Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, August 6, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 6, 2022 CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 6, 2022 

It is remarkable, that in all of the 
thousands of pages, hundreds of 
charts and drawings, and dozens 
of meetings, we still don’t know 

what the Meadows Project really looks like. The only glimpse we have had 
is a multi-coloured rendering of the entrance at Sunnyside looking up at an 
angle towards the mountains. We see the tops of three homes peeking out 
from overgrown shrubs, tall grasses and mature trees. And the first thought 
that comes to mind is: Wow, what a fire hazard! 

There are no other scale, life like renderings of the project from any perspective......
walking or driving down the streets, looking north or south, east or 
west. No aerial shots looking down on the project. At this stage of the review, 
and since July 2021, we have only seen a plot plan showing 4 

It is remarkable, that in all of the thousands of pages, hundreds of charts and 
drawings, and dozens of meetings, we still don’t know what the Meadows 
Project really looks like. The only glimpse we have had is a multi-coloured 
rendering of the entrance at Sunnyside looking up at an angle towards the 
mountains. We see the tops of three homes peeking out from overgrown 
shrubs, tall grasses and mature trees. And the first thought that comes to 
mind is: Wow, what a fire hazard! 

There are no other scale, life like renderings of the project from any perspective......
walking or driving down the streets, looking north or south, east or 
west. No aerial shots looking down on the project. At this stage of the review, 
and since July 2021, we have only seen a plot plan showing 4 
rows of rectangles situated on 5 streets. 

The latest plot plan below shows what looks like pieces of a puzzle. This is 
supposed to show us what the Project looks like. 

Strangely puzzling in these times of incredible technology and computer programs, 
that we are not seeing this project ‘up close and personal’. Why are 
we not taking a leisurely stroll on our computers down the street through this 
planned development and looking to our left and right-seeing the various 
home designs as they are planned, seeing how close they are to each other, 
how tall they are, how big the front and back setbacks are, what size the yards 
are, what ‘lot coverage’ really looks like, what the proposed mix of predominately 
two story homes looks like, what the retaining walls look like, what the 
landscaping looks like, how the views are affected and much more. 

We all know the saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and recognize 
how much information is conveyed visually. It begs the question why we are 
not ‘seeing’ this Project . 

We know that the meadow will be heavily graded in order to fit a housing 
project that belongs on a flat piece of land and put it on a hillside. There are 
no renderings of what this will look like. 

 We now know the Project has gone from mostly single story homes that 
‘reflect the character of the surrounding neighbourhood’ to a majority of two 
story homes with only twelve single story homes. There are no pictures of 
what this will look like. 

We know that this Project was designed ‘to retain the small town, eclectic 
character that is cherished by the community’ and ‘promote compatibility 
with the immediately adjacent neighbours.’ It is creating this vision by installing 
‘buffers’ or barriers on all four sides to physically isolate it from the 
community it desires to be a part of - and that is being touted as a Project 
benefit. All it needs is a gate at the entrance to complete the picture. 

We now know that the Project will require additional water usage from construction 
and the addition of over 400 small trees that will require regular 
water during the first years of their growth. There has been no update on 
projected water usage. 

As the vagueness and lack of detail in the developer’s ‘Specific Plan’ is questioned 
during public meetings and comments, it continues to raise questions 
about what we are not being told and what they are hiding that remains to 
be uncovered. 


There are so many problems with 
the “Protect Sierra Madre – STOP 
the Housing Project” initiative that it 
is hard to believe someone actually 
designed it thinking it would benefit 
the City. We now know that the 
initiative allows 68 mansions to be 
built at the Monastery with little city 
oversight and exposes all taxpayers 
to significant legal liabilities. That is 
probably why our City Council and 
Mayor unanimously voted to oppose 
this ill-conceived measure. 

Why are these self-proclaimed “Protectors” 
and “Preservers” of Sierra 
Madre arguing so adamantly for the 
city to give up a free public park, lose 
40 acres of hillside placed in conservancy, 
and do away with almost $1 
million in net-zero water offsets, all 
to change the zoning so it will allow a 
bunch of mansions to be built? They 
don’t appear to be incompetent because 
all three proponents appear to 
have extensive legal training. 

