Glendale Drops Plan to Force High-Rise Zone
Calling it unworkable and a design for gridlock, the Glendale City Council has scrapped a proposal to force high-rise development in residential zones adjoining the downtown redevelopment area.
The proposal, stalemated last month in a 2-2 vote, was unanimously rejected Tuesday by the council.
Councilmen Larry Zarian and Carl Raggio, who voted earlier in favor of the proposal, said Tuesday that they had changed their minds after studying potential effects of the change. Councilman John F. Day, who was absent for the earlier vote, had said he was opposed to the new zoning.
The plan, part of a citywide rezoning proposal, would have required that construction in residential areas now zoned R-5, the highest density permitted in the city, be changed to R-450, which would require that new buildings be at least five stories high and built on at least three residential lots.
There would be no height limitation on buildings in the new zone, which would permit a density of one dwelling unit per 450 square feet of property, or 100 units per acre. Current zoning sets no minimum on the size of buildings.
City planners said the proposal was designed to force developers to “resist the temptation to underutilize” land that would be suitable for high-rise development when a demand for such housing arises. But developers have opposed the change, saying the demand does not exist and will never arise. They cited the largely vacant Monterey Island and Park Plaza condominium developments as examples of residential towers that have failed.
Monterey Island, completed almost two years ago, was foreclosed on by Crocker National Bank last year after developers were unable to sell units priced from $200,000 to $400,000. Bank officials have considered converting the 15-story building, which overlooks the Ventura Freeway east of Brand Boulevard, into an office building or hotel, said Charles Boynton, a bank vice president.
The proposal requiring high-density development would have affected a nine-block area bounded by the Ventura Freeway, Broadway and Central and Columbus avenues.
Gerald Jamriska, city planning director, said most recent development in the area has been three-to-five-story buildings with an average density of 35 units per acre. The area has mostly single-family homes and low-rise apartments.
Several council members said that a proposed new density of 100 units per acre would cause traffic gridlock in the area. Councilman Day said that, if such development were permitted, residents could have “a breathtaking view of the freeway but they can’t get to it.”
He called the proposal a “potential for a horrible situation” and added, “I don’t want to leave this legacy to the people.”
Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg suggested that a fence be built around such high-density development and that residents “could open up their own community because they could never get out.”
Milner and Raggio said they had changed their opinion of the R-450 proposal because they believe a less dense R-750 zoning, permitting one unit per 750 square feet of land, to be more suitable.
Milner said he wants to retain the “small town atmosphere” in Glendale but suggested that the city planning staff study alternatives to set aside areas of the city for high-rise development.
Zarian said he objected to limitations in the R-450 proposal that would make single or double lots unbuildable.
After scrapping the R-450 zoning in the nine-block area, council members also withdrew their endorsement of that zoning in two other downtown residential areas--a four-block neighborhood immediately west of the Glendale Galleria bounded by Columbus and Pacific avenues between Broadway and Colorado Street and a residential strip east of the redevelopment area between Maryland Avenue and Louise Street, Wilson Avenue and the Ventura Freeway.
Those areas are proposed to be changed to R-750 zoning when the council considers final adoption of the citywide rezoning plan in September.
The rezoning proposal is designed to bring the city’s population growth plan into conformity with its general plan, adopted in 1977.