Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, April 29, 2023

MVNews this week:  Page B:4



Mountain View News Saturday, April 29, 2023 


Protect Sierra Madre keeps repeating the claim that the SB 330 project 
is a “pipedream.” For those who don’t know, in December 2022 the developer, 
New Urban West (NUW), was allowed to submit an alternate 
project because the Protect Sierra Madre referendum opened the door 
to a State-protected SB 330 housing development.

How do we know that the SB 330 project is a legitimate threat? If you 
only listened to Protect Sierra Madre you would think it is an impossibility. 
We thought you should hear what the only authority on the issue has to say. It is up to NUW to move 
forward with whichever project they choose.

In an interview this week we asked what NUW what their goals were for the Passionists’ property:

“New Urban West has been proud to partner with the Passionists to design a project that is compatible with 
their retreat ministry, provides significant public benefits, and ensures the retreat center is viable for another 
100 years. The project also allows the Passionists to care for their aging priests and brothers, many of 
whom have been serving Sierra Madre for decades. We remain fully committed to these goals, irrespective 
of the outcome of the special election.”

We then asked what NUW would do if the Meadows project is denied:

“We have been very clear that we want to implement the Meadows project that was unanimously approved 
by the City’s Planning Commission and City Council. However, like any business, we have a fiduciary duty 
to fulfill our obligations to the Passionists. Unfortunately, if Measure M fails, we will have no choice but to 
proceed with an alternative project pursuant to SB330. We hope that doesn’t happen, but we are fully prepared 
for any outcome. We have significant experience working with new state housing laws and our team 
is ready to proceed with an alternative should that become necessary.”

NUW has already invested millions of dollars in the Meadows project and they are not going to just walk 
away. They have submitted a legal preliminary SB 330 application which was accepted by the city.

If Protect Sierra Madre wants to assert that THEY can stop NUW from building an SB 330 project then 
they need to show the specific State-adjusted objective standards which are being violated. Don’t be fooled 
by their wishful thinking. The threat of the SB 330 project is real and unless we vote Yes on M we will lose 
the park and $7 million in concessions only to have it replaced by eight more houses.

Vote Yes ON M with Sierra Madre for Parks and Public Safety


A No vote on Measure M will stop the construction of “The Meadows” 
project of 42 oversized tract houses on small lots on the Passionist Retreat 
Center land. Measure M is an up or down vote on “The Meadows” project 
– a tract-housing project for which the developer has never shown the public 
a conceptual street view – no doubt because it would show overbearing, 
oversized houses stacked way too closely together and way too close to the 
street – similar to other projects they have built in Southern California. 

“The Meadows” project does not conform to our city’s R1 zoning rules, 
which all residents must follow. According to that standard, on that piece 
of land there should be no more than 20 houses of the size the developer 
plans to build, not 42. For some reason, our city officials gifted “The Meadows’” 
Santa Monica developer with a “special plan” that lets them overbuild 
on the property. It sets a bad precedent for future development of 
other parcels of land. 

Don’t be deceived by the developer and city council members saying that 
Measure M is a choice between 42 or 50 houses. The May 9th election is an 
up/down vote on 42 giant tract houses. The 50-house option is a distraction 
that has either hoodwinked or intimidated the City Council. To date, there 
is no vetted and approved plan. A 50-house “pre-application” is simply a 
bullying tactic by the developer, as in: If you think that “The Meadows” 
development is bad, wait until you see what else we have in store for you. 

The developer filed their pre-application under SB330. That state law is 
not going to enable them to build their 50 McMansions because it states 
that the developer must follow existing local zoning rules (Sierra Madre’s 
R1 zoning roles and General Plan, in other words). The developer’s cynical, 
50-house pre-application includes three very-low-income houses (5% 
of the project) so that under a housing density bonus, the developer is allowed 
one concession of a zoning rule such as a 20% decrease in the front 
setback. The city attorney and city council are incorrectly stating that the 
development would get unlimited waivers – the waivers are only to be used 
if construction of the project would be physically unfeasible without them, 
which it is not. Simply put, under SB330, they aren’t allowed to build 50 
oversized houses.

The City Council approved this horrible 42 McMansion, tract-housing 
project, so, of course, they now have to defend it. Our city has sold out for 
$250K towards retrofitting the new police station while ignoring the legitimate 
public safety concerns in the adjoining neighborhood where traffic 
will more than double and there are few sidewalks and streetlights. Also, 
by approving this ironically named “Meadows” plan, our city officials have 
agreed that it’s okay to destroy the natural drainage of the actual meadow, 
which will need a water-retention basin as a result. A proposed park will sit 
on top of that basin because they can’t cram more houses on top of it. We 
already have Bailey Canyon Park right next door – we don’t need another 
park at a cost of 42 tightly-packed McMansions. 

