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Blog: Why I'm voting YES on MEASURE ALF

The Kensington Assisted Living Facility is good for Sierra Madre. I'm voting YES on Measure ALF and hope you will too.

I'm looking forward seeing the replacement of the dilapidated skilled nursing eye-sore on Sierra Madre Blvd. with the new Kensington Assisted Living Facility. The “Kensington” will brighten up our downtown, provide a means for our seniors to stay in Sierra Madre past the point where assistance with daily living is required, bring in much-needed revenue to the city coffers, and stimulate downtown commerce.

Sierra Madre's City Council unanimously supports the project, as does the Chamber of Commerce. I believe that the citizens of Sierra Madre also overwhelmingly support the project and will vote YES also. While I was campaigning for a seat on the City Council, concern for the blighted site was one of the main topics of conversation. Citizens felt it was a disgrace to our city to tolerate the blight. They repeatedly expressed their desire to have it redeveloped.

So, is it a perfect project? There is no such thing as a perfect project, but this one is pretty darned good. Concern expressed by some individuals is that it's big, it splits our downtown, and it uses too much water.

Yes, it's big compared to the existing boarded-up skilled nursing facility. On the other hand, the actual footprint is about the same, the difference being that the new facility has a second story. However, it does comply with the Voter's Empowerment Ordinance (Measure V) 30 foot height limit and two story limit that applies to our downtown. A major improvement with the Kensington is that the facade, which contains retail space, is at street level, which is certainly more attractive and “walkable” compared to the retaining wall at the boarded-up site. I give a lot of credit to the developer and Sierra Madre's Planning Commission for hammering out a design that fits with the community and introduces retail space at the street level.

Regarding the split of our downtown, this project does not split our downtown. Downtown was already split by the existing structure since the early '50s. This project improves the situation by providing retail opportunity at the street level. The alternative is simply to leave the area blighted as it is for years to come. It's simply unreasonable to expect that the commercially zoned portion of the site could be developed solely for retail use, thanks to Globalization and the defunct Community Redevelopment Agencies, which gave financial advantages to big-box retailers at the expense of small town businesses. Regarding the residential R-3 portion of the development site, I can't get excited about the possibility of more condos or apartments for Sierra Madre. The proposed Kensington is the best use overall for now and the foreseeable future.

Yes, water supply concern has recently been raised. Water supply is a topic that has arisen periodically throughout Sierra Madre's history because of our reliance on our local mountains as our source. The expected incremental demand from the Kensington is insignificant in the grand scheme of things and won't materially affect our short and long-term supply.

Approximately two-thirds of water consumption in Sierra Madre and other communities goes to landscaping in general. The Kensington has very little landscaping, and that which it has will be drought-tolerant. The building will also be constructed to the latest Cal-Green standards, which will result in low per-capita consumption. Central food preparation and laundry facilities will further conserve compared to single and multifamily residences. The bottom line is that these 96 new residents will add less than one-half of one percent to the city's water demand, and won't materially affect our supply. One-half of one percent additional consumption is not a sufficient reason to forgo the benefits that the Kensington brings to Sierra Madre.  

All in all, this is a great project for Sierra Madre. We've vetted it thoroughly via nine Planning Commission meetings and three City Council meetings, where the public has given feedback which has resulted in improvements over the original proposal. The Kensington will be good for Sierra Madre, in that it improves a blighted area in a prominent location, will stimulate local commerce, bring in much-needed revenue, and serve the needs of elderly citizens.

 I'm voting YES on Measure ALF and I hope you will too!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mrs. Quigley November 02, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Thanks for explaining that so well. Always appreciate your articulate view on city concerns. Margaret Quigley
No On ALF November 03, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I am sure this will pass, but it won't be because I am voting for it. When the city engineer states that we will run out of water in a year, while at the same time we are going to allow for the biggest water user in Sierra Madre history, I sense a disconnect. Are we running out of water? Are we not? Are we being sold another bill of goods like with the water rate increase? Who knows? Nobody downtown is saying much. I am voting no.
Fran Garbaccio November 03, 2012 at 07:56 PM
As a concerned citizen and S.M. Senior, I am supporting ALF and thank Councilman Capoccia for his well-stated comments regarding this project. It is high time we improve this blighted piece of property.
No On ALF November 03, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I think that some seniors in town are under the impression that the ALF is some kind of a charity. It is not. The cost for a year there would be somewhere in the $60,000 to $70,000 range depending on the program. I don't know how many people could sustain that level of spending for very long.
Dear "No on ALF": We are not running out of water. Our public works director did present a disturbing trend regarding the declining water level in our basin. However, it was not adjusted for seasonality, and we've since engaged the Raymond Basin Watermaster, who is responsible for ensuring the health and productivity of the basin. There are means available to address the problem. More to come on that... Meantime, we have ample salvage credits and reserves in the Main San Gabriel Basin, and construction of the emergency connection from the Metropolitan Water District will begin this spring. The Kensington's consumption of water is not significant. Even under a worst case scenario where our wells go dry, the Kensington's impact would mean that we'd open the emergency connection from Arcadia or MWD to access our reserves only few days earlier than what we would have done if the Kensington was not built. Furthermore, we're under a State imposed mandate to reduce our Per Capita consumption by 20% by 2020. That reduction will offset the Kensington's extra consumption by fifty-fold. Ironically, the Kensington will help Sierra Madre meet that target because its residents will use far less per capita than the City is using today. I acknowledge that reasonable people will have differences of opinion, and I respect yours, but in my opinion the Kensington's benefits outweigh the small impact that it makes on our water supply. Thanks for commenting.
ricnalli November 05, 2012 at 07:59 PM
John, The picture displayed here does not match that on the pro-ALF flier delivered to my home. It also does not match the picture on the pro-ALF ad in the Mountain View News. I am having a hard time coming up with the courage to vote "yes" on a project that is depicted by its proponents in three wildly different ways (craftsman, spanish, street level, elevated, etc.). Can you explain this? Can you tell us which version we are voting on? Thanks for you outstanding service to the city, Rick.
Rick, the picture associated with this post was placed by Patch staff. I did not provide the picture. In any case, it is incorrect. It's an early version of the the "craftsman" style, which was changed to the current "Santa Barbara Mission" style, based on input from the public and Sierra Madre's planning commission. The picture on the mailer reflects the view as if standing in front of the fire station, and the picture on the developer's ad in the Mountain Views News is a perspective looking northwest at Sierra Madre Blvd and Hermosa. You are voting on both the mailer and recent ad version. Both are correct. The retail section is at street level, which again is a huge improvement over the existing retaining wall and the early "craftsman" version of the project. -John
Mary Brandenburg November 07, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I uploaded a pic of what I understand to be the updated version. Quite a bit different, looking more like a mini mall.

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