Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, August 13, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 13, 2022 CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 13, 2022 

An amenity is a feature that increases 

the attractiveness or value of a piece 

of real estate, and is used as part of a 
sophisticated marketing strategy to attract potential buyers. 

It is disturbing to hear talk of linking the Meadows 42 unit housing project to Bailey 
Canyon Wilderness Park. The developer, New Urban West, is proposing to cut 
through existing fence to create easy access for future Meadows residents to the 
Wilderness Park. This misguided, self-serving proposal should be quashed 

The City promotes its status as a Wildlife Sanctuary and hosts Earth Day and other 
public opportunities for residents to learn more about the Wildlife Urban Interface, 
which describes homes built next to open space. Living in this area brings challenges 
and a responsibility to preserve the delicate balance between the habitats of 
wild animals and human residents. Organizations representing the Angeles National 
Forest, State Parks, and Fish and Wildlife speak to this on a regular basis. ‘’Species 
abundance and biological diversity suffer noticeably from development impacts, 
requiring increased management actions’’. Despite promot-ing Sierra Madre as a 
Wildlife Sanctuary, the City doesn’t speak up and challenge an action so contrary to 
the messages from these agencies. The City that is charged with protecting the well 
being of both its future citizens and the wildlife that live in the canyon. 

There should be no other pedestrian entrance to Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park 
other than the existing one on Carter Avenue. This entrance is open from dawn to 
dusk when it is locked by the Sierra Madre Police Department for the protection and 
safety of the public and the wildlife who lives there. This arrangement has been in 
place for many years and has all but eliminated the potentially dangerous interactions 
that can occur. This is their home – not ours- and we need to respect their 
space to prevent problems. 

Weather conditions can also cause the park to be closed. Tragically, in 1994, a father 
and son were swept away and killed in a debris flow in Bailey Canyon. The Police 
Department exercises control over the park and will close it when conditions warrant 
preventing another tragedy. 

A ‘’secondary’’ pedestrian entrance from the Meadows development would interfere 
with the City’s ability to protect the public from dangers they may not be aware of. 
This is not a municipal park with people smoking, drinking, playing boom boxes 
and walking their pets off leash –all potentially destructive behaviours in a wilderness 
park. Noise and human disturbance can drive away all but the most adaptable 
wildlife. Losing just one species affects the relationship between other animals and 
plants and can seriously upset the balance of the nat-ural ecosystem. 

Respect Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park for what it is, and always has been, and leave 
it be. It is an opportunity, as well as a privilege, for us to step away from our daily 
routine and enter the natural world of native plants and animals living their lives as 
part of a long established ecosystem. 

It is an irreplaceable asset to the community and to the many hikers, walkers and 
school chil-dren who recognize it as the special place it is. 
Leave it be. 



We have wondered all along who our city lawyer is really working for, since he is 
corroborating and supporting developer New Urban West. A major issue that was 
discussed at the last Planning Commission meeting on August 4 was regarding the 
widening of Carter Avenue adjacent to Bailey Canyon Park.

 New Urban West seems to think it is no problem that Carter needs to be widened. If 
you have followed The Meadows controversy, you know that building in a very severe 
high fire zone absolutely needs two ways in and out (regardless of what our own Fire 
Chief says). So what does NUW representative Jonathan Frankel say? If the developer 
can’t get approval to widen Carter, then the City can apply to the County. If the 
City can’t get approval either, then they will merely pay a fine (apparently amount to 
be determined). What we would like to know is when (not if) a fire breaks out, what 
good will money do? 

Commissioner Hutt asked, “Why do we think the City will have better luck than the 
applicant?” To which our City lawyer, Aleks Giragosian responded that ‘the City 
could use its existing connections with the County.’” 

The previous City Manager is alleged to have exercised his connections with the 
County on behalf of the developer. The City, County, and the developer had at least 
one meeting about the proposed widening, and both the Developer and the City 
Manager were rebuffed. 

Vincent Gonzalez was copied on the email in which the County told them to “call 
back in 5 years,” so he and Mr. Frankel are aware of the fact that the City does not 
have any special connections to the County that would allow them to bypass the 
rules. At that time the present Planning Director and the present City Attorney were 
in the same positions they are now. Unless the current City Manager has connections 
that former City Manager Gabe Engeland did not, is there any reason to expect the 
County would respond to the City any differently now. 

