro-building folks 

are vastly outspending the other side. Neighbors are 

pitted against neighbors; lifelong friends are no longer 

 Does this sound familiar? What we are referring to is Measure V. If you weren’t living in Sierra 
Madre in 2007, you may not know that Taylor’s Market property was up for sale, as was the property 
where the Kensington now stands, formerly the Skilled Nursing Facility. 
Residents worked on something called a downtown specific plan to reenergize our downtown 
area. But that would include the building of three stories in each location, two “mixed use” buildings 
- a combined total of about 125 condos, stores on the first floor, and underground parking. 

 A small group of residents consulted a lawyer and, drafted a petition called Measure V, which 
would limit building in the downtown area to 2 stories, 30 feet high with a maximum 13 housing 
units per acre (called the 2-30-13 initiative). First came the deluge of postcards warning of dire 
consequences if you signed the petition and then if you voted for Measure V. Apartment buildings 
would spring up in your backyard (with pictures of these supposed apartment buildings). 
One man interviewed on the news cryptically said our downtown would become another Baghdad. 
The building industry hired a research firm, paid residents $100 each over several evenings 
to participate in an in-person survey to help determine which arguments would work best to 
persuade the voters. Two former Mayors were involved in trying to defeat the initiative. One was 
a lawyer for the building industry. All in all, the building industry spent $180,000 fighting this 
measure. The proponents for the measure knocked on doors, dispelling the falsehoods that had 
been generated and spent a total of $10,000. When it came down to a vote, over 50% of registered 
voters cast a ballot (unheard of in a local election) and Measure V won by a small margin, with 
several TV stations at City Hall covering the result. At the time, only Yorba Linda had successfully 
enacted a similar ordinance. Today, it is hard to imagine all that congestion in our downtown 
area, with two multi-story buildings looming large.

 Preserve Sierra Madre has promised residents to be the fact finders in our fair town. The 
misinformation, and the money spent by New Urban West is disturbingly familiar. Many cities 
throughout California are facing the same overdevelopment problems, with pressure brought to 
bear on City staffs and City Councils. We are urging you to sign the petition that is being circulated 
by Protect Sierra Madre (we are Preserve Sierra Madre). The petition will give us residents a 
vote in what is to become of our town. The petition will not hurt the Passionists Fathers, who will 
still be able to sell their 20 acres to New Urban West, or any other developer to build housing and 
still be able to use their property for any religious purpose. All it will do is change the designation 
from Institutional Zone to Hillside Management Zone, like the majority of other properties along 
the hillside. If you sign, and if the petitioners get over 10% of the registered voters, this will go for 
a vote in our regular November election (unlike Measure V, which required a special election). 

 To sign the petition, go to: 


By Robert Gjerde 


Summer is approaching and Sierra Madre is facing another hot, dry, fire season. With good reason 
people are concerned about increasing the fire risk to homes in the city. When considering the 
risks from the Meadows project we need to ask “compared to what?” The risk of no project, what 
currently exists, is a field with grass, bushes, and connecting tree canopies. In a 5 mph breeze a 
fire could spread the 750’ from the northern development area to the existing homes to the south 
in less than 2 minutes. Under the Fire Protection Plan of the Meadows project the EIR (Appendix 
F2) states that the “fire potential will be much lower than its current condition…” This is accomplished 
through a coordinated plan where buffer zones are created with three east-west streets 
which also increase accessibility for fire personnel, more than a dozen fire hydrants, landscaping 
that is managed to minimize the spread of fire across the entire site, and structures built to the 
most stringent fire codes. The last point is key. You can’t stop development on an infill lot due to 
fire risk, you can only mitigate those risks through fire codes and landscape design. Under the 
proposed ballot initiative to rezone the entire property to the Hillside Management Residential 
zone (including where the Retreat Center is) there would be no new east-west streets to act as buffers, 
a fraction of the fire hydrants, and no coordinated landscaping plan across all the individual 
lots being sold off to developers. 


