Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, September 10, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, September 10, 2022 CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, September 10, 2022 

We on the Preserve Sierra Madre 

Steering Committee have lived in 

Sierra Madre for half our lifetimes. 

We’ve watched our downtown 

area go through hard times and 

good. We’ve been here through 

earthquakes, fires, and big local 
political fights; almost always about development. Twelve years ago, two of us 
were on the General Plan Update Steering Committee, spending five years developing 
our General Plan. Five years - because we polled every m neighborhood, 
held town halls, did surveys, and had open houses discussing potential 
provisions, policy and overall vision for our city. A real lesson in democracy 
and letting the people speak. 

Now we have the Meadows development before us, and its sad to see the increasing 
division it is causing among friends and neighbors. 

There’s a lot of talk about the impacts this development would have on our 
community and our long-time friends the Passionist Fathers, and the Monastery. 
Most of the fathers have left, the Monastery building was torn down, and 
only four are residents, who operate the 91 suites and other facilities. It makes 
sense as the Passionist Organization in Chicago wants to sell off part of this 
land, as they have done with most other parcels they own across the country. 
They want the money for their ministry abroad and to cover their retirement 
plans. For them, it’s about getting as much money from this tract housing development 
as possible. 

This development could gross between 100 and 200 million dollars for the 
developer, New Urban West. By some calculations the building and sale of it 
could also bring up to $2.5M in one-time fees to the city. 

Aside from the city budget, nothing about this development benefits its neighbors 
-- we the people that live in Sierra Madre (other than possibly the addition 
of an unpopular 3 acre park). Overall, it will be a cost and a real impact 
to the people of Sierra Madre for the next 50 to 100 years or more. It violates 
many key provisions of our General Plan, as we have previously written in our 
articles, and spoken before City Council and the Planning Commission. 

The members of our City Council (CC) campaigned to support the ideals of 
the General Plan when evaluating new developments. Specifically: 

City Council member and former Mayor, Rachel Arizmendi said during her 
campaign: “I will always give priority to the quality of life in our neighborhoods 
and best represent the voice of our residents. This will include my efforts 
to limit and control development. I will advocate for ordinances, zoning 
codes and building regulations that will prevent our neighborhoods from being 
overrun with homes over sized for their parcels or homes not in harmony 
with their neighborhoods. I will also protect our hillsides and canyons from 
development and strictly enforce our Hillside Management Zone Ordinance.” 

City Council member Robert Parkhurst said: “I support our current zoning 
ordinances. They balance the development of land in the City while preventing 
over development. For example, our current residential zoning ordinance 
limits the gross floor area of single-family homes to 30% of the lot area, which 
is 50% less than what is allowed in neighboring Arcadia.” (Note that the Meadows 
development violates this and other General Plan provisions). And he said 
in evaluating developments he would consider:

• “How has the community been involved in the process? How has their 
perspective been considered?
• What are the outcomes of the noise, parking and traffic studies of the 
development and how will they impact our communities? How will these impacts 
be mitigated?
• How has the development considered the environmental impacts on 
the property including water use, energy efficiency, and impact to wildlife?
• What potential impact will the development have on the 
trail systems adjacent to our City?” 
City Council member Kelly Kriebs said: “With respect to the proposed Monastery 
development, the City Council will need to pay particular attention (1) 
to the impact of the development on the immediately surrounding neighborhood, 
Bailey Canyon and the City at large (including on traffic and infrastructure), 
(2) to any proposed specific plan governing the development…” 

City Council member, Mayor Pro Tem, Ed Garcia said: “If.. the area is ultimately 
zoned R-1, what must be monitored would be the variables regarding 
lot coverage, square footage, and setbacks. These factors must be negotiated in 
a manner that would minimize the impact for the immediate neighbors of the 
development. Just because the number of dwelling units currently considered 
is to be 42 instead of the 116 allowable under R-1, doesn’t give license for the 
mansionization of that neighborhood.” 

What is puzzling now is that these four, as well as Mayor Goss, appear to be in 
full support of the Meadows proposal as it stands, in spite of it violating these 
principles they promised to uphold in their campaigns. 

The Meadows developers propose their new area be governed under a special 
Specific Plan, as is their right to propose. We have read the Specific Plan and 
we’ve followed the work of the diligent Planning Commission. This Specific 
Plan violates our city’s General Plan in many significant areas, which we’ve 
highlighted over the past two years. It was clearly the will of the people to avoid 
developments like this when we created the General Plan. 

Obviously, the winner in this once it is passed by the City Council is New 
Urban West Developers. No one else. 

Next week – the better alternative, Measure HR. 


Everything you need to know about how Measure HR discriminates against the Passionists is in its text. 
Last week Preserve Sierra Madre went on at length explaining how our city codes will allow the Passionists 
to expand their facilities. They obviously have not read Measure HR because none of that is relevant if HR 
passes. You can’t appeal to what our city codes say because Measure HR says any conflicting codes must 
be repealed. 

