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Arcadia's in a McMansion Boom and It's Completely Insane

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The recent influx of mainland Chinese immigrants into the San Gabriel Valley burg of Arcadia is radically changing the traditionally-white enclave in many ways, not least of which is a total reinvention of their housing stock. (Arcadia saw its Asian population skyrocket from four percent in 1980 to 59 percent in 2010.) The town's expecting record teardowns of older houses, which are mostly set to be replaced with new, much larger McMansions. Long-time residents are regularly offered all-cash buyouts by strangers (sometimes even via postcard or flyer), developers, and would-be developers who are eager to get a house, tear it down, build something bigger, and sell to newly-arrived buyers. Bloomberg took a look at all the changes, both positive and negative, that have come along with Arcadia's increasing desirability among wealthy Chinese people looking to live in Southern California.

· Why Arcadia? Well, aside from having a good school district, there's also the appeal of "large lots with lenient building codes." Three years ago, the city altered a regulation that limited its ability to put a cap on house sizes in Arcadia. Whoops? Or maybe not.
· Arcadia's anticipating about 150 houses (more than 50 percent more than usual) will be torn down in 2014 and replaced with McMansions. The often-all-cash deals "happen fast and are rarely listed publicly."
· Brown lawns are a good sign that a neighbor's sold their house as a teardown: "That means the neighbor has stopped watering and green construction netting is about to go up."
· Indirect money from building permits and developer fees hit $7.9 million this past June, a 72 percent increase from the last fiscal year.
· Investment from immigrant Chinese residents has helped the school district build a a $20-million performing arts center for their high school; the local Mercedes dealer has also felt a nice little bump. Local brokers credit new residents with helping home values beat pre-recession highs even as the rest of the county was still sluggish.
· As is so often the case, these huge houses and the unstoppable wave of development is pissing people off. One man is suing a developer who's building on the lot next to his for cutting down an oak tree that was on his property. He wants $280,000 and charges that the tree-chopping was "intentional, fraudulent, oppressive, malicious, and despicably done."
· Why Are Chinese Millionaires Buying Mansions in an L.A. Suburb? [Bloomberg]
· Some LA 'Hoods Now Pricier Than They Were Pre-Recession [Curbed LA]