Can the Montebello Hills Project Succeed in this Market?

42year and centaur both brought up the real estate market in their arguments, for and against the MH development. What is the real situation with the market? I know it's very down right now, but, I also hear that the upper end is still holding up. (Not sure what upper end is though. Is a 1 million dollar house high end?)

I recently saw, on Zillow or Trulia, that some old 1970s condos in Oak Hills, right behind Potrero Heights Elementary and just south of the 60, are selling for $250k. Or they are being listed at that price. Chances are, they'll go for less.

That just seems like a lousy market.  Granted, while these are 1 and 2 br condos, they have nice views, and are in the Potrero school area, and that's a great school that consistenly scores at the top of the tests, and is a fun school to boot.

Someone's asking 1650 rent on one of these condos.


At that price, you should buy.

How does this bode for nearby development of the hills?  If they price their condos at $700k, are people really going to think "yeah, that's worth $450k more than Oak Hills!"

I just don't see that happening.  I could see some estate-type houses selling well, because wide-open spaces are at a premium and some folks just want that space, but condos are just apartments with ownership and nicer amenities, as well as access to amenities in the city.  Someone looking for amenities wouldn't necessarily think "Montebello" when they think of a place to buy.  They might want Irvine, for it's ultra-suburban snobbery, or downtown LA because of the development there (but those condos are lagging too, and they're only $400k).

Can the Montebello Hills

There are a lot of times I"ll see a rent price and think that, for that price, why wouldn't you buy?  But putting together a 20% downpayment is tough.  Used to be banks had many alternatives for 1% or 5% down, but I think the credit crunch is going to mean a movement back to traditional 30-year fixed mortgages, with 20% down.

There are some programs that can help you get the money.  Rosemead's got one; you can check the homepage, for information about that program.

I'm sure most of the offerings in the Montebello Hills will be for well under $1 million.  Given the number of units they say they're putting in, it's obvious that most will be condos, and I can't imagine many people willing to pay a million dollars for a Montebello condo, even with the view.  I'm figuring the million dollar units will be single family homes with some actual yard space.  That's assuming this all gets built. . . .

Build It, and They Will Come....

Night Reader blogs: " Someone looking for amenities wouldn't necessarily think "Montebello" when they think of a place to buy.  They might want Irvine, for it's ultra-suburban snobbery, or downtown LA because of the development there (but those condos are lagging too, and they're only $400k". 

"ultra-urban snobbery", Night Reader, roflmao, ha ha ha ha. 

But, all joking aside, recent Asian immigrants, especially those from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and others fleeing (with cash in hand literally) from Communist China, who might be priced out of San Marino, Arcadia or North San Gabriel, might consider North Montebello a good "starter home".  These are very family oriented immigrants who want to maintain a sense of cultural unity in an accepting community of their peers, and might feel culturally isolated in South Orange County.  Also, many new immigrants (again, with cash in hand) would prefer a new home in move in condition, rather than a 30 plus year home.  But, hey, that's just my take on things.

Has anyone gone down Logden Ave from San Gabriel Bl towards Monrovia?  As you get further into Temple City and Arcadia, these new homeowners just bulldozed the existing ranch style homes, and talk about mansionization!!!!! These homes they have built have no yard to speak of, and are at least 3500 to 5000 sq feet, swear.  It made me want to come back and kick my home, lol.  But, being the "modest Christian Protestant" that I am, I deferred. 




Can Irvine be transplanted to Montebello?

Night reader and Todd make good points.  When asked about the soft and getting softer real estate market, Norm Witt and Bryon de Arakal of Cook-Hill both say that they believe that the market will firm up by 2012, when the first units are planned to go on sale.  When they took city department heads on a tour of projects that the developer wants to emulate, they went to Orange County, apparently to Irvine, Costa Mesa, and Newport Beach to show the city what they want to build.  Some of the developments were gated, and some had limited access like the proposed development.  Cook-Hill apparently believes that the OC plans will work here, too.  While this is probably not going to be a gated community, with only 3 access points it is pretty close.  Like most gated communities, the developer has proposed about 10 'resident only' recreational areas in their latest private community meeting, and the 4.2 acre 'public park' (with 1.7 acres parking) is no longer where the website shows it, but it is just inside the development and no longer adjacent to Montebello Blvd.  The developers are using the "If we build it, people will come" theory.  They are also proposing a 'via paseo' all around the development for walking and viewing.  They apparently believe that these are inducements enough for people to buy.   



