Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, June 25, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 2

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285Email: Website: 
Mountain View News Saturday, June 25, 2022 2 CONVERSATIONS......THE MEADOWS 
The Meadows 
4/5 9 
TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2022 
9:00 AM 
Meeting ID: 220 966 3478 
Passcode: KIWANIS192 


On the surface, the June 16 Planning Commission meeting may not have had the impact 
to our residents as the massive Mater Dolorosa project. However, there were several 
disturbing issues to emerge. 

Once again there was no City Council liaison at the meeting, neither liaison Kriebs, nor 
her backup if she once again was unable to attend in person. City Council was given a 
petition signed by a significant number of residents in a short period of time. The City 
attorney will prepare a report regarding the petition within a 30 day period, in other 
words to be brought before the Council at the July 12 meeting. This is the most significant 
occurrence to affect our city since any of the Council Members was sworn in to serve 
and protect our City. 

Acting Planning Commission Chair Tom Denison commented at their meeting on June 
16 that the City Council liaison was not there to give them a report. Our Planning Commission 
has been working diligently, asking significant questions of New Urban West’s 
representative Jonathan Frankel, studying the vaguely worded Specific Plan, and doing 
the due diligence necessary for a project of this size. Council member Kriebs in her report 
to the Council as liaison said she had watched the meeting remotely, but she didn’t 
know when the next time the Meadows project would go before the Commission. How 
is that possible if she was watching the entire meeting? 

The Agenda item at the Commission’s June 16 meeting was the appeal of a staff decision 
to allow a 1425 sq ft house to add on, including an ADU, to reach a total of 3762 sq ft on 
a 9900 sq ft lot, increasing the height 32 feet, over the 25 foot limit, and adding a rooftop 
deck that would look directly into the neighbor’s backyard. Neighbor Colin Barr, who 
filed the appeal, and did a thorough research job, said the median square footage of the 
homes in the neighborhood is 1847, and the average is 2066, so nearly double the average. 
Not only does this affect the neighbors within a 300 ft radius, but don’t the requested 
variances have a familiar ring to them, a la The Meadows oversized houses, on postage 
stamp lots? 

The three Planning Commissioners (two were absent) did their usual thorough job of 
asking relevant questions, analyzing what was before them and their options. As just 
described, not only does this impact the immediate neighbors, but also seems ironically 
like a 1/42nd version of The Meadows. Yet there was no Council liaison present to report 
to the next City Council meeting. Very disappointing! 

Interestingly, this appeal presented a dilemma for the Planning Director, City lawyer, and 
Planning Commission, created by the most recent City Council: 

The three Commissioners agreed that as is, the massing is too big, and they’d like to see 
adjustments, how to do that though? Not only did the previous Council reduce the size 
of the Commission from 7 to 5, but they also took away the design review standards and 
gave Staff that authority. 

The dilemma: If the applicant agrees to some changes, where does the application go 

– Planning Commission or Planning Department. Or….should the Commission wait 
until the absent Commissioners can be present to ask questions? After some consultation 
between the City lawyer and the Planning Director, they told the Commission, who 
informed the applicant that he could ask for a vote of the three present Commissioners, 
and if turned down, could appeal to City Council, or withdraw his application, and resubmit 
it to Staff. Applicant said he would withdraw the application. 
To be continued….. 



I was one of the volunteers who sought the signatures, and it was quite an experience. I am 
a resident and I am not anti-Catholic or anti-Development but I am Anti-New Urban West. 
About 80 % of the residents could not wait to sign the petition, and they were from all over 
Sierra Madre, not just the streets that will be drasticallyaffected. 20% did not want to sign the petition and when asked why they responded in this 
fashion. Many were Catholic and felt the Catholic Church could do no wrong and would support 
the Catholic Church, Since the project was to take place on the current monastery property, 
they would support the project no matter how many problems came with the proposed 
housing development. Another portion off that 20% said they wouldnot sign any petition for any reason, Still others felt uncomfortable in signing until they felt 
like they understood the petition and its language. We patiently tried to help them by taking 
the time to explain the project, the problems, and the benefits with this housing project. We 
also told residents they still had until November to find out more information, and where to 
find the information so they could make up their own mind in November. Their signature 
only meant it would be placed on the ballot. Lots of misinformation is going on out there,
and the Passionists and New Urban West. are responsible for most of it. However, patient 
discussion educating people one at a time was successful. More education still has to be done 
to those residents we were unable to reach. 

