Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Los Angeles Conservancy Gives Arcadia An "F"

A mausoleum for the living
I guess that's what happens when the City Fathers sell off their town to the highest bidder. All the wreckage that follows catches the attention of those folks who keep an eye out for things like conserving the architectural culture of this at risk part of the world.

Of course, if you were to actually believe Councilgents Chandler and Wuo, this could be because the Los Angeles Conservancy also harbors some supercilious ethnocentric animosity towards Arcadia. But then again, isn't thinking that McMansions are necessarily the predilection of one ethnicity in particular a kind of unfortunate assumption in itself? Meaning that perhaps it is Wou and Chandler that owe people an apology instead?

Personally, I would think associating one race alone with McMansions is about as rude an ethnic slur as you can possibly make. And certainly that is not the case in my native New Jersey (link). There these things are occupied by an interesting class of people known as "gavones," which is a state of mind that transcends all of those more narrow classifications.

But perhaps that is just a personal perspective.

Whatever the case, here is how the Los Angeles Conservancy rates Arcadia (link).

Not only does Arcadia get an F, it is an extremely low one. An F minus. If you go to the link I provided above you will see that long line of zeroes Arcadia received, and for many very important things. Here is a handy list for the click averse:

Dedicated Historic Preservation Commission - 0

Dedicated Preservation Staff - 0

Ability to Designate Historic Districts - 0

Owner Consent Not Required for Designation - 0

Active Landmark Designation (at least annually) - 0

Survey of Historic Resources: Citywide - 0

Survey Updated Within Past 5 Years - 0

Mills Act Incentive Program - 0

Additional Incentives - 0

Certified Local Government - 0

Extra Credit (1-25) - 0

In other words, most of the government of Arcadia doesn't give a damn about preserving anything in their city. Apparently the only thing they care about is all of the dough to be made. Everything is for sale, and nothing else counts.

Too much money corrupts. The epitome of crass.

Judy Gold Covers the Arcadia City Council Meeting for The Tattler

(Mod: A number of folks from Sierra Madre went to Arcadia's City Council meeting to support the Save the Arcadia Highland folks. Judy Gold went and, since I had to go work at my rather demanding real job, kindly agreed to cover the meeting for me. Here is the report.)

In essence the City Council, on advice from the City Attorney and City Manager, and without acknowledging any guilt whatsoever, recommended that their "Brown Act" vote be rescinded and brought before the public for a re-vote by them. Done in hopes of slipping the law suit noose that has been so neatly tied around their necks.

At the end of three hours, they voted the same as they did in closed hearing. The Mayor and Mr. Beck voted to allow rezoning and historic survey as well as impact meetings to continue. In the closed hearing the 3-2 vote was to not allow this in the Highlands because of the suit.

Councilmember Sho Tay's comment: Zoning codes allow a 2 story house to be 35% of lot size, each floor. Single story is 45%. He talked to his friend Edward at the Chinese Association - who told him the City Council was just enforcing the rules. What do they want us to do?

Sho Tay then addressed one of the public who had stated that developers were in a hurry to build because of the possible financial bubble in China. Mr. Tay asked how many people know anything about oversea (sic)? How anyone know about finances oversea? We don't know. He feels there is an urgency for the historic survey because what is gone is gone. But not for the Highlands unless they drop the lawsuit.

John Wuo - Thanked everyone for coming. The houses in question in the Highlands are on 18,000 sf lots. You can build an 11,000 house. Agrees that Arcadia needs to study zoning a little. Update was done in 2013 which resulted in 40 degree angles. He guesses the City Council at the time didn't look closely at the size of any potential buildings. Wants to set the record state that we don't want any of this. Need to collect input. Why the halt?

Also: Details on the lawsuit are confidential. The public does not know what demands were made by the lawsuit. It is frivolous. Causes city and staff time and money. Need to work together.

Roger Chandler - Feels assumption being made by public that there is other than 35% footprint for a 2 story on an 18,000sf lot. The house can be 6400sf. It didn't slip thru the cracks as one speaker suggested. The problem with this issue is he doesn't know if the whole community agrees with The Highlands. Building stock built out in the 60's. Land values now are more than surrounding areas areas. Equal to those of Beverly Hills. Can't respond with threat of being sued. Wasting money with the back and forth.

More Chandler - The Highland Association has been deceitful, misleading and disparaging of investors, Chinese, and Realtors. They continue to disparage them. Homes are an investment for everyone, either for retirement, to help in illness, or to leave to a family. It has nothing to do with personal gain. It's the whole community. People will sell to retire. If we knock off a 1000sf off of a 5500sf house, the owner loses $75,000 in property value. In 18 years he has never seen a suit by an HOA. We are supposed to protect all citizens. Keep your word, stop legal actions, our zoning is good.

