COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

After watching the Zoning Appeals Board hearing on 1650 Hazbeth Lane on Monday on TV, it is clear that another hillside and neighborhood is in the process of being destroyed by a proposed massive building project.

I saw the property owner present a case for a 5,000-square-foot home on a steep hillside lot requiring a 1,100-square-foot driveway to get to the top of the hill. The proposed driveway will cut into a hillside, zigzag on the property and wrap around the hill. The home will be more than twice the size of any home in the area.

This lot is 6.8 acres of steep hillside except for a flat pad at the bottom, where a house could be built. The zoning administrator indicated that because the lot is so big, this project is small in comparison to its size. But does size really matter if the majority of the lot is too steep to build upon?

Many trucks will have to remove the dirt from the hill and driveway. Just imagine all the noise and dust the neighbors will endure constantly for at least two years, not to mention Brand Boulevard and the path to the freeway. Oh, but it will be only temporary. Ear plugs and dust masks, anyone?

The driveway alone is another unusual aspect of this project, as it seems it would cost about $1 million to build with all the retaining walls that would be required. The driveway really should be called a street, as it is longer than some city blocks in Glendale. But something doesn't add up: Why would someone go through that enormous cost for one home unless they have future plans to subdivide the lot and add many more homes off that driveway. Maybe the lot will be sold to developers if this project gets passed.

The owner stated that she had a dream team to help her build this house and parkland.

Given our current California and Glendale water crisis, just how will this beautifully landscaped 1,100-foot driveway be watered.

Should one property owner be allowed such an extravagance and deplete the resources we are told daily to conserve?

The owner also had another consultant who came up in favor of the project who identified himself as someone who worked on drafting Glendale city codes.

It makes me wonder whether this property owner is getting preferential treatment in the city? El Tovar relived. I would hope that Zoning Appeals Board members would remove themselves if they think their decision could be influenced by their association with anyone working on this project.

The people in favor of this project were the owner, consultants, relatives and friends who seemed to not be close neighbors of the project. Those who opposed the project were surrounding neighbors, a petition signed by 16 neighbors and neighborhood associations that opposed the project.

After some research online, I see that the Hillside Design Guidelines were created to address the concerns raised by the community about hillside development, in particular the loss of natural hillside character and transformation of land through mass grading. It appears that this is a project that will cause a significant alteration of natural terrain and hillside. It should be seriously scrutinized under the current codes to protect this hillside and the neighbors.


?REBECCA CHILLES is a Glendale resident.

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