LOL. That's what Doctor Housing Bubble is saying - we'll hit bottom in 2011. So, in 2012, after three more years of a soft market, what will the market price be for a new condo? 300K?

Down in SSG, I remember that as the market was heating up in the mid 1990s, old shacks were selling for around $90k with the land underneath. Even accounting for inflation over 1.5 decades, we're still looking at something like a $150k house... with the land underneath so you can build something larger.

This house wasn't in some "ghetto" - it was up on San Gabriel, near Don Bosco.

If they put those luxury condos in, then, people will have options. The thing is, I suspect that the option of a cheap old house will prove more attractive than an expensive new one when the market stops declining.

The Wild Card in This

One of the opposition arguments against the Hills development is that it is a "soft market",why "disturb the beasts in the hills" if no one will buy correctt?  Well, sorry, but you guys still have NOT addressed the "wild card" or the "X Factor" in all this, and that is the Asian Immigrant home buyer.  I have read where one opposition member says about 200 current (no doubt older) homes are not selling in Montebello.  My argument "for" the development is blogged above.  Also, the new 2 story mansionization type homes in SSG off San Gabriel Bl and on Delta have sold, not to mention the Rosemead home development off of east San Gabriel Bl and Town Center Dr next to McDonald's.  And, how many of us are professional "real estate forcasters or do real estate trend analysis??? This is would be weakest of aurgments to any planning dept and city council.  Again, just IMHO.

Again, please address the wild card element in all this-- the Asian American immigrant home buyer  with MONEY and the Arab or Armenian American with MONEY.

Wild Nature

(The development on the corner of Delta and SG happened pre-bubble. The ones on Reifer sold during the bubble, and at least one has been resold. The prices on the hill are pretty high, still, aside from the views, these are pretty simple homes from the early 1960s.)

Asian immigrants might buy them if they're tailored for them. There's a big add-on being done on Delta, and the floorplan made it look like it's going "duplex" for a large family. They added a bunch of rooms and bathrooms.

I know it's a stereotype, but, it's also kind of true that some immigrants who make some money will tend to buy a house and fill it with family, and spread the costs.

This isn't applicable to condos. First of all, you can't add on to a condo. Second, if you do happen to increase the occupancy significantly, you'll have a big parking problem because you all share a single lot. Third, the HOA will complain (unless they're all doing the same thing).

I can see the single-family residences in the hills doing well, but condos would have to be priced competitively to sell. They're condos. Most people get a condo because they can't get the house, or because the condo is an amazing apartment, in a great location. The location is not that great for an urbanite.

This area, it's great for families, but it's pretty lame for yuppies. BJ's is sub-yuppie, and that's the coolest place around for that kind of thing. It's an OC Gordon Biersch (which is from SF). Applebee's is too plebian. The area kinda specializes in more lower-middle-class cultural things, not the upper stuff. That can be changed, but a couple thousand residents isn't going to alter the demographics that much.

Frankly, the greatest area attraction for the well-educated, intellectual worker types, is Whittier Narrows. Not the park, but the more natural looking areas. It's like moths to a light - the region is one of the few undeveloped areas out here, and they like to hike, get out in nature, ride an expensive bike, etc.

That's not the only thing - authentic ethnic food is a big hit with the UCLA and CalTech grads. Some of them really go nuts for it.

Maybe someone should start by opening a bistro in a reclaimed area in the hills? You know - $7 sandwiches, really good vegetables, expensive pastries. Hire some real waiters and waitresses with manners. Grow a little sage farm for the nice smell. A $7 banh-mi and $2 pan dulce would get people talking. It's the whole thing about paying $7 for a $1.50 sandwich, by choice, that would make people go there if they have money. It has to be really good, though. Like the best in the area.

Maybe yuppies would move in, after that.


Night Reader blogs...... "Frankly, the greatest area attraction for the well-educated, intellectual worker types, is Whittier Narrows. Not the park, but the more natural looking areas. It's like moths to a light - the region is one of the few undeveloped areas out here, and they like to hike, get out in nature, ride an expensive bike, etc........."

