Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, April 30, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 2

Mountain View News Saturday, April 30, 2022 
Mountain View News Saturday, April 30, 2022 
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By Robert Gjerde 
Continuing last week’s discussion, the Passionists own more than 45 acres of hillsides. Ten 
acres were shown on last week’s map directly to the north of the Retreat Center. An addi-
tional 20 acres sits above that in Sierra Madre west of Bailey Canyon, and just over 15 acres 
is situated west of that parcel, in unincorporated LA County. As part of the Meadows proj-
ect Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it stated the Passionists would be voluntarily 
dedicating to the City “open space hillside land north of the existing retreat center.” There 
has been some confusion about whether this is 35 or 45 acres and who would be holding 
title. Understandably the Passionists want to maintain privacy and it would be reasonable 
for them to keep control of the ten acres to the north abutting the Retreat Center. The good 
news is that everyone’s goals can be met and all these hillside properties can be protected 
with conservation easements. 
The Sierra Madre Mountain Conservancy, a neutral non-profit organization with a vested 
interest in protecting the hillsides, is our local conservancy. They hold conservation ease-
ments for many hillside properties, including 920 acres of watershed that the City owns in 
unincorporated LA County around the Mt. Wilson Trail. The purpose of the easements is to 
protect the hillsides by balancing the uses and access between the public, the City, and pri-
vate property owners. For the lower ten acres the Passionists can own the land, restricting 
public access, and the Conservancy can protect the property in perpetuity. For the remain-
ing 35 acres to the north the City can hold title, incorporating it into Bailey Canon Wilder-
ness Park to guarantee enjoyment by the public, and the conservation easement will protect 
the property by ensuring it is used in ways that is compatible with the hillside environment. 
The City holding title to the northern most properties is an important part of the MOU 
and should not be lost in negotiations since it meets a number of goals and objectives of 
the City’s General Plan including: expanding parkland, supporting the purchase of hillside 
property, providing public access to the mountains via parks and trails, and by working to 
establish a protected hillside corridor along the San Gabriel Mountains. 

By Father Clemente Barrón, C.P. Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center 

I am one of the three Passionist Fathers who, along with one Passionist Brother, reside at 
Mater Dolorosa Passionist Community just as previous generations of vowed Passionists have resided 
since 1924 when the Passionists bought the land. Some 25 years later, we built Mater Dolorosa 
Passionist Retreat Center, where we do ministry to this day. 

As you have probably heard, the Passionists hope to sell a small portion of our property and use 
the proceeds to care for our senior priests and brothers and help fund future Province ministries 
across the United States and internationally. I hope that everyone would agree that we have that 
right under our Constitution to do this, just as other property owners do, in accordance with applicable 

I am respectfully asking the City and its residents to consider the proposal for The Meadows at 
Bailey Canyon in this light. We have never requested the City to rezone our entire property for The 
Meadows, but only a smaller section of it. Unfortunately, supporters of the “Stop the Housing Project” 
ballot initiative want to act as the owners and rezone the entire property, which would include 
the Retreat Center, to the City’s most restrictive zoning category. At the Sierra Madre Planning 
Commission hearing on April 7, one of the group leaders behind the proposed initiative said this 
would not harm Mater Dolorosa. 

This is not true. By rezoning the entire property, the initiative makes the Retreat Center portion 
a non-conforming use and would require us to hold a city-wide election every time we wanted to 
make even a modest change to our use of our property. This would unfairly treat us more harshly 
than every other property owner in the City, who could simply go before the City Council for their 
needs. The high cost and great risk involved in being forced to hold a new ballot initiative each and 
every time we need to make a change effectively revokes our property rights. 

Why would we want to change our property? There could be many reasons but the principal one is 
this: Because more people than we can accommodate are seeking the ministries we provide. Supporting 
the ballot initiative is also supporting the future denial of these ministries to those in need 
of them. 

I would think that everyone would consider these points before forcing a rezoning of the property 
we own, as the proposed initiative would do. Mater Dolorosa is a private property, and we wish to 
keep the Retreat Center portion of it under its current zoning. Why would any of us want to live in a 
city where a property can suddenly be rezoned just because some of its neighbors want to rezone it? 

