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Glendale community plan will lead to unwanted density, suit alleges

A settlement conference has been set for later this month involving a lawsuit filed against the city of Glendale by a group of residents and developers who allege a new community plan for the southern part of the city violates state environmental and zoning regulations, as well as the municipal code.

The suit filed by the nonprofit Save Our Glendale in late August claims zoning and height requirements included in the South Glendale Community Plan will result in unwanted increased density and adverse environmental impacts.

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According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Naira Soghbatyan, Glendale City Council members based the plan on projected local population growth unsubstantiated by existing data — using artificially high numbers to justify zoning changes to make it easier to build mixed-use developments in residential areas.

A mixed-use classification allows for a project to include more apartments than in residential zones, she said.

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“You buy a house in a neighborhood because it’s private, nice, quiet,” Soghbatyan said. Once mixed-use development is introduced, “The neighborhood turns into a not-so-private place, but a noisy place.”

She added, “What we have in Glendale is too much density already.”

City Atty. Mike Garcia and city officials declined to comment on the case, citing a city policy not to discuss ongoing litigation.

City council members voted 4-1 in late July to move ahead with the plan, after dozens of residents spoke out in opposition.

“It’s clear that even if we don’t tend to this issue, growth is going to take place,” Mayor Zareh Sinanyan said at the five-hour meeting.

“In Glendale, and in Southern California overall, we’re in the middle of a serious housing crisis. That is a result of all the municipalities not building enough housing,” he added.

The plan will also lead to more air pollution, decreased open space, and increased traffic and greenhouse-gas emissions, which the city is obligated to mitigate under the California Environmental Quality Act, according to the lawsuit.

Save Our Glendale also claims that residents from the south Glendale area were excluded from the plan’s drafting and public-comment processes, violating other CEQA provisions.

Both sides met on Oct. 25, and the city requested a settlement conference be held on Nov. 28, according to Soghbatyan.

A status conference originally set for Nov. 9 in Los Angeles Superior Court has been canceled because of the assignment of a new judge at the plaintiff’s request, she said.

The plan affects neighborhoods south of the 134 Freeway, including downtown Glendale, Adams Hill and Tropico, according to the city’s notice of determination.

City officials have been preparing a series of community plans for four sections of the city, with the north plan adopted in 2011, the notice states.

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