01 February 2014

Madrona Public Hearing #2 This Tuesday!

This card, mailed out by Hills for Everyone as part of its StopMadrona.Org campaign, lays the matter out clearly and concisely.

On Tuesday the 4th, the Brea City Council continues its hearing on the appeal of the city's planning commission approval of Madrona's predecessor, Canyon Crest.

The appellant team, including two former council members and other concerned residents, did a beautiful job with a compelling series of presentations, buttressed by an excellent PowerPoint accompaniment, about the manifold reasons why Madrona is a bad idea.

Conversely, the applicant's lawyer had the cojones to suggest the project was, in his opinion, exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, without saying why and, then, quickly offering that his client was happy to have the project be CEQA-applicable.

Similar tortured logic was employed by the traffic engineer, whose numbingly-long, statistics-heavy discourse stated that, while traffic has declined on Carbon Canyon Road, the Madrona project would add traffic.  Also striking was his insistence that 19 car trips over the CEQA-established threshold for what constitutes a "significant unavoidable adverse impact" was really insignificant.  This would be like saying that, if 1000 units of x was the threshold for extreme pollution, that having 1019 units of x for a given project would be no big deal! 

If something is bad, having 19 more of bad doesn't make it good, no?

Finally, the fire planning consultants, after glossing over the fact that there would have to be fire walls ringing the luxury home site as well as in-home sprinkler systems, which would ruin the contents if deployed, acknowledged brazenly that the "next big fire is coming."  But, this would be OK, because the measures put in place would provide for survivability.

Is that what a prospective buyer would want--to spend an estimated $1.2 million and up at Madrona, only to find out that the premium views will one day be of a burned-out moonscape torched by a wildfire, but that's fine, because at least their home has survived (if, indeed, it has)?

Finally, the news reports keep coming about the increasingly dire water situation in California and the western United States. Snow levels in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a major source of water for the state, are at the lowest levels ever recorded--a staggering 12% of normal.  Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County has gone, in three mere years, to almost virtual disappearance.  The State Water Project announced this week that, for the first time in its 54 years of existence, that it cannot guarantee water supplies.  The state is creating a task force to take a long, hard look at the reality of long-term drought and what needs to be done for dealing with the likelihood of a lengthy continuation of the same.

Then, there is this piece in the New York Times that is worth reading if there are still people out there who don't feel that there is a crisis looming, especially the comment about the region being on track for the worst drought in the American West in 500 years, half a millennium!  And, the head of the "California Association of Water Agencies" described his "worry meter" as being the highest it's ever been.  Tom Vilsack, secretary of the federal Department of Agriculture, was quoted as saying that the drought was reason "to take climate change seriously."

Read the article here.

Water rationing, barring a "miracle March" and consistent rainfall over a few years, is almost certainly going to take place very soon, perhaps as early as next year.  Calls are out now for a moratorium on new home construction (read: Madrona) or on filling private swimming pools.  We could add public and private fountains and waterfalls; golf course lakes that serve no useful purpose except as challenges to players; and many more far-from-essential (mis)uses of water.

Madrona represents a completely outdated, outmoded, infeasible and inefficient model of home building that should have died with the 20th century.  Increasingly, we have to stop turning away from new realities and accept that there are going to have to establish different ways of living--in all manner of ways, not just home-building.

Really, from the time of post-World War II smog alerts arising in our region to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, published in 1960, to the OPEC oil embargo of the early 1970s, to the water rationing of later that decade, and so forth--we should have been thinking more strategically and long-term about dealing with our environmental issues.

What does this have to do with Madrona?  Well, it's context and perspective, resources that often seem as preciously rare as our water is right now.

In any case, for whatever reasons seem to apply, those who are against the Madrona housing project have their last chance to speak and be on the record about it.  Come to the Brea City Hall council chambers on Tuesday night at 7 and let your voice be heard.  It can definitely make a difference, especially given the 3-2 vote of the Planning Commission five-and-a-half years ago! 

1 comment:

CanyonNative said...

You don't have to be an "expert" to speak. We've heard the ill-prepared, boring "experts" from Madrona already and they are fudging the facts. We need everyday people who can speak from experience to tell the Brea Council what the real facts are about life in the Canyon and how Madrona will damage the city. We need everybody else to let their presence speak for their opposition to this terrible proposal.