Huge Hill Project OKd as Bremberg Drops Opposition

Times Staff Writer

Saying that the need for housing outweighs the drawbacks of building a hillside roadway, a Glendale City Council member this week reversed her opposition to a zoning change and cast the swing vote approving the largest housing subdivision in Glendale’s history.

Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg on Tuesday provided the crucial fourth vote developers needed to win approval of a zone change for the 588-unit Hensler-MacDonald subdivision in the San Rafael Hills.

The action marked the end of almost three years of controversy and public hearings on a variety of development plans. The project will preserve 213 acres of the 316-acre site as city-owned open space. Previous attempts to develop the hillsides had failed for more than two decades because of community opposition.

Representatives of developers sat tensely in their second-row seats in the council chamber Tuesday to witness the final action on property owned by Richard R. Hensler of Sun Valley and the S. T. MacDonald family of Montrose.


Much Thought

Bremberg said she stayed awake nights for a week before making up her mind to vote for the zone change. She said she finally decided that the need for moderate-priced housing in the city outweighs any adverse effects she expects from construction of a public road through the hills.

Until this week, Bremberg had refused to vote for the zone change because, although she said she liked the subdivision proposal, she objected to a requirement that developers build a full road--two paved lanes open at all times to the public--through the hillsides. She had said she would compromise if a limited-access road, to be used only in emergencies, was built instead.

Full Road Upheld


But that alternative died last week when the council upheld the need for a full road. It had voted for a full road last year, saying the road was needed to handle traffic from the development and nearby Chevy Chase Canyon.

Chances for a zoning change then appeared slim because the city’s charter requires approval by four of the five council members. Mayor Jerold F. Milner said he would not vote for the change because he dislikes the idea of attached homes in the hills.

More Plans, Study

Marlene Roth, a consultant to the developers, said they have spent about $400,000 on studies, reports and fees required before the project was approved. She estimated that more specific site plans will take about six months and will require months of study by city and county departments before construction can begin.


No construction date has been set. The project is expected to be completed within five years after building begins, Roth said.

The plans provide for a mixture of 140 town houses, 312 duplex units and 136 single-family houses, clustered on a small part of the hillside. Developers said clustered housing can be built faster and will be priced lower--starting at about $150,000--than single-family homes only, which would have cost at least $350,000 apiece.