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Glendale to Consider Sprinkler Stalemate

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

City officials will again try to end a long stalemate with about 120 mostly senior citizens over a law requiring them to install costly sprinklers in the older high-rise condominium building where they live.

The Fire Department’s latest proposal, which will be considered by the City Council today, calls for a basic sprinkler system to be installed in the 11-story, 51-unit building at 1151 N. Brand Blvd. over the next five years for $212,000, down from an initial plan costing $1.3 million proposed earlier this year. But residents of the 30-year-old building maintain that the cost is too high.

The dispute centers on a 1989 ordinance requiring that 29 high-rises built before 1974 install sprinklers. Of those 29 structures, Verdugo Towers was the only condominium building--a fact the city is not taking into consideration, the homeowners say.

“This law does not make sense when you try to apply it to a building with 51 different owners,” said Berj Karapetian, a spokesman for the homeowners. “Even if [the homeowners association] accepts the proposal, it doesn’t have the power to make sure every owner complies.”

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But fire officials disagree, saying their latest offer would bring the building into compliance with the law with “far less impact” on the homeowners than earlier plans.

Fire officials are proposing that sprinklers first be installed in the hallways, the parking garage and commercial offices on the ground floor. In addition, one sprinkler would be installed in the doorway of each condominium.

The homeowners would have until the year 2000 to install sprinklers in their units, with a total cost of about $4,500 per homeowner. Residents 62 and older would be eligible for low-cost loans from the city’s block grant funds, said Fire Marshal David Starr.

“We feel we’ve come up with a very workable solution, but there are still some homeowners who would like to do nothing at all,” Starr said. “The bottom line is, you could never build a building like this today without sprinklers, and to let it continue without sprinklers is unfair to all the other owners who have complied with the law.”

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