Sorry, you so lost me. I'm talking about serious home buyers with "serious money" and maybe you seem to be "projecting"who or what YOU would want to buy. Again, JMHO

[edit--As you may have noticed, the bold and italics in this post continued for all the later posts. That's a recurring bug in the system. To get rid of the style change in the later posts, I had to remove them in this post, too. I trust you will not object. Todd K].

tsk tsk

Night Reader blogs......"The area kinda specializes in more lower-middle-class cultural things, not the upper stuff. That can be changed, but a couple thousand residents isn't going to alter the demographics that much"...........

Night Reader, if this comment wasn't self-loathing and elitist, I don't know what is?

When you make comments like this, you are "putting down" our parents and grandparents. Anyway, who would want to be a neighbor to ANY of the "Housewives of Orange County"?  They are 1st generation PWT from the South and especially Midwest, so who cares. At least in the West SG Valley, we know who we are, know who are neighbors are, and can still recall and/or talk to our former teachers and principals.

tsk tsk

(My post above was kinda spaced out. Didn't mean to get confusing.)

Look, it's the facts. The culture out here is "middle class", or what today might be considered "lower middle class", because lifestyle standards have risen.

If you want to live that life, that's fine. Why pay so much for it, when you can get that life for a lot less money? That $300k difference between a new and used condo could almost build a new house.

Maybe I need to bone up on my Veblen to really grasp the appeal of a $700k condo in Montebello.

Also, I like how you call me elitist just because I bag on the lower-middle-class lifestyle. I just have attitude. To me, it's an honor to be called "elitist" by someone with more money, and who votes Republican. It's almost like being called "uppity."

"They're not the (homes) we're looking for"

I think your "wild card" has already been addressed:  The immigrants with MONEY aren't going to buy in Montebello.  If they have the money, they'd take advantage of the depressed housing market to buy in San Marino, San Gabriel, Temple City, Arcadia, Alhambra, Hacienda Heights, or any number of other places, depending on how much money they have.

I'd also agree in general with night reader--the sort of homes the wealthy Asian immigrants have bought in the past do not look like what is proposed for the Montebello Hills.  In the past, they have tended towards homes with large lots for the tear down and expansion opportunity.  Doesn't mean they couldn't decide now to buy neighboring condos.  In fact, I'm kinda hoping they will trend towards the sort of condos that will be coming to the mixed use developments in Rosemead.  Extended family members can get neighboring units.  The prerequisite is that the condos need to have easy access to restaurants and shopping for the senior citizens who aren't going to drive, anyway.

I don't see that happening in the Montebello development (in contrast to the mixed use developments in Rosemead).  Most of the units in the Montebello Hills would require a potentially strenuous walk down a hill just to get to Montebello Blvd (and a corresponding strenuous walk up a hill from Montebello Blvd).  Then you'd have to cross a very busy street and walk up another pedestrian-unfriendly route to get to shopping.

That doesn't mean the condos couldn't be sold.  If the developer thinks he can build and sell them, it's their money.  Or, if they can't sell them right away, I'm sure they'd do like in Monrovia and rent the units out for a few years, waiting out the downturn.  Of course, the less they sell for or the longer you need to wait for a sale, the lower the supposed tax benefit to the city and school districts.  Irrespective, neither the city nor the school district is going to get rich off of developer fees or property tax.

Mixed Use Nixed by Cook-Hill

At the private meetings that the developer has been holding with various Montebello groups, they are repeatedly asked why they aren't doing any mixed use or retail along Montebello Blvd., where residents want it.  They have given no reason why, but informants tell us that the gnatcatcher seems to like the steep hillsides facing Mtb. Blvd., and Fish and Wildlife won't countenance destroying too much habitat.  We also believe that the Newport Beach group only knows how to plan and build condos, as evinced by their previous OC projects.  If they would do mixed use, we would have trouble galvanizing as much opposition to the project as we have.  People continually ask for new restaurants and specialized stores, and Cook-Hill answers with 'housing units.'  Even single family houses have support in Mtb., but the carpetbaggers will only commit to 12 to 16 multimillion dollar mansions, and the mix of houses and condos to be determined by 'market conditions at the time of building.'

Mayor Molinari cites House of Kebob, Appleby's, Jimmies and BJ's as four good restaurants in Montebello, but how many times can you eat at four restaurants without getting sick of them? 

