Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, May 7, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: 
3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, May 7, 2022 CONVERSATIONS.......THE MEADOWS 
There is so much misinformation being spread on the 
ballot initiative to rezone the Monastery from Institutional 
to a hillside residential zone that we are starting 
to think the proponents of the initiative have not even 
read it. 
Numerous times now we have quoted from their initiative 
showing where it says the rezoned property will be 
able to continue “without expansion.” Do you not believe 
it? This is directly from the initiative’s intent and 
Why won’t they admit this is what it says? In last week’s 
paper it was stated, “What the initiative will not do - limit 
the Mater Dolorosa Fathers’ good works” and “the … 
building can be renovated as necessary to expand their 
mission and their kitchen.” That’s not exactly true. What 
happens when the Mon-astery decides to expand their 
kitchen or any part of their retreat center outside of the 
existing footprint? That is currently their right and that 
will be stripped if the initiative passes. This is a fact, not 
an opinion. 
The arrogant response we see over and over is “they have 
chosen not to do that - instead choosing to build a 42 
unit tract housing development.” If they haven’t done 
something recently does that mean they should never be 
allowed to do it in the future? Has it not been considered 
that the Monastery can both sell off an unused part of 
their property AND use some of that money to expand 
their existing ministry? Religious institutions undergo 
change all the time, especially as the dynamics of a ministry 
change like has happened through the pandemic. 
The Monastery has greatly increased their food min-istry, 
providing over 50,000 meals a year. The proponents 
at least admit that the current zoning allows expansion 
when they said, “Under its present institutional zoning, 
Mater Dolorosa can expand the Re-treat Center or build 
an additional religious institution to expand their mission.” 
That’s correct and that right is now what they are 
trying to take away. 
To avoid honestly addressing the issue of overly restrictive 
zoning and prohibiting ALL future expan-sion, in 
violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized 
Persons Act, the proponents are driv-ing nails as fast as 
they can in the Passionists’ coffin: “Retreat Centers have 
been closed throughout the US … Young men and women 
are increasingly not interested in pursuing this way of 
life … it is not a growing industry … Passionist Retreat 
Centers and Monasteries have closed their doors … Re alistically, 
Retreat Centers don’t have much of a future…” 
The reality is, as long as a religious organization exists 
and owns that property they have rights protected by the 
First Amendment. No one gets to tell the Passionists how 
to reasonably run their ministries. That isn’t to say the 
Passionists can do anything they want. Clearly, removing 
ALL rights to future expansion is overly restrictive, and 
such a change is a violation of federal law unless it is the 
least restrictive means of, in this case, protecting the hillsides. 
Something like a modest expansion of the kitchen 
outside of the existing building footprint is no threat to 
the hillsides at all. 
The proponents go on to say, “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.” 
What a ridiculous claim! How many of us are institutions 
with institutional and religious zoning rights? How many 
other institutions in the city are having their institutional 
zoning rights stripped from them? NONE! This is just a 
focused haphazard attack on the Passionists by a small 
group of people in Sierra Madre who don’t want the pro posed 
project to go through. 
The proponents continue spreading misinformation 
about what their initiative will do and what it will prevent 
(like their brochure where they are still using a picture 
that shows a project with considerably higher density). 
I suppose we can be charitable and assume they don’t 
know what their initiative says. After talking to a number 
of people collecting signatures it is clear that many don’t 
know what they are asking people to sign. Or we can assume 
they know what they are doing and it is their intent 
to strip the rights of the Passionists. Whichever the an swer 
is, it isn’t good. 
When will the proponents be held to account? Sierra 
Madre Neighbors for Fairness is asking right now that 
the supporters of the initiative explain to everyone how 
the Passionists will be allowed to expand their ministry 
when their own initiative says the opposite. Then explain 
to everyone how this was the least restrictive option 
available to protect the hillsides. 
Over the years, City Hall has proudly presented 
itself as being transparent, working 
for the residents of our fair city. Now, 
with the largest development in Sierra 
Madre history proposing 42 large tract 
homes, destruction of over 115 trees, 
and the fallacy of “Net Zero Water Use,” 
it is extremely difficult to find out information 
on the Project. There is a Final 
Environmental Impact Report, Specific 
Plan and related Appendices about the 
Meadows project. However, many still 
struggle to find it on the City website. 
Oddly, it can be found buried under the 
‘City Hall’ tab on the home page. Then 
scroll down to ‘City Manager’s Office’; 
then scroll down the sidebar to the second 
from the bottom section ‘Transparency’ 
(ironically); then scroll down the 
next sidebar to the second section titled 
‘The Meadows’ project. Then Volume I 
and II of the Final EIR are at the top of 
the three pages of content, followed by 
the Specific Plan and Appendices. 
Transparency is not solely due to the difficulty 
of navigating the website. Those 
of us who have been following this project, 
reading the EIR, and the Specific 
Plan, have requested several times to 
have experts other than those hired by 
the developer speak at City Council and 
Planning Commission meetings to provide 
additional perspective on the serious 
issues of water, trees, and wildlife. 