When I read the editorial a few weeks ago that 
said religious freedom is not the issue I was sure 
that was a typo. It should have read religious 
freedom is NOW the issue at Mater Dolorosa. 
This didn’t use to be a religious issue (other 
than some inflammatory comments made by 
the public at recent city council meetings and 
online) but it is now. What has turned this into 
a religious issue is the ballot initiative that attempts 
to downzone the entire monastery property, 
including where the retreat center is located. 
Downzoning in this case means removing 
existing institutional rights and turning the existing 
development into an illegal nonconforming 
use. This will happen if the initiative passes 
even if no housing project is ever approved. 

The stated Intent of the initiative has no direct 
correlation to the Meadows development. Its 
purpose is to “permit the continued operation 
of the [Monastery] without expansion, significant 
physical alteration, or change in use, as a 
nonconforming use,” by rezoning the property 
“from Institutional/Institutional to Hillside/
Hillside Residential Zone to ensure that any 
future development is protective of the City's 
hillside environment…” 

The initiative does not stop development on the 
project site. It will not “save the meadow” or 
protect any prominent hillside features. It will 
not result in preserving habitat for wildlife, significantly 
decrease traffic, construction noise, 
water usage, or fire risk. In fact, it may result in 
the opposite. What the initiative definitely does 
is strip the Monastery of its existing religious 
Institutional rights. Why is this important? 
Because as a religious institution, the Passionists 
have more rights than the average property 
owner. This is the case despite Mr. Walker’s recent 
editorial appeal that religious institutions 
(and other non-profits) have too many rights 
and freedoms. Neither the City nor the citizens 
get to decide what legitimate religious rights a 
church can exercise. 

Federal law states that “No government shall 
impose or implement a land use regulation in 
a manner that imposes a substantial burden on 
the religious exercise of … a religious assembly 

or institution, unless the government can demonstrate 
that imposition of the burden is … the 
least restrictive means of furthering that compelling 
governmental interest.” 

The purpose of the initiative is to ensure that 
any future development is protective of the 
City's hillside environment. To see if this is 
overly restrictive and discriminatory against 
the First Amendment rights of the Passionist 
Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center all one needs 
to ask is if there is a less restrictive means of 
protecting the hillside environment other than 
prohibiting all future “expansion, significant 
physical alteration, or change in use.” 

The blatantly obvious answer is that of course 
there are less restrictive ways to protect the hillside 

The initiative literally could have asked for anything, 
but what they chose was to prohibit all 
future religious institutional expansion on the 
Monastery property. This is either a direct discriminatory 
attack on the church or it is the peak 
of negligence by Protect Sierra Madre - Stop the 
Housing Project. Either way it is a violation of 
the Monastery’s rights and puts the city directly 
in the crosshairs for a very expensive religious 
discrimination lawsuit which it has very little 
chance of winning. All the Monastery has to 
do is apply for any sort of expansion of their 
existing institutional development and have it 
denied by the city, and the city will have to deny 
it. Through spot-zoning the initiative removes 
all authority of the City to approve ANY future 
institutional expansion on this one property 
and all authority to address the discriminatory 
judgement through future rezoning. 

The proposed initiative should never reach the 
ballot and risk violating the religious rights of 
the Monastery. If you have already signed to 
have the initiative placed on the ballot it is a 
simple process to have your name removed by 
making that request to the city clerk. 

Look for more information on stopping the 
initiative from Sierra Madre Neighbors for 


by Deanne Davis 

“Palm branches are a symbol of peace and victory, and they were laid down in Jesus’ path 
as he rode into Jerusalem. Hence, the name Palm Sunday.” 

“May the spirit of this holy occasion, and the warmth of this season…And may the beauty 
of Springtime…make your heart bloom with joy and happiness.” 

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the beginning of 

Holy Week, which ends with Easter Sunday, 
April 17th. 

