Saturday, October 1, 2016

Arcadia Weekly: Saving Arcadia Sues City Over Controversial Two Story Home Proposal

 
Mod: Saving Arcadia is taking the city to court in hopes of stopping an undesirable project considered by many there to be a blatant example of mansionization. Here is the story from the Arcadia Weekly, as written by Katta Hules (link).

Saving Arcadia, the anti-mansionization group, is suing the City of Arcadia. The suit, which is over the controversial proposed two-story house at 1101 S. Fifth Ave., alleges the project is in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the city’s General Plan.

“Our main concern … about the environmental impact of this project is that the city wants to ignore the cumulative impact that all this over-development is having throughout the city,” says Saving Arcadia President David Arvizu.

“This particular technique of suing the landowner and the city has worked before,” says Council Member Roger Chandler.

Early last year, Save the Arcadia Highlands, a smaller anti-mansionization coalition that would later give rise to Saving Arcadia, sued over proposed projects at 1600 Highland Oaks Drive and 29 E. Orange Grove Ave.

According to Mayor Tom Beck, the original Highland Oaks house was well maintained and “a great example of midcentury modern” by a noted local architect, while the Orange Grove property was “in a state of advanced decay” and had no historical significance.

The suit “packaged those two cases … into one lawsuit” and was settled by mediation.

In the current lawsuit, Saving Arcadia was approached by residents of South Fifth Avenue when they were informed about the project.

“The residents of South Fifth Avenue went through all the proper steps prior to deciding to file a lawsuit,” says Arvizu.

The residents appealed the planning commission’s approval, but were denied. They contacted the developer directly and “asked if he would consider a smaller, more compatible design that fit better into the neighborhood – he refused,” says Arvizu. After appealing to the city council and being denied, the residents “decided that their only recourse was to file a lawsuit.”

The project itself is a two-story, 3,588-square-foot single-family residence set to be built in an area that is largely single-story ranch-style homes. “This proposed new home sits in a relatively untouched area of south Arcadia and creates an unusual circumstance, in that it is not compatible with over 98 percent of the existing houses on the street,” says Arvizu.

“We can’t outlaw two stories [homes],” points out Beck, going on to say the proposed size, though “at the outer limits of reasonable for compatibility with the adjoining homes in the neighborhood,” would not be the biggest house on the street (one property is over 6,000 square feet) and “wouldn’t be the first two story home by a long shot.”

Will this case slow development in Arcadia?

“It’s going to have some chilling effect on a developer if they believe that any approval’s going to have a lawsuit filed,” says Beck, noting the recent rush on property seems to be waning. “There’s at least, from my observation, more homes on the market, staying on the market, especially high end ones … Development may be cooling for the reasons of supply and demand, independent of whether this is a deterrent or not.”

Council Member April Verlato disagrees. “We have more applications in Arcadia than any of our neighboring cities. So I don’t think that there’s a slow down, nor do I think that this lawsuit will create a slowdown. There are houses that are being proposed … every week that are getting approved. … This is not going to stop anything.”

Verlato, though not part of Saving Arcadia or the suit, supports it. “It’s representative of how a lot of people are feeling.”

Whether this issue will get to court depends on the developer, WC Investment LLC. The developer could not be reached at the time of publication, but Beck says, “they’ve indicated they want to fight this case.” He hopes it will get to court. “We need a lawsuit to proceed to a judge and get a ruling that the CEQA does or does not apply so that we don’t keep having the threat of lawsuits every time the city council approves a … new home.”

“We have to defend … our right to zone and approve or disapprove construction. It’s a basic right of every municipality,” says Chandler, adding, “This is the worst attack on city authority I’ve witnessed” since joining the council in 1986.

Arvizu says the residents of South Fifth Avenue “are not interested in a cash settlement, what they want is to preserve the charm and quality of life that they enjoy in their neighborhood,” adding they are “willing to take this all the way to court if the city and builder do not reconsider the scale of the proposed house.”

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

25 comments:

  1. I'm so glad Arcadia has finally woken up. What's going on with the Mira Monte house we fought so hard for? Looks like it is being torn down.

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    1. I didn't hear that about Mira Monte. Does anyone have any details?

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  2. It's not being torn down, it's going through extensive restoration and an addition in the rear. The plans are online.

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    1. 6:55 is 100% correct. Had you gone to the PC meeting, you would have known that.