We’ve been told no. Instead, New Urban 
West regurgitates the same information 
for public consumption while paying for 
the ‘Neighbors for Fairness’ ads, flyers 
and website in an attempt to counter the 
community-based groups who do not 
support this housing development. The 
events of the last two months are highly 
disturbing. About 20 residents spoke 
before the Planning Commission regarding 
the disruption they face with the 
constant filming at Alverno. In order to 
film in Sierra Madre, 50% of the neighbors 
must sign a waiver that they agree 
to this. Rather than actually getting the 
residents’ signatures, a few neighbors determined 
that for the last two filmings, 
and possibly more, the signatures were 
100% forged. Our City lawyer recommended 
the solution of no longer requiring 
During the April 7 Planning Commission 
meeting, several of the Commissioners 
noted that the Specific Plan was 
lacking in detail and not very specific. 
Needing additional information, they 
asked about a field trip to the ‘Meadows’ 
to see what the project would look like. 
Our City lawyer pointed out that if there 
were three or more Commissioners at the 
same time, it would have to be open to 
the public. The developer’s rep responded 
that ‘I don’t know if Mater Dolorosa 
would be willing. I’ll have to discuss with 
them. Don’t know if they would want to 
have any member of the general public 
show up on their property and wander 
around.’ As the field trips were not open 
to the public that will have to live with 
this project and allow neighbors and Sierra 
Madre residents to see and hear the 
same thing as the Commissioners, transparency 
loses again. Apparently, the 
‘Good Neighbor Plan’ frequently mentioned 
in the Specific Plan doesn’t go into 
effect until the Project is built. The April 
7 meeting of the Planning Commission, 
the first meeting to review the Meadows 
project, lasted from 7 pm until 11:30 pm. 
Residents were allowed to comment for 
3 minutes instead of 5 as it states on the 
agenda. At the end of the meeting, Chair 
Pevsner said ‘I guess I’ll close the public 
comment,’ as he does at every meeting. 
Interestingly, when several residents requested 
extra time to speak at the May 
5th Commission meeting – 10 minutes 
for the lawyer representing the Protect 
Sierra Madre group, and another from 
a resident requesting the original 5 minutes, 
with slides to show the damage already 
done on her property, Planning Director 
Gonzalez told them that the Chair 
closed Public Comment on the Project 
and no more would be permitted in the 
coming meetings. A review of the meeting 
video did not indicate that the chair’s 
statement was applicable to anything beyond 
the April meeting. There is nothing 
in the minutes either and there are 
concerns that this might be a Brown Act 
violation as cities must allow public comment 
on agenda items. Later in the day, 
Director Gonzalez in another email, said 
residents may actually be able to comment, 
depends on the Commission and 
they would discuss it at the beginning of 
the meeting. This deviation from past 
protocol doesn’t give citizens time to research 
and complete even three minutes 
of comments. 
All this secrecy is disturbing. The noted 
author Faye Angus, in speaking before 
City Council would say, “Follow the 
money.” Sadly, that could explain the 
lack of transparency. 
Ad paid for by Sierra Madre Neighbors for Fairness, a Coalition of Local Residents, Taxpayers, and Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center; 
Committee major funding from New Urban West 
Misinformed When You Signed? 
Let’s Fix it Together. Remove Your Signature. Scan the Code. 
Consider Removing Your Signature 
Were you told signing the initiative would preserve open space 
and stop housing from being built at the Monastery? 
According to our City Attorney, that is wrong! 
Why You Should Remove Your Signature: 
• Signing the initiative DOES NOT STOP HOUSING 
• Allows MORE HOMES to be built on Monastery land 
• Housing could be built WITHOUT A PUBLIC HEARING 
Pulled from the Initiative Summary, prepared by the City Attorney. 
COMMISSION continued from page 1 
Arrieta is talking about One Carter project, now known as ‘Stonegate’ and is often labeled as a “mansionized” 
property casting a shadow over Baldwin Avenue with its mausoleum-type architecture and “no trespassing” 
signs surrounding it. It, when completed, will also be built in what’s considered a hazardous fire 
zone. Concerns were brought up on this property back in 2020, and oh, by the way, it’s the same architects 
proposing the housing project at the Monastery. 
“For that not to be included in the draft EIR is just disingenuous; it’s inappropriate and unprofessional,” 
Arrieta added. 
On the other hand, Manuel Valencia, a retired deacon and Assistant Retreat Director at the Mater Dolorosa 
Retreat Center, sees the project more positively. “I have the utmost confidence in the Planning Commission. 
Your questions have been exhaustive, they’ve been to the point, they are specific, they are tough, 
and I do believe that by the time you conclude all of your deliberations, you will be able to come up with 
something that is going to result in something that is good and certainly for the common good of the 
people of Sierra Madre,” Valencia said. 
It was about 10:30 p.m. when the public comment was finally closed, and it looked as though, despite the 
hour, everyone was still attentively in their seats. By 11:10 p.m., it was decided that no decision would be 
made and the meeting ended with no conclusion. 
The Planning Commission will deliberate on The General Plan and Land Use Amendment and the Specific 
Plan at the next meeting. The Specific Plan discussion will include the guiding principles, land use, 
neighborhood park, mobility plan, infrastructure plan, design guidelines, and implementation plan. 
For attendees, it was time to get some sleep. Suggestion: Bring extra coffee to the next one on May 19 at 
7:00 p.m. 
The City is expected to have vacancies on our commissions 
soon so you can get a head start by applying now. 
Applications and more information can be found here: cityofsierramadre.
Planning Commission has one (1) expected vacancy. 
Community Services Commission has one (1) expected vacancy. 
Library Board of Trustees has two (2) anticipated vacancies. 
Natural Resources Commission has one current vacancy and one anticipated vacancy 
for a total of two (2) vacancies. 
Interested? Go To: