Friday, January 18, 2008
After an extensive recruitment process, the City of Sierra Madre is excited to announce that Danny Castro of West Hollywood will be joining the All-America City team as the new Development Services Director.
Danny Castro brings to Sierra Madre over 15 years experience in the local government planning process, with expertise in both the public and private sectors. Mr. Castro was with the City of Beverly Hills Community Development Department for over 10 years in a number of positions, each with increased responsibilities. His work included a wide variety of residential and commercial developments, zoning and land use studies, and staff liaison for the Planning and Architectural Commissions.
Mr. Castro’s private sector background extended his expertise in project management as well as interests in historic preservation. At The Kor Group, a Los Angeles-based real estate company, Mr. Castro specialized in the conversion and rehabilitation of historic structures into residential uses. As a private planning consultant, his clients have included the cities of Claremont and Santa Monica, reviewing projects subject to design review, compliance with historic preservation policies, and environmental review requirements.
Mr. Castro resides in West Hollywood where he is currently the Chair of the City’s Historic Preservation Commission, which, through various means, helps to preserve the community’s character through the protection, enhancement and preservation of cultural resources.
Danny Castro is a native Californian, and grew up in Chula Vista, a suburb of San Diego. He graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.
City Manager Elaine Aguilar stated, “I welcome Danny to the City of Sierra Madre. I think he brings the perfect balance of experience, technical expertise, and approachability that’s important in his new role as Development Services Director.” Mr. Castro will begin his tenure with the City of Sierra Madre on Monday, February 4, 2008.
From Press Release
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I am sick of all the uninformed comments over at the FCblog on Sir Eric and Paddy Wagons posts. I read the UUT and here is some information for those who want it.
First let’s start with some facts.
The current UUT has been in place since 1993.
There are 3 questions being asked of the voters:
First being the ordinance to prohibit paying police officers LESS than the lowest of 10 San Gabriel Valley police departments.
Second the ordinance to increase the UUT by 6% to maintain general city services, expand exemptions to low and very low income households and establish an oversight committee.
Third ordinance would be contingent on the passing of the UUT. This would dictate that the additional revenue generated by the increase be used for the police raises.
So this allows, if you are for the UUT increase to vote for it, to supply additional revenue to the city general fund, yet vote against using it solely for the police department raises. I assume at that point the money would be used to fund all city needs and would be overseen by the committee that will be formed as part of the UUT. I don’t suppose anyone thought about that scenario, interesting twist on the whole thing in my opinion.
That resolution was adopted and signed by the Mayor putting these on the ballot on December 11, 2007, the vote was 5-0.
Now for the actual UUT, some points of clarification.
The increase will be from 6% to 12%, this will take place over a period of 3 years, with an 2% a year beginning July 1, 2008. It also gives Council authority to establish a lesser rate on or before August 1 of any year.
However there is a sunset clause. The tax will diminish at 2% (back to 10%) a year beginning June 30, 2014, then to 8% on June 30, 2015 and back to 6% on June 30, 2016.
So in essence over the next 8 years we will pay 12% for a total of 4 years, 10% for 2 years and 8% for 2 years. Then the tax will revert back to 6% and the charges on the additional services as dictated by the new UUT will continue. So in 2016 you will be paying 6% but on more services; so there will still be an increased revenue stream, but not as substantial.
There are pages and pages outlining the specific services that will be taxed, because technologies have changed so much in the past 14 years, I supposed you would have to sit down with both the old UUT and the new to determine exactly what some of the new taxes are on, some are more obvious.
This one is interesting; according to the ordinance, it is to fund general city services, including safety services, street maintenance, library services, and park and recreations services. Not just Police and Safety service, so my question of the day is, if the increase UUT passes and the third ordinance that reads:
If Measure ____, the increase in the Utility users Tax is approved by the voters, should the additional revenue generated by that increase be used to fund public safety services including paramedic, police salaries and benefits and additional safety staffing.
Passes the police get their raise.
