ARCADIA — The battle between residents arguing for their right to do what they want with their property and those intent upon preserving their right to keep horses has pitted neighbor against neighbor in a 33-acre area in the southeastern part of this affluent bedroom community.
In the most recent round, the City Council came down on the side of property rights Tuesday night when it voted 3 to 2 to approve a nine-lot subdivision in the area, which includes South 8th Avenue between Camino Real and El Sur Street and South 10th Avenue between El Norte and Camino Real.
The council approved the subdivision, which would include six homes, in spite of a moratorium passed two weeks ago that prohibits any new subdivisions in the 88-parcel area for an initial 45-day period. The moratorium exempted the developer, Westco Land Inc., because he had filed his subdivision application before the temporary urgency ordinance was passed.
Property Owners Protested
The moratorium was passed after 53 of the 88 property owners in the disputed area signed a petition protesting recent proposals for new subdivisions that would create lots that could not accommodate horses and that would have an adverse effect on nearby existing horse properties.
The petition requested that properties be rezoned from the present minimum 7,500-square-foot lot to 30,000 square feet to preserve the area's large lots so they could be used to keep horses. Under present law, horses may not be kept or ridden within 100 feet of an adjoining residence.
The Council Chamber was crowded with residents of the area.
Property owners who favored the subdivision said it would upgrade the area and that their property rights would be violated if they could not subdivide.
Beginning of End Feared
But the horse owners, fearing the beginning of the end of the last horse-property area in the city, said that if the rural aspects of the area were diminished, they might never be regained.
Frank La Barbara said he bought his property because he wanted to keep horses.
"People knew when they bought here that it was a horse area," he told the council.
But Craig Wiles, who also lives in the area, said, "I don't agree with a very few people in the community telling me what I can do with my property."
The subdivision approved by the council, with Mary Young and Charles Gilb dissenting, would use three existing lots and extend Linda Way, a dead-end street, to create the six additional lots, which would comply with the current 7,500-square-foot zoning requirement.
Voted Against Project
Young said she was voting against the subdivision because she wants to save the horse areas in the city.
The other council opponent, Gilb, said, "While I see nothing wrong with selling property to make money, I am opposed to the subdivision because people have developed this area for horses and many are expensive horses. Once it's gone, it's gone. Until we decide what to do with the area (during the moratorium), I would deny it."
Councilmen Roger Chandler and Robert Harbicht spoke in favor of the development, with Chandler saying that until the law is changed, people have a right to do what they want with their property.
Harbicht said that the subdivision will affect only two pieces of property and that the city can't deny the rights of the three people whose property will be sold for the subdivision. Councilman Dennis Lojeski also voted in favor of the project.