Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, July 30, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

HISTORY (continued from page 1)

is being pushed through relatively unimpeded 
and appears destined to get a zoning 
change and a waiver that will allow for 
42 track homes to be built in such a structure 
size and lot size that is not allowed 
under our current zoning code, codes 
the rest of us must adhere to. Residents 
of Sierra Madre will have no say in this 
process (other than pesky, unaddressed 
monologues at city meetings) approving a 
project that doesn’t meet the general plan 
and our building codes. By the time the 
project gets jammed through, it will be 
too late for residents to do anything about 
it. Naturally, residents who understand 
this have reached the point of not trusting 
our city council.

 Our city council, likely thinking back to 
the legal opinion backfire of Measure V, 
appears to have left less to chance by not 
hiring an independent law firm to evaluate 
the Mater Dolorosa Hillside Zoning 
Initiative. Instead, they were provided a 
flawed evaluation by the city’s attorney. It 
appears to have given them enough cover 
to proclaim immediately their opposition 
to the initiative. No independent thought 
on their part, no analysis, no reflection. At 
least none provided publicly. The evaluations 
were surprisingly quick, though as 
we have learned from the past, inevitable.

 With all this in mind, we need to be reminded 
of the claims that were made by 
city council and other anti-Measure V 
supporters at the time because the playbook 
and claims sound very similar to today 
and the evidence is now in. History is 
the best teacher and proved them wrong, 
if not corrupt. Following is a review of 
some of the most popular claims against 
Measure V and how things fared 15 years 

1. The initiative was going to cause 
developers to build strip malls and chain 
stores downtown. – Clearly this did not 

2. Major drafting error means voters 
will not get to approve individual 
projects. Drafters of the initiative made a 
major error when they created the initiative. 
– At least one project that proposed 
to exceed standards came to a vote and it 
was approved by the residents. It worked 
as expected. 

3. Pushes development into residential 
neighborhoods because there is a conflict 
between the initiative and state law. – The 
state is doing all it can to force unwanted 
development on citizens but the Measure 
V initiative did not result in additional 
residential development and, anyway, a 
developer can successfully build a project 
in town by way of a vote of the residents.

4. Taxpayers will foot the bill for 
Measure V votes for tens or hundreds of 
thousands of dollars, not the developers. 
– there is certainly some cost to include 
a vote during a regular voting cycle but 
it has been minimal at most (in fact not 
even mentioned) and certainly worth it.

5. The city will face a cascade of lawsuits. 
– no known lawsuits attributed to 
Measure V except the early failed attempt 
to stop it from allowing citizens to vote on 
it. This boogeyman is wheeled out at every 
opportunity. Legal threats by developers 
are assured when they don’t get their 
way but this is not reason to roll over.

6. Some people want no new development 
at all, but Measure V takes that 
choice away from us and leaves us with 
bad development. – Clearly that claim is 
put to rest.

7. The money wasted on the initiative 
and lawsuits will result in higher taxes to 
residents. – No wasted money or higher 
taxes has been attributed to Measure V. 
This is always a favorite of anyone opposing 
an initiative, especially when they lack 
grounds to address the initiative itself.

8. The flaws in Measure V are so severe 
that the measure doesn't even do what its 
proponents say it will do. – This statement 
was clearly proven wrong.

 There are similarities in what is being 
said today of the current initiative we have 
before us. Indeed, some of these same arguments 
and the consequent temper tantrums 
have already begun to emerge. Did 
the people who made the anti-Measure V 
claims ever come back and say they were 
wrong, as they so clearly were. Of course 
not, that is not to be expected. But thankfully, 
voters saw through their lies and the 
city has greatly benefited from the efforts 
of those residents who fought so hard to 
preserve Sierra Madre. 



Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 30, 2022 



 Thank you, Susan, for publishing the ‘Meadows’ arguments. I really appreciate your 
showing all sides/opinions. No, I have not made up my mind, yet; I’m just starting to 
‘READ’ the arguments.

Alice Clark, Sierra Madre


The proposed Meadows project has been a very contentious topic in the city. We have Preserve Sierra 
Madre and Protect Sierra Madre supporting the initiative which will stop the Meadows project. One 
needs to ask, “What is their true goal?”


