Residents of Highline Road to Protest Apartment Plans

Times Staff Writer

A handful of residents in a quiet Glendale hillside neighborhood today are expected to protest plans by a developer who wants to build a 14-unit apartment complex on their street.

Residents of Highline Road in southeast Glendale have for months barraged city officials with letters and phone calls over the project, which would fall well within the city's limitations on density, comply with zoning requirements and even provide excess parking.

But residents contend that the development proposed by Val Levin represents a glitch in the city's new zoning and land-use plan.

They will ask the city Environmental and Planning Board today to require the developer to provide detailed studies on the environmental impact of the project. Such studies usually are costly and time-consuming.

The board will hear the matter at 3 p.m. in Room 105 of the Municipal Services Building, 633 E. Broadway.

The project is proposed on a steep lot of nearly 1 acre on Highline, a short and narrow finger of a street carved into a mountainside. The irregular-shaped lot, shaded by giant eucalyptus trees and inhabited by squirrels and hoot owls, extends to the back yards of most homes along the east side of the street.

Zoned for Multiple Units

City zoning laws permit a density of up to 23 units on the lot, which, like the rest of the neighborhood, is zoned for multiple-dwelling units. The neighborhood is a mixture of single-family homes, duplexes and three- and four-unit apartments.

Many of the multiple units were large, old homes years ago that were divided up into duplexes as the progression of medium-density development along Verdugo Road moved eastward into the hills. When the city updated its zoning maps several years ago, the entire area, including Highline Road, was rezoned from single-family residential to multiple-unit residential, allowing one unit per 1,750 square feet of land.

Residents say the development now proposed in the area is not suitable because the narrow street is already overcrowded. Many of the older homes lack adequate garages, forcing residents to park their cars on the street. Trash trucks and other service vehicles have to back out of the narrow roadway because there is no room to turn around.

Residents fear that the parking situation will become even more critical with the addition of 14 units, even though the developer has volunteered to provide five extra visitor-parking spaces within the apartment complex in addition to the required two spaces per unit.

Plans call for removing about 6,000 cubic yards of dirt from the steep hillside, which would require about 600 truck trips on the narrow street. A city planning official said contractors may have to blast the hillside in order to break up the rock, as was done for construction of the nearby Glendale Freeway.

The cuts would be shored with retaining walls up to 20 feet high, 5 feet more than the city permits, according to the developer's plans. The building would rise two and three stories above the back yards of neighbors.

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