By Monica Sanchez
On October 17, 2017, Arcadia City Council held a public hearing to discuss a dispute between a homeowner and the Homeowners’ Association Architectural Review Board (ARB).
Arcadia City Council gathered to review the appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval to overturn the Santa Anita Oaks Homeowners’ Association Architectural Review Board Chairperson’s denial of a new circular driveway at 1231 San Carlos Road.
A circular driveway was requested on behalf of the property owner, Tom Crosby, “to minimize safety issues since the property is located so close to the T intersection” according to Lisa Flores, Community Development Administrator. But Vince Vargas, member if the Santa Anita Oaks’ ARB, addressed the safety concern, which entails having to make a three point turn in order to leave the property, and said that it was “thoroughly dismissed and discussed in the city staff report.”
Crosby also claimed that the ARB’s decision has a negative impact on the value of his property, but Vargas said “that hasn’t been proven at all.”
Mr. Crosby insisted that he was not informed of his options, and the rules surrounding circular driveways were confusing and not explicitly stated in the city’s and ARB’s guidelines. However Vargas pointed out that Crosby is a “long time experienced real estate broker. He has bought and sold property in the Oaks. He and his salespeople are very aware and informed of development trends in the Oaks, and he has intimate knowledge of the disclosure laws.”
Vargas urged the Arcadia City Council to support the HOAs and ARBs. He said “It will create a dangerous precedent, which can only lead to the deterioration of the plan review process and negative impacts on the character of streets and neighborhoods” if consideration was given to Mr. Crosby’s request.
Overall, Crosby is upset that the HOA approved some homes for a circular driveway in Santa Anita Oaks after he was denied his. Crosby reminded the city council that “Santa Anita Oaks is not empowered to make zoning laws. That’s the city council’s responsibility.”
Residents supporting both sides of the issue spoke up at the public hearing. Resident Donna Perez asked the council to “back the HOA in upholding the same standards for all residents of the Santa Anita Oaks.”
And resident Takashi Chang said that he has experienced hostility in Arcadia with the HOA and ARB and has considered moving back to Pasadena as a result.
Chang brought it to the city council’s attention that the “ARB was established to make recommendations and that needs to be clarified if ARB is not the body of law, then it needs to be made publicly known. If ARB has the full authority to uphold city laws, then the guidelines need to specify such laws, and we have to keep in mind that the ARB isn’t the voice of all the homeowners in the Santa Anita Oaks.”
After hearing some resident’s concerns, Council member Roger Chandler was not pleased with the ARB and told Vargas that the Santa Anita Oaks’ ARB “is a big problem and you ought to get smart about it. We as a city have to pay for your wrongdoings. You’re an extension of our law.”
April Verlato commented that the council should review whether or not there was “abusive discretion” on part of the HOA and ARB.
After much debate and consideration of both sides, Arcadia City Council settled on approval of the appeal with a 3-2 vote.