Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, August 27, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3



Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 27, 2022 



Preserve Sierra Madre ironically 
said our elected officials would 
not support any provision of our 
local laws that would discriminate, 
restrict or discourage any of 
us from expressing our religious 
beliefs. We agree 100%. That is 
just one of many reasons why the 
City Council unanimously opposes 
Measure HR.


In the City Attorney’s 9212 report 
it states that “The Initiative constrains 
the Passionists’ alternatives 
to develop their property for 
religious purposes.” And “However, 
the Initiative's conversion 
of the religious uses at the Mater 
Dolorosa Property to non-conforming 
uses may substantially 
burden the religious exercise of 
the Passionists.”


Preserve Sierra Madre says that 
the city’s codes allow churches 
and other places of worship in a 
residential zone. The supporters 
of Measure HR apparently don’t 
know what their initiative says. 
Measure HR, according to its own 
text, will become a new overriding 
city ordinance. The Mater 
Dolorosa Hillside Zoning Initiative 


B. Intent and Purpose.

a. The intent of this Initiative is to 
permit the continued operation 
of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist 
Retreat Center without expansion, 
significant physical alteration, 
or change in use, as a nonconforming 


It does not say they CAN expand 
a nonconforming use, or that 
they CAN do significant physical 
alterations, or that they CAN 
change the use of the property. 
It explicitly says they cannot do 
those things.


The proponents of the initiative 
keep telling us that they knew 
what they were doing. They all 
have legal backgrounds and they 
all consulted with their expensive 
Los Angeles attorney. But now 
they say their initiative will allow 
what it literally says it will not. 
Then why not put that language 
in the initiative instead of explicitly 
prohibiting these things? This 
is how the poorly written Measure 
HR is a legal disaster waiting 
to happen.


Here’s the heart of the issue. 
The initiative prohibits the City 
Council from fixing any problems 
with Measure HR. Section 10 
states that the City Council cannot 
amend or repeal Measure HR. 
Section 11 states that if Measure 
HR is inconsistent with any other 
city codes that the existing code 
must be repealed. So it isn’t that 
the Non-Conforming code would 
still allow expansion or change in 
use. Measure HR demands that 
the conflicting Non-Conforming 
code be repealed. That repeals it 
for everyone, not just the Passionists. 
Anyone would then be able 
to expand their nonconforming 
use. Or if the Residential code allows 
churches with a CUP then 
that section of the code must be 
repealed according to Measure 


Section 9 a. states that even if the 
courts determine a part of Measure 
HR is illegal that the City 
Council should take “all steps 
possible to cure any inadequacies 
or deficiencies identified by the 
court in a manner consistent with 
the express and implied intent 
of this Initiative.” What happens 
when a court determines Measure 
HR violates the Passionists’ 
religious rights and the Council 
cannot rectify the zoning issue? 
Normally, the City could just say, 
“Sorry,” change the code, and pay 
everyone’s legal fees, but in this 
case the City’s hands are tied. The 
courts might then choose to impose 
damages against the city, or 
the proponents defending it, in 
favor of the Passionists.


Join Sierra Madre Neighbors for 
Fairness in voting No on Measure 
HR in November.

Early last week, concerned residents contacted the Mountain Views News and 
submitted photographs of one ir more trees being cut down on the property 
where the proposed Meadows at Bailey Canyon is to be built.

The sight of workers with chainsaws alarmed neighbors several of whom 
feared that 'in anticipation of the city council's approval of the Planning Commission 
vote on the project, construction had begun'.

As a result, the Mountain Views News contacted the developer to find out 
what was going on. The following response was sent: “On Tuesday, regular 
maintenance work was conducted to remove a dead Morton Bay Fig tree which 
posed a safety hazard given its immediate proximity to the road. This tree removal 
was necessary to protect the health and safety of our retreatants. In addition, 
maintenance cleared a fallen tree from the property as part of ongoing 
property maintenance.” - Michael Cunningham, Mater Dolorosa


On August 18 the Planning Commission 
approved all parts of the 
Meadows project and it will be on 
the City Council agenda at their next 

Our volunteers spent many hours going door to door and many voters were 
in favor of our initiative to Rezone the Mater Dolorosa parcel to the Hillside 
Zone, as we feel it always should have been. Some others, still undecided, 
were certain that they wanted the VOTERS of Sierra Madre to make that 
decision with a vote at the next election. Many contacted us to sign the petition, 
with the result that the City Council heard the wishes of 1,300 of their 

When the Meadows project comes before them, we will ask the City Council 
to consider the wishes of the voters and to defer their consideration of 
the project, as is permitted, for the short time until the people can make 
their consensus known through their vote. 

