Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, June 18, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 2

Mountain View News Saturday, June 18, 2022 2CONVERSATIONS......THE MEADOWS 
Mountain View News Saturday, June 18, 2022 2CONVERSATIONS......THE MEADOWS 

If you are reading the Mountain Views News regularly, chances are you are following the huge controversy 
generated by a project of 42 very large homes, destroying over 100 trees in the process at the 

Here are the facts from the four-hour Planning Commission meeting on June 2nd – questions and concerns 
from the Commissioners who struggled to understand how they could approve such a project, as 
well as comments from concerned residents. 

Planning Commission: 

1. The Specific Plan is the primary zoning code for the project, and once the project is reviewed 
by City Council, takes precedence over any of the City’s zoning codes. 
2. At the May 5 meeting, the Commission asked for a comparison of the zoning per developer 
New Urban West’s calculation, compared to our City’s. Using the City’s calculation, the houses became 
even larger - resulting in larger houses on smaller lots. Here’s the result: Big houses crammed 
together in cookie cutter fashion, 4850 square foot houses can be built on every lot. That is double 
anything in Sierra Madre. 
3. New Urban West through its representative Jonathan Frankel repeatedly refused to clarify 
which of the housing designs will go on which lots, or if there would be a limit to two story houses. 
4. “The square footage of the homes is ‘breathtaking’”. 
5. “This will look like the downtown area where everything is crammed together.” 
6. “This is unsettling from the Memorandum of Understanding on. I’ve never felt this way. Lies 
are going back and forth. I love the project but I have all kinds of trepidations.” 

1. “There was an anonymous donation of $100,000 for a new fire truck. 
2. Net zero water is New Urban West’s made-up definition that keeps changing. It is not a community 
3. The Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara destroyed 10 new homes. They had the same materials as 
these houses would have. 
NUW Representative Frankel:

1. We won’t reconfigure the square footage to conform to Sierra Madre’s definition. 
2. Six times he repeated: We need to advance the project. We want this to move along for our 
3. This is not an R-1 (residential) project. 
4. This is unfair to us (under the guise of Neighbors for Fairness, paid for by New Urban West) 
Citizens for Truth – Mr. Frankel, and “Neighbors”- we have a very conscientious Planning Commission. 
What they are asking for is for this project to follow the same rules as Sierra Madre, even with 
larger homes. 


Protect Sierra Madre has been actively en

gaged 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 Canyon. 

Recently, it was shared that Protect Sierra Madre was successful in attaining 1,300 signatures 
to get an important initiative on the ballot in November to allow Sierra Madre residents to 
have a voice on a zoning change that would limit this huge housing development that does 
not fit at all with the values of our community. Far exceeding the 856 signatures that were 
required by the city, the team of volunteers secured the signatures in a fairly brief period of 
time. Proponents of the housing project state that opposition to the project is from a ‘small 
number of residents in the 
immediate vicinity’. However, the number of signatures gathered shows otherwise, as 
signatures came from residents on nearly every street in our city and reflects a very significant 
and broad level of Sierra Madre residents that have huge concerns with this project and are 
opposed to it. It’s not difficult to understand why. 

At the June 2 Planning Commission (PC) meeting, the PC were asking very fundamental but 
critical questions about how big the homes of the proposed project could ultimately be. Doing 
the math, the PC discovered that if the Specific Plan that the developer New Urban West 
has submitted were to be approved in its current state, it would allow for the building of 42 
homes each up to 4,850 square feet, on lot sizes as small as 8,000 square feet. Imagine that: 
42 McMansion size homes packed in against each other. One of the PC members stated that 
the General Plan and ordinances was specifically put in place to guard against McMansion 
housing developments. 

At this week’s City Council (CC) meeting, where next steps on the initiative were to be 
discussed, several housing project supporters spoke. The only issue was that most of their 
speakers don’t live in Sierra Madre. Imagine showing up at an important City Council meeting 
in Pasadena or Altadena and providing your support for a huge proposed housing project 
that a significant number of actual, local residents oppose. Local residents would rightfully 
ask, “Why are you speaking?” Most housing project supporters, especially those that speak 
at CC or PC meetings don’t even live here, and will not have to live with all the disastrous 
impacts of this 

The project supporters continue to allege that the initiative is creating religious persecution 
of the monastery, which is completely ludicrous and false. It’s a false narrative being used to 
distract from the fact that this is a really bad project on multiple levels. It’s also asserted that 
they are being singled out and treated differently than other landowners in Sierra Madre. 

