|There goes the neighborhood.|
Monrovia City Council to Consider Moratorium on Demolitions at Meeting - Before a packed Council Chambers, the Monrovia City Council agreed to place “putting a moratorium on demolition permits” on their next agenda. City staff advised the council that no action could be taken on the matter at the current Tuesday meeting and that the earliest action could be taken was at the next meeting. The issue was discussed under Council reports and was done as a part of the report of Council Member Tom Adams.
Adams initially called for a moratorium of six months, and during the course of comments from the public and the discussion by the council, other time periods—even as long as a year—were also mentioned. The council members each expressed interest in maintaining the character of the community.
There were two major areas of concern noted by those speaking in favor of the moratorium: stopping the demolition of homes built prior to 1940, and maintaining the character of various neighborhoods and the community as a whole.
There were several suggestions as to how best to do this. The one cited by many (including the city staff) was the completion of the Historic Survey of Homes, which was last worked on in 2004. Craig Jimenez, the Planning Division Manager, said that the information the city currently has is “more of a database” than an actual survey.
Several members from the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group (MOHPG) suggested using volunteers from that group to do some of the labor on completing the survey. Gloria Crudgington, a member of MOPHG and a Community Services Commissioner, noted that in these tight economic times, “public/private partnership is the way to go.”
Other suggestions made including “working harder” to ensure that the style and size of proposed new homes be in keeping with the neighborhood. Coulter Wynn, who spoke in support of a moratorium, suggested that the city institute style guidelines and give incentive points for styles in keeping with a neighborhood with extra points awarded for not building the largest house theoretically possible.
Several others spoke out against the influx of larger new houses, relating stories of the corruption of their own neighborhoods. The general tenor of the comments was in favor of saving the older single-family homes.
There were some who pointed out the problems with the suggestions made.
Among them was Russell Page who identified himself as a recently retired developer. He noted that, “Just saying ‘Don’t buy our houses’ won’t work. The market is starting to boil.” He suggested having professional architects come in to review the homes in the city and designated the ones which should be saved.
Another gentleman who identified himself as one who rehabilitates homes said that he had purchased a home in Monrovia in order to “rehab” it and that a moratorium would leave him in financial difficulties. Council Member Becky Shevlin also noted that in preserving the past, we did not want to stifle the city’s economy.
By general agreement, the staff will bring back an ordinance to the city council for their approval at the next council meeting. In his closing remarks on the issue, Adams said that although he as the council member who raised the question of putting a stop on the demolition of houses, the entire council was equally dedicated to preserving the character of the city.
Dear Editor: Mansions in the Crosshairs
The recent, local uproar regarding newly built, oversized homes and the resulting impact on vintage neighborhoods is not an issue limited to this city. Communities across the country are reacting, mostly negatively, to the proliferation of so-called “McMansions” for a very straightforward reason – they simply do not fit into the nearby areas.
That the problem seems to be growing in Monrovia is particularly disturbing, given that in order to construct a new home, one must be torn down. (Vacant land here is non-existent.) Because of the high density of pre-1940s houses within the town, that usually entails the demolition of a vintage home. This alteration of the urban landscape can have profound effects, from changing property values to limiting the creation of new businesses.
Monrovia is at a crossroads. It can choose to ignore the immediate crisis and assume a “business as usual” posture. As a consequence of that inaction, houses that do not qualify as “potential landmarks” will continue to be relegated to the not worthy pile, ignoring their role as contributors to a potential historic district and to the overall character of the community as a whole. Or Monrovia can make some difficult decisions to reconcile the issue of property rights versus preservation that is at the heart of the matter.
We have been given an inheritance – the architectural heritage of the community. We have the privilege of enjoying it while we are here and a responsibility to leave it better than how we found it after we have left. I sincerely hope we fulfill that obligation.
President - Monrovia Historic Preservation Group
(Mod: I guess there is some consolation that we aren't the only city in the area under assault from the McMansionistas. Our turn for a big decision comes next Tuesday.)
Is Feudalism making a comeback in Washington DC?
(Mod: Sorry, I'm kind of at a loss for words about this. Link here.)
Congressman suggests moat around White House - Faced with an increasing number of White House intrusions that led to the resignation of a Secret Service director, a congressman on Wednesday suggested that maybe a moat should be erected around the president’s home.
The suggestion was made by Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing. With hand gestures, Cohen suggested a moat roughly six-feet wide may be “attractive” and “effective.”
Joseph Clancy, the acting director of the Secret Service, didn’t dismiss the suggestion out of hand. “Sir, it may be,” he said. Clancy said the Secret Service and the National Park Service were discussing ways to ensure security along with access to the White House for the American people.
Clancy said the agencies were discussing possibilities such as higher fence that they want to still be appealing to the eye. He said the agencies hoped to be able to reveal some artist renderings of what they are going to propose soon.
“This guy got further into the White House than some of my Republican colleagues have ever gotten,” Cohen said to laughs.