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Arcadians Suing to Try and Stop the Mansion Boom

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Tucked into the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Arcadia offers good schools, nice neighborhoods, and "large lots with lenient building codes." That last one has spurred a McMansion "boom" in the neighborhood in the last few years, but a group called Save the Arcadia Highlands is looking to slow things with lawsuits against everyone involved in two in-the-works mansion projects—the city of Arcadia, the Arcadia City Council, the parties building the mansions, and even the designer of the project, Robert Tong (kind of a big name in the Arcadia mansion scene)—all on the grounds that these projects were unjustly approved, says the Pasadena Star-News. Both projects were originally rejected by the local homeowners association, Highland Oaks Homeowners' Association, but were given the green light by the city.

Those Angelenos dulled by mega- and gigamansions might wonder what's so awful about a house that's just a measly 5,000 square feet, but this neighborhood was designed to be sylvan, to highlight the mountains, and to be somewhat rustic. These are the deep 'burbs: the Arcadia Highlands, an 850-house neighborhood in the northern part of Arcadia, right up against the foothills. The houses here are mostly older Ranch-styles built in the 1950s and 1960s by a developer who wanted to encourage diversity in the tract and never sold two parcels to the same developer, according to a neighborhood profile from the LA Times.

But these are not the first newer houses to be built in the Highlands that are much larger than the houses they replace. Almost 30 new houses measuring more than 5,000 square feet have gone up in the last three years. And every mansion built is chipping away at the neighborhood's character, long-time residents fear.

The two projects named in the lawsuit are each more than 6,000 square feet; one is replacing a house that's 1,855 square feet and the other is replacing a house that's 2,674 square feet. Both are on lots that are more than 18,000 square feet (Deep 'burbs! So much space!), so they're not exactly going to be peeping on their neighbors or invading anyone's space, which are two big complaints about mansionization in central LA. This is a purely aesthetic battle.

The lawsuit claims that the projects have violated parts of the California Environmental Quality Act and state planning and zoning laws. Save the Arcadia Highlands wants LA Superior Court to put a hold on any work on the projects (nothing's been torn down yet) until they're compliant.
· Activists sue Arcadia over 2 residential development projects [PSN]
· Arcadia's in a McMansion Boom and It's Completely Insane [Curbed LA]
· Here Are the Anti-Mansion Rules Coming to 15 LA 'Hoods [Curbed LA]