|He seemed friendly|
Apparently for Arcadia's omnipresent Chamber of Commerce bossman Large House Hettrick, civic correctness and the money you have in your bank account are pretty much one and the same thing. Any truly democratic exchange of opinions can be easily damned, and only submission to the oligarchic prerequisites of pay to play government and those who write them the biggest checks are to be taken with any seriousness. Power and politics in Arcadia having now become little more than a cash and carry based business.
If you turn to the kinda mediocre blog Hettrick writes for, the oxymoronically monikered "Arcadia's Best" (link), you'll witness the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce's foremost indignant person getting quite unpleasant with the folks attempting to preserve the Arcadia Highlands. Their crime being to dare and question some of the City of Arcadia's more outrageous planning decisions. Especially the decisions approving the building of those two recent examples of out of place nouveau-riche McMansion doofus housing in the Arcadia Highlands.
It would seem that in Hettrick's mind money is mightiest no matter where it comes from, and that anyone with some big bank and little regard for others should be allowed to freely walk all over a community of folks who have called Arcadia home for most of their lives. The residents of The Highlands might be property owners, but apparently in the eyes of city government and Scott Hettrick, they still need to be slapped down. In the name of property owner rights, of course.
Hettrick begins his article "From Flip Off to Lawsuit" this way:
Since they could not get their way in stopping the razing of two homes on big lots – a 74 year-old home at 29 E. Orange Grove Avenue and a 59 year-old domicile at 1600 Highland Oaks Drive — that would be replaced with two homes of two-to-three times the size built by Robert Tong and Bowden Development, now the residents calling themselves by a group named Save the Arcadia Highlands are trying another angle: a class-action lawsuit filed March 12 against the City of Arcadia claiming that the new homes should not be built because they would be environmentally unfriendly.
McMansions, as anyone with half a mind should already know, are an ecological nightmare. In an article titled "McMansions" and Energy Inefficiency, here is how the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (link) describes the environmental dangers of doofus development:
Specifically, "McMansions" pose the following environmental risks:
- Vast tracts of land must be deforested in order to build unnecessarily large homes, threatening wildlife and reducing the biological absorption of greenhouse gasses. The math is startling: roughly 408 trees of 20-inch diameter and 42 feet of usable wood are required to build an 8,000-square-foot house (according to the Idaho Forest Products Commission), and for every 10 such homes that are built, more than 7 acres of forest must be cleared (assuming 9-foot by 9-foot tree spacing, according to a formula by the University of Georgia).
- Concrete is required to make foundations, which are correspondingly large in "McMansions." Concrete production consumes energy and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Inordinately high energy consumption is another drawback. While they may be grand looking, the high ceilings and huge foyers are difficult to heat and cool. Indoor pools, exercise rooms and living spaces with elevated ceilings all contribute to the need to construct power plants and increase dependency on fossil fuels.
- Toxic building materials, such as some types of paint and vinyl, are used in greater quantities than are required in typical homes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, vapors or volatile organic compounds in paint can cause serious health problems.
Hettrick also snarks evasively about the now widely held notion that some of Arcadia's city officials, those who are making the actual decisions on McMansion building in The Highlands, have also been the lucky recipients of bumping cash money donations from inappropriately generous developers around campaign time.
The Save the Arcadia Highlands web site, says they are “beginning to take the necessary steps to recall” Mayor John Wuo and Council Member Roger Chandler and “any other members that we discover have ties to real estate developers or investors in Arcadia.” The site goes on to cite some facts about a real estate company owned by Wuo and campaign contributions received by Chandler from development and real estate companies. It also does the same with Council Member Sho Tay before proceeding to make personal and credibility attacks against all three.
Of course, Hettrick doesn't want to go into much detail on that, only to say that those making the charges have said things that he perceives as being indecorous. As Sierra Madre has seen often, the "civility defense" is usually the last refuge of scoundrels.
We have posted a couple of articles about the all too cozy relationship between big money development interests and Arcadia's City Council. In one titled "Arcadia Officials Going On A Fully Paid Trip To China - Many Arcadia Residents Pray They Never Come Back (link)," we provided this chart detailing an unfortunate money connection:
Yes, there is that little matter of foreign McMansion development related interests attempting to fly about half of Arcadia's city government to China for a little Beijing home office lowdown. Chow with Mao. Something that the City Council in Arcadia was later forced to back off of, and even returned the $30,000 big ones given to them by some rather suspect parties.
In an opinion piece called "Arcadia backs away from China junket that should never have been planned" (link), here is how Pasadena Star News opinion writer Larry Wilson describes this rather unwholesome episode:
It’s a good thing that Arcadia’s city fathers, perhaps a few mothers, have canceled plans for a junket to China paid for in part with $30,000 in donations from Chinese developers and local firms with ties to China.
But in this case, for there to be a good thing now, there had to be a bad thing then — which is just a couple of weeks ago. And it was such a terrible idea in the first place, with so many City Council members and senior City Hall staffers showing they have tin ears for how this would sound to the public, that it makes me wonder how such a case of mass hysteria could affect the civic leaders of our sylvan little suburb.
Remember when Arcadia’s motto was “Community of Homes”? A little prosaic, but true enough. Remember when Arcadia real estate sales contracts included a covenant mandating that the buyer was a white Protestant? That was technically the case until 1965. Now the city is 60 percent Asian.
And, no, the motto was not been changed, officially at least, to “Community of McMansions.” But since the mansionization of the formerly ranch house-happy town is easily the biggest civic controversy there, with much of the tear-downs and consequent building out to the lot lines being paid for by Chinese nationals and corporations, it didn’t take a politician with his ear very close to the ground to hear that there might be a kerfuffle over the big cash infusion aimed at paying for the China trip.
Yeah, I'd vote to recall them, too. Wouldn't you?
In the end it is all about money for Scott Hettrick. And no matter what the consequences to the people living there, the needs of those having the most dough should always be paramount. Here is how Hettrick wraps up his edgy blog post:
In a city that is considered so prosperous and with some of the highest property values in a region that ranks amongst the nation’s highest – so high that State Treasurer John Chiang said last Friday that he could not afford to live in Arcadia and has to settle for South Bay — it’s ironic that on a website created by residences living in an area long considered the wealthiest part of town, the most prominent feature is a bright red button at the top center asking for donations.
For our current favorite Arcadia Chamber of Commerce president, this all boils down to the needs of significantly financed development interests. The privileging of their wants over the rights of taxpaying residents to participate and make meaningful contributions to the planning of their own community. You might be a homeowner in Arcadia, but if some big out of area development outfit with plenty of laundered loot to lavish on Arcadia's City Council comes around? Get out of the way because here come the bulldozers. Your rights no longer exist.
I also wonder if Hettrick intentionally meant to point out that the one part of Arcadia still predominantly made up of ranch homes is also its wealthiest. Is he actually claiming that the McMansion developers attempting to crack the Highlands are victims?
Lawsuits cost a lost of money, of course. And should you want to help out the Save the Arcadia Highlands group, you can push that bright red button here.
Tell them Scott Hettrick sent you. But not in quite the way he'd intended.