Why is Historic Preservation Important to Arcadia?

Anoakia Circa 1915 – Courtesy photo

By Galen Patterson

Arcadia’s most recent City Council meeting saw the consideration of the city’s most recent historic preservation ordinance proposal.

Although the ordinance did not pass, it was not entirely dismissed. Several members of the council agreed that the city should adopt some sort of policy on historic preservation, but the concerns of the citizens that spoke at the meeting shed light on the fears Arcadians have on the issue.

One of the most common concerns public speakers had was a genuine fear of homeowner’s rights being infringed upon. The proposed ordinance had allowed the City Council to vote under extreme cases, to override the homeowner’s rights and designate the structure a historic resource, barring it from destruction.

The council agreed that for the city to preserve a property in jeopardy, it should require a supermajority vote (4 votes out of 5) to pass.

One Arcadian spoke about how people will not necessarily flock to Arcadia to see her house, which was on the list of potential historic resources.

The list of potential historic resources was a list compiled by an outside assessor, the Architectural Resources Group, who surveyed the city and figured out what exactly, if anything, was worth preserving. Their report came back with 188 potential structures in the city. The list has been whittled down over time to a list of “gems” within the city.

Members of the council have mentioned on several occasions since the report was made public that if a building was on the list it was not automatically designated a historic resource. Being on the list meant the property was available for consideration. However, many people at the meeting feared the list and the council agreed to throw it out.

The members of City Council have not been keen to take away the rights of property owners. During last year’s council elections Councilmember Tom Beck said he was for historic preservation in some form. On the Feb. 19 council meeting, Beck said that he would like a system that is mostly voluntary, but still allows the council to vote with a supermajority to preserve something important to the city. Councilmember Peter Amundson said “I think there are about 12 properties in the city that are worth preserving.”

Local historian Carol Libby told Arcadia Weekly in an interview last year that she also believed a handful of properties were worth preserving in the city.

The question of historic preservation is important to the city of Arcadia. It considers whether or not the local government thinks saving pieces of the city’s history is worth the effort and restrictions on relative home-owning freedom.

In Arcadia, the city has seen a recent trend in the destruction of older homes and new, larger homes being constructed in the very spot where entire lives were lived, like the hologram of a phoenix rising from the ashes of whatever stood before it.

City Council has not been entirely hasty to make a decision on this issue. Amendments to the proposed plan are being created and when ready, the new ordinance will be presented to the council again.

February 26, 2019

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Galen Patterson

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