Thursday, July 13, 2017

Preserve Sierra Madre: Darling House is gone, Library Threatened

Dear Supporters: Our City Council voted to overturn the Planning Commission's denial of the demolition permit for the Henry A. Darling House at 126 E. Mira Monte which allows the total demolition of the project to take place. The sale of the Library was granted a reprieve, but based on last night's meeting, we feel it is probable it will be sold to a developer. A few points that come to mind as a result of last night's meeting:

1. How many times do our coalition members have to attend meetings, send emails and speak at public comment in order to prevail in some of these preservation battles.  We were there when the Brown family wanted to demolish the home.  We were there when Mr. Kefalas tried to carry out his plans for the property.  How many times do we have to marshal an all-out effort in order to stop some of the anti-preservation actions that take place.  That is a question we have to ponder because in today's busy world, there are only so many times we can marshal that kind of an effort. If we save our best for last as in last night's appeal, there may not be a "last" because there are so many steps along the way where a given project can get the green light to go forward. In other words, we need to fight 10 battles while the developer needs to fight only 1 - the last one. In this case, just win the appeal from a City Council that cannot be expected to know all the nuances of what took place at the Planning Commission level.

2. Many of us attended the Planning Commission meetings with Mr. Kefalas leading up to this point..  We saw firsthand how angry the Planning Commissioners were with Mr. Kefalas's conduct.  Yet, all that is suddenly behind him when it goes for appeal to the City Council. In fact, the City Council was actually apologetic towards Mr. Kefalas for the Planning Commission having the temerity to stand in the way of his plans.

3. Some of the City Council Members could not understand why any part of the original structure needed to be saved so long as the home was re-built to have an outside facade similar to what the home used to look like (except for a very large addition that will be appended to the back).  Following that line of reasoning, any historic home can be torn down so long as a Disneyland replica can be put in its place. But is a mere replica of the Gamble House still the Gamble House? We don't think so.

4. The Henry A. Darling House had the misfortune of being situated on a very large lot. It appears that almost every buyer for the property saw the house as a mere obstacle to be overcome in their plans to build a much bigger home and take full advantage of the lot size despite the historical nature of the home and despite the incredible architectural details on the inside. If the Darling house was situated on a smaller lot, it would not have faced those same pressures and the most likely buyer would have carefully restored the home to its former glory.

5. What role does City Staff play in all of this? Time after time they made recommendations regarding the 126 E. Mira Monte property that had to be rejected by our Planning Commission. Do they not realize that the vast majority of residents of Sierra Madre want to preserve this town or do they become too familiar and cozy with the developers as a project winds its way through the city?

6. Regarding the Library, we have to wonder what the reaction of all the people who had the "Save the Library" signs in their front yards will have when they find out about the proposal to move the library to another location and sell the existing property to a developer. Many of those with that sign may not be members of Preserve Sierra Madre. Hopefully, once they find out about these plans, they will join the fight to save that property.

All in all, not a good night for preservation in Sierra Madre.

Thank you for your support.

Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

63 comments:

  1. The City Council made their decision in closed session prior to the meeting. Bad decisions were made prior to it ever reaching the City Council by the Planning Commission and City Staff that allowed 90 percent of what Kefalas did. That doesn't change the fact that Kefalas is an arrogant SOB who violated the demolition ordinance when he started demoing the roof. By that time the house was already gone.

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    1. A back room deal was made complete with the cigar smoke. The meeting was a mere formality. The fix was already in.

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    2. A little show for the folks.

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  2. All of our city services and anything else is in jeopardy because of a willingness to cave to the public employee unions and/or be bribed by them with campaign contributions when running for office. There are consequences to giving out golden parachutes and extravagant salaries. The library is only the latest casualty. The only way to stop this is to raise the retirement ages of our public "servants" so that they retire like the rest of us at 65 rather than 50 and put them all on defined contribution 401k style pensions rather than defined benefit pensions where City Councils can make lavish promises for future benefits without having the money to pay for it. Does our City Council have the courage to take up that issue? No. This is why the library will be sold, other assets will be sold, city services will be cut and our taxes will go up. Meanwhile we made our old City Manager Elaine a multi millionaire with the pension she gets. If you look at the amount of assets you would have to have to spit off the kind of income that provides these guaranteed pensions with cost of living increases and medical benefits, all the public employees become millionaires when they retire. But guess what even they they know they are too young to retire so they get another job that only adds to their income. The gravy train has to stop.