There is a deeper story here. It 
would be naïve to think that the 
three people who sponsored this initiative 
simply didn’t know what they 
were doing. 

Most disturbingly, we recently 
learned that one of the most public 

and vocal backers of this measure is 
also a senior vice president for a Beverly 
Hills homebuilder who refers to 
themselves as “the world's leading 
developer and operator of luxury 
private residential communities.” 
They specialize in building 5,000 - 
12,000 square foot mansions, exactly 
the size structures that can be built if 
their initiative passes. 

Of course, the initiative proponents 
didn’t tell their supporters that their 
measure was literally sponsored 
by a senior executive with a luxury 
homebuilder when they asked folks 
to sign. This initiative would “stop 
the housing project” they told voters. 
This is a bait and switch of epic 

As we have been told many times 
by those supporting the initiative, 
“follow the money.” The initiative 
doesn’t protect the hillside environment 
but it does greatly increase the 
value of the 45 acres that the Passionist’s 
Retreat Center sits on because 
it makes it possible to develop the 
entire property with mansions. The 
initiative incentivizes the Passionists 
to leave the city and sell out to a large 
luxury residential developer, just 
like a proponent happens to work 

for, where 68 identical homes can be 
built and the city will not be able to 
stop them if the initiative passes. 

It is safe to assume that these initiative 
boosters know exactly what 
they are doing. If they did their due-
diligence then they also knew it was 
likely that the city council would 
come out against the initia-tive and 
possibly not defend it in a lawsuit. 
Why are these three legal experts 
willing to personally take on the risk 
of paying hundreds of thousands 
of dollars to defend the inevitable 
lawsuit if the city decides not to? Or 
possibly costing them millions of 
dollars in damages if the city loses a 
First Amendment RLUIPA case? Do 
the proponents have so much gambled 
here that they will defend the 
initiative themselves to protect their 

Are they incompetent or is this just a 
very carefully thought out plan? You 
decide. Like they keep tell-ing us… 
follow the money. 

News | Sierra Madre Neighbors for 



Last week’s Mountain Views News 
was full of unintended irony. A front 
page article compared the fight for 
Measure V in 2007 to the fight to 
put the Mater Dolorosa property 
into the Hillside Management Zone. 
Doing this would ensure that the developer, 
New Urban West follow the 
same building codes as the rest of 
us, rather than making up their own 
codes in their Specific Plan, or as one 
resident called it “their Special Plan.” 

All kinds of dire consequences were 
promised if Measure V passed. Instead 
of approximately 175 condos in 
two different buildings in our downtown 
area, Measure V would “make 
just about everything worse for Sierra 
Madre.” “Taxpayers will foot the 
bill for Measure V votes for tens or 
hundreds of thousands of dollars.” 
“The flaws in Measure V are so severe 
that the proponents don’t even 
do what it purports to do.” Measure 
V was a simple solution to a problem 
made worse by the misstatements 
and misinformation of its opponents. 
Its purpose was to keep over-
expansion of 175 or so condos out of 
downtown by limiting any building 
to 13 units per acre, two stories and 
limited to 30 feet high. That seems 
very clear, and it certainly worked. 

Turn to page 3 of the paper, and the 
Neighbors for “Fairness” – oh my – 
state that this current initiative will 

“make just about everything worse 
for Sierra Madre.” One supporter 
of the monastery spoke before the 
Planning Commission a few months 
ago, stating “putting the initiative on 
the ballot will cost the City about 
$50,000.” Of course, we know that 
that is wildly exaggerated, the cost 
is closer to $1000-$2000. Another 
“Neighbor” wrote “many voters in 
the City have not had a chance to 
review or understand the ramifications 
of this initiative.” Back to the 
page 1 comparison – “It is usually a 
safe assumption that busy residents 
will not take the time to track down, 
read, and analyze a 13-page legal 
document. Fortunately, opponents 
were wrong about that.” Just as the 
“Neighbors” are wrong about residents 
not understanding the ramifications 
of the initiative, (parroted by 
our City Council Members). 