I worked in South Pasadena for 26 years, and am familiar with the surrounding communities with Asian communities and I agree with Todd about the immigrants with money.  They bought like crazy in 1998 and 99 when the Hong Kong treaty expired.  They bought almost exclusively single family homes on the largest lots possible.  In San Marino, they were responsible for the city passing one of the most restrictive tree cutting ordinances in the San Gabriel Valley due to their penchant for clearcutting and expanding existing homes.  The realtors I worked with never mentioned any expatriate Chinese buying condos.  Also, the Asians of that time tried to buy in neighborhoods with Oriental food, retail and social activities, most lacking in Montebello. 

I also agree with night reader about the attraction of Whittier Narrows to well educated worker types.  With the bike trail upgrades from the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, Daily, I see bike riders from all over the county at Whittier Narrows and Grant Rea Park each morning and afternoon parking their cars and riding their bikes, usually in groups.  This is the type of visitor that the TF wants to come to a hilltop park with multiuse trails.  If the Emerald Necklace's 17 or so mile network loop of trails can be capped off with a hilltop venue, this will attract hikers and bikers from all over the state.  North Montebello is a logical place to expect them to buy food and gas, and maybe stay the night.       

Mixed Use Nixed by Cook-Hill

With all due respect, 42yr MTB citizen, many of your assertions have no basis in fact and/or misunderstand the interlinked dynamics of land constraints and the market forces that drive good commercial/retail planning. Mixed-use or commercial development on the Montebello Hills site is prohibitive due to the enormous constraints inherent to the property because of the presence of the California gnatcather and its federally mandated habitat reserve. As well, the site's topography and its relationship to the roads adjacent to the property (Montebello Blvd., Plaza, San Gabriel, Lincoln, etc.) is not at all conducive to the clear visibility and direct access that successful commercial/retail planning demand. Notwithstanding these points, it is somewhat ironic that the concerns of folks opposed to the Montebello Hills Community Plan where traffic generation is concerned seem to vanish when they advance the concept of commercial/mixed-use land uses for the site. Those land uses are huge traffic generators...much more so than a residential land use.

Your believe that "the Newport Beach group only knows how to plan and build condos, as evinced by their previous OC projects" has no basis in fact. Cook Hill Properties has never planned or developed a residential project in Orange County. It also ignores the proposed residential product mix proposed in the Montebello Hills Specific Plan, and communicated on our website at Let me be clear: We propose a mix of luxury condominium residences, townhomes and single-family detached homes. Furthermore, your assertion that we will "only commit to 12 to 16 multimillion dollar mansions, and the mix of houses and condos to be determined by 'market conditions at the time of building" is simply not founded in any fact.

We believe that the Montebello Hills Specific Plan is comprehensive, balanced and responsible. It provides for a significant coastal sage scrub/gnatcatcher reserve that will be permanently protected and maintained by a third-party environmental conservancy. It provides important new public parks and open spaces accessible to the public. As important, it represents a vital enhancement to the City of Montebello's tax base, which has been static for the better part of a generation even as the city's cost to provide public services to its citizens continues to rise. The renewal and expansion of a city's tax base is essential to the community's sustainability. That's not an opinion, but a fact established time and again in rural, suburban and urban centers throughout the nation and around the world.

Small Houses?

While the typical development is getting larger, there's a counter-trend of small houses. The definition of "small" varies, though, from "70 to 800 sf" to "under 3000 sq ft". The latter is kind of obscene, and the former too compact - but not unreasonable. There are still houses around that are around 800-1000 sf in our area. On Cedar St off of Olympic is a street of small houses that are probably in the 700 sf range. (Yes, I keep looking for sales there.) There are thousands of bungalow apartments, and small houses in the City of LA. In Rosemead, there are still large lots with small 1000 sf houses.

Imagine if, in the hills, portions of the development were for custom built small houses. More space could be used for trees. (Native ones are unlikely, but fruit and shade trees would be nice.) This development could have appeal for relatively wealthy "green" folks with smaller families.

$300K was good enuf for Rush & Walnut Groove

Night Reader blogs...."If you want to live that life, that's fine. Why pay so much for it, when you can get that life for a lot less money? That $300k difference between a new and used condo could almost build a new house"

You opposition members do like to speak with "forked tongue".  I specifically remember Save Our Community members who lived on Rush between Walnut Groove and Potrero Grande decrying how building Walmart would bring down their quoted (not mine) "$300,000 thousand dollar condos? I heard the $300K price tag ad nauseum all through the anti Walmart crisis, and, of course, many were sympathetic.

