On November 6, Sierra Madre residents were asked to vote on Measure ALF, which will ultimately decide whether The Kensington Project, a 60,100-square-foot assisted living facility, can be built at 33 North Hermosa Ave and 245 West Sierra Madre Blvd.
The end result showed the measure passing with 77.06 percent voting voted "Yes" and 22.94 percent voting "No."
The vote is more than a year in the making. The Kensington Project has been the subject of public hearings and city meetings since last fall, because its proposed density violates Measure V. Measure V limits the size of new development in Sierra Madre, most notably to 13 dwelling units per acre in the downtown area.
The assisted living facility would ultimately sit on about two acres, be two stories, contain 75 assisted living suites, as well as necessary care amenities and facilities for residents and employees. Currently, an abandoned building that was formerly home to a skilled nursing facility sits on the land.
The ballot measure reads:
Shall an Ordinance be adopted to amend Sierra Madre Municipal Code Section 17.35.040 (“Core Density Limit”) of the People’s Empowerment Act (aka Measure V) to permit development of an assisted living facility consistent with the Kensington Assisted Living Facility Specific Plan not exceeding two stories, thirty feet in height and seventy-five assisted living suites, for the parcels located at 33 North Hermosa Avenue an 245 West Sierra Madre Boulevard?
Measure V is dubbed the “People’s Empowerment Act,” and was put in place to preserve Sierra Madre’s quaint small-town character. But, it allows for voters to lift the restrictions for certain parcels of land.
In the case of Measure ALF, voters will be asked whether or not they want to lift density restrictions for the 33 N Hermosa Ave and 245 W Sierra Madre Blvd parcels only. The vote will not affect other parcels of land in downtown Sierra Madre.
Even though the vote is taking place during the presidential election, it will still cost about $30,000. Kensington’s developers, Fountain Square Development West, are covering the cost.
The Dwelling Unit Debate
Over the past year, hours of Kensington Project discussion were centered on what constitutes a “dwelling unit” and whether the Kensington Project suites would be considered a dwelling unit if they did or did not have microwaves or other food-prep amenities. Asking voters to amend the density restrictions on the Kensington’s proposed land seemed to be the most logical way to vote on the project.
Councilman John Capoccia summed up the ALF ballot measure nicely at a July meeting when he said, “If we remove the density restriction on those two parcels then you won’t have to decide if they are dwelling units or not.”
What Does Sierra Madre Think?
When the project was first proposed last year, residents were in uproar over its size and height. However, as developer Billy Shields reworked the plans and city staff has hashed out the project, there seems to be a more favorable view of the project.
Councilman John Harabedian has stated his support for the project, while Councilman Chris Koerber said , “While the proposed Kensington Project is not a perfect project, it is nonetheless a very good project. I am particularly pleased that the project maintains the spirit of Measure V.”
What do you think of the Kensington project?