There are several snags NUW has been ignoring: 

1. Their own FEIR is demonstrably flawed, pointed out by 100 emails in response 
to the Draft Environmental Impact Report, including those by experts, as well 
as Protect Sierra Madre’s land use attorney, that it is very unlikely the County would 
ever approve doing this in its current form. 
2. Part of the plan is cut down mature trees in Bailey Canyon. These are not 
NUW’s trees to cut down. 
3. Because the elevation of Bailey Canyon’s parking lot is above the street, and 
a retaining wall is put in, this will impact the roots of even more trees, with a high 
probability of their dying. 
4. They would also need to take out the public restroom in Bailey Canyon. This 
ADA compliant restroom, along with other improvements – adding handicapped 
parking, and a bridge across to the nature trail above the debris basin was paid for 
with Proposition 70, a Parks Bond. Our Parks and Recreation Commission, through 
Assistant City Manager Sean Joyce, applied for, and received these funds in 1993. 
These are taxpayer funds. Again, not NUW’s to destroy. 
What is the New Urban West solution? After a whispered conversation with their 
architect, Mr. Frankel stated that this County permission isn’t even necessary – they 
can merely encroach onto the residents’ property, or at the very least come right up to 
the edge of it. Forget any sidewalks that had been proposed in response to concerns 
about the danger to pedestrians. Where did this sudden “inspiration” come from? 
We feel this is another last ditch effort to do something, anything, to ram this project 
through. This second ingress and egress is a huge complication that should have 
been dealt with from the beginning, rather than a last minute so called “inspiration.” 

It seems there may be another problem with this “plan.” If they are proposing to pave 
over Carter Avenue, to a width of 20 feet, wouldn’t this also require permission from 
the County?
Lawyer Giragosian, we’d li 
ke to see an impartial response to these questions. We would hope you would come 
up with a better response than your solution to the forged signatures to allow the 
filming to take place at Alverno. That solution was to deem residents’ signatures 
unnecessary – even though there is now a warrant out for the arrest of the forgers. 





Were you lied to when you signed the initiative to rezone the Passionists' property? Were you given the impression 
that the initiative would preserve the natural beauty and tran-quility of the meadow? That was a lie. Did they tell 
you that wildlife and nesting habitats would be protected? That was a lie? Did they say the quiet solitude of the 
neighborhood would be preserved? That was a lie. Did they say the initiative would prevent 101 trees from being 
removed? That was a lie. Did they suggest that they would save the scenic vis-tas enjoyed by so many? That was a 
lie. Did they plead with you to sign so that the last remaining open parcel of land in Sierra Madre would stay as it 
is? That, too, was a lie. 

If you think about it, rezoning an Institutional property to a Residential zone to stop a res-idential development is 
just dumb. Maybe you were not told an overt lie, but a lie of omis-sion. One has to wonder what they were thinking 
by rezoning the entire property to the Hillside Residential zone. Did they tell you that once zoned Residential that 
a developer could build homes across the entire property, even where the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center is? 

Did they forget to mention that the Hillside Residential zone allows for 6,500 square foot homes? How about that it 
allows duplexes with two 6,500 square foot buildings put to-gether adding up to 13,000 square foot structures? Or 
did they tell you that 34 of these 13,000 square foot monstrosities could be built in Sierra Madre across the Passionists' 
property? Did they tell you that one of the three authors of the initiative is a senior vice president for a developer 
that just so happens to build luxury communities with 12,000+ square foot homes? Of course they didn’t tell 
you this. One has to wonder why? Oh, right, you likely would not have supported the initiative if you knew the facts. 

If you signed the initiative did they tell you that it could result in the Passionists' First Amendment rights being 
violated through overly restrictive downzoning of a religious in-stitution and that the city would face an expensive 
lawsuit? Did they tell you that the Re-treat Center and the Stations of the Cross would become a nonconforming 
use, which means they are illegal structures? Did they show you where the initiative says the Passion-ists can only 
continue “without expansion, significant physical alteration, or change in use?” We doubt it. 