I think the big break for the residents came on June 2 , 2022 at the Sierra Madre Regular Planning 
Commission Meeting. The meeting can be seen by googling City of Sierra Madre Planning 
Commission Regular Meeting June 2, 2022 .( it is 3 hour and 44 minutes meeting ,but 
the last 44 minutes shows the anger the Planning Commissioners felt about this developer and 
the development. They were being pressured by the developer to send the proposal to the city 
council and the developer asked them 3 times to send the proposal with their concerns to the 
council. The Commissioners refused to give into the developers requests. 

Earlier in the evening the commission asked the developer to put the size of the proposed 
homes on their housing pads so they could be compared homes to be built to the those under 
the general plan. In other words remove the project from the “Specific Plan” and the New 
Urban West definition of home square footage and the comparison would be based on Sierra 
Madre standards from the general plan . When the residents and the commissioners found 
out that all of the 42 lots could have the largest proposed home of 4875 sq feet on lots smaller 
than those on the #1Carter project the gasp was heard throughout the room. That makes this 
the densest project ever proposed in Sierra Madre. The Commissioners also realized that 
if changes were not made now, once the Specific Plan had been accepted there could be no 
further changes to it. It was and is a legal document. The project will not match the surrounding 
homes because this will be a cookie cutter development, and will just be huge homes on 
small lots with new drought tolerant landscaping, but no well-established trees. Those 101 
well established trees, including 11 Coastal Oaks ,will have been bulldozed in order to clear 
the land to then be developed. The Coastal Oak Trees are protected everywhere in the State 
of California and in Sierra Madre, except on the Monastery land. Because this project was a 
“Specific Plan,” the removal of all those trees is allowed because a “Specific Plan” overrides all 
the city ordinances and statutes if passed by the city council. However, “Mc Mansionization” 
in Sierra Madre has been successfully fought for years. We shall see what happens at the next 
Planning Commission Meeting in July. 

That is what is now being proposed in Sierra Madre, and the developer presented this to the 
Planning Commission himself. Watch the video. It is quite revealing. 

Nancy BeckhamSierra Madre Resident 

This Week’s Highlights: 


The last City Council meeting was disturbing on sev

eral levels. The petition to put the Mater Dolorosa 

property into the Hillside Management Zone, instead 

of Institutional, as it is currently zoned was presented. 

1492 residents, representing every corner of Sierra 

Madre, signed the petition; 1300 signatures were certi

fied. The four options of what to do within the required 
time frame were agendized: 1. Adopt the initiative ordinance; 2. Submit the initiative at the 
November 8 general election; 3. Call for a special election to be held before November 8; 4. Direct the 
City Attorney to prepare a report, to be reviewed within 30 days. 

As stated in last week’s column – there were 17 speakers during Public Comment. Of the 14 pro-New 
Urban West development, nearly all were Mater Dolorosa Board Members and employees. Of those 
14, 9 threatened legal action. 

Ironically, the Chair of our City’s Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Commission (EENOR), 
a former supervisor for Glendale Water and Power, gave a report, before the discussion of the 
petition, mainly on our record drought. He quoted experts who are saying they haven’t seen anything 
like this in 40 years, and we need to have meaningful changes, or we will go the way of the dodo bird. 
Isn’t that what the residents have been saying all along? How can building 42 large homes in such a 
drought be a responsible thing to do? 

There was no discussion by the Council about the first three options before they voted for Option #4, 
as was suggested by many of Mater Dolorosa’s Board Members/employees. Did the Council members 
discuss this behind closed doors, including the threatened lawsuit, as many good Sierra Madre citizens 
have speculated? 

More irony in the comments by the development crowd regardless of environmental costs: 

1. “This is spot zoning” (a favorite of theirs). “Mater Dolorosa should be treated the same way 
others are especially their neighbors.” This is exactly what the petition is attempting – every large property 
north of Grand View is in the Hillside Management Zone. 
2. “The City has not had the actual facts.” We agree with this one, just not the way Dr Doyle intended. 
We keep asking City Council to allow experts not paid for by New Urban West developers to 
speak about the environmental damage. 
3. “The petition will prohibit meaningful development.” The petition is requesting meaningful 
development by ensuring the large houses comply with the Hillside zoning for lot coverage, not “stack 
and pack” as one resident had said earlier. 
4. From Father Bruno – “We’ve always welcomed people on our property.” Is that why the gate 
at the entrance is now often locked? Residents have not been permitted to walk the grounds for over a 
5. “How will people in other cities feel about a petition signed by signature gatherers who went 
to the supermarket?” No one gathered signatures in front of a supermarket – not even Taylor’s, and as 
we spoke to several people who live in nearby communities, most said they wished they could vote in 
Sierra Madre, to vote for the petition. 
6. “The properties abutting the Monastery are zoned R-1, not to do that would be spot zoning.” 
Developer Representative Frankel said several times that the Meadows project is not R-1. 
Just as disturbing, if not more so, was the lack of discussion on a $31 Million budget. City Clerk Laura 
Aguilar had said that this discussion may take two sessions. It did take half an hour, and the Council 
members asked relevant questions. Council members did not ask any hard-hitting questions regarding 
the budget. There were no concerns about inflation or increasing expenses. There was a time when 
the budget and strategic planning were discussed in a Town Hall type forum, with community input. 
Instead, Mayor Goss said, “You've given us a lot of data to crunch. Thankfully we've done so before the 
meeting.” We’d like to know if the numbers crunching was done individually or behind closed doors? 
There was no public comment. 