 These are those tan- brown stucco 2 story 80's style condos where Larry Bevington lived right?  Well, if your fellow Rosemead residents still feel their 30 year old condos in the flat lands of Rosemead, with no view to speak of, can fetch 300K grand, why not the new "luxury condos" in the Montebello Hills project? 

42 y/o Mtb Citizens also blogs, ....."The realtors I worked with never mentioned any expatriate Chinese buying condos"

Wrong!  Maybe you forgot China's One Child Policy for the past 20 years or so?  And, who do you think have been buying up condos in MP and Alhambra all these years.  Also, Montebello's Racquet Mountain and Montebello Hills still has a sizable Asian community. 

$300K was good enuf for Rush & Walnut Groove

I can really see those condos dropping in price. First of all, they are getting old, like Oak Hills. Second, we've seen some price declines the past two years, but we don't see the stats because the houses aren't hitting the market. I see one on zillow for 313, asking price, and more than 60 days on zillow.

I thought the luxury condos were going to sell for 600k to 700k, not 300k. I could totally see new condos selling for 300k. I brought that number up because it was the difference between the old condo and a new one.

$300K was good enuf for Rush & Walnut Groove

That's absolutely right.  There's nothing "forked tongue" about someone saying they live in a $300,000 or $400,000 condo in Rosemead, and also saying that they find it hard to believe someone would pay $300,000 MORE to live in Montebello.  I mean, exactly how much are these "luxary" condos going to cost?  Either they'll cost a lot more than $300K or they won't be "luxury" condos!

$300K was good enuf for Rush & Walnut Groove

Well, the funny thing is that condos up in the hills are already declining in price. Amber Wood's numbers are better, mainly because people aren't vacating much. Oak Hills is having more turnover, probably because it's got a less stable population.

$160k 2b 2b on Neil Armstrong. 964 sf (tiny), but only $165 per sf. If this price is for real, wow.

No lakes in the Hills, but lots of Red Herrings

   Divide $726 million 'increased housing tax base' by 1200 'housing units' and you get about $600,000 average price by Cook-Hill's own figures.  At their private meetings, CH also says that the smallest units will be 'about 1200 - 1500 sf.'  They may have a few 300k units for advertising purposes, but mathematically, they can't have too many and have the total value they claim.

   For night reader, who has the idea of planting shade and/or fruit trees which need a lot of irrigation on the Hills, I have two words for you: La Conchita.    

   Our group has NEVER advocated development in the Hills except for our Open Space Park in our vision brochure and website.  I said that the PEOPLE of Montebello want new mixed use development and not more houses.  I'm glad that Mr. de Arakal quoted me accurately with my 'Newport Beach group" statement, but am puzzled that he thinks that means Cook-Hill.  To my knowledge, Cook-Hill hasn't built anything, and was specifically created to develop the Montebello Hills and two other PXP properties.  That is why I said the 'Newport Beach group', as I was referring to the OC people who make up CH who apparently only worked in developing residential projects in OC before coalescing into CH. 

   As Montebello residents, our Task Force is intensely concerned with traffic congestion around the Hills, especially Mtb. Blvd.  That is why we are against ALL residential and mixed use development in the Hills. 

   Where are the 'new public parks and open spaces accessible to the public' in the Montebello Hills Specific Plan?  Of course, I mean where on the advertising website, as the actual legal plan is NOT 'accessible  to the public', but a secret between the City Council and CH.  I haven't looked at the website today, but since it was put up there was ONE public park comprising about .8% of the proposed development and no public open spaces indicated, and that park has moved its position several times.  Of course, the website has undergone three major revisions since January that we know of, and possibly more so maybe today there are these things there.  But perhaps Mr. de Arakal means the streets and sidewalks, as they are both public and open spaces and therefore possibly he considers the grass parkways 'public parks.'

   I agree that my statement about the 12 to 16 mansions is not based on fact: it is based on Cook-Hill's own responses to resident's questions at their numerous private meetings and the only two public meetings.  I would never characterize such responses as fact and am glad that Mr. de Arakal pointed this out. 

