Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, July 9, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 9, 2022 CONVERSATIONS.......THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 9, 2022 CONVERSATIONS.......THE MEADOWS 

You can’t pick up a paper or listen to the news 
without hearing about the drought that has 
been affecting us for a number of years. Don’t 
take our word for it. Here’s what’s been reported 
recently about our water crisis. 
The West has been suffering through an acute drought since 2020, part of a mega drought 
that began in 2000. The last 20 years have been the driest two decades in the last 1,200 
years. This year is so far the driest on record in California. 

Maintaining “critical levels” at the largest reservoirs in the United States - Lake Mead and 
Lake Powell — will require large reductions in water deliveries.

Nearly three-quarters of the Western region is in a state of severe to exceptional drought. 
Meanwhile, states like California have instituted water restrictions, though water consumption 
has continued to rise. 

With water already becoming more scarce, the increasing population in the West — and 
therefore demand for water — has inflamed the situation. 

One of the most far-reaching questions in the United States over the coming decades is 
whether growth trends will ultimately collide with nature’s ability to sustain such a large 
influx of people, Daniel Newman, the report's author, wrote. 

Fire and water 
And, unfortunately, doling out water supplies isn't the only issue residents have to contend 

Suburban neighbourhoods sprawling out into more rural areas are creating a more substantial 
wild-urban interface at the same time as the wildfire season creeps earlier and 

The current water crisis “underscores the need to prepare communities for wildfire, because 
when these large emergency incidents occur what we end up having to do is use a ton 
of water in an already water-scarce environment to suppress wildfires.” 

‘We don’t have enough water supplies right now to meet normal demand. The water is not 
there’, a Metropolitan Water District spokesperson said. January, February and March of 
this year were the driest three months in recorded state history in terms of rainfall and 
snowfall. The Metropolitan Water District said 2020 and 2021 had the least rainfall on 
record for two consecutive years. In addition, Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s main 
reservoir, reached its lowest point last year since being filled in the 1970s. 

Record dry conditions have strained the system, lowering reservoir levels, and the State 
Water Project – which gets its water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta – has 
estimated it will only be able to deliver about 5% of its usual allocation this year.
Governor Gavin Newsom has asked people to voluntarily reduce their water consumption 
by 20%, but so far residents have been slow to meet that goal. 

Just because there is an inch of undeveloped land and the possibility of another dollar in 
the pockets of the city, it doesn't mean it has to be built on. Too many people, too much 
traffic, too much pollution, not enough water. Stop building now! 


We Sierra Madreans got a letter Saturday that said "As drought conditions worsen, the 
Governor is calling on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20%." What followed 
were new water restrictions after Governor Newsom instituted an Emergency Drought 
Declaration on June 10. KNX "the 24 hour news channel" has daily information about the 
drought, which is worsening. The headline on the front page of last Saturday's LA Times 
read Where Money Flows During Drought. A Microeconomy spring forth as state's residents 
deal with water restrictions." People desperate for any water are searching for any 
source, including – a call to Underwood Water Trucks (which supplies water for special effects 
and fire safety) “…We don’t have water, can you come park your truck here so we can 
shower?” That is just one of the many calls they are getting. The Wildfire Defense System’s 
Chief Executive David Torgerson estimates there will be 100 wildfires in California with 
10,000 homes threatened this year, up from 52 wild fires last year. 

In last Tuesday's ridiculously long meeting (2 minutes short of 6 1/2 hours), the most important 
City Council agenda item was beginning at 11:20 pm. Water Superintendent Steven 
McGee gave the report, with the focus seeming to be whether we need a water moratorium. 
The City needs 2500 acre feet of water, and we have 3440 acre feet for fiscal year 
2022-2023. It would appear that we have enough water for the rest of this year, and to last 
through the projected drought for the next three years. However - only 940 acre feet of our 
water supply come from our Raymond basin, and the rest is from State water, and from the 
Colorado River. We know the Colorado River is at least partially the source of water for 
several western states and is at an all time low. 