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    1. The problem is cities are competing with other cities who are willing to go and will go bankrupt down the road. The public employees don't care. Most of them don't even live in the town. They go to the highest bidder. They should never have been allowed to unionize In the private sector the brake on all this is that a company will go bankrupt if they are too lavish in their compensation. Their is effectively no such brake in the public sector because the backstop is the deep pockets of the taxpayers that can always be picked by the politicians always trying to curry favor with the public employee unions who help them get elected and keep them in office. The public employee unions control the state and the cities. It's a racket. The public employees make tons of money, the politicians stay in office and the taxpayers foot the bill for all of this. If you try to protest the tax increase you are threatened with losing some vital service whether it's ambulance setvice, police response times or shuttering the senior citizen center.

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  3. Kefalas is such a liar. But the City Council fell for it like a rock. That and free burgers perhaps. Take a small step of protest by refusing to eat at the Only Place in Town. It's no loss because the food is lousy. There are much better places in town to eat anyway.

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    1. slow service, cold food, not going there again

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    1. Isn't that the name of a game show?

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    2. Once again bad actors with a sleazy attorney get rewarded for violating the rules. Why should anybody follow the rules. Ask forgiveness and not permission. There will be no consequences. Remember when Kefalas threatened to walk from the project. What a joke.

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  5. It's weird how at the Planning Cimmission, Commissioners Hutt and Spears can say that Kefalas is a "liar" and lacks "credibility" in all of their dealings with the man. It then reaches the City Council and now they are groveling, apologizing and actually thanking him for what he did to the house. What the hell happened?

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  6. It's weird how at the Planning Cimmission, Commissioners Hutt and Spears can say that Kefalas is a "liar" and lacks "credibility" in all of their dealings with the man. It then reaches the City Council and now they are groveling, apologizing and actually thanking him for what he did to the house. What the hell happened?

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    1. I think it had to have been some sort of a legal settlement. He got his permit and he got an apology from the City Council. I can't think another explanation. Why putting the screws to someone who didn't follow the law somehow made him entitled to such royal treatment is beyond me, though. There are some big parts to this puzzle that are missing.

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    2. Are the taxpayers picking up Kefalas's legal costs? Is that a part of the settlement?

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    3. Great question, 7:55. Is it even possible to get an answer?

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    4. He broke no laws apparently just used our laws as they are written to his advantage.It's hard to be a property owner/manager here in Sierra Madre.

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    5. I disagree. He did break the law. It is just that the City Council lacked the courage to enforce it.

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    6. 4:08 pm, you are correct! He broke the law and the C.C. let him off the hook. They disregarded the Planning Commission's decisions. They all but hugged and kissed him as he went out the door. There was No accountability for the misdeeds he had done. Let's see what he does now! Split the lot? Sell? More to come!

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  7. The developers count on civic fatigue. To answer the question "how many times do we have to show up?" Every Time! It's exhausting. But the developers count on you not showing up.

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    1. Easier said than done. It's always the same people trying. They need some help.

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    2. The deck is stacked. You have a full time staff at city hall that is paid a lot of money, and often takes the side of developers and other malefactors. Against them you have residents who work full-time elsewhere, and then must get down to city hall for the evening so they can talk for three minutes. The City Council is supposed to take the part of the residents, but they invariably sellout. No matter who you elect.

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  8. Interesting to note that a have a friend who rents from Kefalas ... he just jacked up her rent by $200...

    Welcome to Sierra Madre

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  9. Did Spears apologize for his rant? Hutt; may of thought this Kefalas fellow was attempting to pull a fast one on total demolition, but after seeing and hearing him out, he appeared to have no malice or malcontent, only clueless on hiring practices.
    In common, both the Preserve group and Kefalas cant read directives handed out by the Planning Department.

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    1. Do you ever rest? Is the cause of idiocy so consuming for you that you cannot relax for even a little bit?

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    2. I was at the original meeting. I witnessed the arrogance of Kefalas. He was rude as were the people he brought with him. I have not seen the guy who said he was his contractor again. He was a weird one. Mr. Spears and Mr. Hutt as well as the other PC members were all upset by the disrespect that Kefalas demonstrated turned my stomach!

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  10. Your friend should contact the renter assistance and rights office. What is the legal amount that a land lord can increase yearly, bi-annually?

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    1. There is no such thing. Unless you have a lease your rent can be raised at the whim of the owner.

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    2. Maybe it is time to re-agendize the rent control issue. Keep burgerboy from bankrupting his tenants.

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  11. Has the Sierra Madre City Council gone out of it's ever loving mind? what kind of brutality are they inflecting upon voting residents who chose to live in Sierra Madre for the very esthetics that are being thrown away? Some one is screwing the pooch and getting away with in in broad day light - follow the money and you will see who.

