Grand Central to Remain Residential : Council Moves to Defuse Zoning Issues

Times Staff Writer

With the municipal election only a few days away, the Glendale City Council this week moved to defuse some of most controversial issues in its massive citywide rezoning study.

The council tentatively voted to keep the Grand Central neighborhood a residential area and not to change it into an industrial zone as the 1977 General Plan suggested. It also called for expert advice on how property values would be affected by possible zoning changes designed to make expansion easier for the many automobile dealers along southern Brand Boulevard.

The proposed change to industrial zoning had enraged residents of Grand Central, a pocket of 88 homes surrounded by warehouses and factories and bounded by the Golden State Freeway, Truitt Street, Paula Avenue and Hazel Street.

Residents Pushed 2 Options

The residents said they either wanted their zoning to be left residential or to have the city condemn the entire neighborhood and give them fair compensation for their houses. A change to industrial zoning, they said, would allow developers to "blockbust," buying just one home and building an incompatible factory, thus causing all nearby home values to plummet.

Even though the General Plan had recommended the switch to industrial zoning for Grand Central, the city took no action until last year, when city staff began the arduous process of trying to make the city's zoning conform with the plan. After hearing strong protests from residents, the Planning Commission earlier this month voted to amend the General Plan, leaving Grand Central as residential.

With its chamber crowded with many Grand Central residents, the council unanimously agreed with the Planning Commission on Tuesday. The council's vote, however, was only a motion of intent. The move won't be final until the council votes on the entire citywide rezoning ordinance, which may not happen for several months.

Day Backs Residents

Even Councilman John Day, who has made his opposition to the citywide rezoning his major campaign issue, voted to keep Grand Central residential. Day consistently cast the only nay vote on some other rezoning questions in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the entire process.

Jim Fritsche, president of the Grand Central Homeowners Assn., said he was pleased by the council vote but stressed that his neighbors won't be satisfied until their residential status is included in the final rezoning ordinance.

"We won a very short-term victory," Fritsche said.

Included in a string of 4-1 votes Tuesday were motions of intent to keep the Isabel-Howard neighborhood in central Glendale zoned for low- and moderate-density residential development, not the high-density residential designation proposed by the General Plan, and to keep areas near Pacific Park, just south of Colorado Street, as residential and not zone them for light manufacturing as originally proposed. The council also moved to lower allowable residential densities in much of southern Glendale.

Expert Testimony Sought

On another controversial matter, the council unanimously asked the planning staff to have a real estate expert testify on the possible effects of changing zoning in the car dealership area in southern Glendale. A so-called CAR zone, or Commercial, Auto-Related zone, between Brand Boulevard and Central Avenue and from Colorado Street to Los Feliz Boulevard, is proposed to make expansions easier for the auto dealers and services. Auto-related businesses, second only to the Glendale Galleria in generating sales tax revenues in Glendale, now usually have to ask for variances to build extra parking lots or facilities.

But some residents of adjacent apartments and homes complain that the auto dealers already disrupt their lives with loudspeaker noise, emission fumes and illegal parking. Other commercial interests charged that the CAR zone would give one group of businesses special treatment. And auto dealers have said the CAR zone might prove too restrictive.

The city Planning Commission moved to abandon the CAR zone idea and instead change any remaining residential zoning on those blocks to a general C-3 commercial zoning, which would allow non-auto uses also. The CAR idea, however, is still supported by some city planners. Some council members suggested leaving current zoning and just having auto dealers request variances when needed.

Councilman Jerold F. Milner introduced the motion asking for expert advice. "I'm concerned about either the CAR zone or the C-3," he said. "But that is a reasonable place to start the discussion."

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