Obviously Mr. Chandler has come up with all sorts of nasty nonsense and used it to disparage the Save the Arcadia Highland people. He is not a very nice man and has some anger issues.

Mayor Gary Kovacic and Councilmember Tom Beck voted against the three McMansion supporters. They wanted to proceed with the 3 items in question.

Many of the people present were upset by the John Wuo vote and they walked out.

Before speakers were heard Mr. Tay had this to say: I listen, I listen to women. There is an article in Arcadia Best - read it. I looked for the article - he didn't give a date, couldn't find back issues only a blog page from Mr. Hettrick the Chamber of Commerce guy. Which, as we all know, owes its existence to money provided by the City Council. He obviously is a compromised source.

Tom Beck - L.A. Conservancy has again given an F to the city for its complete lack of historic protection. Need to go forward. A house sold on Rodeo recently is an original Wallace Neff design. It can be torn down.

Beck also spoke about people taking elections seriously. He was asked if he was for gambling in the city and would have nothing to do with that. Election coming up, cautioned voters to get involved, understand what the person you're voting for can and can not do. Elect people who share your views.

Wuo - Went to the reopening of Parkland Dental, which won an award from National Design. Wished all fathers a Happy Father's Day.

This was a really hard meeting to keep up with. I didn't know the history of a lot of what they were discussing. I walked away with my mouth open due to the absolute loathsome disrespect of the audience shown by Mr. Chandler, who is a pompous ass. It was almost like Chandler was denying the right of a citizen to sue. He penalized an entire portion of the city because citizens living there dared to sue a city that according to him has never been sued before. It was really mind boggling.

Random Notes (various sources):

Basically, Wuo believes he can galvanize the entire City of Arcadia against Save The Arcadia Highlands by holding zoning code updates ransom.  But when he suggested that the neighborhood convince David to drop his lawsuit in exchange for zoning code updates, people started to get up and leave. Tay and Chandler were no better.

Approved 789, Inc. with no questions taken at this point. Sho Tay move to approve. Calendar item passes 5-0. No soul patches seen on any Councilmembers yet.

City Atty: Save the Arcadia Highlands vs. City of Arcadia Feb 3, 2016 court date. Has 2 letters from David Arvizu from SAH. Without saying Arcadia's CC is in any way guilty he reads Brown Act regarding charges. States City Council votes were reported to a newspaper. Also states the city did not violate the Brown Act. Matters discussed behind closed doors, things that are supposed to be private.

Rescind actions taken in closed session at May 5, 2015, continued special City Council meeting related to zoning and other studies in the Highland Oaks area; consider taking new actions relative thereto; and consider Brown Act cease and desist and related actions.

Mayor Kovacic: Mutual respect requested. No cheering, booing, insults. comments should be focused and succinct.

1st speaker: Go forward with zoning

David Arvizu:  rep. Save the Arcadia Highlands, reconsider zoning and historical designation. Davis is the petitioner: cities use of class 3 exemption on 2 projects and approval by council violate CEQA. Impact of the project on environment is pretty bad. No complaints toward zoning or historical issues. Suit wouldn't be necessary if the City Council backed the desires of the people who actually live here. Wants to hear from CC tonight to keep an open mind, no preconcieved notions, listen to the general public.

Karen Hull: Historic preservationist for the city. Doesn't matter where these places are located.

Howard Green - Lived in S. Arcadia, became concerned about new two storiy houses. Arcadia made rules for setbacks. Do not exclude any neighborhoods from new zoning and historic survey

Barry Gold - former 20 year resident of Arcadia, Balance the rights of owners and those who have the right to build. The Highlands are asking not to be transformed. Problem is universal. Need to help each other and our neighbors. Preserve Sierra Madre backs The Highlands.

Next speaker - need for zoning rule updates. As they are they do not protect our views and privacy. Resolution 6770 - should be protection of views and privacy. Second stories would be reduced. New council has not followed that. Wants reasonable SF, The Mills Act, historic significance. She feels San Marino has strict rules on square footage.

Ms. Logan: Downtown Arcadia Downtown Improvements: Needs zoning codes to further our area.

Generally, all want zoning code update and historical survey to be done.

