Reluctant to adopt another ordinance that would limit the size of new homes, the City Council last week tabled a proposal that would have restricted the floor area of new houses to 40% of the lot size.
The Planning Commission recommended the limitation in a continuing effort to reduce the size of new homes in the city.
Although lot sizes have not increased, the average size of new homes in Arcadia has jumped from 1,500 square feet in the late 1960s to about 3,500 square feet now, said Gordon Maddock, president of Baldwin Realty.
The Planning Commission’s recommendation came just 6 months after the council adopted an ordinance that imposed tighter height and setback requirements for new homes.
At Tuesday’s meeting, opponents of the floor ratio ordinance said that the measure was too restrictive and might be unnecessary in light of the height and setback ordinance that was passed in April.
“Give the new ordinance a chance to prove itself,” said Maddock.
Homeowners who favor the 40% ratio said it is needed to protect quality of life and maintain open space.
Larry Papay, chairman of the Planning Commission, said in an interview that the commission will review the council’s comments and may recommend a different floor ratio requirement.
“The Planning Commission felt it was an important issue,” Papay said. Earlier this year, the commission reviewed an application in which the total floor ratio of a house was 69% of the lot.
Under the 40% floor ratio proposal, Maddock said, homeowners who would suffer most would be those with lots of 15,000 square feet and less. That includes about 50% of the city’s homeowners, he said.
“I don’t think (homeowners) are really being made aware of what the ramifications are,” Maddock said.
Robert Bauer, 41, said he found out about the potential impact of the proposed floor ratio ordinance the hard way.
Two days after Bauer sold his house and opened escrow, the buyer called and backed out of the deal, citing the pending floor ratio ordinance.
Mayor Robert Harbicht and Councilmen Roger Chandler and Charles Gilb agreed that the floor ratio proposal would be too restrictive.
For example, city calculations show that of the 47 new homes proposed since the April setback ordinance, nearly 60% would not meet the 40% floor ratio test.
“Frankly, I don’t believe that 60% of the homes should be outlawed,” Harbicht said.
But Councilwoman Mary Young said that the 40% ratio was needed to protect open space in the city.
“We’re being crowded like a dog in a pen,” said Young.
In a separate hearing at Tuesday’s meeting, the council unanimously rejected an appeal by the Rancho Santa Anita Property Owner’s Assn.
The association had challenged the Planning Commission’s approval of a 2-story, 7,137-square-foot home at 1035 Hampton Road.
Association members said that the proposed house would be too massive and that it would not blend in with other homes in the neighborhood.