Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, March 11, 2023

MVNews this week:  Page 5

5 Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 11, 2023CONVERSATIONSCONVERSATIONS 5 Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 11, 2023CONVERSATIONSCONVERSATIONS 


Dear Editor 

I’ll have to hand it to whoever comes up with names for Santa Monica developer 
New Urban West’s “local” booster clubs. Last fall, insisting they should be exempt 
from zoning restrictions that apply to the rest of us, it was “Neighbors for Fairness”. 
This time, seeking to strip out 17 acres of open space to cram 42 McMansions 
into a “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone” and, as noted in Ed Miller’s 
letter last week, add 500 car trips daily through our town, they’re calling it “Sierra 
Madre for Parks and Public Safety”. You can’t make this stuff up. 

Their column last week states the upcoming special election is “being forced upon 
the city” by those opposed to the McMansions. The decision to rush the vote 
rather than wait until the next general election was not made by the project’s opponents 
nor by the developer, but by our city council – albeit at the behest of the 
developer, concerned their investors might get cold feet with further delay. Councilmembers’ 
fretting over potential loss of the developer’s $250K offer for “public 
safety infrastructure” comes as they alone decided to spend some $400K on this 
special election. 

Alluding to my letter from the week before, their column says “it was questioned 
why the developer refused to reduce the number of homes from 42 to 34” during 
negotiations. There was never a need to “question” the developer’s decision; they 
refused because with fewer houses they wouldn’t make as much money -the same 
reason they refused to have their development comply with our general plan -refusals 
made with confidence our city council would simply go along. 

Their most baffling statement, though, was that those of us determined to Protect 
Sierra Madre “have not presented any plan for stopping development. They have 
none!” Perhaps they haven’t noticed, but well over a thousand residents successfully 
qualified Measure M for the bal-lot, with a “No” vote on May 9 ensuring 
reversal of our city council’s approval of these McMansions. 

And no, we won’t be deterred by any threat from the developer (and “local” booster 
club) they’d “move forward” with some worse “alternative project” should they 
not get their way. With so much at stake, we’re not that easily rolled.
“Sierra Madre for Parks and Public Safety”? Gimme a break! 

Howard Hays, Sierra Madre 

Letter to Mayor Ed Garcia and City Council: 
For many years I worked all over L.A., Burbank, the South Bay and West Side, 
and I would sing the praises of life in Sierra Madre. Those unfamiliar with it 
would ask me what’s so great about it -it’s just an-other L.A. suburb, they’d say. 
And I would tell them about my be-loved town - the close-knit family-oriented 
community that was all about the kids! The Easter Egg Hunt and Huck Finn 
Derby, Little League and Girls’ Softball, the Halloween Costume Parade, not to 
mention our awesome Library and great Schools. 
But unfortunately, I don’t feel that way anymore. Sure, we still hold those annual 
events, but the whole “not in my backyard” attitude has infiltrated and tainted 
our town, at the expense of our kids’ rights. The Schools we should be sup-
porting and holding in high regard are under attack! The bustling, noisy play-
grounds that many of us grew up on are being silenced by a handful of crabby 
neighbors with unreasonable complaints. For example - are you all aware - that 
the middle school in our town isn’t allowed to play basketball outside? What a 
joke! I couldn’t believe it when I learned this! Sure, they have a gym, but fresh 
air and sunshine are just as important to growing bodies and minds as exercise. 
Yet, our City caved in to complaints from neighbors who knowingly bought a 
house next to a school, and it’s the kids who suffer. 
Why is it, that the selfish, often exaggerated complaints of the minority get to 
dictate what our schools can and can’t do? When are the people running our 
town going to stand up for our kids? If the sounds of children playing, run-
ning, and squealing with delight is ruining your quality of life, as one neighbor 
of Alverno has stated on more than one occasion, the solution is simple - close 
your windows, turn up your radio, or move! We need schools, and kids need 
to exercise their bodies and their voices, outdoors! Unfortunately, many kids 
spend their time away from school sitting on their bottoms staring at a screen 
or device. They need all the outdoor activity they can get, and schools provide 
that. Consider the alternative - poor health, obesity, lack of social skills, failing 
grades. Is this what we want for our kids? Shall we lock them inside and keep 
them silent? As we continue to strip away their freedoms, will the neighbors ever 
be satisfied? 
So, my question to you is, do you want your legacy as Mayor and City Council 
Members to be that you voted against the kids of Sierra Madre Schools, and took 
away even more of their rights? Rights they aren’t old enough to vote for, or to 
even know they deserve? Or are you going to do the right thing, and put a stop 
to this nonsense?! The Planning Commission already approved Alverno’s Mas-
ter Plan, now you have the chance to confirm it. Your actions will affect every 
school in our town. 
How far are you going to let this go? 
Another $400,000 special election, perhaps? 
Sue Behrens - Lifelong resident of Sierra Madre, 1978 graduate of Al-verno High 
School, and part-time recess and lunch proctor at Alverno’s lower school, since Fall 


The State SB 330 project may be perceived as a scare tactic, 
but it is real nonetheless. It is the natural outcome of both 
trying stop an already approved project while opening the 
door to another. 

