City Council votes to move ahead with South Glendale Community Plan

The Glendale City Council on Tuesday voted to move ahead with a transportation-oriented community plan in South Glendale and certified its environmental impact report, which revealed significant impacts to air quality, traffic and ambulance response time.

The vote was 4-1, with Councilwoman Paula Devine dissenting.

In June, the Planning Commission recommended the approval of the Tropico area project. The plan’s goals are to “create a vibrant mixed-use community; well-designed buildings; attractive streetscapes; engaging public spaces; multimodal streets accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles; and a variety of housing, retail and entertainment options,” according to a summary of the report.

“It’s clear that even if we don’t tend to this issue, growth is going to take place,” said Mayor Zareh Sinanyan. “In Glendale, and in Southern California overall, we’re in the middle of a serious housing crisis. That is a result of all the municipalities not building enough housing.”

During the five-hour meeting, dozens of people spoke in opposition to the plan, with most expressing concerns about the overcrowding and the increased traffic they say it will bring.

“The South Glendale Community Plan throws South Glendale right under the bus,” resident Arlene Vidor told the City Council. “It is terrible to see a developer’s dream come true again when all we currently have to show for [it] are a series of similar pedestrian-unfriendly, monolithic developments.”

Some residents said the project is contradictory to a recent downtown development moratorium passed by the City Council.

“We feel that rampant overdevelopment has degraded the quality of life in South Glendale for too long,” said Rondi Werner, president of the Adams Hill Neighborhood Assn. “We were very disappointed when we saw the plan and how it sought to add thousands of more people without any reasonable mitigation of the impacts.”

Sinanyan said, “I’m not sure that what’s in front of us is really authorizing the construction of thousands of units. It’s merely setting a benchmark for an environmental standard, which is not going to negate the necessity.”

A zoning change is not involved, Councilman Vartan Gharpetian pointed out, saying, “We’re not adding more units. Not 10,000 units. Not 20,000 people,” he said. “Adopting the EIR with no change is almost like no project to me.”