ARCADIA — Builders and homeowners won a reprieve last week from a proposal that would have put strict limits on the size and dimensions of new homes in Arcadia.
Nearly 150 people packed a Planning Commission meeting that seemed at times like a pro-development pep rally. Most of them opposed a plan to amend building regulations to restrict the height, size and yard setbacks of new homes.
The hearing became so boisterous at times that Commissioner Lawrence Papay had to ask the audience to stop applauding.
By a unanimous vote, the commission postponed a decision and set another public hearing for Jan. 26, giving builders, real estate brokers and residents time to comment on the proposal and make suggestions.
Plans to Form Group
"This proposal would affect not only builders, but all the other property owners in the city who would like to someday add on to their homes," said Gordon Maddock, an Arcadia real estate broker who plans to form a group of builders and real estate people to discuss the amendment with the city Planning Department.
Commission members said the amendment grew out of residents' complaints that many new homes in the city are too large to blend with the one-story, ranch-style homes that characterize most of Arcadia. Those residents want the Planning Commission to impose stricter and more clearly defined building specifications.
According to commission members, the amendment would establish guidelines both for new homes and for remodeling projects and would benefit neighborhoods that do not have homeowners associations to set guidelines.
The amendment, prepared by the Planning Department staff, would:
Limit the height of all single-family homes to 30 feet.
Establish wider setbacks for front and side yards.
Limit the floor area of new homes to half the lot size.
It would also regulate roof angles and exterior walls to keep the upper portions of houses from looking boxlike or top-heavy, one of the objections raised against some new homes.
But members of the audience last week said placing too many restrictions on builders might stifle new development and lower property values.
"If you make it too difficult for builders, we will see no new buildings, and the old buildings will deteriorate," said one longtime resident.
Some real estate brokers, builders and architects also said the restrictions would limit creativity. "If you want the government and the architectural review boards to tell you what you can and can't build, move to Russia," said Michael Owen of Owen Development Co.
One resident opposed the amendment because, he said, it would allow construction of only one-story, Tudor-style homes. "I'd hate to see government regulate taste, style and size of homes," he said.
Corky Nicholson, an associate planner with the Planning Department, disagreed with opponents of the amendment.
In an interview, Nicholson said the restrictions would not drive away developers but would provide desperately needed building guidelines for the city. "I cannot see any detrimental impact on anyone by this proposal," he said. "You can come up with some beautiful designs that fit within the proposal guidelines."
Nicholson said homeowners have called him to complain that homes being built near them are too large. "Well, what's too large?" he said. "How do you define large ? This proposal will give specific guidelines that will define what large is."
Nicholson said the proposal was based on a similar regulation in effect in neighboring Monrovia.
Maddock said he was satisfied with the outcome of Tuesday's meeting. "I don't think the proposal is all that bad. It's not all that restrictive," he said. "We just need additional time to study it and to see what we can live with and what we can't.
"I am optimistic that we can work together to come up with something that agrees with everybody."