We have not found a single person who was told any of these things by those who were collecting signatures for the 
initiative. Sierra Madre Neighbors for Fairness opposes the initiative because it is unfair to the Passionists and bad 
for Sierra Madre. Join us in stop-ping this measure from passing in November. www.sierramadreneighborsforfairness.

News | Sierra Madre Neighbors for 



We are now over six months into the discussion on the 
initiative to rezone the monastery property to the Hillside 
Residential zone. One of the challenges is that new 
people are constantly coming into the conservation. 
That means many of the same old discussions get repeated 
over and over. 

In an editorial titled “The Best Seat in the House” a concerned 
resident and environmentalist lamented about 
the solitude of Bailey Canyon. That’s great. We all enjoy 
Bailey Canyon. The author continues on about how “All 
this is threatened to be destroyed.” 

What is “this” that is being referred to? Bailey Canyon 
Wilderness Park? The park is not being threatened, in 
fact, just the opposite. The park will be enhanced and 
expanded with three more acres of public space, including 
parkland which is more enjoyable for small children. 
Carter Ave will be widened and pedestrian access will be 
made safer with a sidewalk. Public parking will be increased 
by100 spaces which will free up the congestion 
on Grove St. These are all good things for Sierra Madre. 

There is one thing that people keep forgetting and that is 
that the Mater Dolorosa property is not a public space. 
It is private property. All the trees on that property are 
owned by the Passionists. Less than 10% of the trees are 

protected, the rest are non-native trees like invasive Chinese 
Elm and Jacarandas. The city does not pro-hibit the 
removal of any trees, they only require that if you remove 
a protected tree that it be mitigated by replacing each 
protected tree with multiple new protected trees. The 
Meadows project is proposing an almost 5:1 replacement 
ratio for every tree that is removed, including the 90% of 
unprotected trees. 

Wildlife doesn’t care if homes are built or if it stays as an 
old vacant parking lot. Just visit any wildland interface in 
the city and you will find wildlife there. I regularly have 
bears, coyotes, deer, and the occasional bobcat where I 
live in the Can-yon. The fact that the city is a Wildlife 
Sanctuary does nothing to stop a property owner from 
developing their private property. 

My last point is that wishful that the property be left as-
is doesn’t do anything. It is not IF the property will be 
developed but WHAT will be developed. Do you want a 
large institutional assisted living project? That is allowed 
right now. If you support the initiative then you are supporting 
the building of sixty-eight 6,500 sq. ft. homes on 
the property because that is what the initiative will allow. 

The proposed Meadows project is the best compromise 
for Sierra Madre with the park, 40 acres in conservancy, 
net-zero water usage, and water capture in the park. 

Robert Gjerde 


I have been limiting my comments on this conversation page to why voters should oppose the initiative. However, 
the Preserve Sierra Madre column last week needed to be addressed as it is a misrepresentation of the facts. They 
spent an inordinate amount of space trying to say that New Urban West (NUW) is hiding something. 

NUW can’t provide a rendering of the whole project because the Specific Plan has not yet been approved and the 
final design is dependent on the terms agreed to in the Specific Plan. It will take more than a year to create the 
plans for all the homes. During numerous meetings, NUW has shown several renderings and photos of what the 
project might look like. 

Each member of the Preserve Sierra Madre’s Steering Committee was given a 30-page brochure when they toured 
the project area in October 2021. Renderings showed a “Neighbor Privacy Plan” with a 20-foot buffer adjacent to 
all west side neighbors as requested by those neigh-bors. They were also told on that tour the reason the mature elm 
trees were being removed along Sunnyside was to achieve that buffer zone. One member of the Committee mused 
as to why all those beautiful trees were being sacrificed for just a few neighbors. When one member suggested a 
cut-through to Crestvale Dr. to solve the Carter Ave. widening problem he was told that the Crestvale neighbors 
adamantly opposed that and in addition requested a buffer zone. Again, NUW honored that commitment. 

The development area is relatively flat land with a 10% slope, just like the homes to the west that are also graded 
so they have flat building pads. In that same brochure, renderings show a conceptual view of the project fitting 
into the existing community character, and on other pages, conceptual views of how the project’s neighborhood 
might look after grading. During the same tour, questions were raised about the number of single-story homes. The 
answer was seven to ten but the placement of those homes had not yet been decided. At the last Planning Commission 
meeting in August, there was a layout of where those homes might be placed. 