Please vote NO on Measure M. This is a bad project – the developer needs 
to go back to the drawing board or go away, and they and city officials 
need to think in terms of abiding by the zoning rules that all the rest of us 
respect and are required to live by. 


These days, finding consensus on any political issue seems harder than scaling Everest. Except when you 
look at Sierra Madre and the overwhelming support for YES on Measure M.


The number of organizations and community leaders that are urging YES on M far outweighs those opposing 
it. Our firefighters, police officers, chamber of commerce, little league, softball league, local newspaper, 
planning commissioners, and all five of our elected City Councilmembers have studied and educated themselves 
on Measure M. All support a YES vote.


The reason so many trusted community leaders and organizations support Measure M is simple. It results 
in the best possible development at the Monastery after over two years of careful negotiations, 30 hours of 
public meetings, and unanimous votes by both our planning commission and City Council. This is exactly 
how the democratic process is supposed to work.


Compare the broad and diverse coalition supporting Yes on M with those in opposition. Nearly 60% of all 
donations to the NO campaign come from just four people. Yes, that’s right, FOUR individuals. Most of 
whom live immediately adjacent to the monastery. These folks may be worried about their views or property 
values, which they can’t say publicly because being a selfish NIMBY doesn’t exactly engender a lot of 
sympathy from the rest of your community.


Having lived for 60+ years next to the Monastery, longer than anyone else, you should know that not all the 
neighbors are opposed to the Meadows project.


Most disturbingly, this tiny group of opponents are now willfully ignoring the reality that the developer 
has already submitted an even larger 50-home alternative plan pursuant to state law SB 330. To be clear, I 
am opposed to the additional houses and the loss of the 3-acre park. The City Attorney has repeatedly said 
that the City is virtually powerless to stop this if Measure M fails. Yet, the naysayers claim that this alternative 
has “no chance of approval”. This is beyond misinformation – it is a toxic combination of ignorance 
wrapped in deceit.


Make no mistake, development WILL occur at the Monastery. That is the reality. What we are deciding 
with Measure M is if the development is the one negotiated by our City Council that includes a 3-acre public 
park, $980,000 in water conservation measures, 40 acres of hillside preservation, and $250,000 for a new 
police station. Or, will we get the Sacramento plan that throws all of that away.


Again, the choice is simple. Please join us and vote YES on M!

Dave Link



When we spent five years meeting with the community in Sierra Madre to 
understand their wishes for the future of our town, the overwhelming desire 
they expressed was to craft the General Plan to protect our small town 
look and feel; the unique nature of Sierra Madre that drew us to make this 
our home, and to raise our families here.

One of the primary objectives of how we wrote the plan was to prevent 
“Mansionization”; the building of large homes on small lots, spaced closely 
together. This is codified in the rules for R1 residential zones, defining the 
space between houses, the maximum size per lot, and the shape of the volume 
the house occupies. All of us have to follow these rules throughout the 
city, and it’s a big part of what defines Sierra Madre’s unique look and feel.


Unfortunately, during the negotiations to determine the plan for “The 
Meadows” Development, the City Council allowed the Santa Monica developers 
to ignore our rules and write their own, to maximize their huge profits. 
In exchange, the developers promised the City Council lots of money 
for various city operations.


It's as if the EPA set a rule that you can’t pour sewage down the streets, but 
they decided to let one company do so if they paid the EPA enough money. 
It’s outrageous and completely unfair, as it comes at the expense of the rest 
of us citizens. The Meadows proposal would build 42 houses on a parcel 
that would only support 20 houses under the General Plan. Consequently, 
we will have to bear the impact of 500 more car trips a day on Grandview, 
Sunnyside and other streets, increased parking pressure downtown, as well 
as the impact on our limited water supply and Bailey Canyon Park for the 
rest of time.


Not only that, if the Yes vote wins and the Meadows proceeds it sets a precedent 
for developments that will soon be proposed at Stonegate, the Alverno 
School, the rest of the Passionists property, and several other parcels within 
the city near you.


We need to Vote NO on Measure M, to stop this project and to remind the 
City Council we want them to adhere to our General Plan for this and all 
future developments.


The threat that the developers will build even more houses if this project is 
rejected is just that; a threat. The City Council can still require that that development 
follows the General Plan; the law under which that proposal was 
filed (SB330) clearly states that the City can require the proposal be modified 
if “the housing development project or emergency shelter is inconsistent 
with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use 
designation as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on 
the date the application was deemed complete.”


A NO vote on Measure M sends a clear message to the City Council that we, 
the people of Sierra Madre still want the city to preserve the look and feel 
of our town, by requiring this and all developments to follow our “constitution”, 
the General Plan.


If you value the character of our town, Please Vote NO on Measure M!

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