Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, September 3, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3



Mountain Views-News Saturday, September 3, 2022 



Let’s get some facts straight about 
the November Initiative Measure 

The Initiative only changes the 
Zoning designation of the Mater 
Dolorosa Property from “Institutional” 
to “Hillside Management”.

The Initiative does not require any amendment to the existing Sierra Madre 
Municipal Codes to enable its provisions. 

Once the Initiative is adopted, the provisions of the Sierra Madre Municipal 
Code kick in, and the existing structures on the Mater Dolorosa Property automatically 
become “non-conforming” due to the change of the zoning designation 
of the Mater Dolorosa Property.

The Sierra Madre Municipal Codes allow the Passionists to continue to use its 
existing structures in their current form, and also allow changes and additions 
to its structures as long as there is compliance with guidelines provided in the 
Sierra Madre Municipal Codes.

There has been a lot of discussion that the Initiative is subject to legal challenge 
on the grounds that it results in religious discrimination against the Passionists 
or otherwise constrains the mission of the Passionists. Any such discussion is 

Under the Initiative, the Monastery Property will be rezoned as a Hillside Management 
Zone. If the trail of SMMC Section 17.52.070 C (1) of the Hillside 
Management Zone is followed, one arrives at Section 17.60.030 (A) which 
clearly states, that “Churches, temples and other places of worship” are uses 
that are permitted in basically all zoning classifications, including the Hillside 
Management Zone. 

The purpose of allowing “Churches, temples and other places of worship” in 
virtually all zones within the City is to ensure that there no discrimination 
against the free practice of religion in Sierra Madre, including the building of 
churches, temples and other places of worship in essentially all zones that are 
occupied by people. 

The Sierra Madre Municipal Codes have clearly been drafted so as not to run 
afoul of existing federal and state laws, including the Religious Land Use and 
Institutional Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). Any conclusion that the Initiative prohibits 
the right of a religious organization to exercise its religious freedoms is 
blatantly incorrect. 

All that the Initiative does is change the zoning of the Mater Dolorosa Property 
from Institutional to Hillside Management. The City of Sierra Madre, or 
the people through an Initiative, have the right to re-designate the Monastery 
Property from Institutional to Hillside Management, absent a prohibited restriction. 
From that point on, the existing provisions of the Sierra Madre Municipal 
Codes can be relied upon to protect against religious discrimination 
from occurring. To suggest anything different would be to conclude that the 
City of Sierra Madre Municipal Codes are defective. If they are defective, then 
any unintended consequences from the adoption of the Initiative cannot be 
blamed on the Initiative, but rather on the defects that may be embedded in the 
City of Sierra Madre Municipal Codes, if they exist. 

Perhaps the confusion regarding the claim of religious discrimination rests with 
the following language contained in the City’s Memorandum dated July 8, 2022 
from the City Attorney to the Mayor and Councilmembers. The Memorandum 
states that if a zoning district is silent as to prohibited uses, it is considered prohibited 
if it is not expressly permitted. The Memorandum on Page 11 goes on to 
examine the Sierra Madre Municipal Codes and concludes that “since a retreat 
center and religious depictions are not listed as permitted or conditionally permitted 
uses, they are prohibited in the Hillside Management Zone.”

We are not sure why that conclusion was reached.

As noted above, the language of Section 17.60.030 (A) of “other places of worship” 
is unquestionably a broad and all-encompassing enough term that certainly 
includes a religious “retreat center” and “religious depictions”. The City 
would be wrong to deny any requests from the Passionists to build or improve 
such structures on the pretense that they are not allowed. 

The conclusion in the City’s Memorandum that the Hillside Management Zone 
prohibits structures relating to places of worship affects many other arguments 
in the Memorandum. If churches, temples and other places of worship are 
permitted in the Hillside Management Zone, then all of the other conclusions 
noted in the Memorandum that deny this fact fall by the wayside. 

So again, why does the Memorandum of the City Attorney dated July 8, 2022 
reach the conclusion that the Monastery cannot build a church, temple or other 
place of worship on its property if its property is designated as Hillside Management, 
when the language of our Municipal Codes allows for such structures? 
This question has been posed to the City on many occasions and those questions 
have not even merited the courtesy of an acknowledgement of receipt by 
the City. 

We patiently await the City’s reply!


When the ill-conceived ballot initiative to rezone the Monastery property first reared its ugly head the proponents 
made an odd claim. In their infinite wisdom, they divined that, ”Residents of Sierra Madre are no longer confident 
that enforcement of those policies and goals in our General Plan are a priority of our City Council…” One has to wonder 
how they came to this grand conclusion when the city council has yet to receive an action item on the Meadows 


While supporters of Measure HR had been unfairly critical of the City Council, this was the first time they had firmly 
pushed them under the bus. This is despite claiming this week that they “…do not throw anyone under the bus for 
disagreeing with our position.” Then we think it is fair to ask why they do it. 