Yet, our City lawyer Aleks Giragosian's analysis of the Water Report stated that the City has 
sufficient water supply, infrastructure and capacity to meet unconstrained and projected 
water demands. "For the reasons stated above (in the report) the City of Sierra Madre cannot 
lawfully impose a water moratorium." And yet fiscal year 2022-2023 is projected to 
be the third year of a five year drought. Mr. Giragosian also explained that because of the 
SB 330 a moratorium cannot be adopted for a development, and just because we all have 
brown lawns and dying trees, the lack of water must be a threat to public health. Okay, so 
no moratorium, at least in the immediate future. 

However -Council Member Parkhurst asked City Manager Reynoso if our 2500 acre feet 
of water is at risk, especially what we obtain from the Colorado River via the San Gabriel 
Valley Metropolitan Water District, and the City Manager admitted that it is. The water usage 
at our public parks has already been reduced. We are at Stage 2 reduction, with a likely 
possibility of going to Stage 3 next year, or possibly greater. Mr. Reynoso commented that 
education of the public is the most important aspect of water conservation. Public Comment 
was called for in the nearly deserted chambers at 11:35 pm. We definitely had several 
questions, that may or may not get answered in the future. 

Apparently we, the public, are expected and required to educate ourselves on ways to save 
water while New Urban West forges ahead with their plans to build 42 oversized houses 
on miniscule lots, which will take at least 100,000 gallons per house just to build. Add to 
that the destruction of 101 mature trees. The Specific Plan calls for planting of new trees 

- which will require large amounts of water just to keep those saplings alive. The Specific 
Plan also calls for net zero water, with New Urban West claiming that the City does not 
have to supply and pay for water for these 42 homes for the next 50 years. We were skeptical 
two years ago, and conditions have greatly worsened since then. 
No water moratorium on the horizon, even with our apparently "magical" Raymond basin 
water, but that is just one reason of why this Meadows project on the Monastery property 
is so wrong for Sierra Madre. 





Sierra Madre Neighbors for Fairness is made up of 
15+ Sierra Madreans, yet again, we are referred to 
as the “mouthpiece” of New Urban West. As former 
Citizens of the Year, Older American of the 
Year, Volunteer Firefighter, Scout Troop leader, 
Little League coach, Woman of the Year, Commission 
and committee members, and volunteers 
in many Civic Organizations, we take offense at 
this. Have you ever seen us promote the Meadows 
project? I doubt it. We support reasonable development, 
write our own articles, and decide how 
we will respond to the lies we see that are hurting 
the Passionists. 

Do you get Protect Sierra Madre-STOP Housing 
Project’s (PSMSHP) emails? Let’s look at the 
misinformation they spread just this week. Once 
again, they referred to the old maximum home 
size of 4,700 sq. ft., despite the developer agreeing 
to 3,775 sq. ft. over a month ago. They also refer 
to lot sizes “up to 7,900 sq. ft.” when actually the 
minimum lot size is 7,800 and goes up to 21,311, 
with an average is 9,532. 

Next they say that New Urban West wants the 
Planning Commission to “rubber stamp this project”. 
No, they asked that the Planning Commission 
make a formal resolution with all the changes 
they want and to send that to the City Council. 
That is the Planning Commission’s job, they do 
not approve or deny the project, the City Council 
does. Then we have PSMSHP saying the EIR is 
“extremely flawed” and that it does not capture the 
negative impacts of the project, despite the City 
Attorney saying it has what it needs. 

Once again, PSMSHP complains about traffic, 
huge McMansions, building in a Very High Fire 
Severity Zone, expanding Carter, wildlife displacement, 
cutting down over 100 trees, and they 

say they will “STOP the Destroyed Meadows” 
without telling anyone that under their initiative 
to rezone the property to a residential zone that 
the same things can happen and the Meadow will 
still be destroyed, but this time with homes up to 
6,500 sq. ft. True mansions. They also don’t tell 
you that under their initiative you will be giving 
up the three acre public park, 35 acres placed in 
conservancy, and net-zero water offsets. 