   The idea that an goal of this plan is a 'significant coastal sage/scrub gnatcatcher reserve' after grading and bulldozing (by our estimates, not CH's) about 300 of the 487 acres reminds me of the goal of the Vietnam War, which was to 'save Vietnam by destroying it.'  It didn't make a lot of sense to me then, and it doesn't now.  There is NOW a significant (second largest in the State) coastal sage/scrub gnatcatcher reserve in the Montebello Hills.  The only difference between the current reserve and the proposed one is that after destroying the current reserve (according to the local Audobon Society) and relocating it, CH makes money and the citizens of Montebello pay for it.

   I would like Mr. de Arakal's professional assessment of the per capita parkland in Montebello, as he was the head of parks and recreation of Costa Mesa in happier times.   

   Our group is for renewing and expanding the tax base of Montebello, just not at the expense of the economic and spiritual benefit of the citizens of the City.  The Montebello Redevelopment Assoc. will probably vote to buy a 52,000 square foot industrial property in south Mtb. this month for future redevelopment.  This is how we should renew and expand our tax base.  The redevelopment on Whittier Blvd. is another blueprint that we should follow.  If it would be necessary to develop every open square foot of a city for it to survive, as Mr. de Arakal appears to assert, then all the old cities on the East Coast must  be dead, as they almost all have more park space per citizen than Montebello and therefore must not have expanded their tax base.  Actually, each renewal and redevelopment in those cities results in increased parkland for its citizens, as wise urban planning recognizes the need for public parks and open space.  That's not an opinion, but a fact established time and time again in urban, rural and suburban centers throughout the Nation and around the world.

No lakes in the Hills, but lots of Red Herrings

Good post. I agree about needing to focus redevelopment on the existing streets. Whittier and Beverly both could stand to be fixed up. That redevelopment of Whittier really helped that area.

Point taken about water in the hills.

I'm basically pro-development, but this hill project... where's the gain in building more suburb? We're seeing a slight decline in the burbs, as people have started moving into the city, and we'll need more renovation to maintain the neighborhoods.

No lakes in the Hills, but lots of Red Herrings

42-year Mtb Citizen blogs:  ...."Our group is for renewing and expanding the tax base of Montebello, just not at the expense of the economic and spiritual benefit of the citizens of the City"...

How "exactly" does a redevelopment agency, planning dept and city council go about qualifying and quantifying the "SPIRITUAL BENEFIT" to its citizens? 

This is argument is vague as it is very subjective.


No lakes in the Hills, but lots of Red Herrings

42yr Mtb Citizen, you write: "Our group has NEVER advocated development in the Hills except for our Open Space Park in our vision brochure and website." Fair enough. But as to the Task Force's Open Space Park proposal, would you agree that it would be instructive to the people of Montebello to know that:

1. The habitat reserve we are creating in consultation with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will not be accessible to the public per the Service's mandate. Thus, the trail system and implied public access throughout the 487-site that your group proposes is completely infeasible.

2. It would cost the taxpayers of Montebello hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase the property, design the Open Space Park, develop it and maintain it in perpetuity. And, if not the taxpayers, then who?

As to the renewal and expansion of the city's property tax base, it seems to me the taxpaying citizens of Montebello would be better served if the city achieved that renewal and expansion through carefully planned development paid for by the property owner, rather than by the piece meal purchase of small properties acquired with taxpayer dollars in the form of RDA tax increment.

As we've stated often in our outreach to the community, we believe the Montebello Hills Specific Plan is thoughtful, comprehensive and balanced. It helps address the community's need for new housing, creates a permanently protected habitat reserve, and provides new public, active use open space amenities.

The city-directed Draft Environmental Impact Report, public review and comment period, as well as the public hearings that will occur later this year and into 2009 will give the people of Montebello the information and specifics they need to make an informed decision about this important community development plan.

Rosemead Views on Montebello Hills Project

You know, the City of Montebello never "meedled" in Rosemead's business when it came to the Walmart issue, either for or againist (as it should be).  And yet, some of you on this blog site are "appointed" commission board members for the city of Rosemead and who are speaking out "against" a redevelopment project in Montebello city borders.  While everyone is entitled to their opinions, I think it is somewhat "bad form" quite frankly to "project" oneself into another city's business.  This is just my humble opinion and offers some food for thought, you know, "do unto others"?

