- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) - Officials in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia canceled a planned trip to China and Taiwan to build cultural relationships after residents complained it was being underwritten by Asian companies with potential business interests in the city.

An 11-member delegation - including the mayor, city manager, city attorney and two council members - had planned to leave later this month before the trip was canceled last week, the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1M63SEU ) reported Wednesday.

Residents objected after a city staff report noted that $30,000 of the trip’s cost was being covered by two China-based companies and a Southern California developer. Officials said none of the companies did business directly with the city, but some of them may have been involved in private real estate transactions.

Arcadia has seen a flood of Asian real-estate investment in recent years, with huge two-story homes going up on lots all over town where modest post-World War II houses once stood.

“People started to say things, and that became a very bad vibe,” Councilman Sho Tay said. “So we decided that we would just cancel.”

Many of the city’s new homes are being purchased by wealthy Chinese families enrolling their children in Arcadia’s highly rated public schools. The upscale city of 57,000, once overwhelmingly white, is now 59 percent Asian, which has caused racial tensions.

“I’m all for trying to understand Chinese culture, but they better darn well try to understand mine as well,” said Lael Blocker, 72.

Tay said it’s commonplace for city officials to visit other countries to build sister-city relationships. Arcadia officials had traveled to China before, he added.

“We still feel that residents don’t quite understand why we were going,” Tay said. “But we don’t want to create a feeling of segregation.”

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/

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