PSMSHP loves to talk about how New Urban West 
invites “out of town supporters to come out,” while 
they tell their own supporters to “bring neighbors, 
friends, anyone who cares about Sierra Madre.” 
How is that different to anyone but a hypocrite? 
Despite complaining about our ads in the newspaper 
they don’t even seem to know that we are “Sierra 
Madre Neighbors for Fairness” and not “Citizens 
for Fairness.” And like usual, they accuse us 
of spreading misinformation again without saying 
what that specifically is. 

Do we even know who the bad actors are? We 
can’t find a single name on the Stop the Housing 
Project website. With no accountability it is easy 
to spread lies. We would like to see the credentials 
of those who keep telling us how uncommitted we 
are to this city. What we do know is there are three 
neighbors of the Monastery who created the ballot 
initiative and have raised tens of thousands of 
dollars for their cause. What they don’t tell you is 
that they are not saving the meadow, won’t stop 
homes from being built, won’t save water, will still 
displace wildlife, and they won’t save 101 trees… 
oh, but for all that they are willing to trade away all 
the Passionist’s religious development rights. 

It doesn’t matter what your motivations are, we 
believe supporting PSMSHP means you are supporting 
spreading misinformation and violating 
the religious rights of the Passionists. We are fighting 
against this in the name of fairness. www.Si- 


Dear Editor:

 I didn’t intend to get into a back-and-forth on 
this, but I appreciated how the exchange in last 
week’s paper regarding the Meadows project focused 
on the problem of misinformation, and the 
importance of facts.

 Robert Gjerde confronts claims made in flyers 
from Protect Sierra Madre; their wanting to 
save the “natural beauty and tranquility of the 
meadow”, “wildlife and nesting habitats”, “quiet 
solitude of the neighborhood”, “scenic vista” and 
“last remaining parcel of land” - and tells us, 
“That is a lie”. Well - okay, then.

 In the column from Neighbors for Fairness 
(for the record - I’m a neighbor and I support 
fairness), they complain the initiative targets “a 
single institutional property . . . that applies to no 
other institution in the city”. But I know of no 
other “institution in the city” that’s proposing a 
development of 42 McMansions on our hillside. 
True, “The Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center is 
not a residential development” and “should not 
be subject to the rules of a residential zone”, but 
the “residential development” they’re proposing 
should indeed be subject to those “rules of a residential 

 In responding to my letter from the week before, 
they ask, “Where have we . . . said opposing 
the Meadows project is religious discrimination?” 
And then (a couple lines down) they 
respond to Ms. Beckham’s editorial by accusing 
her of “effectively engaging in religious discrimination”. 
No, I don’t want to “control” “someone 
else’s private property”. That’s the city’s job, and 
it’s why we have zoning ordinances.
If the initiative were to pass, they’d still be able 
to build houses and yes, Hillside Management 
zoning does allow construction up to 6,500 sq 
ft. (But to be in compliance, a house that size 
would have to sit on its own full-acre lot.) If the 
Passionists and New Urban West simply agreed 
to comply with our Hillside zoning restrictions, 
there’d be no conflict, no threatened lawsuits; 
they could still build houses – big ones – and still 

Dear Editor: 
“Oh, what tangled web we weave. . . .” You know 
the rest. It seems the Stop the Housing Project 
(STOP) and Preserve Sierra Madre (PSM) 
groups are weaving a lot of information into a 
tangled web that we are all supposed to believe as 
truth. The truth is, these groups have been fighting 
development on the Mater Dolorosa property 
long before a project was even submitted. Now 
they are trying to circumvent the due process of 
having a project fairly considered and either approved 
or disapproved by the City Council. 

Here is a little history, the Mountain Views News 
first published an article in 2013 that disclosed 

the plan by Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center to develop 
“ ’low-density housing units’ on the lower 
(southern) portion of the property”. 

In 2013, in response that that news, a coalition 
was formed by the neighbors on the west side of 
the property and at the top of Sunnyside, called 
“Stop the Monastery Housing Project”. You can 
still see those yard signs today and their “Preserve 
Mater Dolorosa and our quality of life” signs. 

Out of eight proposals, in May of 2014, the Passionists 
chose New Urban West as the developer 
to come up with a project that would fit into their 
desire to preserve the solitude of the Retreat Center 
and still be economically viable. 