Rosemead Views on Montebello Hills Project

I think "do unto others" is an excellent rule, not just for city business but for the way in which we conduct all aspects of our lives.  However, the rest of your post is rooted in a false premise.

Elected and appointed officials from Montebello have had plenty to say about how Monterey Park tries to develops the "Monterey Park Towne Plaza," adjacent to the Pomona freeway.  Alhambra has had a lot to say about how Monterey Park developed their "Time Square" project on Atlantic.  And, just a few months ago, there was a planning department official from Montebello at a Rosemead Planning Commission meeting, trying to tell us how Montebello wanted the expanded portion of the Doubletree Hotel in Rosemead to look.

Each of those cases involve city officials speaking on behalf of their city about an issue in another city.  They all go further than what I do when I write as an individual.  If a line is being crossed, there are folks a whole lot further down the road than me.  IMHO, of course.

Rosemead Views on Montebello HIlls Project

Then let me be more specific, lest it be perceived to be based on a false premise.  While elected and appointed officials have given their input with regards to building aesthetics, symmetry with surroundings, access, thru-way and revenue sharing based on thru-way and access, to my knowledge they have never tried to impede another city's potential revenue generating project or source like the City of Rosemead here.

Rosemead Views on Montebello HIlls Project

Still a false premise.  As far as I know, "The City of Rosemead" hasn't taken a position on the Montebello Hills, and "aesthetics, symmetry . . ." etc., are all going to affect a project's costs, and, therefore, its potential revenue for the city.

Red Herrings the size of whales, Rosemead views

   As citizens of Montebello, our Task Force believes that the Montebello Hills are a regional resource, and not the exclusive concern of the people of Montebello.  The beaches of Huntington Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica, etc., may lie within specific city boundaries, but are needed and used by people from all over the State, and even the World.  In this sense, the potential public open space in the Hills are, at least, a regional concern.  Thus, we believe that the views of all the peoples and governmental bodies in the State should be heard and considered regarding the best use of the Hills for the public.  Unfortunately, US Fish and Wildlife under the Bush Administration has broken, bent, ignored, or misinterpreted  many of the conservation mandates and laws of their organization as explained in the LA Times editorial of 8/14/08.  Even in this environment of 'development uber alles', I don't believe that Fish and Wildlife would find a system of bounded trails to be more intrusive to the Gnatcatcher than the previously mentioned 300 acres of grading and construction.  Does anyone outside of CH believe that?  I find Mr. de Arakal's allergy to trails in the Montebello Hills somewhat puzzling as he was a champion of a 200 acre open space development in Costa Mesa called Fairview with California Coastal Sage restored habitat, wetlands, a nature center, and (gasp) miles of trails intruding throughout the open space park which is almost identical to our vision for the Hills.  Does the Gnatcatcher behave differently in the OC, or do Mr. de Arakal's views change depending on who is paying for them?  I think that Mr. de Arakal's opinions of our proposed trails are as accurate as his assertions that the Hills have been inaccessible to the public for 90+ years.  He really believes that previous oil companies who owned the Hills prevented people from exploring, collecting relics in, picnicing, and crossing the Hills as the Iron Curtain dropped by PXP does now.  I would call your attention to the website for some actual recounting of Montebello's  past, not the Newport Beach version.  If PXP would agree to public disussions with Fish and Wildlife instead of insisting that all plans for the Hills be private, then Fish and Wildlife could respond to public input and openly talk about the Hills.  I would like to hear from them directly instead of through CH's pronouncements of what the gov't will or won't allow.

   Does anyone believe that 487 acres of slide-prone, polluted (by 100 uears of unchecked oil production) land, most of which will be inacessible to the owner, without mineral rights, with unlimited access to oil extractors to be worth 'hundreds of millions of dollars'?   According to Mr. Witt at one of CH's private meetings 5 weeks ago, there has never been an appraisal done of the Hills.  He also only then agreed to allow an independent appraisal to be done.  Our group would never condone the City of Montebello buying the Hills.  Negotiations are ongoing between groups who could buy and manage the Hills and CH, but they only started a few months ago, when for the first time, CH declared itself to be a 'willing seller', a legal term which permitted negotiotions to begin.  The types of groups which bought the duck farm (along the 605 freeway) and formulated its open space development come to mind as a competent possible purchasers of the Hills.   Once again, Mr. de Arakal is opposing a position never taken by our TF. 