In a rare social media commentary where they allowed dissenters to respond, the proponents said that they support 
the Planning Commission because they have “read and analysed [sic] and questioned [… and …] responded to comments”. 
But their complaint with the City Council is that “they usually accept the recommendations […] without 
considering any other arguments or the opinions of their constituents.” Last time we checked the City Council was 
mandated to allow public comment at every meeting. Can you see the bus coming? 


In another claim their spokesperson said, “But I DO not support their inferring to the people that theirs is an informed 
and well studied opinion and that the people should accept it when it is NOT!” What is the basis for this 
claim? How do they know what individual city council members have or have not studied? We suppose facts do not 
matter when the foundation of accusations is to just push the City Council under another bus.


In another accusatory attack, they say, “…when we see [the city Council] make decisions based on someone elses [sic] 
recommendation […] we dont [sic] feel they are adequately representing the constituents they have all PROMISED 
to represent.” What they seem to be saying is that they don’t like when the conclusion differs from their own. If someone’s 
recommendation is sound then the City Council should accept it, right?


Here is where the issue gets tricky. The Planning Commission’s job is to evaluate the Meadows project and to make a 
recommendation to the City Council. The proponents accept that the Planning Commission has fairly assessed the 
Meadows project, but somehow the City Council is not allowed to accept the Planning Commissions educated conclusions 
without it being biased and uninformed. Why discuss the facts when one can keep pushing the City Council 
under every bus? 


The proponents’ answer to the City Council supposedly not having made an informed decision is to put the decision 
to a vote of the electorate. How does that result in a more informed decision? Why believe that the average voter 
knows anything at all about the Meadows project? What we do know is that the proponents spoon-fed lies to voters 
when they collected their 1300 signatures. (See our previous articles on what these lies were.)


The reality is that the Hail Mary play of the supporters of Measure HR is that an uninformed electorate will make a 
decision based on an emotional appeal to “protect the Meadow”. Forget the fact that Measure HR instead allows for 
64 mansions, something those signing the initiative were apparently never told.


For all the crying the proponents do about giving the citizens a chance to have their say, it is ironic that their new 
social media presence disallows ALL commenting. They have already abandoned most public discussion on social 
media because they can’t control the narrative with lies.


What can they control? The bus they keep driving around the block so they can push the City Council under it again 
and again.

Vote No on Measure HR


News | Sierra Madre Neighbors for Fairness



In the Mountain Views News July 23rd edition’s column by Preserve Sierra 
Madre discusses the report to City Council with a recap: “. . . the Passionists, 
who own the Monastery property, have entered into an agreement with a developer, 
New Urban West (NUW) to sell 20 acres of their property. . . .” “A citizens’ 
petition to place the 20 acres in the Hillside Management Zone (HMZ). . . .was 
under discussion.” 

Note: the entire 35 buildable acres owned by Mater Dolorosa would be placed 
in the HMZ.

The column goes on to argue that the City Attorney made major errors in his 
report and the Council Members had faulty reasoning to challenge the initiative, 
and the council meeting was in “total disregard of the input of 1300 residents. . 
. . .”

Protect Sierra Madre in that same paper asks “Who Does Our City Council Represent?” 
Bottom line “It’s one thing for residents to have to deal with an unscrupulous 
developer who will go to any means to get this project approved, but quite 
another when we can’t trust our city council to stand up for its residents and 
essentially tell 1,300 constituents, . . .we know better than you.”

There is an old saying that goes like this, “Because half a dozen grasshoppers under 
a fern make the field ring with their importunate clink, whilst thousands of 
great cattle reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are 
silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants 
of the field.” –William Blake.

The City Council Members in all their wisdom decided to oppose Measure HR 
and in fact, write a ballot argument against it. The five members of the council 
are all educated, intelligent citizens elected to do what is best for Sierra Madre 
and its Citizens. They get feedback not only from grasshoppers but also from the 
cattle in the field. Council did read the Initiative and all have the ability to make 
an informed decision. Our Council Members are upstanding members of the 
community and it is an insult to imply they are otherwise.

The Council debated on the merits of the Initiative. They had no say on the merits 
of the NUW proposal. They are concerned about Measure HR taking away 
the rights of property owners and of it setting a dangerous precedent of taking 
away land rights. The Council IS looking after their residents and are fighting 
against a poorly written, sloppy initiative, and protecting the rights of property 
owners who apply to the city for a zoning change.

Vote No on Measure HR to protect property owners and prevent the building of 
6500 Sq.Ft. houses

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