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New wave of Chinese home buyers pose questions for Arcadia

A home for sale in Arcadia, Calif.
A home for sale in Arcadia, Calif.

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Arcadia, California is home to nearly 57,000 residents, the famous Santa Anita Race track, and a booming real estate business.

In recent years, wealthy investors from mainland China have been flocking to this city, located about 15 miles north east of Los Angeles.

They've spent millions tearing down old properties and building super-sized homes in their place.

That's brought added revenue to the city and provided for community services, said John Wuo, mayor of Arcadia.

"We definitely have seen the general budgeting revenue increase because of the property tax increase and we have [been] able to enjoy the property value appreciation for the last few years," said Wuo. He estimates that the property taxes amount to about $10 million a year, some of which goes to police and fire departments and city schools.

But the influx of money has also brought tension among some residents. And the latest follows several waves of immigrants, first from Taiwan and then from Hong Kong.

"Now what we're seeing is a new influx coming from mainland China," said Karen Weise, reporter with Bloomberg Businessweek. "This has been going on for several years but by all accounts has really intensified in the past two years or so."

Tom Xia, a resident of Arcadia, moved to the city as a child with his family. He's explored some of these issues in his film, Xmas Without China.

"The fact that Arcadia represents the American dream and they want a better life for their family and their kids here says a lot about the American suburb and the image of American throughout the world," said Xia.

Read Karen Weise's article in Bloomberg Businessweek: "Why are Chinese millionaires buying mansions in an LA suburb?"