• a sign on a median

      “No on HR” sign (Photo – Graphics Dept.)

      Measure HR states that it takes the entire privately-owned property known as The “Monastery” and changes the building code from Institutional zone to Hillside Management zone without the consent of the owner.

      By Kristine Lowe

      The Monastery is an Institution, not a residential facility. The lower parcel known as the Meadows was once allowed low-density residential building, which is what the Passionists, the owners for almost 100 years, would like to do now. If Measure HR passes, the Passionists cannot use their own land as they deem fit and as has been approved after lengthy collaboration with the Planning Commission and unanimous approval of the City Council.

      Section 2.B.a of Measure HR states that the Passionists can only continue as a non-conforming entity “without expansion, significant physical alterations, or change in use.” This prohibits them from ever making changes to their operation should they need to change or adapt their mission. This part of Measure HR was analyzed by the City Attorney, who agreed that if HR passes the City is open to litigation since it takes rights away from the Passionists.

      The purpose of Hillside Management zoning prevents using the steep vertical acreage section of a lot from being used when measuring how large a home can be built on that lot. If a home is built on 2 acres of land, but that land is so steep you can’t build on most of it, you can only use the flat portion as acreage in the calculating maximum square footage of the home. The Meadows is relatively flat and not against the hillside, so the total acreage of each lot can be used in relation to the buildable size of each home.If Measure HR passes, each home can, by definition, be a mansion of up to 6,500 square feet.

      A study and analysis done by the City Staff and confirmed by the City Attorney affirmed that 32 homes of up to 6,500 square feet/lot can be built in the Meadows parcel should the Monastery stay and Measure HR is approved. The proponents of Measure HR say this is a lie, but SB9 is a State law and supersedes City codes. Each two-acre lot can be subdivided into four homes, so 68 homes of 6,500 square feet / per lot could be built on the entire property if the Monastery left the property.

      In summary, I don’t think it’s fair to change a private property owner’s zoning without its consent. This will cause lawsuits from the Passionists should Measure HR pass. I also don’t see how the Hillside Management zoning applies to this area when NONE of the surrounding homes are zoned as Hillside. They are RS1 zoned.

      Finally, I prefer the Meadows project which has 42 ecologically sound homes planned at 3,250 square feet and under, includes a 3 acre park the same size as Memorial Park, and changes the 2 parcels north of the Monastery into Conservancy open space where it can never be built on. We Sierra Madreans would get to approve the plans for the homes and the park. If Measure HR passes, we don’t have those same rights. Vote NO on Measure HR.

      Kristine Lowe is a teacher/retired Fire Captain, and lifelong 4th generation resident of Sierra Madre.

      > Read: Guest Opinion | YES on HR


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