General Plan Update Committee Hosts First Town Hall Forum

This editorial is the opinion of Bill Coburn, publisher of Sierra Madre News Net and 15 year Sierra Madre resident. It is not intended to reflect the views of any other person or entity with whom I am associated.
While I really had no idea what to expect, the meeting far exceeded any expectations I might have had. The water rate forums, as outraged as people were, drew very few people. I went to one water forum, and only 6 non-staff people were there. Sunday’s meeting drew somewhere in the range of 250-300, or more than the City has said attended ALL the water forums.

The best thing for me was having one of the Commissioners tell me afterwards that one of the big things he got out of the meeting was that there were a lot of things mentioned to him that he would never have thought of. Things he wouldn’t have known, unless someone else, affected by the item, had brought it up to him. That was one of my hopes for the meeting, that the Commissioners were aware as they move forward of how much they weren’t aware of, and how their actions might negatively impact people if they did not fully consider the effects of those actions.

There was definitely a business contingent there, I saw at least a dozen owners that I know, some Chamber, some not. And I’m sure there were business owners there that I am not familiar with, as well. One of the Commissioners told me that she felt that there was a good representation of business owners. 

Other positives: There were a lot of people I’ve never seen before, in other words, new participants in the process. Also, many of the people putting this thing on, myself included, with whatever small role I played, are polar opposites in many aspects politically, yet every one worked well together, and treated each other with respect. That’s something that’s been lacking in the Sierra Madre political scene, to a degree.

Melissa Thew did a great job with food.  Carol Canterbury did a great job rounding up door prizes.  Event co-Chairs Teryl Willis and Leslee Hinton did a great job organizing the event.  One resident with whom I spoke told me he was very impressed, and that in particular he liked that everything was very straight forward.

Friends of the Arts was there to work with children while their parents did the busy work, and though there weren’t many children there for them to work with, they did at least get to talk with many of the folks to increase awareness of their concern that the Arts are properly considered and included in the General Plan.  But there was a youth influence, the YAC kids painted all the banners that hung on the tables that represented the seven elements of a General Plan.  Who knows, as 2030 approaches and the Plan is updated again, maybe some of those youth will sit on the committee and recall when they helped with the update “back in 2010”.

Staff and City Council were there, listening to what the people had to say.  Unfortunately, only one Planning Commissioner was there, Kevin Paschall.  Hopefully more will be able to attend future meetings.  Three members of the GPUSC were unable to attend, Debbie Sheridan, who was out of town, Colin Braudrick, who is just out of the hospital, and Chairperson Denise Delmar, who was with her daughter who had just had a baby.  The other commissioners were there at each of the tables, answering questions, but more importantly, listening to community input.  A survey prepared by the committee was distributed, and the original 150 copies were supplemented by an additional 2 publishings of 50 copies each.  A PowerPoint presentation of 25 slides detailing what a general plan is was shown on a projection screen, an endless loop using a laptop and a projector with speakers (voiceover by Chairperson Denise Delmar), though the crowd was large enough that the audio was frequently overpowered.

All in all, I think it went exceedingly well. Congratulations to the GPUSC (and staff) for a great event, and to the Communications team which got the word out and drew the large crowd.