City Manager Jose Reynoso has informed us that there will be a water report on the City website by 
June 24. The next Planning Commission meeting regarding The Meadows project will be July 7, 7 pm. 

City Council will be receiving a report on the ramifications of the petition by the City Attorney on July 
12, 5:30 pm. Please plan to attend both. 

Dear Editor: 

I want to thank Kevin McGuire for his reporting, keeping us informed what’s happening with the 
“Meadows” project. He explains this current proposal involves “spoiling Mater Dolorosa’s future 
building ambitions for a possible housing development, shrine, expanded retreat area, and gardens or 
paths.” It should be understood, though, that if it were just a matter of that “shrine, expanded retreat 
area, and gardens or paths”, there’d be no petition, no conflict, no threats of costly litigation – just support 
from our community. It’s only the damn “housing development” that’s the problem. 

Elsewhere in the paper, opposition to the prospect of 42 McMansions on 20 acres of our irreplaceable 
hillside is described as “religious discrimination”. Whether the development was proposed by Tibetan 
Buddhists or KB Homes, arguments in opposition would remain the same. If their strategy in garnering 
support from our community is to characterize opponents as religious bigots, they might want to 
rethink that strategy. 

Attorney Angela Hawekotte cites the 2000 Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 
which prohibits re-zoning with the intent to restrict the “religious exercise” of an institution. I think 
Sierra Madreans love having the Passionists as our neighbors, applaud the work they do, and understand 
this work entails significant costs. We also understand this project would make them a ton of 
money in pursuing this laudable work. 

The question then is who is to bear the costs. I’m sure the Passionists could provide documentation 
as to their budget and how this project would help support ongoing activities. But the costs imposed 
on the rest of us wouldn’t necessarily be dollar figures on an Excel spreadsheet – these costs would be 
significant, ongoing and irreversible – forever affecting what it is we love so much about Sierra Madre.
So – I’d give my full support to that “shrine, expanded retreat area, and gardens or paths”. But for that 
obscene housing development proposal, if the best they can do is threaten lawsuits and accuse opponents 
of religious bigotry, it just shows their tank is out of gas as far as rational argument to justify 
it – as I see it. 

Howard Hays, Sierra Madre 

Dear Editor, 

Again and again, I read stories and opinions in the “Mountain Views News” about the Meadows Project 
at Baily Canyon in Sierra Madre. 

I think that there is a either a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters or that those who comment don’t 
fully understand the issue. 

At issue is: Should the Passionist monastery be exempted from what applies to others who would want 
to engage in a similar project or should the Passionist monastery be subjected to terms and conditions 
that would normally NOT be applied to a similar entity? 

It is not an issue of religious freedom. That should not matter. It is a matter of being an entity under 
the law. If you want to be an entity under the law and receive the largesse of the law, then you must 
participate in the obligations of being an entity under the law. 

However, it is being put forth that being a religious organization under the law they should somehow 
receive largesse that is not enjoyed by entities that are not religious organizations. Being a religious 
organization, the Passionists do not pay income taxes nor do they pay property taxes.
There should be no exemptions on receipts and obligations under the law. “All is all, equal is equal.” 
I work and receive income to feed my children. I pay taxes on that income.
A non-profit can collect monies to feed children and not have to pay taxes on those monies.
So, who is paying their fair share? Me? Or a non-profit, tax-exempt entity?
That is not all, that is not equal. 

Do the Passionists want to institute legal actions to redress their grievances? Well, let them pay the 
taxes which provide legal recourses. 

I don’t care if they are a religion and want to worship the “Great Green Grasshopper God”. I should not 
be forced to pay for their freedom to do so while they do not pay for their freedom to do so. 

The issue is: Remove all tax exemptions and exclusions and have all entities under the law participate 
equally in the benefits of the law as well as the responsibilities and obligations of the law. 

Forget religious or any exemptions by class or group or membership. Apply the law equally to all entities 
under the law. All is all, equal is equal. 

Ronald Walker