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

MVNews this week:  Page A:3

3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 2, 2022 CONVERSATIONS.......THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 2, 2022 CONVERSATIONS.......THE MEADOWS 

It is hard to believe but I’ve been involved in the “Monastery” discussion for 
years now. The more I read about it the more compelled I am to push for 
the truth. I’ve tried being charitable, pointing out misinformation when I 
see it and giving people a chance to correct their errors, but this is getting 
old. It is now safe to conclude that some people don’t care if they spread lies. 

When the initiative was put forward as a way to save the meadow, I spent 
many weekends in public places like Kersting Ct. and Memorial Park with 
those who were collecting signatures. I tried to help get accurate information 
to people. Some were interested in hearing what I had to say but most 
refused to even listen. 

As they neared the end of the signature collection period things got more 
intense. I endured one “gentleman” getting right in my face and screaming 
at me for a num-ber of minutes. Even one of the proponents of the initiative 
could not get the man to stop yelling. Less than an hour later I heard someone 
say something which was blatantly false and I said, “that’s not true,” only 
to have a signature collector yell “F___ OFF!” (or something similar). Why 
are they afraid of the truth? 

All of this only makes me more intent on getting the facts out to the public, 
de-spite the screaming and the name calling. I do this on my own time. I 
am not paid by the developer. I have no connection to the Passionists or the 
Catholics, but it is wrong to spread lies in an attempt to get your way. 

Those opposed to the development often make vague accusations of others 
spread-ing misinformation. This, itself, has become a weekly misinformation 
campaign. Have they ever stated what this supposed misinformation 
is? I don’t mean a differ-ence is subjective opinions, but actual lies. This 
happened again in an editorial just last week where a lady accused the Passionists 
and New Urban West of spreading “most of ” the misinformation. 
Of course, she didn’t say what that misinformation was. They rarely, if ever, 

The clearest example of lies comes from Protect Sierra Madre’s own flyer. 
Numer-ous times it was pointed out that it misrepresented the project and 
that the initia-tive would not do what they were saying it would. Rezoning 
the property to the Hillside Residential Zone still means the property will 
be subdivided and sold for residential development. 

It also means that 6500 sq. ft. homes can be built there. Not “Mc Mansions”, 
but true Mansions! Their flyer suggests that signing the initi-ative will save 
the “natural beauty and tranquility of the meadow.” That is a lie. That “wildlife 
and nesting habitats” will be saved. That is a lie. That the “quiet sol-itude 
of the neighborhood” will be saved. That is a lie. That the “scenic vista” will 
be saved. That is a lie. And that the “last remaining open parcel of land” will 
be saved. That, too, is a lie. 

It is time to stop the lies. This sort of extremism fits right in with the overreaching 
initiative which has no regard for the rights of the Passionists. 
Collecting signa-tures under false pretenses might be legal, but it doesn’t 
represent the sort of Sierra Madre I want to live in. 

Robert Gjerde, 25 year resident, Citizen of the Year, active volunteer in numerous 


We see a lot of pushback on the claims of religious discrimination. Let’s be clear, if the Initiative results 
in religious discrimination then the legal threats are warranted. We have discussed why this is the case 
many times. There were a few responses in last week’s paper, none of which showed that the threats were 

Preserve Sierra Madre stated that we often mention “spot-zoning.” That is because it is literally spot-zoning 
to target a single institutional property for downzoning that applies to no other institution in the city. 
That is not hyperbole. The Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center is not a residential development and should 
not be subject to the rules of a residential zone in opposition to General Plan Objectives and Policies L41 
providing for Institutional uses. The Initiative states it will remove the Passionist’s institutional development 
rights and make them a nonconforming use. 

Mr. Hays commented in his editorial that those opposing the initiative were “out of gas” and had to resort 
to threats and accusing people of being religious bigots. “Bigot” is his word, not ours. Nowhere did he 
show the claim relating to legal issues to be invalid. Instead he took an irrelevant jab at the Passionists for 
making a “ton” of money on the property that they invested in 100 years ago. He mentioned irreversible 
decisions forever affecting what we love about the city without saying what that was. Did he mean he loves 
someone else’s private property and wants to control it? Houses are coming either way. He also opposes 
the (maximum of 3775 sq. ft.) McMansions but doesn’t seem to be concerned with the 6500 sq. ft. homes 
that can be built if the initiative passes. Worst of all, he thinks our complaint of discrimination is related to 
the development. We have stated multiple times that our complaint, and the Passionists’, is against illegal 
downzoning of the Retreat Center. Where have we, or any one on this side of the discussion, said opposing 
the Meadows project is religious discrimination? That is the other side’s strawman. 

In Ms. Beckham’s editorial she stated that she is not anti-Catholic. That’s nice, but if you support illegally 
taking away the Passionist’s development rights then you are effectively engaging in religious discrimination, 
no matter how good your intentions are. Now, please tell us all, what is this misinformation that the 
property owner and developer are spreading? Regarding the planning commission “refusing” to give into 
pressure to send the project to the City Council, you understand that is their job, right? Why is it bad to 
ask the commission to do their job? As the city’s legal counsel stated, it is the developer’s right to ask at any 
time that the project be sent to the city council with whatever recommendations they want. 

Then we have Mr. Walker’s odd claim that those who don’t fully understand the issues are either deliberately 
obfuscating them or don’t know what they are talking about. Can we safely assume that he understands 
the issues? If that is the case then why is he stating that the Passionists are asking to be exempted 
from what applies to other untaxed nonprofit institutions in the city? The Specific Plan process is available 
to any land owner. Also, does he not understand that the legal recourse has nothing to do with the 
proposed Meadows project and everything to do with taking away the Passionists' development rights for 
the existing Retreat Center? Is he purposefully muddying the waters or has he just not taken the time to 
understand the issues? 

We are Sierra Madre neighbors opposed to the initiative targeting the Monastery 

John Doyle 

Lived in Sierra Madre for 10 years 

"The initiative violates fundamental property 
rights and the first amendment right to practice 

It will cost city taxpayers at least $50,000 to place 
this petition on the ballot which is an unnecessary 
waste of taxpayer money. 

Sierra Madre taxpayers would have to pay." 

Ad paid for by Sierra Madre Neighbors for Fairness, a Coalition of Local Residents, Taxpayers, and Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center; 
Committee major funding from New Urban West 

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