Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, May 28, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, May 28, 2022 CONVERSATIONS.......THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, May 28, 2022 CONVERSATIONS.......THE MEADOWS 


Let’s cut to the chase. Some things are 
very clearly seen that you would never 
know about if you only listened to the opponents 
of the Meadows project. When 
they say something like “cookie cutter 
style homes” do you just accept that at 
face value? Do they know something no 
one else knows? The 42 homes have yet 
to be designed. There are four completely 
different styles of homes and different iterations 
of each style. The STOP Housing 
Development group has been using the 
same flyer all year that shows misrepresentative 
high-density tract homes that 
are nothing like what this project would 
be. They continue this straight out lie despite 
having been called-out on it publicly 
numerous times. Do they just not care 
about the truth? I invite these groups to 
share the designs from which they determined 
that the homes will be “cookie 
cutter style” tract homes. What is clear is 
there are no designs on which to base the 
claim that all the homes look the same.

 When it is stated that New Urban West 
is “following their own rules,” what does 
that mean? What they are doing is proposing 
design standards for a large project, 
tailored to the site. This is a reasonable 
option rather than creating 42 
separate projects. Will those standards 
take precedence over the city’s zoning 
codes? No, if approved it will be a part of 
the city’s zoning codes. They will be equal 
to all the other city zoning codes. When 
requesting a change to a zoning code or 
the general plan it cannot be denied simply 
because it does not match the current 
zoning code or general plan. The whole 
point of a change is to create new codes. 
What is clear is that if and when a Specific 
Plan gets approved it is codified into the 
city’s zoning codes and general plan and 
then it is 100% consistent with them. 

 The drought is a problem for all Californians, 
but that doesn’t change the fact 
that all Californians consume water. If 
42 homes are built in Sierra Madre that 
doesn’t mean California needs more 
water. Those same Californians will be 
drinking and using water somewhere else 
if not in Sierra Madre. State code mandates 
that homes cannot be prevented 
from being built as long as there is water 
available. Sierra Madre currently has 
access to enough water. By the time the 
project is started we will have the joint 
well completed with Arcadia which will 
supply 2/3rds of our water. What is clear 
is that water is an issue everywhere in the 
state but you can’t refuse to provide water 
that people need to survive.

 The proponents of the initiative keep 
calling net-zero water some sort of fantasy. 
They then misrepresent the options 
available for meeting net-zero water usage. 
I’m not sure why this is the case since 
they attend all the meetings and hear the 
facts. It is almost like they are the ones 
engaging in smoke and mirrors. Net-zero 
water usage does not mean the homes will 
not use water, it means the city will not 
have to purchase additional water themselves. 
There are three options available 
to the city that can be used in any combination, 
including purchasing 50 years 
of water in advance for the 42 homes, if 
available, or replacing lawns with drought 
tolerant landscaping, or repairing city infrastructure 
to stop wasted water through 
leaks. The advance water purchases do 
not all have to happen at once. The other 
options can be applied until water is available 
to purchase. Around $1 million will 
be placed in an account that is managed 
by the city who will guarantee that the 
net-zero water goals are met. The 100,000 
gallons of water needed to build a home 
was also mentioned. That is 0.37 acre feet 
which is 20% less than the average home 
uses in a year. What is clear is that net-
zero water usage is a real strategy backed 
up by a guarantee that it will happen. 

Robert Gjerde 

Protect Sierra Madre has been actively engaged in 
trying to retain and help preserve all that is special 
about Sierra Madre. New Urban West (NUW) and 
the Passionist Ownership (based in Chicago and 
owners of the Monastery) are proposing to build the 
largest housing development in 

Sierra Madre history, the Meadows at Bailey 

There has been an intense fight going on since 
March 2020, when a Memorandum of Understanding 
(MOU) agreement for this proposed housing 
project was entered into by the Sierra Madre City 
Council and the Passionist Ownership of the Monastery, 
based in Chicago. The MOU should have 
never been approved during the onset of the global 
pandemic because there was no opportunity for 
residents to be apprised and provide input. New 
Urban West (NUW), the developer, and the Passionist 
organization are pushing this project despite 
significant, real concerns about: 

1. A Flawed Final Environmental Impact Report 
The developer NUW is trying to push through a 
very flawed Final Environmental Impact Report 
(FEIR) for the project. Our volunteer organization 
and attorney have pointed out repeatedly to the City 
Council and Planning Commission that the FEIR is 
flawed and must be recirculated because it failed to 
include opportunities for public input on multiple 
significant issues, such as a proposed widening of 
Carter Avenue and property lot line adjustments, 
among other major concerns. Despite our strong 
arguments, it appears there is a rush to approve the 
FEIR, despite significant flaws, and strong resident 
opposition, as was evident in recent planning commission 
meetings. Why the rush to approve a clearly 
flawed critical report? 