Intent and Purpose of Measure HRThe initiative states that its intent and purpose 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 use.” Again, the very purpose of Measure HR is to prohibit any expansion, significant 
alteration, or change in use of the Passionists’ property. 

The City’s CodesYes, the city’s existing codes possibly allow for expansion, significant alteration, or change in use for 
churches on residentially zoned properties. None of this is relevant. 

Inconsistent Provisions RepealedMeasure HR Section 11 clearly states: “Any provisions of the City of Sierra Madre Municipal Code, or 
any other ordinances of the City inconsistent with this Initiative, to the extent of such inconsistencies 
and no further, are hereby repealed. This Initiative expresses the voters' intent to eliminate any possible 
inconsistency between existing code provisions and the amended General Plan designations and zoning 

Any existing ordinances that might allow expansion, significant physical alteration, or change in use, contrary 
to the intent and purpose of Measure HR, must be repealed. That is what Measure HR says. If Measure 
HR is voted in then it will be the new law of the land and it would require that any old laws which 
allow expansion, significant alteration, or change in use, of a church on residentially zoned property, must 
be repealed. 

Why This MattersThe City Attorney’s report states: “The Initiative constrains the Passionists’ alternatives to develop their 
property for religious purposes. … 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.” Measure 
HR will violate the religious rights of the Passionists and put the city at serious risk of being sued. 

Vote NO on Measure HR to protect the rights of the Passionists. 

News | Sierra Madre Neighbors for 


Dear Editor: 

I’ve been following and appreciating the back-andforth 
on the Meadows project in MVN over the 
past several weeks – as I will through November’s 

I’ve reviewed the petition, the Hillside Residential 
zoning restrictions that would apply were the 
initiative to pass, the federal Religious Land Use 
and Institutional Persons Act cited in legal threats 
(important law with an important purpose - were 
a building zoned to permit a Rotary Club bingo 
night, it couldn’t be re-zoned to prohibit a Bible 
study class or Muslim prayer meeting), the Specific 
Plan to accommodate the developer along with our 
city attorney’s analysis. And I always look forward 
to whatever Robert Gjerde has to offer. 

All along I’ve been hoping to find some assurance 
that the alarm is unwarranted, that those in charge 
know what’s best and we should simply allow the 
project to roll through. With this in mind I used 
the QR code in last week’s New Urban West ad to 
access our city’s response in opposition to the initiative, 
signed by Mayor Gene Goss and Council 
Member Rachelle Arizmendi, hoping to find such 
assurance. Instead, I found a perfunctory rehash 
of the promoters’ threats we’ve become so familiar 

At the outset, there’s “Do we want 6,500 square 
foot mansions smack dab in the middle of three-
to-four-bedroom single family homes?” That’s not 
the option. There’s been no such proposal made 
and no prospect of it happening. Both Mr. Goss 
and Ms. Arizmendi know this – but they parrot the 
developer’s talking points, nonetheless. It suggests 
that if New Urban West had to proceed under our 
Hillside zoning, they’d somehow be compelled to 
build larger houses than they’d planned. I doubt 
that either Mr. Goss or Ms. Arizmendi regard this 
as a rational argument – so their making it anyway 
is concerning. 

They go on: “The initiative identifies ONE sole 

owner. Does that not target one private property 
owner?” It does – because there’s only “one private 
property owner” in Sierra Madre currently threatening 
to inflict 42 McMansions on 17 acres of our 
hillside while refusing to consider doing so under 
appropriate Hillside zoning restrictions. Mr. Goss 
and Ms. Arizmendi suggesting this is somehow unfair 
again raises the question whether their intent is 
to protect the interests of the developer or those of 
their constituents. 

They refer to expenditures and ask, “does it make 
sense to expose the city to uncertain and possibly 
significant financial consequences of potential legal 
action?” Decades ago, when embarking on my 
own business I remember asking counsel, “Can I 
be sued for this?” and the reply, “Anybody can sue 
you for anything whenever they want. They just 
want to show they’ve got deeper pockets than you 
so you’ll cave”. The argument from Mr. Goss and 
Ms. Arizmendi doesn’t suggest grounds for such 
lawsuit – only that the threat itself is reason enough 
to sacrifice Sierra Madre’s interests to those of the 

And finally, they suggest the problem is that we’re 
not “informed”. I’ve seen that the Specific Plan 
does address many of the concerns reflected in our 
Hillside Residential zoning. But I’ve yet to find out 
what specifically it is in our HR zoning restrictions 
that the developer finds so onerous that compliance 
would be out of the question. And I wonder whether 
Mr. Goss, Ms. Arizmendi and other elected officials 
have bothered to ask. 

There’s one item in the city attorney’s analysis, however, 
that might help explain the city’s position - the 
$2.6M in “public facilities fees” the project would 
generate. Perhaps they regard this as an acceptable 
trade-off. Though irrelevant to the importance of 
the initiative, it’s a factor that could be more pertinent 
in understanding the mindset at City Hall 
than a ballot argument that comes off as a brief pass 
along from the developer’s PR team. 

