The Future of Historic Preservation in Arcadia

The City of Arcadia. – Photo by Isabelle Cruz / Beacon Media News

Arcadia Historical Society rounding up a team of historical conservationists

Following up on the March 22 Arcadia City Council meeting, those who were for the draft of the Historic Preservation Ordinance (HPO) responded to council’s decision at the end of the meeting as having rendered the HPO “toothless.”

“We as leaders should save part of our history,” said Councilmember Tom Beck, who is for historic preservation.

Some councilmembers have claimed a weak HPO was better than no HPO at all; however, concern for the repercussions of this decision echo among those who continue to fight to preserve what is left.

The ordinance was intended to preserve properties or what’s left of the few historic landmarks in Arcadia. After the February meeting, revisions were made to include the power for council to override a decision when it came to the nominee’s objection to be included. Since the March 22 meeting, other revisions were made: to remove the override, explicitly define the use of the voluntary process as a power for the people and not council, and increasing the threshold for creating historic districts.

“If you take the word involuntary out and make it voluntary that means that the ordinance has no binding … it will not move forward,” said Carol Libby, historian at the Arcadia Historical Preservation Society.

Libby, who has been around about the last 60 years, has seen the changes in the city. Older homes are being demolished, those being smaller mansions/homes of residents that are disappearing. Newer residents to Arcadia don’t seem to share the same view with the residents who have been around and have a personal connection with the city.

The City of Arcadia. – Photo by Isabelle Cruz / Beacon Media News

The overview of the city is changing. Libby mentioned how a lot of the structures that are being demolished are irreplaceable structures. The people making decisions concerning this issue may not see the bigger picture, the disappearance of the hard work their predecessors put into making the city the way it is today.

“Arcadia started with few [historic landmarks] to begin with, no more than 20 to save. We need to take care of them,” said Libby.

The situation is not hopeless. The Arcadia Historical Society is working to round up a team of sponsors interested in saving the historic landmarks such as members of the Historical Society, members of LA Conservancy, and private citizens. The group is said to be working on finalizing a meeting date.

Arcadia has a story that can be considered unique compared to most cities. Time is ticking to protect the few remaining pieces of Arcadian history.

April 3, 2019

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