Protect Sierra Madre (PSM) filed for the Measure M refer

endum after the General Plan change to low-density resi

dential had already occurred. Consequently, the developer 
could submit an alternate project under state law with more homes and none of the perks the city 
negotiated. This is not a “pipe dream” as has been suggested. The developer has already submitted 
this new project to the city and the application has been deemed complete, triggering fast-tracked 
State approval. The developer is now moving forward with two projects, one of which will be selected 
based on the outcome of the election. 

Opponents of the Meadows project have no plan to stop the State project. They seem to either 
hope on the developer abandoning their multimillion-dollar investment or that they can contest 
SB 300, which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (their GoFundMe campaign has 
raised $600 since the last election) and has no chance of succeeding for this type of project which 
has already received EIR approval. 

These people who foisted the referendum on us are in no rush to have a vote for THEIR referendum. 
In fact, they are mad the city council moved forward with the $400,000 special election 
which they wanted delayed until November 2024. By then, the State project would be well underway. 
It’s clear that their whole plan is to delay, delay, delay. Every year of delay costs the city 
another $250,000 in lost property tax revenue, and like with One Carter, private property development 
is inevitable. 

PSM wrongly argues that the Meadows project is not compatible with the General Plan. They fail 
to grasp that the City Council is the sole legislative body to modify the General Plan. If not for 
the refer-endum delaying final approval, the Specific Plan would conform 100%. Instead, if the 
referendum suc-ceeds, the alternate project will be whatever state law allows. 

It says a lot about the integrity of the developer, New Urban West, that they still want the Meadows 
project despite having the opportunity to pursue the more lucrative alternative that lets them 
build eight additional homes and forego the free park. They continue to be good partners with the 
Passion-ists and the City, who all strive for the best project for Sierra Madre. 

We will greatly benefit from the Meadows development with its $7 million in concessions, but we 
risk losing all of that with this election. 

Vote YES on M – Sierra Madre for Parks and Public Safety 


The choice presented by measure M comes down to believing that the developer will pursue the 
alternative plan to build 50 houses that they submitted to the city, or believing that the council 
members or an outside group will come up with a way to stop that from happening. I was at KerstingCourt and heard Barbara Velturo inaccurately present that open space was an alternative to the plan 
that the council had passed. It seems that the PSM has a dream that the trees and wildlife can be 
saved but has no actual plan to achieve all that. The city council shows no appe-tite for that dream.
If you look at the situation from the eyes of the developer, the 50 house scenario is likely more profitable 
and highly achievable given the new state laws. A reasonable person can’t think that they will 
abandon this plan without a huge and expensive fight. A No vote on M invites much more expense 
than the $400,000 we will have been forced to spend. 

Tim Blackman, Sierra Madre 


In November, a vote was taken regarding the development at the Monastery, and the measure was 
defeated overwhelmingly. The entire City Council also voted for the Meadows Project before the 
election, and two of the Council Members who were running for re-election, and supported the 
project were re-elected. However, a small group of individuals did not agree with the outcome and 
now want a do-over. Now we are facing a special election at the cost of taxpayer money of $400,000. 

The fact is - a No vote on Measure M means that a 50-unit state-law affordable housing plan with no 
community benefits will be instituted in the same area. The City is powerless to stop this plan, and 
it will have serious consequences for our community. Not only will there be more traffic, less open 
space, reduced setbacks, and larger homes, but we'll also lose out on $250,000 for our new police station, 
nearly a million dollars for water conservation, a public park, 40 acres of hillside preservation, 
and 500 new trees. Is this what we want for our city? 

The opponents of Measure M argue about wildlife habitat, traffic, fire zone, and cutting down trees, 
but these issues are irrelevant because the 50-unit housing plan will occupy the same area as the 
Meadows Project. In contrast, Measure M is a well-thought-out plan that has been carefully vetted 
by our Planning Commission and City Council. They have listened to the public and made their 
decision based on what is the best option for our city. Our elected officials overwhelmingly support 
a Yes vote on Measure M, they’ve done their homework and we should trust them as our representatives. 
That’s why we elected them. 

It's time to put this issue to rest once and for all and vote Yes on Measure M. Don't let a few unhappy 
neighbors force what they want on all the citizens. 

Vote YES to uphold the will of the people and support the Meadows Project. 

Pat Alcorn, Sierra Madre 

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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