Are they really looking out for the best interests of Sierra Madre or are they just opposing a project, or any 
project, that is put on the table? You only need to look at their underlying arguments to find the truth.


Protect Sierra Madre is the group of three neighbors of the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center who created 
the ballot initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to protect the hillside environment from a residential 
project that is being built 500’ away from the mountains. They plan on doing this by rezoning the entire 
property to the Hillside residential zone which will allow 68 - 6,500 square foot mansions to be built right 
up to the mountains. They are promoting the opposite of what they are arguing. 


Preserve Sierra Madre’s mission statement says they support responsible development and that they “have 
worked hard to prevent over-development and mansionization and to protect our historic properties and 
open spaces.” They also say, “We have all seen firsthand, in Arcadia, what can happen to neighborhoods 
under a development free-for-all.” Yet they, too, are supporting the initiative that will allow 68 – 6,500 
square foot Arcadia-style mansions to be built in Sierra Madre with very little oversight. They are promoting 
the opposite of what they are arguing.


Both groups speak of protecting the rights of property owners, saving “meadow,” the open space, the 
wildlife habitat, and the vistas. They talk about the need to conserve water, stop the supposed fire danger 
from homes being built in the foothills, the problems of construction noise and pollution, and the reality 
of increased traffic. Their initiative will not prevent any of these things from happening! They are also 
willing to strip away the rights of a property owner to get their way, putting the city at serious risk of being 
sued. They are hypocritically doing the opposite of what they are arguing. This is how we know their 
true intent is just to stop the currently proposed project at all costs and not to Preserve or Protect Sierra 


The initiative that is being promoted makes just about everything worse for the city with big mansions, 
no park, no hillsides in conservancy, and no net-zero water offsets. We at Sierra Madre Neighbors for 
Fairness are for responsible development and think the supporters of the initiative will be making the 
exact same arguments against any future projects. We respect the rights of property owners, including 
the Passionists, and want to see the best project for the city. We support the city leaders to make the best 
decision taking all factors into account. The initiative must be defeated. Join us at www.sierramadreneighborsforfairness.

News | Sierra Madre Neighbors for Fairness


At their July 12th meeting, the City Council 
voted to place the “Stop Development” 
Initiative on the November 8th General 
Election Ballot. They did so after reviewing 
a 42-page Staff Report from the City’s 
Attorney, and after a lengthy presentation 
by the City Attorney giving facts, figures, 
risks and positives. Each Council Member, 
as required, gave an individual appraisal 
to either support the Initiative or 
oppose it. All five members of the Council 
voted to oppose it. 

The main reason given was that changing 
the zoning to Hillside Residential would 
open the door to development with houses 
of up to 6500 Sq. Ft. Also was the consideration 
that State mandates of allowing lot 
splits, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) 
– which are detached living units, would 
be allowed along with Jr. ADU’s that are 
attached living units to incorporated in a 
main residence. This, along with a chance 
that the initiative would be declared biased 
against a religious institution was all 
the Council Members needed to be convinced 
the Initiative was poorly designed 
and ill-conceived.

 The members of the City Council 
thoughtfully considered what was right 
for the City of Sierra Madre, and what was 
right for their Citizens. They represent All 
of Sierra Madre, not just a few neighbors 
looking out for their own interests. The 
proponents insist that the 1300 signatures 
on their petition are enough to provide a 
definitive majority. However, many voters 
in the City have not had a chance to 
review or understand the ramifications of 
this initiative.

At their Council Meeting on July 26, each 
Council member affirmed their opposition 
to the Initiative while discussing their 
draft argument against the ballot measure.

