Property Crime on the Rise; Council Approves Home Designs as Condition of Lawsuit Settlement, OKs $2M to Meet Annual Water Demand
By Joe Taglieri
Several noteworthy items on the Arcadia City Council’s agenda Tuesday included a report on local crime statistics, approval of homes at the center of a recently settled lawsuit against the city, and a $2 million water purchase.
Crime is rising in Arcadia and countywide, with offenses predominantly concentrated in the realm of property crime, Arcadia Police Chief Bob Guthrie said in a presentation on 2015 crime totals from January to mid-October.
“Across the board … we have seen an increase in crime,” Guthrie said. “The good news is we’re still doing better than 2013’s numbers, but in 2014 we had an exceptional year when it comes to our ability to reduce crime in certain targeted areas.”
The chief attributed a significant local uptick in property crime in part to recent state legislative actions aimed at reducing the prison population by making it more difficult for law enforcement to incarcerate nonviolent offenders.
While Guthrie said he was perplexed by the 25 percent drop in shoplifting and a 3 percent drop in commercial burglaries, he noted the Police Department’s concern about rising incident totals such as the 56 percent jump in robberies and a 38 percent increase in residential burglaries.
“We’re predominantly a property crime city when it comes to our statistics,” Guthrie said.
Despite the county’s upward trend in violent crimes, “the good news for the city of Arcadia is that we continue to be an extremely safe city when it comes to violent crime,” Guthrie said. “On average our ratio is approximately one [violent crime] to every 1,000 residents annually,” which breaks down to about 50 violent crimes per year.
A slide in the chief’s presentation showed a map of the city that indicated most crime incidents occurred in the northeast and west-central areas.
For calls involving people “having psychological or psychopathic issues, “Guthrie pointed out the 11 percent increase – 70 incidents in 2015 versus 64 last year.
“Mental health continues to be an extremely challenging thing for this police department and many police departments in our region and in our county,” he said.
APD averaged between two and three minutes to arrive on the scene after receiving calls for assistance from the public, compared with five- or six-minute average response times for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Revised Highlands Home Designs
The settlement last month of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Highlands residents against the city featured revisions to two designs for new homes. The council approved the previous design proposals in February, which prompted residents to sue in an attempt to block the construction projects.
The revised design for the property at 29 E. Orange Grove Ave. reduced the square footage from nearly 6,200 to 5,775 excluding the garage, porches, courtyards and “other adjacent or detached structures,” according to a city staff report. Other design revisions that came out of the lawsuit settlement include a maximum height of 17 and a half feet, California Ranch architectural style, maximum five bedrooms and a three-car garage maximum.
The other property in question at 1600 Highland Oaks Drive was revised as follows: maximum floor area reduced from 6,149 to 5,800 square feet not including the garage, porches, courtyards and other structures on the lot; a single story with a maximum height of 19 and a half feet instead of the originally proposed two-story house; Craftsman architectural style; maximums of four bedrooms and a two-car garage; and the replacement of two existing sycamore trees with two mature oaks.
“We went through the mitigation process, and I think … finally everybody’s happy,” Mayor Pro Tem Roger Chandler said prior to the council’s unanimous votes to approve both home designs.
$2 million ‘Replacement Water’
Council members also unanimously authorized the $2 million purchase of 3,000 acre-feet of “imported replacement water from the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster” to cover the city’s fiscal year 2015-16 demand for drinking water, documents show.
“The advantages of purchasing replacement water now are twofold,” Public Works Services Director Tom Tait told the council. “First, the water would be delivered to the basin before the end of the calendar year helping to maintain higher groundwater levels.
“Second, the city will save approximately $372,000 this year, and any leftover water will be placed in the city’s cyclic storage account to be used the following year,” Tate said.
Arcadia’s water supply comes chiefly from the Main San Gabriel Basin and to a lesser extent from the Raymond Basin, which covers about 40 square miles in the north San Gabriel Valley.
“Persistent drought conditions and lower groundwater levels in the Raymond Basin have resulted in a reduction in pumping rights,” which could prevent Arcadia from using its 3,800-acre-foot allotment from Raymond, according to the staff report. “As a result, the City will need to pump additional water from the Main Basin” totaling 8,700 acre-feet to satisfy annual demands.