Building Slowdown Criticized : Construction: Property owners say the value of their holdings will plummet if Glendale adopts a downzoning plan. The mayor says the curbs are necessary.


Angry property owners told the Glendale City Council on Tuesday that they oppose a downzoning plan that would curb the city's population boom by limiting construction of apartments, condominiums and townhouses.

Despite the protests, Mayor Jerold F. Milner said construction of multiple-family housing must be curtailed because the city's infrastructure--including streets, sewer lines and water system--cannot adequately serve more than 240,000 residents.

"We have to anticipate how many people can be added and keep it below that number," he said.

The council did not vote on the proposal, however.

Council members recently learned that the city's population is close to 200,000, significantly higher than estimated earlier. Because Glendale's newest apartments and condominiums house an average of 3 1/2 people per unit, the city cannot handle more than about 10,000 additional dwelling units, Milner said.

A survey commissioned by the city produced the higher population estimate in January.

Previously, Glendale officials had said they would allow up to 20,000 new apartments or condominiums under a downzoning proposal.

Downzoning would change city planning rules, permitting fewer housing units than now allowed to be built on a lot. Reductions in density were recommended Feb. 12 by the Glendale Planning Commission.

On Tuesday, the City Council listened to public comments on the proposal and prepared to refine it.

"We are going to take all the time necessary to let people talk to the council," Milner said. "This will probably go on for two or three or even four months before a decision is made. It takes a long time to work through something as important as this."

The review will resume at the council's March 13 meeting.

At Tuesday's hearing, several people said they supported the downzoning plan as a way to prevent the construction of large, unsightly apartment buildings next to single-family houses.

But most of the speakers opposed the plan, saying the value of their land would plummet if the city drastically cuts the number of apartments they can build.

Glendale resident Rita Johnson told the council that downzoning would affect the future development of apartment property she purchased last year on Calafia Street.

"Under the current zoning, there could be up to 14 units built, but with the proposed changes, only five units could be constructed," she said. "This represents a 58% downzoning and seriously affects the future value of the property."

Richard A. Walker said he had considered rebuilding his Glendale apartment buildings because they are more than 50 years old. But Walker said he would not do so if the downzoning measure is approved because he would be allowed only one-third as many units.

Councilman Larry Zarian expressed concern that downzoning would give property owners no incentive to replace their aging apartment buildings.

"Maybe not today, but five years from now we're going to pay a price in slum housing," he said.

The councilman said he opposes blanket downzoning but wants to review various sections of the city to determine where the growth restriction is appropriate.

Milner questioned the property owners' claim that downzoning will decrease the value of their land. He suggested that a property owner could reap the same profits by building a few high-quality townhouses in place of a dense apartment complex.

The mayor asked the city staff to gather information on changes in property values for discussion at a future meeting.

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