 Let’s hope that the voters of our fair City 
will understand the consequence of such 
a blatant attempt to undermine the planning 
process of the city against a property 
owner who in good faith, applied for a fair 
hearing for their project. Vote No on the 
destructive Initiative being placed on the 

Pat Alcorn, Sierra Madre



This is getting so tedious countering the 
lies bought and paid for by New Urban 
West. As I gathered signatures for the 
well-designed initiative to give residents 
the vote as to whether New Urban West 
developers should be allowed to make up 
their own rules regarding building in a 
very high fire zone, many people told me, 
“The fix is already in. I’ll sign, but this 
City Council is already in the pocket of 
the developer.” Another favorite, “Money 
talks.” I argued with them at the time, 
said that City Council is doing the best 
they can, and attempting to keep an open 
mind. Sadly, they were right, and I was so 
wrong, evidenced by:

1. The many full page ads, paid for 
by New Urban West that leads us to believe 
it is the nebulous Neighbors for Fairness 
(what an oxymoron of a name!) The 
latest puts our very own Mayor Goss promoting 
a lie that 42 large homes crammed 
together on very small lots is more Sierra 
Madre than fewer homes on larger lots, 
with less destruction of the environment, 
saying about the voters’ initiative “There 
is no way I could support anything like 
that. I think that is just not Sierra Madre.” 
So, Mayor Goss, how does it feel to be blatantly 
so biased in a full page ad paid for 
by a developer?

2. Two pro initiative speakers before 
City Council were cut off by Mayor Goss 
even before their three minutes were up. 
Gary Hood took him to task for cutting 
people off in the middle of a sentence. He 
tried to lamely backtrack and say he didn’t 
do that – even though he just had, twice, 
as he has often done in the past.

3. Council Member Kriebs, the liaison 
to the Planning Commission, but seldom 
in attendance, was missing but sent 
in an email. More evidence that the fix is 
in – where are the emails from concerned 
citizens to the Council describing the 
Hillside Management ordinance? Obviously 
not read by the Council as it continues 
to appear that they have not read the 
ordinance and are clueless. 

4. Mayors Arizmendi and Goss repeatedly 
not only refused to allow impartial 
experts not paid for by New Urban 
West to speak before Council, but they 
also refused reading their letters to the 
Council so the public could hear. These 
letters refute the “facts,” as the paid for by 
New Urban West. Gary Hood’s comment 
on Tuesday night: Bats don’t come out on 
a 9 to 5 schedule (when one biologist “expert” 
observed them one day). Observe 
them at night when they are more active.

5. It is written into the Development 
Agreement that any lawsuits against the 
City for approving the development will 
be paid for by New Urban West. The City 
can fear a lawsuit from the developer, but 
don’t have to worry about the cost of a 
lawsuit filed by the residents. No wonder 
NUW is spending thousands on misleading 

Sadly, since it is readily apparent that the 
Council has already made up its collective 
mind to go lockstep approving the 
ill-conceived project, even before hearing 
the Planning Commission’s recommendations, 
what can we do? 

1. Take whatever Council says/
writes with a grain of salt, after all, they get 
their information from the City lawyer, 
who collaborates with New Urban West 
for the “facts.” And they have failed to 
demonstrate that they have read the many 
documents produced for the project.

2. Write to the Council to let them 
know how disappointing their behavior 
is. Addresses are: first letter first name, 
last name (eg. 

3. Vote for the initiative on November 
8 – tell your friends how biased Council 
is on this project! 

4. Think about running for City 
Council yourself, or any one you know 
who would care about Sierra Madre. Papers 
must be filed by August 11. Call City 
Clerk Laura Aguilar, 626-355-7135 for 
more information. 


The decision of the City Council to oppose the proposed Initiative 
at their last meeting was particularly disappointing because 
it was clear that our City Council is willing to make decisions 
without knowing the facts and issues. Critically, they are willing 
to argue their opinions to citizens who assume (incorrectly) that 
they would only express such important opinions after significant 
thought and study. 

It is now clear that none of the Council members are familiar 
with the provisions of the Sierra Madre Hillside Ordinance which has been in place since 1994 and will govern 
any development under the Initiative. Mayor Goss was very emphatic in saying that he and Council member 
Arizmendi fought very hard when working on the 2015 General Plan and Zoning ordinances to keep McMansions 
out of our City. 

They are now not aware that our Hillside Ordinance permitted the size homes they are now horrified by. That 
Ordinance has been approved and supported by City Councils for years and lauded for its protections of both 
the environment and the character of our city. 