However, New Urban West wants to be singled out for favorable treatment. They do not 
want to be subject to the same General Plan policies all of us Sierra Madre residents need to 
abide by. Instead, NUW wants and is demanding huge exceptions to our General Plan and 
they want changes to the ordinances that all other builders of single family homes have to 
follow. They have submitted a Specific Plan that would allow them to completely disregard 
and bypass critical building parameters and ordinances carefully developed over many years 
that every other land-owner in Sierra Madre needs to abide by. The Passionist Chicago organization, 
the single largest landowner in Sierra Madre as owners of Mater Dolorosa, together 
with New Urban West is pro-posing the single largest housing development in our small city’s 
history. And they believe they should not have to play by the rules of our ordinances and 
General Plan policies. 

Our city and residents deserve so much better. We look forward to the City Council certifying 
the initiative. Join us in Protecting Sierra Madre. 

Protect Sierra Madre 


Many residents eagerly awaited the June 14th 

City Council meeting to hear council mem

bers discuss the citizen’s petition to put an 

initiative on the November ballot. The City 

Clerk, Laura Aguilar, reported that residents 

were successful in obtaining 1492 signatures 

and 1300 of them qualified, easily over the 
856 required for certification by the county. Congratulations to the residents of Sierra 
Madre for their efforts to make this happen! 

As reported in the Mountain Views News edition of June 11th, the meeting required the 
council to consider four options: 

1. Adopt the initiative ordinance; 
2. Submit the initiative at the November 8th general election; 
3. Call for a Special Election to be held before Nov 8th; or 
4. Direct the city attorney to prepare a report pursuant to Elections 
Code 9212. 
Interestingly, there was no discussion of these options by the council; no questions asked, 
no pros/cons, no debate. It was all strangely orchestrated - as if they had decided beforehand 
- and, as expected, City Council unanimously voted to have counsel prepare a report. 
The report will consider the environmental impacts of both the current proposal and the 
proposal in the Initiative; the benefits of each; the political/legal aspects of each alternative; 
the size of the homes; possible legal cost; alternatives; maximum development and 
SB9 lot splits and ADU’s. This monumental undertaking must be completed in 30 days 
and will add to the already existing 6,000+ pages of reports already completed. 

During Open Comments, a number of Mater Dolorosa Board of Directors and staff (majority 
not Sierra Madre residents) were compelled to attend and speak repetitively on the 
same points. ‘How they are saddened and hurting’ by residents opposed to their housing 
project. How the project is just a ‘tiny amount of homes’. How the council needs to ‘educate’ 
the citizens about the project. How opposing this housing project will ’prevent the 
Passionists from spreading their vision around the world’. 

As one of the Passionist speakers stated, ‘we all know the priests are seeking income to 
continue their mission and they will be looking for ways to monetize their property’. They 
have been doing this successfully for many years. Their CEO stated that they are fully 
booked for retreats and conferences until May of 2023. The Retreat Center has almost 90 
single and double rooms plus conference rooms, a library, breakout rooms, a Chapel and a 
kitchen capable of feeding over 100 guests 3 meals a day. They provide accommodations 
at a quoted cost of $160 per night, per person plus cost of meals. The latest Dun and Bradstreet 
report shows that the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center reported $2.43 million 
in annual sales from conferences and retreats. No one wants to deny Mater Dolorosa 
the right to make money to fund their ministry. They already receive special treatment by 
not paying taxes and now they want even more special treatment. 

It seems that Mater Dolorosa is never happy. As New Urban West pointed out in their 
marketing material, this property was zoned residential for years and Mater Dolorosa 
chose not to pursue housing. Under its present institutional zoning, Mater Dolorosa can 
expand the Retreat Center or build an additional religious institution to expand their ministry. 
But they have chosen not to do that – they have chosen instead to build an oversized 
42 unit tract housing development with no religious purpose. 

Our zoning laws are not subject to the whims and fancies of individual community members 
that can’t seem to make up their mind. They are the collective wisdom of years of 
hard work to create a shared vision. Requesting a change is not automatic because you 
have lived here for many years and believe yourself to be a good neighbour. It requires 
careful scrutiny and review by the City Council and Planning Commission as well as the 
residents living in the community and those impacted by the change. 

Mater Dolorosa misjudged the people of Sierra Madre and their willingness to blindly 
support a project that is so wrong for our community on so many levels. It is sad that 
the Passionists wish to celebrate their illustrious and proud 100 year history and legacy in 
Sierra Madre by imposing an ‘out of touch,’ over-sized, unsuitable, cookie cutter housing 
project on the community and then acting offended and persecuted when citizens ask for 
a better project. 

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