Kensington Project to Go Before Voters in November

Posted 3/14/12 – It is clear after Tuesday night’s City Council meeting that the proposed Assisted Living Facility (ALF) known as the Kensington Project will not be built without a vote of the residents of Sierra Madre.  What is not clear, is what form exactly that vote will take.

Despite the belief by many that Measure V would require a vote of the people on any project that might exceed its 2-3-13 provisions, the measure does NOT allow a per project vote.  Legally, the only way to put a project on the ballot is to place the legislative aspects of a project, such as a specific plan, or an overlay zone, a general plan amendment, etc., on the ballot, not the project itself.   The developers of the proposed project asked the Council to place the project on the November ballot, following “completion  of the review by the Planning  Commission, and approval  by the City Council.” However, as pointed out by the City Attorney, if the project violates Measure V, it would be illegal for the Council to approve the project.  As it stands now, it appears that the project violates Measure V’s “13” provision, which limits the number of units per acre allowed to 13. The 76 “suites” proposed by Kensington for the 1.84 acre facility far exceed that number.

Council members Buchanan and MacGillivray both stated that they felt that the backers of Measure V, when drafting and approving it, were not  considering an assisted living facility, but were more concerned about preventing uses such as condominiums, where a 4-bedroom condo would be considered one unit.

Former mayor Kurt Zimmerman, a proponent of Measure V, addressed the Council and pointed out that “it’s real easy to amend Measure V.”  According to Zimmerman, the ordinance names every lot within the defined Measure V area, so it could be amended simply by striking out the lots in question.

So, it appears the project will be reviewed by the Planning Commission.  Their recommendation will be sent to City Council.  Council can then approve the project, if they feel that it does not violate Measure V, or as is more likely, will approve the project “subject to approval by the voters.”  At that point, most likely in September, either the legislative aspect(s) of the project, or an amendment to Measure V, or some combination of both, will be placed on the November ballot.