So if measure ___ does not pass then the revenue can be used for General City services as dictated by the oversight committee, otherwise the police make out and get everything on their agreement and to hell with the rest of the city services. Right?
The oversight committee with be the City treasurer and 5 members of the public, each councilperson making one appointment. It does not say anything about how long each member will preside on the committee and if the make up will change based on elections.
So that is the main theme of the UUT. If someone wants to do an analysis of the additional services that will be taxed and put up a matrix of new versus old, which would be cool.
Initially I thought that the UUT was a good way to increase revenue for a city that does not have an easy way to increase revenues, with low development, oops, no development, low sales tax revenue etc.
But now with the Police department holding the whole thing hostage with their raises, I am not sure that I agree with it. I like the fact that there is a sunset clause and an oversight committee in place to make sure that it is spent appropriately, but if measure ___ passes, it won’t really matter will it? The cops will get what they need, and the rest of the city?
So I really don’t have an opinion yet. The jury is out and I need more information. I need to ask some of those questions.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Since the folks over at the FCBlog are debating whether or not a Poodle can write better editorial copy than Sir Eric, I thought I might bring something or more importance to your attention. (BTW I am voting for the Poodle, they are gnarly)
The folks at The Adams Pack Station have brought something to my attention, and it warrants a look and some research. If you ever hike the area in big Santa Anita Canyon and Chantry Flats this could affect you! Apparently according to the web site:
The current policy of Sierra Madre Chief of Police, Marylin Diaz, is to block these entrances to the Angeles National Forest on "Red Flag Days”….... Police officers, which are lacking as it is in Sierra Madre, have been instructed to guard these entrances. On at least two occasions, helicopter patrols have been employed at great expense to the taxpayers.
So, what is all the fuss about? And what is a "Red Flag Day?" A red flag warning is issued by the National Weather Service (click here for Red Flag criteria) and is broadcast by local radio and television stations. It essentially warns of high fire danger. This is not a new program, but a lasting hysteria following the recent wildfires has prompted Sierra Madre's new policy. It should also be noted that the community has a relatively new membership in the Fire Safe Council. What we want to bring to everyone's attention is that on every Red Flag Day since the wildfires, the Angeles National Forest has been open. Of all the 650,000 acres of public forest in Los Angeles County, only two entrances were closed, both in the City of Sierra Madre.
Apparently this closure caused a problem over the holidays.
For example, the police department closed the road on Christmas Day. There were severe winds on Christmas Evening and the road was open. On Christmas Day, the air was still. The Christmas Day closure was particularly unfortunate. It trapped a dozen people inside.
As untimely as the Christmas closure was, the City closed the road on December 31st, around noon. This left 50 cars locked in. They stationed two officers at the gate for a while; however, when the officers left the majority of cars were still in the lot. Visitors found themselves at the gate with no way to get out. The sign on the gate has incorrect information.
The Petition is worth a read. As a Canyon dweller I am very concerned about wildfires and careless hikers. On the other hand should the City spend their resources dealing with a US Forest Service issue? Does the City have legal authority to make these decisions? They sure are not staffed adequately to handle it! So Please take the time to read the petition, and not just draw conclusions, their Reasonable Standards look reasonable, so do your civic duty and go sign it! (The Poodle would if he had opposable thumbs)
Thursday, January 3, 2008
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association for their trophy in the parade, Princess’ Trophy: Most Beautiful Entry 35 feet or under; and to thank and acknowledge the hard work of the group and all the volunteers! Every year the City has something to be proud of in the Parade. People from all over the country see our little town represented in this annual event. You guys rock!
I also want to note that, Emeril Lagasse, who was selected to be Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade, and do the coin toss at the Rose Bowl game, is more than just a celebrity chef. I noticed in many of the articles that discussed is participation in the event, neglected to note that he not only owns restaurants all over the country, has cooking shows and several books published, but also established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation in 2002,it raises monies that supports various children’s charities and seeks to inspire and enable young people from disadvantaged circumstances. He is truly a good guy, not just a celebrity.