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    2. Had I been in town, I would have, and wouldn't need to ask on the Tattler. Amazingly, we all have lives outside of attending City Council and Planning Commission meetings - how the bad guys sneak stuff past us.

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    3. Let me get this straight. You fight for development restrictions and win. The planning commission hearings are required to enforce them and provide transparency. Are you saying that's how "the bad guys" sneak stuff past us? What exactly did the "bad guys" at Mira Monte sneak past you. As I understand it, bringing that house back from the grave is an undertaking of massive proportions. People spending time money and effort to restore homes should be applauded not vilified.

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  3. Arcadia really should take a lead from the Sierra Madre Planning Commission. The addressing of zoning throughout the City, up dating codes and FAR changes at City level will impact future developments. The General Plan is only a guide line for the City and State.
    The law suit addresses the compatibility of the development with the surrounding homes. This may work; unless zoned for R-2. Adressing CEQA rarely works.
    Good luck to you in Arcadia; it is important to get involved and to continue to keep an eye on reasonable slow growth and Development for the Community.

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  4. The residents of Arcadia are not afraid to wield the legal sword. Good. Most city governments only react when they absolutely have to.

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  5. I think Sierra Madre really needs to keep being vigilant. There is a house on South Lima that has stood vacant for two years. The owners may be waiting for it to fall into such disrepair that it needs to be demolished and a monster replacement built. There is trash strewn in the front yard and everything is dead. Had the buyers of the property, (it was purchased about two years ago) put about $50,000 into remodeling upgrades, they could have made over $200,000 profit in a flip. Instead they probably want the build an airplane hanger house and hope to make millions.

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    1. Did the City Council ever have their conversation about homes left vacant by absentee owners? I know some residents have raised this issue at public comment.

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    2. Where on S. Lima?

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  6. What is going on with the Salisian project? May I now build another house in my backyard without permits and rent it without a business license? Do whatever I want and plead ignorance and say sorry later?

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    1. They applied for a new CUP which went to hearing, and planning commission asked for more corrections.

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    2. The City of Sierra Madre needs to make these knuckleheads an example of what happens to those that ignore laws and codes. They must force them to demolish that structure! Otherwise, it is open season on do whatever you want, screw regulations and the neighborhood.

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    3. They're connected.

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  7. With the huge rate of Arcadia homes being razed for new mansions, one can only hope for continued lawsuits. Hopefully it gets to a point where old roger chandler realizes a majority of residents are opposed to the new over sized homes and he realizes he's not wanted and does not run for council again, or we all vote him out of office come 2018. Get that Sho out of there as well.

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  8. From the photo shown on this blog; it appears to show a two story building.
    That would mean that a two story house may be built on the proposed site.

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  9. Chandler said, “This is the worst attack on city authority I’ve witnessed”.
    If the city authority hadn't been handing over the city to the highest bidder, and allowing destruction of neighborhood after neighborhood through mansionization, they wouldn't have been attacked.
    The Arcadia city government has failed to protect the city - now the residents have to do it.

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    1. Chandler is the Donald Trump of Arcadia. All hot air and hysterics.

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  10. The Residents ARE the responsible party to protect the Community.

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  11. Trump supports mansionization

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  12. It's all about pay for play. We will pay to build illegal structures now and pay for play if we get caught.

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  13. Love you comparison 11:26. Don't forget to get your free burger at Taylor's and thank them for being here.

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  14. In light of fierce opposition from moneyed interests, developers pulling the strings on city council puppets Roger Chandler and Sho Tay and attempting to buy the election by donating $10's of thousands to Bob Harbicht's failed re-election campaign, we should take a few moments to thank a handful of courageous and proud Arcadians.

    In no particular order:
    Brad Thompson - planning commissioner; the voice of factual eloquence in a wilderness of ineptitude;
    Bob Stover - president of the Highlands HOA
    Laurie Thompson - president of the Santa Anita Village HOA
    David Arvizu - president of Saving Arcadia
    Brett Mitulski - a steadfast supporter of South Arcadia and neighborhood preservation
    April Verlato - city council member

    And dozens of others who have given their voice in support of rational development.

    Arcadia is a better city now that these fine people are providing stewardship for the pockets of beautiful neighborhoods that remain, like groves of protected forest in a wilderness clear cut by bulldozers behind green fences.

    Thank you all and keep fighting.

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