   The only thing that I find 'comprehensive and balanced' about the Specific Plan is the comprehensive funding of the redevelopment slush fund balanced by CH's percentage of the purchase price of the condos.  The pay for play attitude of the City Council recently shown by the Athens Contract, with its $500,000 up-front money and a percentage of the vig was also shown in the recent, retracted, Memo of Understanding with the Water Company and City which would have allowed CH to funnel unlimited money to the City in the form of 'returned excess developer payments'. 

   What Mr. de Arakal calls 'piece meal purchase of small properties', I call a policy of redevelopment of underutilized existing urban properties. 

   I seem to recall lots of discussion and jockeying for position among local cities when the Ramona Parkway became the Pomona Freeway, a topic of regional interest.  There has been no shortage of opinions expressed by the Montebello City Council about the Monterey Park dump, the Catholic mortuary expansion, the recently decommissioned natural gas storage area at the end of Howard Ave., and other more recent nearby projects outside of Montebello City limits, as verified by Todd.  One to one conversations between city officials go on all the time so they don't have to be recorded or reported publicly under the Brown Act.  Just because a proposed development is inside Montebello City limits does not insulate it from valid objections of neighboring cities.  Our group would like surrounding cities to raise concerns about a project that would have more traffic impact of them than on Montebello itself, but we would be content if the people themselves do the same. 

   Finally, you'll note that the 'city'directed' Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) 'will give the people of Montebello the information and specifics they need to make an informed decision'.  I hope so, as our TF is the only currently publicly available source of information concerning the Hills.  If you don't believe that, try to get a copy of the Montebello Hills Specific Plan from the City, or a survey of pollution in the Hills from PXP, or a map of present Gnatcatcher nests in the Hills from US Fish and Wildlife. 


Geology and Brownfield

The proposed ridgeline CookHill has a couple of high hurdles
Methane seeps - How many houses in La Merced had to be abandoned

The active Montebello Fault runs East-West through the proposed development and evidently intersects with the Active Puente Hills Thrust (PHT) under the Hills. The Hills rose by several inches in the relatively mild 1987 "Whittier" PHT earthquake. The PHT is capable of a Mw 7.5 event (about 10 times 1987 releasing 32 times the energy). While not often for the Maximum Event the likelyhood for large events is great. Complicating this hazard is that sites ABOVE a thrust fault are considered with increased risk factors (commonly called "hanging wall" effects).

    Geology, etc.

     All these concerns, and many others, were given to the city during the scoping meetings.  The two 'abandoned' (actually purchased by the gas co.) houses near the corner of Aveneida de la Merced and Montebello Blvd. were not abandoned due to methane seepage, but seepage from a large underground structure, now closed, at the north end of Howard Ave.  Operating wells usually relieve the gas pressure enough to stop adjacent seepage, and there will still be many underground operating wells pumping in the proposed project area.  The approx. 2 1/2 year period of grading proposed by CH is probably to attempt to ameliorate earthquake and seepage concerns for the supposed 10 years after sale that CH could be legally responsible for such problems.  After that, it's the homeowner's problem, alone. 

      It's only been a year since the maximum earthquake in the Hills was increased from 7.0 to 7.5, and the probability of such an event in the state of California in the next 20 years was pegged at 90%.  Would you buy a house in these Hills under such circumstances? 

     Call the Montebello city planning department for the number of seepage homes in Montebello.  They might actually give you an answer, unless they think it relates to the Montebello Hills Specific Plan, and is therefore secret information.

Can the Montebello Hills

Centaur1225 comments on Montebello and the Wal-mart Project
The City of Montebello commented on the traffic study.
Montebello observed that traffic at several key intersections was undercounted compared with Montebello (and Monterey Park Marketplace_ studies on the order of 50%.
Any additional traffic at those intersections would have triggered on site AQMD Carbon Monoxide studies.

In addition Wal-Mart did not study any Freeway On Ramps- the same on ramps to be utilized by any Montebello Hills Project.

Very Unfortunately this bogus data has found its way into the County database.

The Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) commented on the intersection of Paramount, San GAbriel and Hill Drive (area of Potrero Heights Elementary)