The “Neighbor” also mentioned the 
City’s lawyer’s lengthy report, the 
same City lawyer who works with 
the New Urban West developer. 
Interestingly, the Council in 2007 
hired an impartial law firm to evaluate 
the legality of Measure V, and 
they found there was no conflict. 
Given the acrimony this project has 
caused throughout our community, 
wouldn’t it have been smart for this 
Council to hire an independent law 
firm this time around? Particularly 
since the City lawyer retracted part 

of what he had stated to the Council 
about the basis for a lawsuit. In 
further irony – you may recall that 
Preserve Sierra Madre completed a 
lengthy rebuttal to the draft Environmental 
Impact Report that was one 
of seven public comments that were 
not included in the draft Environmental 
Impact Report. These comments 
included in the Preserve’s report 
were all the errors in the DEIR, 
that were not specifically addressed 
by the lawyer’s “lengthy report.” 

It's no wonder that currently, just like 
in 2006-2007, the good citizens of Sierra 
Madre do not trust their elected 
officials to actually do the will of the 
people who elected them. A concerned 
resident told the City Council 
at their meeting on July 26 that anyone 
who runs for or is elected to public 
office should be required to take a 
history course on Sierra Madre. This 
sounds like an excellent idea! 

In another bit of irony in last week’s 
News, an arrest warrant is being 
sought for the person/persons who 
forged the neighbors’ signatures so 
they could obtain a filming permit 
at Alverno for “The Offer,” about the 
making of “The Godfather.” Ironically, 
wasn’t the Godfather known 
for the famous (or infamous) line, 
“I’m going to give you an offer you 
can’t refuse.” 



I’m frankly perplexed at the front-page 
op-ed by Scott Hood in the July 30 issue 
of the MVN. In it, Mr. Hood tries 
to compare the 2006 Measure V Initiative 
with the 2022 Stop Initiative. In 2006 a 
group of local investors believed modernizing 
our downtown would vitalize 
the town. Others disagreed and believed 
the downtown area was fine the way it 
was and created the Measure V Initiative 
to limit the size and height of buildings. 
Measure V passed and Sierra Madre remains 
its charming self. 

Fast forward to 2013, when the Passionists 
determined they could no longer be 
self-supporting. They decided to sell the 
lower 17 acres of their property to fund 
their religious works and provide for 
their aging priests. They believed a wellthought-
out housing project would have 
the least impact on the Retreat Center, 
the neighborhood, and the City itself. 

Mountain Views News published that 
news, with Mater Dolorosa stating, 
“no plans yet of the number of houses.” 
Neighbors quickly formed a group in 


Being an environmentalist and caring 
about finding ways to recharge my soul, 
I seek out the Best Seat in the House. 
By that, I mean, finding a place where I 
can hear the sounds of silence. I moved 
here last year, and, for me, I have found 
this special place. I can go there at the 
end of the day and hear nothing but the 
sweet sounds of nature, the wind blowing 
through the trees, witness animals at 
their best getting ready for another night 
in their habitat, hear the birds chattering 
to each other as the sun sets, and watch 
the bats busily at work doing their thing, 
so that I don’t get bombarded with unwanted 
nightly pests. 

When I find this special place, I rarely 
share this special place with anyone. 
Why? I love that I am practically there 
by myself. 

It’s sad to think, but I sometimes feel 
that many residents in Sierra Madre take 
this place for granted. We have a goldmine 
right in our own backyard. All of 
this is threatened to be destroyed. And, 
some residents are not even taking advantage 
of the gem (gym) that we have! 
Because this place needs to be experienced 
in order to understand how valuable 
it truly is, I will let you in on my 

protest. Yard signs with the slogans, 
“Stop the Monastery Development” and 
“Preserve Mater Dolorosa and our quality 
of life” appeared. 

