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Proliferation of 'mansions' may have helped Temple City avoid greater damage

December 2, 2011 |  4:12 pm

Click here to see more photos.Close to 200 trees in Temple City were uprooted and about 30 homes damaged by broken limbs and trunks during heavy winds that left much of the town without power Friday, officials said.

Yet Temple City lost notably fewer trees than neighboring towns in the heavily hit San Gabriel Valley, partly because of a building boom over the last few years that has replaced traditional homes with residences 6,000-square-feet and larger.

The enormous structures, including multi-car garages and numerous bathrooms and bedrooms, are built out close to lot lines, and many older trees had to be torn out to make room.

PHOTOS: California windstorm | Submit your photos

In many cases, the owners have not replaced them, said Temple City spokesman Brian Haworth.

Moreover, many mansion owners are Chinese immigrants with a faith in feng shui -- the ancient Chinese practice of balancing energies in a given place. Often, they build their mansions without trees near the front of the house to allow more energy to enter.

Many of the mansions have sparse landscaping, allowing for only a palm tree or two.

“They don’t want anything blocking the front of the door,” said Peggy Kuo, Temple City’s deputy city clerk. “They will want to strategically place it in the yard.”


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 -- Sam Quinones


Photo: Large Temple City home. Credit: Sam Quinones / Los Angeles Times