By Galen Patterson
The City Council meeting on March 3 saw the first reading of the newest historic preservation ordinance up for legislation. The council heard comments from various residents on the historic preservation ordinance, several of the speakers were the same speakers from the previous hearing on the ordinance on Feb. 19.
The same man again threatened to sue the council if they did not vote the way he wanted.
During council comments Councilmember Tom Beck told the city that he is not interested in preserving houses with little historical value, but instead a handful of iconic and historically important structures within the city, including Clara Baldwin Stocker’s home, which is facing possible destruction. “We need to save what little is left of our history,” said Beck.
Mayor Pro Tem April Verlato told the council about how property value can increase in historic homes because of historic preservation, due to tax benefits and spoke in support of the ordinance.
By the end of the discussion, the council had decided that several changes needed to be made to the ordinance again, but most of the council members agreed having some form of preservation on record would be better than none. “We started with one of the weakest ordinances around, and then gutted it until it is near worthless,” said Councilman Beck, referring to the evening’s debate.
At the Arcadia Public Library on the afternoon of March 16, more than 70 patrons packed into the Cay Mortenson auditorium. The room was lined with noteworthy watercolor paintings of iconic Arcadian buildings. A display along the back of the room held dozens of photos of the Baldwin family through the years.
The stage featured an easel upon which a painting of Anita, copied over from a photograph, faced the room. Local historian Carol Libby and Baldwin descendent Margeaux Viera presented a slideshow about Anita Baldwin’s life and contributions to society.
A classical piano player played several of Anita’s original compositions.
Pastries from Anita’s cookbook “The Pantophagist” were neatly arranged along a side table. Speakers from two separate hospitals that were founded by Anita Baldwin’s contributions talked about how they still hold her mission in high esteem, and brought information along as evidence.
One of the hospitals, Eisner Health, formerly Anita M. Baldwin Hospital for Babies, is dedicated to offering top-tier care for low-income women giving birth in the Los Angeles area.
The historic preservation ordinance is about saving local history for some and about government control over homeowners for others.
The historic preservation ordinance has been decades in the making and the structures lost along the way cannot be reclaimed. Arcadia is meandering down a path to historic preservation plan that will best suit the city but the main concern among supporters is that soon there may not be anything worth preserving.
“If this council or the council after doesn’t do something, it’s gone,” said Viera.