A Water Moratorium halted plans but 
when it was lifted, New Urban West 
(NUW) was introduced as the developer 
of a proposed project. No plans were presented 
at that time. The neighbors maintained 
NUW would destroy everything 
known to the citizens of Sierra Madre. 
Fire, floods, wildlife harm, and increased 
traffic would be the norm. There could 
even be a traffic signal installed. 

These arguments were shown to be false 
by an Environmental Impact Report. 
As a counter to that, the neighbors conceived 
an initiative to convert the current 
zoning from Institutional to Hillside 
Residential. Instead of affecting only 17 
acres, however, the initiative would rezone 
45 acres, including the Retreat Center 

The proponents argue that only eight 
6,500 sq. ft. houses could be built. Untrue. 
They fail to account for the rest of 
the property owned by the Passionists 

secret. The Best Seat in the House is on 
the northern edge of Sierra Madre. If you 
are curious, please take a walk or drive to 
Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park just before 
dusk! Follow the dirt path through 
the turnstile and walk up the paved path 
to the top of the hill. The Monastery 
property will be on your left. Take a seat 
somewhere up on that hill and just watch 
and listen. If you peer through the Monastery’s 
fence, you can see the many deer 
that graze every night. Last count, I saw 
ten. You will be amazed at the wildlife 
habitat that is there and all of the animals 
and trees and fauna that coexist. 

I have seen many deer, a bobcat, owls, 
different species of birds, squirrels, rabbits, 
bats, coyotes, and most recently I 
saw two young fox. All of these animals 
are obviously feeling safe and secure in 
this habitat. To my knowledge, the only 
animals that know there is a fence there 
are the deer. They stay on the Monastery’s 
land. They obviously feel safe in 
this habitat. 

 The change of seasons brings amazing 
colors and flowers to this area. Flowers 
bloom everywhere and the birds and bees 
and the wildlife embellish it all …. again, 
Why am I sharing this with you? It’s because 
of the proposed development on 

and California’s housing laws that allow 
lot splits and add-ons. This could result 
in an additional sixty (60!) mansions. 

Following existing procedures, in 2020 
the Passionists filed, in good faith, for a 
housing development. This is in progress. 
Meanwhile, City Council’s current 
analysis of the initiative has determined 
that the initiative will create a development 
contrary to the intent of the initiative, 
and may result in a lawsuit due to 
the overly restrictive downzoning of a 
religious institution. 

The Stop/Preserve groups scream bias, 
saying our City Council is unworthy of 
making an informed decision. Those of 
us who have followed this process know 
that from 2013 to date, the Stop Group 
would have protested ANY development 
proposed. This initiative is their 
last-ditch effort to squelch the rights of 
a land owner. I trust our Council. They 
are addressing the Initiative, not the 
NUW project. There is no comparison 
between Measure V limits on buildings 
and the new initiative which violates the 
rights of the Passionists as land owners 
and allows for 68 mansions. Pat Alcorn 

the Monastery’s property. 
According to the Arborist Report on the 
EIR, New Urban West (the developer) 
will be removing: 
-10 protected Coast Live Oaks 
-All 34 Chinese Elms on the 
beautiful driveway when you enter the 
-All of the jacaranda trees that 
serve as a buffer between the Monastery 
property and the entrance to Bailey Canyon 
and park (noise and light pollution)

This development will obviously destroy 
this habitat/ecosystem. Sierra Madre was 
declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1972. 
Evidently, New Urban West (the developer) 
and the Monastery did not get the 

Please go there and experience what I 
experience practically every night. Just 
do it! Go right at dusk before the gates 
are closed, and just sit there. You will 
NOT be disappointed. This will help you 
understand why this area can NOT be 
clearcut and destroyed. This is a living, 
breathing ecosystem/habitat, and we can 
NOT be responsible for taking the lives of 
these trees and destroying the habitat of 
so many animals. Thank you - 

Claire McLean Resident and Concerned 

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 
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