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Arcadia development has Nunez on hunger strike

April 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A real estate mogul took extreme measures to influence voters Tuesday in the election for Arcadia City Council. He is on the tenth day of a hunger strike. It began after the city council rejected his proposal to relax zoning laws in downtown Arcadia. The votes will tell if the hunger strike paid off.The minute after the polls close, Henry Nunez says, he will end his 10-day hunger strike, no matter who wins the election.

Nunez wants to keep two veteran politicians off the Arcadia City Council, both of them former mayors. There's incumbent councilman Bob Harbicht, and council candidate Mickey Segal.

"They have come out and said publically, ''We don't want any change,'" said Nunez. "You know the old saying: 'If you're not moving forward you're going backwards.'"

Arcadia is home to Santa Anita Park, a horse-race track, but Nunez says the only horse he has in the election is hope for a better future for Arcadia.

He's especially concerned there is no planning for the area around the future Metro Gold Line light rail station. A committee recommended new laws that would allow more density and lifting the current restrictions of three stories on buildings.

In a telephone interview, Harbicht said that's "180 degrees off my vision of Arcadia." Segal said, "What Henry is proposing to deliver isn't what the people of Arcadia want."

Nunez admits his fasting has cost him short-term memory loss and weakness. He insists it will have been worth it.

"It's the whole direction of our city: smart growth and development is part of the evolution of any city, especially a city that has a Gold Line system," said Nunez.

Of the fast, Harbicht says most people are laughing about it. "He's like a gnat buzzing around your ear. It's just kind of annoying," said Harbicht.

Residents have mixed feelings about more development in Arcadia.

If Nunez has his way he admits he would like to be the developer that puts his name on property around the future Gold Line location.


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