Glendale Sidesteps Building Ban

Times Staff Writer

The Glendale City Council, although it is considering changes in zoning to reduce allowable density in large areas of the city, voted again this week to permit new construction in some of those areas.

The council on Tuesday adopted for the second time an ordinance overriding a 53-year-old law that requires a building moratorium be imposed on any land being considered for downzoning, which changes zoning to a lower density.

The Verdugo Woodlands Homeowners Assn. in December persuaded the city to enforce provisions of that 1922 law requiring a moratorium. But a week later the City Council adopted an emergency ordinance exempting a current citywide rezoning study from any building moratorium.

Suit Filed

The Verdugo homeowner group earlier this month filed suit challenging the legality of the emergency ordinance, which was introduced and adopted at a single meeting. So the council reintroduced the ordinance last week on a non-emergency basis and approved it Tuesday.

Nevertheless, issuance of building permits in the Verdugo Woodlands neighborhood is temporarily blocked by a court order until a hearing is held March 22 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The rest of the city is not affected by the restraining order and new building permits continue to be issued in all other areas.

A proposal to rezone--including downzone--large areas of the city has been under study by the Planning Department, Planning Commission and City Council for more than a year. Public notices of proposed zone changes were mailed to all property owners in the city in October.

City officials said a record number of requests for new building permits have been filed during the last four months. Although officials said much of the increase may be attributed to lower interest rates on construction loans, they also concede that many builders may be hurrying to obtain permits before more restrictive zoning laws are adopted.

Record Number of Permits

Public Works Director George A. Miller said a record $141.9 million worth of building permits were issued in 1984, causing a backlog of requests for plan checks and building inspections. Miller said building inspections, which normally are completed by the city within 24 hours after requested, now are delayed for 48 hours because of that backlog.

He said the city has a backlog of plans for $44.2 million worth of proposed new construction awaiting city approval but has only enough staff to check $8 million worth of plans monthly.

The City Council on Tuesday allocated $76,000 in additional funds to the Building Department to pay overtime salaries and hire outside consultants to catch up on the backlog of building requests.

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