Within a few months, the city had quickly passed 
a water meter moratorium that halted any plans. 
Stop the Monastery Development became Preserve 
Sierra Madre and there was a lull in opposing 
a project. In the meantime, the city created 
a new General Plan which removed the longstanding 
option to reuse the property for low-
density residential. After the moratorium was 
lifted in February 2020, things picked up again. 
PSM was neutral on the project until more details 
became available. The west side neighbors 
reorganized as STOP and realized they could 
stop both institutional development and the proposed 
Meadows project with an initiative to rezone 
the property to Hillside Residential. This 
created the crux of the Initiative which is to be on 
the ballot in November. 

make themselves a lot of money. But they’re unwilling 
to do so. 

Instead, they’re spending a lot of money and 
dragging us through this ordeal just so they won’t 
have to comply with restrictions that are there for 
a reason – restrictions that would apply to anyone 
else. Here’s how the Hillside Management 
Zone in our Municipal Code begins with its Purpose 
(for the rest, search “Sierra Madre Chapter 
17.52- H”) – and I’m wondering what there is 
here that New Urban West has a problem with:

“A. Protect the natural environment of hillside 

areas from change by preserving and protecting 

the views to and from hillside areas in the city to 

maintain the identity, image and environmental 

quality of the city;

B. Maintain an environmental equilibrium 
consistent with the native vegetation, animal 
life, geology, slopes, and drainage patterns;
C. Facilitate hillside preservation through the 
development standards and guidelines set forth 
in this chapter; to direct and encourage development 
that is sensitive to the unique characteristics 
of the hillside areas in the city, which include, 
but are not limited to, slopes, land forms, 
vegetation and scenic quality . . .” 
It all boils down to the developer’s refusal to 
proceed under our Hillside zoning restrictions – 
what the initiative calls for – regardless of the cost 
to our community. As I see it, they should let us 
know specifically what it is in these restrictions 
they can’t accept and why they’re so determined 
to reject them. Simply insisting they should be 
exempt from our rules doesn’t help.

 They also complain about my having expressed 
“love about the city without saying what that 
was”. With the column unsigned, I can’t imagine 
that anyone who lives here would need an explanation. 
For those who don’t understand the love 
we have for Sierra Madre – 
“If you don’t know what it is, don’t mess with it.” 

- Fats Waller 
Howard Hays, Sierra Madre 

Through a joint Memorandum of Understanding 
which was requested by the City, the Passionists 
agreed to give a number of concessions to benefit 
the city worth many millions of dollars. As a 
result, a comprehensive project was presented to 
the city, including an increase in the gross floor 
area in exchange for the concessions. All of this 
is at risk now with the initiative, which will not 
only allow homes to be developed on the southern 
portion of the property but also where the 
Retreat Center is. The initiative will monetize 
and incentivize the entire property for residential 

So, here we are, with the Passionists facing a 
forced rezoning that will strip them of their religious 
institutional development rights, disallowing 
any future expansion or significant physical 
alteration or change of use of their existing buildings. 
Plus the opponents engage in ad hominem 
attacks by calling the Passionists a “bad neighbor” 
for following the legal process of a Specific 
Plan to develop a low-density residential project, 
an explicit right that they had up until seven 
years ago. 

We agree, that no one should be subjected to 
misinformation. So, how about telling all of the 
truth about what is being taken away from the 
Passionists and the impact on their property. 
How about not weaving half-truths and misinformation 
by telling residents they will not lose 
their wildlife, tranquility of the meadow, less 
traffic, and no McMansions under the initiative 
when in reality the entire property can be developed 
with mansions up to 6,500 sq. ft. in size. If 
the initiative passes the Passionists will be faced 
with a choice, either sue the city or sell the entire 
property to a developer who can build 30+ 6,500 
sq. ft. homes with almost no oversight. The citizens 
of Sierra Madre deserve to know the truth. 
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we 
practice to deceive.” –Sir Walter Scott. 

De and Pat Alcorn, approaching five decades in 
Sierra Madre 

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