Brett Matulsky - we pay these people to come in and objectively look. By not adopting these ideologies is only costing more tax dollars. 3 Council members who keep wanting to develop, I have to ask why? Building codes in Arcadia are lax. S. Arcadia is on development overload. We need rules. Don't need huge houses. Chinese people sitting next to me laughed when he said the financial bubble will burst in China. Developers are pushing to get houses done before that. Very eloquent speaker. Why don't these builders put electricity lines underground. Stop cutting corners.

Gentleman asked if the CC actually know what the rules are for nearby cities. How does Arcadia differ? This man feels the CC usurped the rights of citizens for their own agenda. Wants to open a dialogue. His name was Mr. Burch.

Look at 1805 Santa Anita, 12,196 SF lot, house built in 2012, Mur Sol, Over 5,000 SF. Really have to limit size. He was Kirk Olsen.

Compromise could be made. Don't be sidetracked by suit. Peter Amundson, former City Councilmember.

People talking about a house next to them that has been vacant for a year. Just got notice that another big house on the other side. Street is narrow to have all that traffic. Concerned about safety. Feels council should be worried about that. They live on Los Flores. Near Arcadia Christian School and Dana Middle School. Council made recommendation to staff. Gave the phone number for vacant, overgrown homes. Asked people to call them. 2 houses being torn down at same time.

1. 53 out of 56 homes sold in the last year in the Highland Oaks area were sold to Chinese buyers, most of them from behind LLCs.

2.  29 E Orange Grove and 1600 Highland Oaks violate CEQA.

3.  1805 Santa Anita is a two story, 5800 sq ft house, covering 47% of the lot, even though the zoning law restricts square footage at 35% maximum.

4.  The Planning Committee had a 43 page report on the size of real estate signage, so why can't they study real estate massing?

5.  Question:  Why is the Highlands are being left out of the zoning change?

Council then went into their discussion.  Wu and Tay said things you'd expect.  We don't know what is going to happen in China (ie the bubble bursting) because we (the audience and speakers) haven't been there.

Beck was reasonable, said Arcadia is being discussed in national publications. The fly in the ointment is Councilmember Chandler, a Gene Goss clone. "These speakers don't represent Arcadia.  They only represent themselves.  I'm a property rights guy.  People should be able to do what they want." Yadda yadda.

Roy McNee - very dangerous up Highland Oaks. Came out of Elkins about 60 mph. There are houses with 7 cars parked. That is an environmental problem. These cars go in and out of the Highlands. Maybe his name is McBean, hard to hear him.

City Attorney: By 3-2 vote to proceed with historical survey except the HOA part of Highlands until litigation is taken care of.

Rescind actions from May 5 meeting. Passed 5-0. Mayor said we'll start from scratch.

Mr. Wuo - Thanks speakers for expressing concerns. In February the mayor brought to hi attention that the 2 lots in question were large lots. Agrees we need to review zoning code. Mayor. Told him an 11,000 sf house could be built. He was shocked so the Mayor changed his mind. Need to collect input from residents. Why it all came to a halt, people don't know the demands asked in suit. He wants the people to force a withdrawal of suit. The suit is frivolous. Groans from audience. Mayor asked them to show respect.

Mr. Beck - is a litigation attorney, Personal opinions: litigation has no merit. Thinks that Arvisu should tell the public what their demands were. Go forward with zoning code updates. People want the CC to do something. Builders want us to take action also.

Mr. Tay - He saw certain things that made him aware that houses are too big. Until the rules are changed there is nothing they can do. The houses conform. How many people know about overseas economy. Might not be true. Voted for historical survey. Except Highlans because of litigation.

Too much joy.
Mr. Chandler - Thinks people don't know how to read codes. Arcadia has always been a private property rights city, We have large lots. Natural change in a progressive community brings change. Reference to other cities doesn't matter. If we react to Highland Oaks while we're being sued, not possible. If we change the codes we would devalue the property and take away the rights of property rights. Chandler was rude. Mayor asked him to stop. Chandler said the people had processed misinformation.

Mayor - Elected to lead and be proactive not reactive. What are we not doing? What will happen if we  put off any code update because of litigation. We're ignoring many things . He mentioned so many things. The city is ignoring a litany of them, failure to update r-3, artificial turf. The CC is being reactive. Are we going to sit and do nothing while litigation goes on. Chandler makes sub motion - nothing done during litigation. Suspend zoning code update city wide until resoultion of litigation.

Seconded by Tay. Resolved 3-2 Chandler. Wou and Tay voted yes. Everyone groaned, then got up and walked out.

Beck said the Highlands should not be excluded from historic survey. No reason to exclude. Made motion for survey. Chandler made a sub motion to exclude Highlands. Tay seconded. HOA area to be excluded. Chandler, Tay, Wuo all voted yes. Passed.