2) Wildfire risk: The meadows are up against 
the foothills and in an extremely high fire zone. A 
similar, smaller development of homes went up in 
flames in Santa Barbara county just a few years ago, 

despite the homes being built with ‘fire retardant’ 
materials. The development was in a similar high 
risk fire zone near hills and a canyon, just like where 
this proposed development is. 

3) Impact on water supply: We are in the middle of 
California’s worst, sustained drought. Update: The 
governor has stated the state’s water supplies are the 
lowest they’ve ever been and is close to mandating 
water rationing across the state. It’s not the time to 
build 42 additional, huge homes. There is simply 
insufficient water supply to achieve the ‘Net Zero’ 
water impact that NUW was using in their glitzy 
marketing materials. They have not explained how 
they will compensate for the water used during construction 
and by these McMansion properties over 
their lifetimes. The only thing that is ‘net zero’ on 
this critical issue is the credibility of New 
Urban West. 

4) Significantly increased traffic. A traffic study 
indicates traffic in Sierra Madre will more than double 
with this development. 
5) Destruction of open space and wildlife habitat.
This project would destroy the last remaining open 
space in Sierra Madre that is home to deer, multiple 
bird species, and other wildlife. 

We ask the Planning Commission and City Council 
to do what is right and what is best for the residents 
of Sierra Madre and not approve the FEIR in its current 
severely flawed state, and move to recirculate it 
so Sierra Madre residents can review all the relevant 
and significant issues, before consideration and review 
of the largest housing project in Sierra Madre 
is undertaken. 

Our city and residents deserve much better. Join us 
in Protecting Sierra Madre. 

Protect Sierra Madre 

We have heard many times by 
people who signed the ballot initiative 
to rezone the Monastery 
property to a residential zone 
that they have nothing against 
Catholics or the Passionists. 
That may be the case, but it is no 
concession when the outcome is 
the same as a malevolent person. 
Under the guise of protecting 
the hillside, the ballot initiative, 
if passed, will strip the development 
rights of a 100 year old religious 

No, we are not saying that the 
Meadows project is a religious 
development. That is a straw-

man that the proponents of the 
initiative use to deflect the real 
issue, which is that the initiative 
will result in the entirety of 
the Passionists’ property being 
rezoned to a residential zone. 
The Passionists will lose their 
Institutional property rights, become 
a nonconforming use, and 
be prohibited from all future 

You say you don’t believe that 
the Initiative will infringe on 
Passionists’ rights? All one 
needs to do is read the wording: 
“The intent of this Initiative is 
to permit the continued opera-


tion of the Mater Dolo

rosa Passionist Retreat 

Center without expansion…” 
That clearly states the 
outcome if the initiative passes: 
The Passionists’ existing right 
to expansion will be taken away. 
If you vote for the initiative it 
doesn’t matter if your intention 
is to stop the Meadows project 
or if it is to discriminate against 
religion. The religious rights of 
the Passionists will still be violated 
because of your action. 

The arrogant response we get 
from Protect Sierra Madre is 
that the Passionists are dying 
out and they are selling off retreat 
centers around the country. 
Whether or not that is the case is 

irrelevant. Property rights exist 
for property owners. The Passionists 
have a thriving ministry 
in Sierra Madre. They regularly 
have retreats and they have a 
growing food ministry feeding 
the homeless and shut-ins. Religious 
institutions have a right to 
freely exercise their religion. 

Federal law, the Religious Land 
Use and Institutionalized Persons 
Act of 2000, sets the standard 
for land use regulations 
that burden religious organizations. 
The Act 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 …religious institu

tion…” Prohibiting ALL future 
expansion is a clear example of 
a substantial burden. The Act 
continues and lists two criteria 
which must be met to justify a 
substantial burden. First, there 
must be a compelling government 
interest being served, and 
second, that burden must be the 
least restrictive means of furthering 
the compelling interest. 

The Intent and Purpose of the 
Initiative is to “ensure that any 
future development is protective 
of the City’s hillside environment.” 
That is the compelling 
government interest and it is a 
legitimate one. The key issue is 
the second part where the burden 
must be the least restrictive 

means of furthering that compelling 
interest. Here, the Initiative 
fails the test. There are numerous 
less restrictive options 
available to protect the hillside 
environment without stripping 
the Passionists of ALL rights 
to future expansion. The good 
intention of protecting the hillsides 
cannot justify this substantial 
burden. Only this one point 
of failure is needed for the Passionists 
to sue the city for relief, 
costing us the taxpayers many 
hundreds of thousands of dollars 
in the process. 

Sierra Madre Neighbors for 
Fairness opposes the ballot 

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