Palm Sunday is the beginning of the end of Jesus’ 
ministry here on earth. As you will recall, he was 
heading into Jerusalem and as he approached 
the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his friends/
disciples ahead saying, “Go to the village ahead 
of you and as you enter it, you’ll find a colt tied 
there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it 
and bring it back here. If anyone asks you why 
you’re untying it, just say, “The Lord needs it.” 
So off they went and, sure enough, there was the 
colt and, just as Jesus had said, the owner said, 
“Hey! Why are you untying that colt?”
They said, “The Lord needs it,” and the owner 
let them have it. They brought this donkey colt 
back to Jesus, threw their cloaks across it and 
Jesus sat down on it. As Jesus and his friends 
went down the road from the Mount of Olives, 
joy overtook them and they began to praise 
God in loud voices as they remembered all the 

miracles they had seen; the blind given sight, 
the dead raised, the lame walking again, demons banished, multitudes fed with a few 
loaves of bread and some little fishes. Their excitement was contagious. They spread 
their cloaks before him and a great crowd gathered and laid palm branches in the road 
and shouted and sang, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the 
name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven.” 

 Can you imagine what a sight that must have been! Crowds of people dancing in the 
street, putting their coats in front of this donkey colt carrying Jesus into Jerusalem. They 
were shouting and singing and rejoicing to be there, close to this miracle worker. Hence, 
Palm Sunday. We’ve all been to Palm Sunday church services where the little Sunday 
School kids are given a piece of a palm branch and led down the aisle to place them at 
the foot of the altar. They have a sort of sketchy idea of what they’re doing and it’s a joy 
to see them waving these branches. 

I expect there were a lot of little kids running around in the crowd that first Palm Sunday, 
too, waving branches and having an excellent time being outside on a beautiful day 
where everyone was happy. 

Wherever you are tomorrow, online, outside, inside, in your pajamas or wearing jeans 
and a sweatshirt, rejoice in the day. Yes, the coming week is filled with sadness but, oh 
my friends, Easter is coming! 

Easter has a lot of different things attached to it. There was a time in the far distant past 
when all the children in the family were taken to the local department store…someplace 
like The May Company, J. C. Penney’s or The Broadway and outfitted with a new blue 
suit for the boys and a billowy dress, gloves, a hat and shiny patent leather shoes and 
socks with ruffles ‘round the top for the little girls. Our family was not of the churchgoing 
variety but I did get the aforementioned billowy dress, etc. and my mother got 
herself a new suit and a hat. Some of the dullest hours of my childhood were spent at 
Bullock’s Wilshire while my mother tried on hats. 

And we went to church on Easter. All Catholic churches are packed on Easter and 
Christmas and ours was no exception. The place was loaded with women wearing their 
new suit and hat and children who wanted to be anyplace but there, wearing anything 
but the new Easter outfit. 

Mercifully, this new outfit for Easter has fallen by the wayside, as have most of those 
department stores. The grocery stores are filled with Peeps in every color under the sun 
and, my favorite, the Cadbury caramel egg. Friends, those things are addictive and it’s 
a good thing they’re only available for a brief period or I would be in serious trouble. 
A thick chocolate egg filled with gooey caramel. These should only be eaten in private, 
by the way, as if you let it slip that you had some, you’d be inundated with people who 
wanted them. 

Easter egg hunts are featured in most every park and the Sierra Madre Firefighters will 
be hosting their annual egg hunt on Saturday, April 16th starting at 10 am for kids 12 and 
under at Memorial Park. It’s free and it’s a lot of fun and you can all wear your shorts and 
t-shirts. No billowy dresses or blue suits allowed! 

Tomorrow, Palm Sunday. Imagine the scene: people dancing in the streets before a gentle, 
humble man, Jesus, Son of God, and He, knowing these people would be shrieking 
“Crucify him!” just a few days later. 

The picture today, palm branches waving in the sun. 

My book page: Deanne Davis 
Easter is a week away and “The Crown,” 
My story about what happened to that crown of thornsIs now a real book in addition to a Kindle! Also available on 
If you want to check it out, here’s the link where you can see a short video: 

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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