For nearly a century, The Passionists of Holy Cross Province have been good neighbors to the City 
of Sierra Madre and its residents. We let the City use our property for practice drills and give their 
emergency services access whenever needed. We invested our own resources to landscape our gardens 
as a beautiful, sacred place, and our gates are open so residents can enjoy them, except when 
retreats are in session. We are now offering to give three acres to the City as a public park and additional 
acreage as permanently protected open space. 

With The Meadows at Bailey Canyon proposal, we and our development partner are following all 
the rules and procedures. We trust our City leaders and managers to treat us accordingly, under 
their fiduciary responsibility. We trust our neighbors to be good neighbors, willing to let us do 
with our property what other Sierra Madre residents have done so many times before: buy land, 
build on it and sell it, so long as proper procedures are followed. Chances are, your own home is 
there because a previous property owner was allowed to do just that. We should be like every Sierra 
Madre property owner in that regard, and we ask that you treat us as you would like to be treated. 
You can do so by not signing the ballot initiative petition, or by asking to have your name removed 
if you have already signed it. 

For directions on how to remove your name from the petition, and to learn more about its unfairness, 
please visit 

When we Passionists have gathered in our chapel over these 98 years to pray, we have often prayed 
for the well-being of our City of Sierra Madre. We want to remain on our land for many generations 
to come, so we may continue to pray for our good neighbors. 



Regarding the highly controversial Monastery 
project (a/k/a The Meadows), there's so 
much misinformation out there - what to believe? 
We'd like to set the record straight...
Anti Catholic? Trying to limit the Mater 
Dolorosa property rights and stifle their ability 
to do their good works? All because of 
a petition to give us residents a vote of what 
happens in our town rather than leave it up 
to five members of City Council who don't 
seem to hear anything that is said. 

What the petition that is being circulated 
by the Protect Sierra Madre group will do 
is give residents a vote in November, (when 
we vote for three City Council members as 
well as state and national mid-terms). The 
vote is to hold the owners of the Monastery 
property, the Passionist Fathers in Chicago to 
the same zoning laws as the rest of us. Every 
large property north of Grand View is in the 
Hillside Management Zone, limiting placing 
very large homes crammed together. This 
will also limit the very real damage of cutting 
down over 100 trees. The Anokia property, 
at the northwest corner of Baldwin 
and Foothill closed the school, and built 20 
large homes on 20 acres - not 42 crammed 

New Urban West representative Jonathan 
Frankel told the Planning Commission that 
they plan to plant 500 saplings, including 
many cypress and deodar trees. We know 
we are in a severe drought, and we know that 
these saplings will take substantial water for 
their roots to take hold - water that we don't 
have according to our own City Manager. 
These trees are highly flammable, according 
to a local fauna expert, being planted in the 
high fire zone. Our water situation, or lack 
of it is getting worse by the day. 

What the initiative will not do - limit the 
Mater Dolorosa Fathers' good works. Not 
only have they not added on to their current 
building, but they tore down one after the 
1991 earthquake, over the objections of many 
protestors. We know young men are not joining 
the priesthood, Retreat Centers have been 
closed throughout the US. Restrictive? How 
will this hinder what they are already doing 

- feeding the hungry, renting out their property 
for a Retreat. We residents are now getting 
flyers, paid for by New Urban West, on 
our doorsteps about the dire consequences 
if the petition is allowed to go forward - the 
priests will no longer be allowed to feed 
the hungry, rent out their retreat center. 
Of course they will. The four priests who 
live there, will have to ask for a variance if 
they want to expand. They can do what the 
want to revitalize their kitchen, which they 
haven't done to date. 
Anti Catholic? How about anti Sierra Madre? 
If you attended or watched the Planning 
Commission meeting on April 7, you saw 
all the green shirted people in the audience 
supporting the Meadows project. Sadly, over 
50% of those people had received a post card 
at their Hastings Ranch home, were fed dinner 
at the Only Place in Town, before taking 
up the majority of seats, including two rows 
of "reserved" seats. The next Planning Commission 
meeting is this Thursday, May 5, 7 
pm. If you are a resident, please come early 
to get a seat. 

This project controversy will heat up as the 
Planning Commission and City Council 
study the facts. Let's us stick to the facts as 

Citizens for the Truth 

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