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  12. remember when city staff and CC said they weren't going to fill the director of library services position if it became vacant? back in 2013 or so...the outcry from current library staff and FOL etc. was swift and intense. it was as if Elaine said they were getting rid of Caroline Thomas (then director of library services) at that very moment. took a while for everyone to understand that the city wouldn't fill the position in the future. guess what? Caroline retired and they filled the position. most citizens have short memories when it comes to the city and city dealings. still curious if the Hildreths filled that wine cellar and if Shahanian on Highland had to tear down his completely un-permitted "gym" and has provided parking for the three other houses on the property. maybe the CC offered him an apology and hopes the planning commission and the public have forgotten.

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  13. Count on the lot being split if it is not already two lots. I am not going to
    Be surprised if the house is raised and then the whole mess put on the market.

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    1. He can pretty much do as he likes now.

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    2. And he will, too. As will a whole bunch of other Mayberry real estate tycoons.

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  14. This is the moment for our new Mayor to step up and explain what cause such a grovelling apology. Without that explanation to those of us who pay for this nonsense,Gabe Engeland just becomes another corrupt City employee.

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  15. Does anyone know the vote count? Did any council member vote against giving the demo permit?

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    1. All the City Councilmembers voted yes.

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    2. It was unanimous. And I think many of you did not actually listen to the chain of events. Kefalas was completely vindicated and the City Council
      did the right thing. Having known this family my entire life, I know that they will make the home very tastefull and will honor the architecture. It is time to stop making this wonderful family out to be bad guys. Again, really take the time to watch the meeting, and I think you will agree.

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    3. I was in attendance at the meeting and my jaw dropped as I heard the vote. I had hoped that Council Member Denise Delmar would have voted NO but she too sold out. It was a unanimous yes vote! I had hoped for a better outcome.

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    4. If they were a WONDERFUL family that house would still be standing.

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    5. Then you should have purchased it!

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    6. Purchased what? There is nothing there.

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  16. So many posts say that people in town have short memories. It's time to start the conversation about next year's ballot on which will be a measure to repeal the UUT and another measure to give ourselves a parcel tax. There will also be council seats up for election. It will be interesting to hear incumbents' reasoning for why we not only still have to have a ridiculously high UUT (which was supposed to be the end-all saving grace for city finances) but we also need a parcel tax on top of it.

    If these things keep getting attention, even short memories will be carried through.

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  17. Why do "you" insist that "you" are correct?
    YOU are as mixed up as Mr. Kefalas was in letting his crew loose on the house, without reading the permits.
    Just as bad as the City was in not following up with checking on building site permits and if the instructions were being adhered.
    The Council apology was to off set the hot headed outburst from some Planning Commissioners.
    Learn and move on.

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    1. Very concise 10:35, I agree ,nice spin.

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    2. When we allow or are forced to allow the Monastery development to proceed we will be able to pay many of our debts.

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    3. Do you really think Sierra Madre's last remaining natural treasures should be sold off to pay for $40 million in CalPERS debt? Or bad water bonds? Is that a good trade in your mind?

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    4. It's not Sierra Madre's. You talking eminent domain? Sounds great let's just take someones property or natural treasure as you call it.

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    5. You're double talking dude.

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    6. Kowabunga,epic comment!! Grommet

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  18. Re 6:06/7:40

    Way wah wah. Another union busting hater of the 1st Amendment right to associate.

    Probably complains about manufacturing jobs leaving the U.S., but too caught up in Fox-think to realize that his corporate union busting brethren shipped all those jobs overseas after busting the unions that could have fought to keep jobs here.

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    1. Enjoy it while it lasts. It cannot last forever.

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  19. Sierra Madre's last remaining treasure belongs to the church, don't trespass.

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  20. 11:45am. Could be, because it was the correct thing to do.
    Did you say The Only Place in Town was offering free burgers; I'm there...

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  21. Mr.Kefalas and past Council Woman Maryann MacGillivray, both were accused of saying something; that they did not.
    The facts get miscued and continue to be repeated often enough.
    The perpetrator is hoping the lies will stick, so as to discredit that individual.
    Time to put your pitchforks away.

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    1. And you, 4:43, can put away your intentional efforts to change reality.

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  22. I just heard a rumor. Free Jr Cheeseburgers, with the purchase of an extra large drink and extra large fries 5-7 pm tomorrow The Only Place.

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  23. Let me know when the Only Place in Town, offers the "demolition burger"

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    1. With or without roof, sir?

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  24. Glendora, California will be changing over to district voting for their city council person. July 13, 2017 the clock is ticking and they have 30 days and counting to complete the phases declared by California Courts. So districts will be the norm and new standard.

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