Wow, some real fireworks here. The Three Poodles hate The Highlands.

Chandler, Tay and Wuo voted everything down.

Further formation and meetings of the Citywide Neighborhood Impact committee denied by those 3.

Attorney - draft letter to Mr. Arvizu passed 5-0.

The big house claims that the little house is oppressing it.

More from Barry Gold 

Well the people living in the Arcadia Highlands sure got their heads handed to them on a pole last night at the City Council meeting.

I and many others spoke in support of the Arcadia Highland Homeowners Association’s request for code changes in their area to protect them from McMansions and to include the Highland area in the city’s historic survey.

All five of the council members did vote rescind the prior, closed door, vote to exclude the Highlands from the survey and to not make any code changes to help preserve the area. This was done only to undo the violation of the Brown Act when they did their dirty work in secret.

After that they votes 3 to 2 to not make any code changes or include the Highland area in the historic survey until all pending law suits are settled. This is just a delaying tactic to allow countless applications for tear downs and McMansions to be build, thus destroying forever the charm of the area.

Mayor Kovacic and Council Member Beck made a valiant effort to help in the preservation effort for the Highlands, however Council Members Chandler, Tay, and Wuo were beyond listing to any pleas from the people living in the Highlands and Chandler was particularly belligerent with his “In-your-face” superior, arrogant attitude. I was shocked at the way Chandler spoke. Tay and Wuo had a different strategy; they just voted against the Highlands every chance they got.

I think the moral of this story is that we the people of Sierra Madre can never rest in our effort to preserve our little village of the foothills. In my opinion the developers own Arcadia, this is obvious to me. They want to own Sierra Madre. Let’s not allow that to happen.

Bonus Coverage

The Pasadena Star News weighs in (link). "Arcadia council’s zoning vote sparks residents’ ire."


  1. Chandler is an ex-cop hence the arrogant attitude. He is notoriously thin skinned so he should be subjected to political mail that attacks him.

  2. One interesting the papers downloaded from the city of Arcadia for this meeting, was a letter written to David Arvizu dated 6-17-15. At the top it was marked Draft. In the letter was everything said and done at the meeting. I wondered what "DRAFT" meant and why it was dated for the day after the meeting. Now I know.

    1. Wouldn't that be yet another Brown Act violation?

  3. Arcadia.... mo' money mo' problems. Some people feel so damn entitled to anything they want. You want everything your way, move to a ranch in Montana. You wanna live in a crowded urban area you gonna have to give a little. As Rodney King once asked "can't we all just get along?"

    1. Quoting Rodney King, Wow! Personally, not best the choice. Gang Banger, Drug Addict, Alcoholic & Convict. He died from his personal choices!

    2. Yes he did, but his attorney gave him those famous words to say on camera... I agree he was not successful but was a classmate of mine at Muir HS, so I quote him every now and then.

    3. Rodney didn't have much grain in the silo

  4. Personally I think it is sad that Mr. Chandler is trying to pit the races against each other. He should be ashamed.

    1. Some people will do anything for money.

    2. He's the "pompous ass" right? We've had our share....

    3. It is kind of like when Joe Mosca tried to convince people that those who opposed him weren't doing it because he had betrayed them on the development issue, rather it was because he is Gay. Same crap.

    4. I was reminded of the endless hours of belabored lectures from Mr. Buchanan, complete with weary sighs that he had to explain everything to the idiot residents.

  5. Many thanks to the golds. I had wanted to attend, but work got in the way, so I appreciate both the fact that they went and their reporting.

  6. Mod, what a hoot that article on the 10 ugliest MacMansions in New Jersey is!
    It's a pity we don't have something like that for Arcadia.
    There's no lack of candidates.

    1. Send in your pictures and we will make our own. We can have a contest and nominate the ugliest McMansion of Arcadia. Make the house of your dreams of McMansion glory fill up the shot. No long distance shots. Thanks!

  7. What this brings home to me is how important city council elections are.

    1. Yes. Bad city councilmen destroy their cities.

    2. One majority vote in the wrong direction and hillsides can be destroyed.

    3. Yep. Or the Monastery gets destroyed for the development impact fees.

    4. I was there Tuesday night. Sadly, there were many similarities to our City Council meetings, especially Chandler cloning Goss (or is it vice versa) with the "property rights" argument, totally ignoring the property rights of the residents who will be impacted. I loved that Tom Beck told people to ask the right questions of people running for City Council, not irrelevant issues like whether that person is a Republican or Democrat. When I was canvassing, I was asked how my candidate felt about abortion. Huh? Please follow his advice next year when we Sierra Madreans will have two Council seats up for election. Ask the right questions.