But, because the City Council has already expressed their objections to 
our initiative, we are concerned that they will vote to approve the project 
before the election. IF they approve everything concerning the Meadows 
Project, as we expect they may, our measure would still be on the ballot, but 
it might take legal action to decide what takes precedence. The Developer 
and the Monastery have both said they will initiate legal action if our initiative 

The law allows us to still make certain that the PEOPLE of Sierra Madre decide 
the issue, regardless of what the City Council, or those hoping to make 
millions from the special character of our Village of the Foothills may do to 
try to oppose a constitutionally protected democratic process. 

If the City Council is not willing to respect their constituent's wishes by deferring 
their decision until after the election - and if they vote to approve the 
Meadows project, we will attempt to pause the project with a referendum. 

Just as our petition for an initiative allows the Citizens to vote on our proposed 
measure, a successful petition for a referendum to overturn the City 
Council's decision would allow the Citizens at an election next year to vote 
to remove the approvals of the Meadows Project. That would stop the project 
despite any lawsuits against our initiative measure!

It would require 850+ signatures of registered voters in 30 days. But we 
have 1,300 residents who told the city what they want and may be upset by 
being disregarded by the Council that is supposed to represent them - unless 
the council votes to defer consideration of the project until after the 
election. Others who feel that a City Council should consider the wishes of 
the people they represent, may also be ready to show them that our voices 
do matter! 


Contact us at




Last week Mr. Hays asks, “I still haven’t heard a cogent argument as to why the developer is investing so 
much time, effort and money to avoid having to proceed under our Hillside Management restrictions.” 
There is a very simple answer to this. The property is not zoned Hillside Management. In what rational 
world should anyone be required to follow zoning restrictions that do not apply to the property or the 
project they are proposing?


Having had the opportunity to discuss the Meadows project with both Mr. Frankel of New Urban West 
and the Passionists, I believe they both care about creating a well-crafted design that is good for Sierra 
Madre. This isn’t just my opinion, the Planning Commission, all people who live in and care about Sierra 
Madre (and have been praised by Preserve Sierra Madre for carefully considering the project), unanimously 
agreed that this project is a good balance for the city. I also believe NUWI does not want to see 
the Passionists’ rights violated as a result of the project. It is easy to demonize a developer as caring only 
about profits, but it is not that simple. The “developer” actually consists of real people who have similar 
concerns as you and I and want to live in nice communities.


I suggest calling Mr. Frankel and talking to him about the project. NUWI is literally investing in Sierra 
Madre to create a project that new homeowners will want to buy into. Yes, they could have proposed a 
simple R-1 project with more homes, smaller homes, no park, no land placed in conservancy, and no 
net-zero water offsets, but that is not what they have proposed. They are already invested in, and have 
presented, a project that is good for the city.


Could NUWI have proposed a project to rezone the property to the Hillside Management zone and to 
build 68 mansions? I suppose so, if the Passionists agreed to that, but one might suggest that the neighbors 
and the city council would never allow something as crazy as what the Measure HR allows. No one 
wants to allow mansions on the property except, oddly enough, the proponents of Measure HR who told 
us they were fighting large homes.


Mr. Hays continues saying, “They won’t explain how what we’ve been told necessarily contradicts the 
facts – but confidently assert we’ve been lied to, nonetheless.” I guess he missed Sierra Madre Neighbors 
for Fairness’s article from two weeks ago titled THE BIG LIE. The first paragraph listed six things from 
STOP Housing Development’s own flyer which implied Measure HR would protect the meadow, wildlife 
habitats, the solitude of the neighborhood, 101 trees, the scenic vista, and the last remaining open space. 
None of these will be preserved by Measure Hillside Residential which allows more homes, literal mansions, 
and less oversight from the city by rezoning it to a residential zone.

Robert Gjerde

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