Arcadia City Council Divided Over Preservation Vs. Development
By Lynne Curry
The Arcadia City Council directed its staff to review a 2001 historic preservation survey of buildings and homes in Arcadia at its bi-weekly meeting. In an earlier study session, the Council requested the staff to consider whether this survey requires updating or whether a new one should be conducted.
In the study session, the Council received a report from the LA Conservancy about historic preservation in Arcadia and how saving historical buildings has helped to shape the character of the cities of Glendale and Pasadena. Council members also held a lively discussion about the merits and costs of preserving both Arcadia’s historical commercial buildings and homes designed by renowned architects.
Following that discussion, the City Council announced in its formal meeting that it would hold a public hearing on December 16 of an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to uphold the Highland Homeowners’ Association’s (HOA) recent ruling. The HOA’s architectural review board denied an architect’s proposed plans for a two-story home in Arcadia at 211 Monte Place.
Council members were divided over the issue of preservation versus development.
“If there is a Paul Williams home or another by a famous architect like Frank Lloyd Wright, are we going to let it be torn down or are we going to have a discussion about it?” asked council member Thomas Beck.
Gary Kovacic, Mayor ProTem, agreed with Mr. Beck. “We’re in the epicenter [of this property boom] and we’ve got people buying houses with no education about Arcadia’s history or concern about it,” he said. “People are making zillions of dollars
selling homes. If we had a more reasoned, sophisticated approach, we could educate everybody.”
He said there was no mechanism to have a sophisticated discussion about preserving Anoakia, a 50-room mansion built by Anita Baldwin, the daughter of Arcadia’s founder, “Lucky Baldwin,” that was located on the corner of Baldwin and Foothill a decade ago. The council voted against it. Today it is a gated community with luxury homes.
Roger Chandler, another council member, said that the costs of preserving Anoakia outweighed its benefits, particularly since an earthquake had damaged the estate. “We didn’t have the funds. It’s quite a dilemma—this question of who pays for this [preservation of buildings],” he said.
In another action, the Arcadia Council approved spending $569, 648 over five years as part of a water quality study of storm water and non-storm water runoff in the Rio Hondo/San Gabriel River watersheds. This study is the latest round of action taken to comply with the federal Clean Water Act of 1972. Arcadia is sharing the $2.37 million cost of the study with Azusa, Bradbury, Duarte, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, LA County, and LA County Flood Control District. Upon completion, this three-year study will outline a plan for monitoring and meeting storm water and non-storm water runoff water quality standards.
In a move that council members believed would strengthen the city’s identity, the Council also approved both applying lettering that would spell “Arcadia” and using the Rte. 66 logo on each side of the Gold Line bridge crossing above Huntington Drive at Second Avenue.