Commissioners Cite Fire, Traffic Problems in Rejection of Chevy Chase Canyon Project


The Glendale Planning Commission, citing concerns about potential environmental damage, increased traffic and the risk of fires, this week narrowly rejected a plan to build a 12-house subdivision on a Chevy Chase Canyon hillside.

The commissioners voted 3 to 2 Monday against the proposal by developer Vahan Bezdikian to build the Somerset Estates housing tract on five acres of chaparral- and oak-covered land off Somerset Road. Bezdikian had agreed to dedicate the remaining six acres of his property as open space.

“I’m in no way trying to deny some development” on the site, said Ted Osborn, who with Commissioners Don Pearson and Claudia Rizzo Culling rejected the project. But Osborn said he would prefer “something that is smaller and more sensitive to the area, that accommodates improving . . . traffic and fire control, rather than adding to the problems that exist now.”

Commissioners Gary Tobian and Robert McCormick voted in favor of the plan.


City planners recommended approval of the proposed subdivision as long as the developer met 46 conditions, ranging from standard grades for driveways to the widening and improving of Somerset and other roads.

Bezdikian will not revise his proposal before he presents it to the City Council in January, but at that time may consider scaling it down if city planners remove some of the more costly conditions they imposed, said Marlene Roth, a consultant to the developer.

Roth, who called Monday’s decision disappointing, said the proposed subdivision could have been much larger, but the developer was attempting to compromise with concerned Chevy Chase Canyon homeowners.

But the decision was welcomed by a handful of canyon homeowners, who before the vote told commissioners that the subdivision would add too much traffic to their narrow and winding streets. They also argued that it could harm the canyon area adjacent to Somerset Road, which has been designated for “scenic area preservation” under the city’s general plan.

Glendale Fire Capt. Chris Gray told the commissioners that the canyon’s narrow streets make it difficult for fire trucks and equipment to protect houses now in the area. He recommended that the project be approved only if the developer agreed to widen and improve certain roads for Fire Department access.