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Horse races, lush gardens and fanfare

August 05, 2007|Svetlana Arutyunyan | Times Staff Writer

Picture an area where majestic peacocks with fluorescent tails freely roam the streets. For more than a century, residents of the Village in Arcadia have shared their lawns with peafowl, which add an unusual element to the traditional community about 15 miles northeast of L.A.


Arcadia traces its origins to its pioneer settler Hugo Reid, who in 1845 was granted Rancho Santa Anita by the Mexican government.

The ownership of the land changed hands several times, until Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin purchased it in 1875.

Baldwin imported peafowl from India in the 1880s. They were free to roam the Baldwin Ranch, part of which later became the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Many of the birds have made their homes in the Village. They are even covered by a local ordinance -- which is largely ignored -- that prohibits residents from feeding them.

What it's about

Although within walking distance of Santa Anita Park racetrack, the county arboretum and the Westfield Shopping Center, the streets of the Village are rarely clogged with traffic. Stop signs abound, and it isn't uncommon to see a car halt in mid-block if a peacock is crossing the street.

Insider's view

The closeness of the Village to shopping and restaurants is what drew Rita Yen to the area six years ago. Yen, who works in sales for a shipping company, moved from neighboring San Marino to be closer to Chinese restaurants and supermarkets.

Having peacocks in the neighborhood is a plus, Yen said. "We live in a city that has peacocks walking around. How many places have that?"

Frank McDonough, a botanical information consultant at the arboretum, considers the Village the best place to live in Arcadia because of its proximity to hiking trails, Old Town Pasadena and Old Town Monrovia, and the 210 Freeway.

Housing stock

Although most of the 529 homes in the Village are single-family bungalows built in the 1950s, there are a few exceptions, including contemporary, English Tudor, Mediterranean and ranch-style architecture. The Design Review Board, established in the 1980s by Village residents, works to ensure that the traditional feel of the community is preserved.

"A 10,000-square-foot home is odd next to a bungalow," said David Wei, a broker at Coldwell Banker George Realty in Arcadia. The price range for homes is about $800,000 to $1.5 million.

Currently, two single-family houses are on the market. One is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,786-square-foot house listed for close to $800,000. The second is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,612-square-foot house for $1,040,000.

Good news, bad news

Although many residents feel attached to the peacocks, others complain about them. Some of the complaints are that the birds are too noisy, that they eat the landscaping and that they are messy.

Report card

Students in the Village attend Hugo Reid Elementary School, which scored 928 out of a possible 1,000 on the 2006 Academic Performance Index Base Report. They go on to Foothills Middle School, which scored 930, and then to Arcadia High School, which scored 837.



Sources: David Wei, Coldwell Banker George Realty,;

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