Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, July 2, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page A:2

Mountain View News Saturday, July 2, 2022 2 CONVERSATIONS......THE MEADOWS 
Mountain View News Saturday, July 2, 2022 2 CONVERSATIONS......THE MEADOWS 


If you attended any part of last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, or watched from home, 
then you know it was a very strange meeting in a very strange and unsettling year of 
strange meetings. The biggest issue that City Council faces is the McMansion project of 
42 inappropriately large homes on the Mater Dolorosa property, and one of the biggest 
issues about the project is the lack of water, not only in Sierra Madre, but all over California. 
We can’t turn on the TV, pick up a paper, without being told that there is no water to 
be had – we’re in year three of another severe drought. The authorities are saying that in 
the LA area we don’t have enough water to last out the summer. 

So what was on the agenda Tuesday night? – 

1. Presentation by PUSD Board Member Tina Fredericks and Dr Elizabeth 
Blanco. Kudos to the Council members who took Ms Fredericks, 
our representative but a Pasadena resident, to task, about Sierra Madre’s 
“poor stepchild” status. 

2. Police Department Annual Presentation 
3. Fire Department Annual Presentation 
4. Proclamation in Recognition of July as Park and Recreation Month 
All were thorough reports with a few questions thrown in by the Council members. Did 
these four presentations really need to be made at the same meeting – especially since 
Mayor Goss prides himself on running a very short meeting? 

Next on the Agenda (after moving the City Classification Plan and Salary Matrix to the 
last item on the Agenda) were Public Hearings amending the Temporary Use Permits 
of the Municipal Code, and Amending Commercial Photography and Motion Picture 
Filming of the Municipal Code. 

These are particularly hot button issues, which came to light when an Alverno neighbor 
discovered that the latest filming company had forged 100% of the signatures that are 
necessary to proceed. The answer at the suggestion of the City’s lawyer Giragosian was 
to amend the code so that no signatures were needed. 

The concerned neighbors took their many issues to the Planning Commission, then the 
Community Services Commission, and now City Council. Their concerns were late 
nights of filming, excessively loud noise and increased traffic; exacerbated by lack of cooperation 
from the Alverno Staff, the City, and from the Police Department when called. 

The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees said that the City is discriminating against 
Alverno. He also said that one of the disgruntled neighbors “has been seen fraternizing 
with a member of the City Council.” Hmm, such a familiar ring to those statements - 
similar to the Mater Dolorosa Board, and their “religious discrimination” argument. Because 
this was such a big issue, with lots of moving parts, City Council chose to continue 
this and put it on the July 12 Agenda. 

Council Member Kriebs wanted to proceed with voting on these issues, because she said 
there are other issues with time limits they need to address. Might this be for the alternatives 
to the petition, or was she referring to New Urban West’s Jonathan Frankel insisting 
that he had a time limit for his investors in the Meadows project? We don’t know, and the 
other four did not agree with rushing it through. 

As the meeting was already past the five hour mark, the Council agreed to move Commissions 
appointments to next on the Agenda. Several of the candidates spoke - the 
Council voted. 

Moving right along, next on the Agenda was the most important issue by far – the Fiscal 
Year 2022/2023 Annual Water Supply and Demand Assessment. Many residents had 
been in attendance, hoping to speak on this critical issue, but as it was 11:30 pm, everyone 
in Chambers had gone home. Whatever happened to the policy implemented 
several years ago to not discuss a new issue after 10:30 pm? 

Next week we’ll report on this issue that is so critical for all of us. Don’t forget the July 
7 Planning Commission meeting, 7 pm, of the continuation of their discussion of the 
Meadows project. Plan to come early to get a seat. Happy Fourth! 

TO BE FRANK...... 

There are a few points about the proposed 
housing project and initiative at Mater Dolorosa 
that need to be clarified. 

First and foremost, the initiative was drafted 

in direct response to the Meadows Project 

because that project is excessive on multiple 

levels, in terms of likely water usage during 

and after construction, wildfire danger, and 
its failure to adhere to the general plan and municipal code. The initiative is a good 
compromise, as it allows for development of the Mater Dolorosa property without over-
development. Currently the Mater Dolorosa property is one of the only large properties 
that is not protected by a zoning designation of Open Space or Hillside Residential. And 
while, of course, the Retreat Center has property rights, that doesn’t mean they can build 
whatever they want. Like all Sierra Madre residents, we have property rights, too. But, 
given the size of our lots, we would never be able to get the permits to build massive 
houses on the small lots that New Urban West is proposing to build and to stack - side 
by side in the Meadows development. We simply can’t fathom why Mater Dolorosa and 
New Urban West should be able to exceed the maximum allowable floor area for a given 
lot size by up to 215%. The petition was circulated to put the initiative on the ballot for 
Sierra Madre residents to vote on whether Mater Dolorosa should follow the same zoning 
regulations as the rest of us do. 

Second, good neighbors behave the opposite of Mater Dolorosa. Good neighbors don’t 
ask for special privileges, they tell the truth and don’t cast aspersions. They abide by the 
rules, and they don’t threaten lawsuits if things don’t go their way. 

Third, during the June 14 city council meeting, there were several comments about what 
could and could not be done under the initiative with the Retreat Center having nonconforming 
use status. The Passionists can continue doing everything they have been 
doing. Changing to residential hillside zoning does not infringe on their religious freedom 
or their ability to complete their mission. They can install solar panels. They can 
remodel in any way they want. As would be needed for any remodel, they would need 
a permit; they would obtain a minor conditional use permit under the non-conforming 
uses ordinance. 

Look at the Kensington after Measure V passed. The owner worked with the City to 
make this the best product you see, and the voters heartily endorsed it. This can happen 
too - if Mater Dolorosa wants to expand and build something. 

There was a statement in the Mountain Views News by John Doyle stating that putting 
the petition on the ballot would cost $50,000. We don't know where Mr. Doyle came up 
with that figure and acknowledge that it didn’t come from an informed city source. City 
Clerk Aguilar was contacted regarding what the actual cost would be and she responded 
that she is unable to provide the cost of just the initiative as invoices sent by the County 
for elections are not itemized. 

In conclusion, threatening lawsuits is not neighborly, and no one should be subjected 
to any more bullying, misinformation, or fear-mongering. The initiative deserves to be 
discussed and voted on by Sierra Madre residents based on its merits. It’s what civil discourse 
and democracy are all about. 

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