Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, September 17, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 3

CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, September 17, 2022 CONVERSATIONS....THE MEADOWS 3 Mountain Views-News Saturday, September 17, 2022 
A word from the Editor: 

With the controversy surrounding development of the MEADOWS AT 
BAILEY CANYON, I made a decision to give the public the opportunity 
to hear both sides of the argument and voice their questions and/or 
concerns. This has been done free of charge and access has been made 
available to individuals and to organized groups who are opposed and 
to those in favor of the project. The sole purpose of this access is to 
keep the public informed so that they may draw their own conclusions 
as to whether or not they want to support the project and to provide the 
public with information to help them decide how they will vote on the 
ballot measure in November, Measure HR. 

Since that time, I have received many responses from voters not involved 
in any of the organized groups who are grateful to read communications 
from both sides. To the person, they have said that the ‘Conversations’ 
are helping them make a decision, and yet none of them indicated that 
they had made their decision yet. Thus, continuing to give both sides 
access warrants continuation. 

To that end, and as the election date approaches and passions for and 
against the project elevate, I am taking the time to remind everyone 
that the purpose of this space is for the presentation of the facts, concerns, 
questions and comments surrounding the project only. It is not 
a forum for personal attacks, defamatory remarks or other comments 
that do not contribute to conversations that will help the public better 
understand whether or not they want to support Measure HR and/or 
the Meadows at Bailey Canyon project. 

Since the inception of ‘Conversations’, I have exercised editorial oversight 
and rejected publication of several submissions, from both sides, 
that did not lend themselves to the goal of keeping the public informed, 
on the project and ballot measure. 

So, as stated in the mission of this paper that has run for the last 17 
years, “The traditions of [this] community newspapers and the concerns of 
our readers are this newspaper’s top priorities. We support a pros-perous 
community of well-informed citizens. We hold in high regard the values 
of the exceptional quality of life in our community, including the magnificence 
of our natural resources. Integrity will be our guide. 

Susan Henderson, Publisher/Editor 



In a letter to their email base, the Stop the Development Group derisively 
referred to some of the supporters of the Passionists as the “Green 
Shirts”, referring to the green tees that are worn by some who were given 
the shirts by developer New Urban West. In their latest email, the Stop 
organization states that NUW bribes “their out of town green shirt attendees. 
. . but 95% of the people they have show up don’t live in Sierra 
Madre.” Not true. The majority of those who wear the green shirts are 
not only Sierra Madre residents, but they also consider the Retreat Center 
as their spiritual center for guidance in their everyday life. They have 
been attending retreats for years. Many of those who are advocating for 
the Passionists also volunteer with Sierra Madre organizations in town 
to make our village the very special place it is. 

The out-of-towners the Stop group refers to are also those who work, 
serve on the Board of the Retreat Center, or otherwise volunteer for 
the Passionists and have been involved for decades. Attacking them is 
attacking their very religious beliefs. These who are defending the project 
are in essence defending the almost 100-year-old Passionist Retreat 
Center and the priests who reside there.

 At the August 18th Planning Commission meeting, Fr. Michael Higgins 
spoke in favor of the Meadows Project. What he said is the true meaning 
of what the whole project is all about. Part of what he said was “I 
just wish to remind you how important this plan for the Meadows is to 
us Passionists. It will fund Passionist ministries and care for decades, 
and, at the same time, it will help us reach thousands more people here 
and around with the beautiful, empowering lessons to be learned from 
Christ’s passion.” 

He went on to say, “Your position as a Sierra Madre Planning Commissioner 
doesn’t allow you to consider matters like that, but we ask that 
you do consider the other reason why the Meadows plan is important 
to us. The Meadows Project both protects the blessed solitude of our 
environment and peace-bringing beauty that has ministered to so many 
who have prayed and meditated on our grounds.” (Bold print is mine.)
Fr. Higgins ended by saying, “. . .by recommending approval of this plan 
that you have worked on so diligently, you are recommending a plan 
that is equally sensitive to the character of Sierra Madre as well as to the 
quality of life of those who live here.” 

