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COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

The writer’s concerns in the Community Commentary dated Jan. 31 about the impacts of development on resources such as water, electricity and parking are unsubstantiated (“Development draining city,” Jan. 31).

The reference to “some kind of control on growth” compels me to think that her position on growth is not zero or no growth. That’s good, because Glendale is not some podunk town. Glendale is the third-largest financial center in the state. It is the third-largest city in the county. Land-use policies by the City Council reflect these facts. The latest such policy, the Downtown Specific Plan, is the fulcrum of smart, sustainable growth.

The adoption of the specific plan stops unmitigated growth. When coupled with the latest purchases of hundreds of acres of open space by this city, this land-use plan redirects growth from hillsides and residential neighborhoods to downtown, where it belongs.

The specific plan changes development in downtown to a more pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented, mixed residential/commercial use, and that is a good thing. Here is why:

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According to the Urban Land Institute and Sierra Club, higher-density development can achieve 70% to 80% reduction in water consumption compared with conventional suburban developments (single-family homes).

The statistics from Glendale Water & Power confirm those findings. According to Glendale Water & Power, the average single-family home in Glendale uses 22 hundred cubic feet of water per month, compared with a condominium unit using 7.5 hundred cubic feet.

A land-use policy resulting in less water consumption is a smart growth policy.

This City Council and its predecessors have mandated the purchase of roughly 26 million square feet of prime hillside property. As a result, many single-family homes have been taken off the development rolls.

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However, under Southern California Assn. of Governments projections, Glendaleplans to meet its share of Southern California’s future growth while adopting policies that would reduce water consumption from a potential 26,400 hundred cubic feet per month to 9,000 hundred cubic feet per month.

The city is controlling growth through smart public policy.

The same analysis can be conducted for electrical consumption comparisons.

Suffice it to say, according to Glendale Water & Power’s Integrated Electrical Resource Plan, between the years 2002 and 2006, the number of residential electrical customers of Water & Power grew by less than 1%, and its commercial electrical customers by 0.1%.Hardly earth-shattering or alarming numbers.

Further, most of the new buildings downtown must demonstrate the use of environmentally friendly material, strict water and power conservation measures and recycling programs. Therefore, the carbon footprint of these buildings will be significantly mitigated.

The concern about the downtown streets turning into parking lots can be addressed as follows:

First: All of the projects in downtown must provide parking to meet code.

Second: According to Urban Land Institute and Sierra Club, higher-density development generates less traffic than low-density development per unit; it makes walking and public transit more feasible and creates opportunities for shared parking.

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Third: According to the city’s Nelson/Nygaard mobility study, city-owned garages are underutilized by close to 50%.

Fourth: Increasing density can significantly reduce dependency on cars. Those benefits are even greater when jobs and retail are incorporated with housing. Much like what is envisioned for our downtown. So fear not, lack of parking in downtown is only a misconception.

The Downtown Specific Plan will generate millions of dollars for our cash-starved public school system and upward of $100 million for our parks and libraries (Thanks to the foresight and prescience of this City Council in adopting the Tax Increment Financing ordinance.) It will generate millions of dollars under the Art Fee Component. It will incentivize creation of art galleries and museums. It will revitalize some of the most architecturally significant buildings in downtown, such as the Department of Public Social Services building at Broadway and Louise Street. It will reinvigorate the mid-Brand retail business. The list goes on and on.

To be sure, conversations about growth policies ought to go beyond simplistic negativity that overestimate its impacts and underestimate its value.

In the accepted order of things, this City Council has put “the horse before the cart.” Even the harsh critics of the city, the be-all, end-alls in politics agree that this is by far the best work that City Hall has put forth in public policy.


?GREG ASTORIAN is a Glendale resident.


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