  8. Get real. If you got the money you should be able to spend it! It the zoning codes state you can build a 12,000 sqrft home go for it! Do not forget, every buyer will will be a seller.

    1. Get real. Existing home owners have rights, too. It is 't all about your fat cat developer pals.

    2. No, actually, every buyer won't be a seller. People who own homes pass away daily. They don't sell their houses. Oftentimes the family moves in for generations.

    3. Save us from barbarians like 8:11.
      Get what you want and to hell with anybody else, huh?

    4. 8:11 believes that new residents have rights that those who have been around for a while can no longer be allowed to have.

    5. The real problem is that the developer and the City Administration do not follow the zoning ordinances. They do whatever they want depending on the fees paid. It is all about the money, pensions & benefits.

    6. What exactly is so history about the highlands?

    7. What is "history" about the Highlands is that the people living there believe they have rights and are standing up for them. No matter what $70,000 PR consultants and fibbing councildawgs have to say about it.

    8. Because the Highlands was is a master planned community! All the homes were planned so that the view was preserved for all. It was design as a whole community not as one house verses another house. What is done to one house effects the whole community. If a developer want to stay into those perimeters and boundaries then by all means build away. But that means single story ONLY!

    9. Well said, 9:00.

  9. This whole "families can't invest in their homes" spiel is just another idiot meme. Most of these joints are being built on spec. Look at how many don;t even have anyone living in them. These are designed to launder money that didn;t come here on the up and up.

  10. The City Council in Arcadia and the City Council of Sierra Madre are the exact same, except for the size. Three Goons vs. two that care about the wishes of the people. The City Administrations are the same run by Self Serving City Managers that are not qualified for the position they were hired to do. Just look at the budgets of both Cities! Talk about disconnect with people they were hired to serve. The only thing in common between the two cities is how the taxpayers and homeowners take it in the shorts.

    1. I do not know much about Arcadia's City Manager, But Sierra Madre's City Manager needs to be replaced. Elaine is not qualified! The Sierra Madre City Council needs to do the job they were elected to do, FIRE the City Manager!
      Elaine is going to personally bankrupt the City.

  11. Many monster houses throughout Arcadia sit empty. There is no "family" anywhere in sight.

  12. Here is why Arcadia's gov agency is so cash greedy. Check out these compensation numbers. Off the chain.

    1. Incredible.

    2. Serving on the Arcadia City Council is a voluntary office. Thus, no pay or benefits. Yet, they collect benefits from Arcadia. How?

  13. The current mayor of Arcadia, Mr. Kovacic, cares a great deal about that town. He knows what is at stake - he edited two volumes of historical collections about the community. Unfortunately, he is in the minority on the council.

    These corrupt men in Arcadia reflect the type of people who run for council under the guise of good people. He wants everyone to be polite, yet; he is very RUDE to the people of Arcadia and tries to use guilt and lies to win over anyone that may be stupid.
    Sorry, but residents are onto the builders and their greed. in most of the USA. We will keep fighting here in Sierra Madre to not build mc mansions the top of Baldwin or the monastery. John Woo and Gene Goss may have gotten elected but they will never be respected until they respect their constituets.

  15. Anyone hear about what the city of L.A. did to the home that Marilyn Monroe grew up in?
    A large group got together and wanted the home declared a historical site .
    The group was supposed to make there claim before city council this morning ... Didn't happen the house was destroyed on Monday morning with a reply that the house had no historical significance as it was before Monroe's hey day.
    More condo's will be ready next year .

    1. Not that it matters now, but why a bulldozer! There are people that move houses all the time.

  16. Yes, 11:28, maybe not respected, but think of the damage they do while they are in office and have that power.

  17. We need to get the Highland's to read this blog. Together we are mighty. We are after the same thing. How do we get that done? Can we take out ads in Susan's paper? hahahahaha. Or maybe Arcadia Weekly?

    1. That's a great idea 12:32. Why don't you go ahead and do it? Or you could go old school and make up a flyer to distribute in the Highlands on porches and under front doors.

  18. Sho Tay the money.

  19. San Marino also gets an "F." Our "C+" doesn't seem so bad.

  20. Our grade should have gone up a lot because of the moratoriums.

  21. Is there anyone who lives in the Highlands reading the tattler? If so tell us how we Sierra Madrens can help you fight against McMansionization.

    1. Don't you think it would be more important for Sho and the Chinese Mafia to read the blog? Then, they could address thus

  22. I will forward this web site to the Pres. of the Highland Oaks HO Association.