Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, June 11, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page A:2

Mountain View News Saturday, June 11, 2022 2 CONVERSATIONS......THE MEADOWS 
Mountain View News Saturday, June 11, 2022 2 CONVERSATIONS......THE MEADOWS 
came from people who did not 

coalition became involved not 

live in Sierra Madre. I attended 

just with the Meadows Project 


that meeting remotely because 

but with improving the demoli

this was done at the height of 

tion ordinance to preserve older 

I happened to read the edito-

Covid when an in-person meet-

homes in Sierra Madre, prevent 

rial in this newspaper's June 4th 

ing was not allowed. The timing 

mansionization by appropri

edition by Pat Alcorn in which 

was great for the developer be-

ate setbacks and floor area ra

she accuses the Preserve Sierra 

cause the last thing on people's 

tios and many other efforts at 

Madre and Stop the Housing 

mind was concern about a hous

preservation throughout Sierra 

project coalitions of "disinfor

ing project. So opposition was 

Madre. Yet, I have to say that 

mation" and manages to men-

minimal while pro-project peo-

I don't recognize most of the 

tion my name twice in what 

ple appeared to have been orga

names associated with "Neigh

appears to be an effort to give 

nized in advance to call in and 

bors for Fairness". In other 

legitimacy to the signing of the 

render their support. The City 

words, where were they for the 

Memorandum Of Understand-

Council approved the MOU. 

last 10 years while our coalition 

ing (MOU) between the City, 

was doing the heavy lifting to 

Developer and Mater Doloro

4. I think the developer is now 
protect our City from over-de

sa. There was also an adjacent 

getting desperate. I believe they 

velopment? Now they come out 

article by "Neighbors for Fair-

expected to waltz into Sierra 

of the woodwork at the eleventh 

ness" that basically accuses their 

Madre, steamroll the local resi

hour to support one of the larg

fellow neighbors of telling lies 

dents who they imagined to be 

est housing projects in Sierra 

about the Meadows project. 

just a bunch of yokels in a small 

Madre history. 

As someone who was one of the 

town, follow their playbook, en-

founders of both the Stop the 

list a few neighbors to support 

6. We need this initiative to cur-
Housing Project and Preserve 

their cause and ramrod this proj

tail the size and impact of this 

Sierra Madre coalitions start

ect through by taking it directly 

project! Without this initiative, 

ing in 2013 when the Meadows 

to what they perceive rightly or 

5 people on the City Council 

project first reared its ugly head 

wrongly to be a friendly City 

will decide the fate of this proj

and who has been intimately 

Council. They've lost patience 

ect. If the project is so good, 

involved in city-wide preserva

with the Planning Commission 

New Urban West has nothing to 

tion efforts for the last 10 years, 

which is trying their best to do 

worry about. The good people 

I have a few points to make: 

their job and look out for the 

of Sierra Madre will vote the 

residents. Part of that playbook 

initiative down. But they must 

1. It appeared to me from the be-
I believe is essentially bribing 

be worried about putting the 

ginning that former City Man-

supporters, mostly from outside 

fate of the project in the hands 

ager Gabe England was push-

of Sierra Madre, with free din-

of the residents which is why 

ing the Meadows project. I was 

ners, free tee shirts and signs to 

they want 5 people on the City 

there in the City Council Cham

show up at Planning Commis-

Council to decide. That's also 

bers when he gave what I believe 

sion meetings to try to influence 

why the deep-pocket developer 

was a very misleading presenta

their vote. Why would anyone 

is spending thousands of dollars 

tion to the City Council in what 

think our Planning Commis

on mailers and ads. Meanwhile, 

amounted to a "sales pitch" on 

sion is naive enough to fall for 

countless volunteers - Sierra 

behalf of the developer. His 

such a contrived and obvious at-

Madre residents -have spent 

presentation included very scary 

tempt to influence them? Astute 

backbreaking hours gather-

and unrealistic alternative proj

residents have also probably no

ing signatures, manning tables 

ects that could happen under 

ticed that at the bottom of all the 

and walking streets to get sig-

Mater Dolorosa's institutional 

pro-development mailers and 

natures. The support for the 

zoning if the City Council did 

ads is the phrase "major funding 

initiative has been overwhelm-

not support the housing project, 

from New Urban West". Does 

ing. New Urban West appears 

I thought at the time that it was 

that surprise anyone? 

to know this and now they may 

very inappropriate for the City 

The developer is trying to make 

be taking off the gloves and us-

to basically be carrying water for 

millions of dollars at the ex

ing surrogates to accuse all these 

the developer. The City should 

pense of Sierra Madre residents 

volunteers of being a bunch of 

have remained neutral and let 

with a destructive project that 

liars and spreading disinforma

the developer make its own sales 

is too big for it's location. The 

tion. This would be despicable 


project requires a specific plan 

but not surprising given that 

because it doesn't comply with 

millions of dollars is at stake. I

2. The MOU was pushed for-
our R-1 zoning rules as found in 

won't reiterate all the negative 

ward at the height of the pan-

our General Plan and Municipal 

consequences of this project but 

demic when people had other 

Code. If the project is allowed 

it's what happens when a project 

things on their mind like try-

to get built, the developer then 

is driven solely around maxi

ing to stay alive. As Pat Alcorn 

moves on to their next project 

mizing profit. Our coalition 

points out, I attended a few 

and Sierra Madre residents are 

can't compete with the "major 

meetings about the project. I 

stuck with the consequences.... 

funding from New Urban West". 

was always willing to listen, 


We are like the proverbial David 

but at some point I smelled a 

against Goliath. But we are com-

rat once I learned more details 

5. Is "Neighbors for Fairness" the 
peting in other ways because we 

about the project and realized 

last desperate ploy for New 

actually live in Sierra Madre, we 

they were trying to rope me into 

Urban West? Despite the mas-

care about Sierra Madre, and we 

a cabal to support the project. I 

sive outcry against the proj

are passionate about preserving 

wanted no part of that and with

ect with well over 1,000 Sierra 

Sierra Madre. That's what keeps 

draw from further meetings. 