Howard Hays, Sierra Madre 


Once again the good citizens of Sierra Madre woke to find a door hanger, 
placed allegedly by the Mater Dolorosa Fathers, the so-called Neighbors 
for Fairness (fairness, really?), but “major funding from New Urban West.” 
Major funding? We’d certainly say so. 

In Quarter 1, New Urban West filed the paperwork, connected with 

fighting against the reasonable initiative to put the Monastery property 
into the Hillside Management Zone, stating that they have already paid $50,000. That’s $50,000 of development 
company money, the development company based in Santa Monica. Wow! What is even more disturbing is 
what the flyer actually says – headline is “City Council and the Mayor unanimously voted to oppose the initiative 
that led to Measure HR.” 

Wait – aren’t the Mayor and the City Council supposed to actually go through the process of two meetings 
after the Planning Commission meeting has passed on it? Of course, that is what the law says should 
happen. So, City Council is holding a “special meeting” on September 15. Did you know about this special 
meeting? New Urban West did – they are again buying dinner for their out-of-town supporters, then will herd 
them into chambers to take up all the seats--again. You can tell them by their green tee shirts who will all leave 
at break time. If Council doesn’t ask questions, this might be a short meeting without a break. If you live in 
Sierra Madre and care about our fair village, please show up – but be sure to get there early before the 5:30 
meeting time, to get a “nonreserved” seat. 

If you didn’t get one of these horrid door hangers, you can read all about the lies and misinformation in 
a half page ad in last week’s paper, once again touting the fact that the Mayor and the City Council have already 
opposed Measure HR. To date there have been 4 full page ads, 18 half page ads; always allegedly placed by the 
Neighbors for Fairness and/or the Mater Dolorosa fathers, but fully paid for by New Urban West. Whatever 
happened to due process? We keep hearing about how big money is hurting our democratic process. We certainly 
never expected to have that problem again in our little Sierra Madre. 

Back in 2007 there was an initiative, Measure V, which was initiated for the same reason – a City Council 
that wasn’t listening to the constituents. Our downtown still looks like our funky, cute downtown because 
Measure V passed, even though the Building Industry spent $180,000 in an effort to predict all kinds of dire 
outcomes. At that time we residents spent a scant $5000, and lots of shoe leather knocking on doors to disseminate 
the truth. Same scenario, different year – New Urban West has deep pockets and can throw endless money 
at Sierra Madre with the expectation of making millions if their ill-conceived tract housing project is approved. 
On the other side, the pro HR side, are ordinary Sierra Madre citizens who don’t have unlimited funds, but love 
their town. Please don’t be fooled. 

Notice Reprinted Courtesy of Mountain Views News - Original Publication Date 9/3/2022 


To: All Residential Households in the City of Sierra MadreFrom: The City of Sierra MadreSubject: CONSIDERATION TO APPROVE GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT AND 
Project Location: 700 North Sunnyside Avenue 

This notice serves to inform you that the City Council will be conducting a Special Meeting PublicHearing on the date, time, and the location described below regarding a request to construct up to 42 
single-family detached residential units on approximately 17.30 acres of the property owned by The 
Congregation of the Passion, Mater Dolorosa Community referred to as “The Meadows at Bailey 

The City Council will consider project applications to certify the Environmental Impact Report 
(EIR) and adoption of a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, approve amendments 
to the update the General Plan and Land Use Map to change the project site from Institutional to 
residential low density, and update the Zoning Code and Zoning Map to change the project site from 
Institutional to Single-Family Residential Specific Plan Overlay, approve the Lot Line Adjustment, 
and approve the Development Agreement. Application approval may be made pursuant to applicable 
findings for each independent action.

The meeting will be streamed live on the City’s website at, on 
Foothills Media website at and broadcast on Government 
Access Channel 3 (Spectrum). The Brown Act provides the public with an opportunity to make public 
comments at any public meeting. Public comment may also be made by e-mail to PublicComment@ by 3 PM on the day of the meeting.

For further information on this subject, please contact the Planning and Community Preservation 
Department at (626) 355-7138. 


City of Sierra Madre City of Sierra MadreCity Council Special Meeting City Council ChambersThursday, September 15, 2022 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. 
(Hearing begins at 5:30 p.m.) Sierra Madre, CA 91024 

All interested persons may attend this meeting and the City Council will hear them with respect thereto.
ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINATION: State law requires the preparation of an EIR for projects that have the 
potential for environmental impacts. Public Resources Code Section 21002 requires that an EIR identify the significant 
effects of a project on the environment and provide measures or alternatives that can mitigate or avoid these 
effects. The EIR evaluates the environmental effects associated with the development of the project and discusses the 
manner in which the project's significant effects can be reduced or avoided through the implementation of mitigation 
measures or feasible alternatives to the proposed project.
APPEAL: If in the future anyone wishes to challenge the decision of the City Council in court, one may be limited to 
raising the issues that were raised or presented in written correspondence delivered to the City Council at, or before, 
the scheduled public hearing. For further information on this subject, please contact the Planning and Community 
Preservation Department at (626) 355-7138. 

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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