Almost 100 Glendale residents got a crash course in how the city of Glendale is coping with the impact of three state laws at the local level during a community meeting on Thursday, all while trying to maintain the character and autonomy of the Jewel City.
The state mandates deal with accessory-dwelling units, or granny flats, recreational marijuana and congregate-living laws.
"We, in the city, take pride in the fact that we can run a very good local municipality, and we do it on behalf of those people that we represent and it comes down to ... quality of life," city spokesman Tom Lorenz said during the meeting.
"Unfortunately the state … has imposed things upon us that we have to now find a way to meet in the middle and make it work," he added.
The construction of granny flats was made less restrictive by the state in 2016 with passage of AB 2299, which was passed with the hopes that secondary-dwelling units will increase the number of affordable-housing units as rent costs rise.
The City Council enacted a temporary ordinance last year to address concerns expressed by residents that granny flats would irreversibly change the character of their neighborhoods.
In February, officials made the ordinance permanent with a few amendments, the most important of them being a limit on the maximum size of a granny flat, set at 600 square feet, and a person leasing the property is prohibited from subleasing either the flat or main residential dwelling.
Still, some residents at the meeting said they are worried about parking shortages and wondered how violations of the ordinance will be enforced because granny flat construction bypasses the traditional design-review process.
"We would, like any other illegal work, enforce that the same way," said Phil Lanzafame, the city's community development director. "We would go back, cite them and give them notice that they have to bring [their granny flat] up to code."
The city currently has eight code-enforcement officers with authority to issue citations, according to Lanzafame.
Regarding recreational marijuana, the city's prohibition on cultivation has been altered slightly, following the approval of Proposition 64 in 2016. Residents can now grow up to six marijuana plants per household for personal use indoors. Possession of up to 28.5 grams of cannabis or 8 grams of marijuana concentrate is also allowed.
City Council members voted last year to keep a citywide ban on the commercial sale of cannabis, but will return this year after they can better assess the new law's impact.
"I came from the day when … we'd go inside a house and see a cultivation of marijuana — that would be an exciting day for us. We would have to take down that operation," said Glendale Police Capt. Tim Feeley, who addressed questions at the meeting.
Residents asked about how police identify a person driving under the influence of marijuana and recourse for the effects of a neighbor's second-hand smoke. Feeley said officers rely on identifying symptoms of intoxication in suspected drivers, and residents are still subject to Glendale's Clean Air Act.
As for congregate-living laws, California currently prohibits cities from regulating single-family residences operating as a residential congregate-living facility that have fewer than six beds. The facilities generally operate as a residential home that provides in-patient care for the elderly or those with disabilities.
A license from the state is required for limited congregate living, but no associated permit at the local level is needed.
According to guidelines set by the League of California Cities, "Some licensed homes cannot be closer than 300 feet to each other, while other licensed homes have no separation requirements. All licensed facilities serving six or fewer persons must be treated like single-family homes for zoning purposes."
Some attendees said they are worried that limited-care facilities will limit parking because they are not required to provide additional spaces. They also expressed concerns that the facilities would transform residential zones into business districts as well as create "care-facility rows" in neighborhoods.
Erik Krause, deputy director of community development, tried to quell some of the concerns.
"City Council has asked us to start speaking with our state Assembly to try and see if there is something that we can do in terms of getting help [limiting residential congregate-living facilities in neighborhoods]," he said.