That Ordinance recognizes that owners of very large properties should be able to get an appropriate financial 
benefit by selling their land, while also protecting the environment. The Hillside Ordinance, like all other land 
use plans in our City, provides that large houses should be on large lots and should be regulated to provide the 
least possible impact to the environment or to the aesthetics of the City. 

Apparently every one of our City Council is suddenly opposed to the protections of an Ordinance that have 
been in place and part of our City regulations for almost three (3) decades? An ordinance which was specifically 
enacted and approved by our City Councils to PROTECT our Wildland Urban Interface. Does this 
council feel that all those enactments over so many years were “misguided”? If so, why have they left them in 
place since 1994? 

Or is it only if they are applied to the Monastery property? 

There were many misstatements by the Council that are concerning, and we will address them going forward. 

The most inaccurate arguments against the initiative were made by Councilmember Parkhurst (who we 
thought would be MOST familiar with the strong environmental protections of our Hillside Ordinance). 
Clearly he is not. He expressed three concerns that he erroneously argued as "facts". 

Argument #1 

“The Initiative will not promote all electric homes, which is something I have pushed very hard for”. 

In many ads and mailers, the Developer has claimed that the Project will have “All electric homes.” The truth 
is that all homes will have the “option” to be all electric. The ‘all electric’ claim is not true. Gas lines will be run 
to EVERY house. Like all developments, if all buyers choose all electric it will be an all-electric development. 
If all choose gas - it will be an all-gas development. 

The Development Agreement, if read by Council members, states clearly under the developer’s obligations 
that they will: (h) Encourage Electric Appliances by providing pamphlets, signage, model home and a website 
touting the benefits of electric.

In an email to the former city manager when asked if they have built all electric developments, the developer’s 
rep responded that ‘In the lower end of the market, we are looking into this but at the high end we really need 
to go with gas for cooking and heat etc. Hope that is not an issue. At the 2 mil price point people want big gas 
wolf and Viking ranges’. 

The developer never had ANY intention of making it an all electric development and never expected buyers 
to choose all electric! 

Argument #2 “The Initiative doesn’t address anything about wildlife”. Again, if read by council members, 
among the listed “Purposes of the Hillside Zone” are B. Maintain an environmental equilibrium consistent 
with the native vegetation, animal life, geology, slopes, and drainage patterns; and D. Ensure that development 
in the hillside areas is located so as to result in the least environmental impact; Factually, this Section of the 
Hillside Management Plan definitely does address wildlife!

Argument #3 “The Initiative permits No Influence in Design”. 

As stated in the Hillside Zone Ordinance, its Purposes are to: 

D.Ensure that development in the hillside areas is located so as to result in the least environmental impact;

E.Ensure that all hillside development is designed to fit the existing land form;

F.Preserve significant natural features of hillside areas, including swales, canyons, knolls, ridgelines, and rock 
outcrops. Development may necessarily affect natural features; therefore, a major design criterion for all hillside 
development shall be the minimization of impacts on such natural features;

H, Correlate intensity of development to steepness of terrain to minimize grading, removal of natural vegetation; 
and to prevent the creation of land instability or fire hazards;

I.Provide, in hillside areas, alternative approaches to conventional flat-land development practices by achieving 
land use patterns and intensities that are consistent with the natural features of hillside areas;

J.Encourage the planning, design, development and use of home sites which: 4. Use proper construction materials, 
and 5. Make best use of natural terrain.

The entire Hillside Ordinance is at: Chapter 17.52 - H HILLSIDE MANAGEMENT ZONE | Code of Ordinances 
| Sierra Madre, CA | Municode Library. It contains six lengthy sections that influence design: Sections 
17.52.120 to 17.52.170. 

We hope all Council members will take the time to read and familiarize themselves with the Ordinance that 
they seem to have decided is “wrong for our city” or specifically, the “monastery parcel.” 

And we hope that all City Council members will recognize their duty to personally read our ordinances, the 
final EIR, Specific Plan and other relevant documents to learn the facts for themselves and not rely on Staff 
presentations before presenting their "facts" to their constituents! Those who elected them expect no less. 

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