Madre residents signing the 

us going and that's why we will 

petition to put an initiative on 


3. If anybody wants to take the 
the ballot to curtail the scope 

time to watch the recording of 

of the project, the developer has 

Matt Bryant 

the City Council meeting when 

found a few people who sup-

Sierra Madre Resident 

the City Council approved the 

port the project. I have been 

MOU, they will find that about 

intimately involved in trying 

90% of the calls that came in sup-

to preserve our "Village of the 

porting the signing of the MOU 

Foothills" since 2013 when our 


If you missed the Thursday, June 2nd four-

hour Planning Commission meeting, you 

missed lots of drama. You might want to 

watch, and everyone who cares about Sierra 

Madre, please put July 7, at 7 pm on your 

calendar. That is the next meeting with New 
Urban West and the Planning Commission, as they discuss and debate the many facets of 
what needs to be approved for this project to go through. 

This is a Planning Commission we can be proud of. They all asked the hard questions, and 
discussed NUW’s representative Jonathan Frankel’s responses. Here are the major issues 
and the Commissioners’ concerns, paraphrasing their comments: 

The Specific Plan becomes legally binding once it is approved by City Council. The Planning 
Commission doesn’t have design review authority, as it did for One Carter (Stonehouse), 
so they must get it right before the Specific Plan is passed. As it now stands, 4850 sq ft 
houses can be built on every lot. 76% of these properties could be 2 times what is allowed 
on any other property in Sierra Madre. All but one is 171% over what is allowable. This 
seems really egregious. There will be larger houses on smaller lots than in any area of 
town - and not just a little larger - 2 and 3 thousand square feet larger. These are big houses, 
crammed together, looking ‘cookie cutter’, as stated by one Commissioner. Now is time 
to dig a little deeper in terms of how the concepts of bulk and massing will be mitigated. 

New Urban West’s calculation of square footage was different from Sierra Madre’s in 
the General Plan and the zoning codes. At the last meeting, the Commissioners asked 
representative Frankel to convert their square footage calculation to that of Sierra Madre’s 
zoning calculation. This resulted in a substantial increase, from 700 to 2600 square feet 
larger per lot. Interestingly, 2700 sq ft is really 3300 under NUW’s calculations. The 
difference in square footage is “breathtaking.” 

A way to mitigate the cookie cutter image is to have curved streets rather than straight 
streets. Jameson Court has larger houses, but it is the curved street that sets them apart. 
Zoning maps are not in a straight line. Why can’t there be double-loaded streets? If it is 
too steep for that then it is too steep for the grid. 

The Commissioners asked to look at other developments where NUW has built, which 
would be helpful, citing the need for more details. Frankel said they don’t have the exact 
houses plotted out – “We’ll do this with you,” - whatever that means. Frankel was told that 
the mitigation of the bulk and massing must be in the Specific Plan, that it is too “foggy” 
now. Several Commissioners pointed out that this is basic math to convert one from the 

The Commissioners all agreed that because the Specific Plan is the primary zoning code 
for the property, it would be irresponsible for the Planning Commission to approve this as 
is. If they approve it as it now stands, the City Council will wonder why they only did half 
the job. The Planning Commission has spent a lot of time over the years standardizing 
these issues so that they can come to a consensus. They are merely asking for that. Once 
the Specific Plan is approved, it takes precedence over our Municipal zoning codes. The 
next step after that will be for the design review of the project as a whole, with the Planning 
Commission limited to two sessions, and City Council limited to two sessions, with one 
other session if necessary. 

New Urban West’s Frankel’s response repeatedly was, “We need to advance the project. 
Make these as a recommendation. We’re asking for your support with recommendations.” 
He stated that NUW will not be changing the design of the project to incorporate the 
Commission’s recommendations, even though he kept suggesting the Commission 
approve it as is, and offer their recommendations/conditions to the City Council. 

He emphasized over and over that this is not an R-1 project. He said, “this is very 
intentionally not an R-1 project, we are not proposing an R-1 project, we will not be 
modifying the SP to deliver an R-1 project. That is not going to be possible for us…” 

Yet, the terms of the Resolution for the zoning change call for a change from Institutional 
to “One Family Residential R-1”; the zoning amendment map shows R-1/SP Overlay; and 
the Development Agreement attached to the agenda also calls for a zoning change from 
Institutional to “R-1 Single Family Residential.” 

He mentioned his investors again, as he did at the last meeting, and how this needs to 
move along. The substitute City lawyer, Matthew Summers, clarified that the Planning 
Commission was not ready to approve the project that evening. Frankel finally agreed to 
come back to the July 7 meeting. 

That is how you stand up to a bully. 

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