To those of us who are opposing Measure HR to change the zoning of 
the Passionists' entire property, these were the magic words to explain 
our position. Pat Alcorn 

they were doing. Either way, whether incompetence or mali


cious intent, the vast majority of the 1300 signatures are ethically 
illegitimate because the signers were not informed of what they 

When the proponents of Measure HR started in back in Janu

were allowing. 

ary they were all talking up how they were going to “save the 
meadow,” and they needed money to fight the evil developers 

Now Preserve Sierra Madre has joined ranks and officially sup-

who were going to destroy the “natural beauty and tranquility of 

ports Measure HR which will literally allow Arcadia-style man-

the meadow” and “wildlife and nesting habitats.” Just sign your 

sions in Sierra Madre, while their website STILL says their mis

name and they will make sure the “last remaining open space 

sion is to “prevent over-development and mansionization and to 

parcel of land in Sierra Madre” is not “gone forever”. 

protect our historic properties and open spaces.” Measure HR 
does none of that. In fact, they still say, “We have all seen first-

Then the truth came out. 

hand, in Arcadia, what can happen to neighborhoods under a 
development free-for-all.” Now they are pushing for giant man-

Their plan to stop this housing project was to rezone the entire 

sions on giant lots just like Arcadia has! 

property to a residential zone. Now you might be asking, how is 
that going to work? It isn’t! They are not going to do anything 

Please do not encourage these groups who have gotten in over 

they promised to do. In fact, they are only making things worse. 

their heads. “Stop the Monastery Housing Project” (before 
they rebranded as just “Stop Housing Project – Protect Sierra 

The city’s report on Measure HR came out and boy was that 

Madre”) website said they were opposed to any housing project 

a shocker!! It turns out not only will Measure HR not stop 42 

that would remove the Last Remaining Open Space, allow build-

homes from being built, it will allow up to 68 megahomes to be 

ing in an Extreme Fire Risk Area, or cause additional Traffic and 

built. Instead of the reasonable homes as large as 3,775 sq. ft., 

Congestion. Yet their rebranded plan does all those things and 

developers will be able to build giant 6,500 square foot mansions 

they are just fine with it. This was the bait and switch. 

under the HR (Hillside Residential) zone. They never told anyone 
this when collecting signatures. 

We believe the people running these groups are ultimately good 
people who care about Sierra Madre, but both the “Protect” and 

Then there is the other issue the proponents miscalculated. Re

“Preserve” groups have lost their way. Don’t encourage them 

zoning the Passionists property will prohibit all “expansion, sig

with your support because if you do then you are in favor of 

nificant alteration, or change in use,” even for the Stations of the 

building Arcadia-style mansions at the Monastery and you are 

Cross, and will likely violate the Passionists’ First Amendment 

supporting violating the religious rights of the Passionists. 

rights through overly restrictive downzoning. Another thing 
they “forgot” to tell people. 

No one wants a whole neighborhood of huge mansions in Sierra 
Madre. Vote No on Hillside Residential. Vote no on HR. 

The 1300 signatures were collected through a campaign of ignorance. 
That is the charitable interpretation. The less charitable 

News | Sierra Madre Neighbors for Fairness 

one is where you assume that the three proponents, who all have 

extensive legal backgrounds and one who failed to disclose he 

worked for a developer of mega-mansions, knew exactly what 




Vote Yes on HR to prohibit “expansion, 

ists’ property without it first going to an 
significant physical alteration, or change in 

election of the “majority of voters.” (7) 

Yes on HR to try to “substantially burden 
use” of the “Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center 

the religious exercise of the Passionists” by 
and the Stations of the Cross.” (1)(9) 

Yes on HR to target the Passionists for 

turning them into a nonconforming use. 
spot-zoning by not affecting “any other 

Yes on HR to turn a 100 year old Sierra 

real property in the City.” (8) 
Madre institution into “a nonconform

(1) City Attorney 9212 Report – i. Subing 
use” on their own property by forcing 
Yes on HR to force the “repeal” of any ex

stantial Burden Analysis. (2) City Attorney 
them into a residential zone. (4) 

isting city ordinances which are “inconsis

9212 Report - The Initiative’s Impact on 
tent with this Initiative.” (Initiative Section 

Land Use b.iv. (3) Passionists Letter dated 
Yes on HR to stop the donation of a three 


May 24, 2022, Planning Commission Pub-
acre park and 35 hillside acres placed in 

lic Comments June 2, 2022. (4) Initiative 
conservancy (3) 

Yes on HR to “constrain the Passionists’ 