The only thing hidden is in the Stop initiative that will be on the ballot in November. This initiative is pure and 
simple a plan to stop the Mater Dolorosa community from legally exercising their rights as private land owners. 
The circulators of this petition have argued that only eight homes will be built once the initiative is passed. This is 
pure fantasy. A hillside development is subject, like any other development, to California laws. SB9 allows homeowners 
to split lots and build du-plexes or another single-family home and ADUs. This goes for all of the 34 acres of 
buildable land owned by the Passionists, not just for the 17 acres proposed for the current development, and could 
allow up to sixty-eight 6,500 square foot homes. What else are they hiding? Pat Alcorn 


In last week's MVN there was an unsigned 
article by a group ("fairness"- 
"Major funding by New Urban West"). 
The ridiculous statements in that article 
(Follow the Money) clearly show 
how desperate and uninformed that 
group is and how little they think of 
Sierra Madre voters. Their claims (entirely 
unsubstantiated suppositions) 
could be considered libelous - if anyone 
believed them.

 The absolutely absurd and unfounded 
allegations posted inferred 
that, because one of the pro-ponents 
of the Initiative once worked as HR 
person for a "Developer of Luxury 
Golf and Beach Club Resorts", (he no 
longer works there), that Resort Developer 
MUST have its eyes on the 17 
acres of monastery property! AND 
they wrongly suggest, again with NO 
evidence, that the same company must 
be funding our initiative. 

 A quick look at the named Resort 
Developer's website would immedi

ately convince anyone (who went any 
further than a single outdated LinkedIn 
page referring to a "developer") 
that Dis-covery Land Company would 
have absolutely NO interest in a 17 
acre parcel in Sierra Madre. Their 
worldwide developments are ALL very 
large luxury resorts with golf courses, 
spas and res-taurants. The smallest of 

their developments that I found was a 
450 acre resort in Scotland - but that 
"small" resort had a Castle on it - and 
a golf course! 

 Any REASONABLE person would 
immediately recognize that this resort 
developer is NOT going to fund an initiative 
to get 8 homes on 17 acres, all 
subject to the many environmental restrictions 
of our Hillside Ordinance!! 

Yet these unsupported allegations 
of suggested wrongdoing were actually 
posted in a public newspaper - ironically, 
by a group that calls itself "Neighbors 
for Fairness"!

 A look at the 229 donations on the 
Protect Sierra Madre GoFundMe page 
over 2 years will show that our moneys 
raised came from ordinary citizens, 
anxious to help save the city they love. 
Those donations (many $10 or $20) 
paid for our attorney whose initiative 
will allow the CITIZENS to decide 
what is right for Sierra Madre. 

 On the contrary, New Urban West, 
the developer who will make millions 
from the oversized houses on under

sized lots, has spent many times more 
than raised by Protect's Go Fund Me 
on slick postcards and flyers to residents, 
paid the lawyers to set up "Fairness's" 
political action committee and 
paid for dozens of newspaper ads, including 
ALL of "Fairness's" ads. 

 But that "neighbors" group, funded 
by New Urban West, thinks that a tabloid 
like article with ab-solutely NO 
factual foundation will sway Sierra 
Madre Voters?? Pretty insulting - and 
very un-likely. 

Like their new chorus of "68 large 
houses under the initiative" - the ridiculous 
allegations in the article are 
meant to frighten the people of Sierra 
Madre into voting against the 

 The "68 houses" number (actually 34 
houses and 34 ADUs, on one acre lots), 
pulled from the City Attorney's hypothetical 
of "what if " the Monastery tore 
down the Retreat center and "what 
if " the City allowed more homes to 
be built on that Hillside and "what if " 
every buyer of a multimil-lion dollar 2 
acre lot decided to split it under state 
law…. Not at all likely to happen.. Especially 
since New Urban West may 
not even get the second road necessary 
for their 42 houses! 

 We think that "Fairness" (like our 
City Council) underestimates the intelligence 
of Sierra Madre voters! 

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