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Richard Midgley: Wuo’s motives?

I was pleased to read in Arcadia’s Best of the strong negative reactions generated by Mr. Harbicht’s and Mr. Chandler’s endorsements via a computerized phone tree of Mr. John Wuo for City Council. Although the election is probably a long way down the road, I would like to add my voice to those negative views. The political commitments generated, most seriously by the actions of a sitting councilperson, can only suggest an unhealthy linking of council votes. Are we to be confronted with another block vote that ties the Council into forced and biased compromises?

Richard H. Midgley

I have some separate observations about the policies represented by Mr. Wuo’s campaign. I note from the City Clerk’s records that Mr. Wuo has accepted substantial sums from relationships outside our community. Has Mr. Wuo seen fit to secure financing from those with no reason to invest in Arcadia for Arcadia’s benefit? Or is their investment in Mr. Wuo? Mr. Wuo’s campaign has been an expensive one, what with phone trees and glossy advertising. Is he buying the election, or laying a foundation for future favors to be offered in City business?

Third, and perhaps more important, is Mr. Wuo’s apparent attitude toward Arcadia’s citizens. During a recent forum, Mr. Wuo was made aware of a 17,000 square foot home being built on Longden Avenue. The house, reportedly to have 10 bedrooms and 15 baths, is eight times the size of most of the homes in the neighborhood, and three times the size of the largest (to date). Although City staff has declared the building to be consistent with City codes, it is clearly in conflict with the City’s own Design Guidelines for City residences. Those Guidelines state that new construction should be in scale and proportion with surrounding sites. Mr. Wuo’s comment during the forum was that the house met City codes and fits on its large lot, he saw no issue. Mr. Wuo is right there with Mr. Harbicht on that point. Mr. Wuo made the additional comment that investment was a key to Arcadia’s future and essential if it is to remain as a great city and wonderful place to live. Another of Mr. Wuo’s observation was that the city did not need a vigorous business investment program, because such activities would foster increased traffic and inconvenience. I take these observations to mean that residential property taxes are the best way to fund Arcadia’s needs. Big homes mean big tax money and greatly simplify Council financial tasks.

Such a policy seems to defy the concerns of neighboring property owners, who are suddenly confronted with property values reflecting their ownership only in terms of a building site, ignoring their investment in improvements which they have made to sustain their ownership. Mr. Wuo’s position also seems to negate any issue neighbors might have with loss of privacy, increased traffic (can you imagine the parking required by a 10 bedroom home) and blocked views which they may have enjoyed for years. Why does Mr. Wuo, and some current Council-persons, not remember that the Council’s primary duty is to defend the rights and investments of ALL of its citizens, if it is to remain a great place to live? As things seem to stand now for may Arcadia citizens, if you don’t like what is happening to your neighborhood, sell your property and move away.

In his observations Mr. Wuo has already taken a position which will probably assure that Arcadia will remain the only city in the San Gabriel Valley with no housing development standard requiring a concern for everyone’s property rights and peace of mind. I think Mr. Wuo’s election will require strong community action. I for one intend to develop ideas for a ballot measure to limit the size of home construction. I do not agree that the blight represented by disproportionate housing has to maintain. Even with the current number of homes already built, as is the case in South Arcadia, (thanks to the Council), real improvements can be made in creating a harmonious environment. If the experience of other communities can be taken, such public action increases property values, instead of decreasing then as some assert. If San Marino, Sierra Madre, and Monrovia can do it, so can Arcadia. Are you listening, Mr Wuo?

I am also going to encourage study of recall processes to assure that Arcadia’s citizens will be carefully listened to and respected by their Council. Mr. Wuo and the rest of the Old Boys had best begin to think more broadly about their responsibilities. The problems are not easy, but they can be solved by creative, unselfish public officers. I think we should remember for whom the City Council works and exercise the strength of our understanding – both in terms of the selection of our representatives, and in our assessment of their service.

— By Richard H. Midgley, a 58-year resident of Arcadia who supports candidate Mary Dougherty for City Council. Mr. Midgley has a business degree from Stanford University and worked for many years for the Chief Administrative Office of Los Angeles County and the County Museum of Natural History. Mr. Midgley is

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