Section 5. (5) Initiative 2.6. (6) City Attoralternatives 
to develop their property for 

ney 9212 Report - The Initiative’s Impact 
Yes on HR to allow developers to “build 

religious purposes.” (1) 

on Land Use b.iii. (7) Initiative Section 10. 
homes of up to 6,500 square feet on the 

(8) Initiative Section 6. (9) Initiative Sec-
Mater Dolorosa Property.” (2) 
Yes on HR to try and force the city to “sus

tion 2.B.a. (10) Initiative Section 9.B. 
tain and re-enact” “any portion of this Ini-
Yes on HR to “irrevocably alter the natural 

tiative [which] is held by a court of compe-

References: https://www.cityofsierramasetting 
and change the feel of this portion 

tent jurisdiction to be Invalid”. (10) 
of Sierra Madre forever, taking away the 

environmental setting that makes Sierra 

Yes on HR to put the city at risk of being 
Madre special” by allowing up to 68 man-

sued by making it “difficult to overcome 
sions instead of 42 homes. (5)(6) 

the burden of persuasion where the Final 
Environmental Impact Report finds that 
Yes on HR to prohibit the City Council 

[any] negative environmental impacts may 
from ever making changes to the Passion-

be mitigated.” (1) 



150 years ago John Muir wrote in a letter to his sister, “The Mountains are calling and I must go.” Do you hear the mountains of 
Sierra Madre calling you? They are a very part of the city, impossible to separate. 

Sierra Madre has a long history or protecting its mountains. Throughout the Great Hiking Era the city was the gateway to Mt. Wilson 
and numerous camps located in the hills. In the 1960’s Sierra Madre started investing in the hillsides, first with the purchase 
of Bailey Canyon from Southern Pacific Railroad, then with land both purchased from and given to the city by the Carter family, 
to create Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park. 

Around 1967, 1120 acres, including 920 acres in the Angeles National Forest, were purchased and incorporated into the Sierra 
Madre Historical Wilderness Area. Did you know the city owns the land all the way to Orchard Camp? Twenty years later the 
Sierra Madre Mountain Conservatory (SMMC) was created by a group of dedicated Sierra Madreans with the intent of protecting 
additional properties. Los Angeles County voters passed Proposition A in 1992. This made $3.1 million available for the conservation 
of additional land in Sierra Madre, adding about 120 acres to the city’s protected properties through the SMMC. 

As part of the Meadows project Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), about 35 acres to the north of the Mater Dolorosa Retreat 
Center were to be donated to the city and placed in conservancy. Somewhere between the draft EIR and the final EIR this 
got changed to the city no longer receiving title to the properties and only holding the conservation easements for them. This 
represents a huge loss to the city. 

Sierra Madre understood the value of investing in its hillsides, having one of the highest ratios of parkland owned by a city in 
Southern California. Has Sierra Madre forgotten its dedication to such a degree that it will let these 35 acres slip away unnoticed? 
For some reason I’m the only person asking this question in recent meetings. Protect Sierra Madre and Preserve Sierra Madre are 
silent on the issue… unless they are saying how these properties don’t warrant additional protection or unless their supporters are 
arguing that Sierra Madre has too many damn parks! 

How is it that a 100 year old Sierra Madre institution who is finally cashing in a long-term investment has caused the city’s preservationists 
and self-proclaimed environmentalists to forget what is historically important? Can they not see the forest for the trees? 
Are they really willing to turn their backs on the mountains? The SMMC has said they will hold the conservation easements, just 
as they have done for more than 1200 city-owned acres, they only need to be asked. 

The City Council is very close to making a decision on the Meadows project. If they decide to approve the project are they going 
to let this once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in our mountains slip through their hands? The General Plan literally calls for 
the City Council to expand parkland and preserve hillsides whenever possible. Well, here it is, for free. They only need to accept 
it. The liability to the city is minimal as they are adding less than 3% to the City’s already conserved hillsides. Accepting these 
properties gives the city the option of later expanding Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park to the west. This would be a legacy move for 
any city council, and would be unheard of without having to spend millions of dollars. I guess the city passing up this opportunity 
would also be a legacy move… but a very bad one. 

The City Council needs to follow the footsteps of our historic city leaders who had the foresight and took the risk to make similar 
investments in the city’s future, which has been paying dividends to the citizens of Sierra Madre and our guests for decades. The 
mountains are calling, we only need to respond. 

Robert Gjerde 

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