New faces officially on board

CITY HALL — The city’s two Design Review boards were officially reconstituted Tuesday after Councilman Bob Yousefian’s colleagues voted unanimously to confirm his two revised nominations three weeks after his original choices fell flat amid harsh criticism.

Glendale residents Brian Ellis and Randy Carter will soon take their seats on Design Review boards No. 1 and 2, respectively, ahead of what will be an extensive overhaul of the entire review process for single-family homes.

They join architect Michael Geragos as the only new additions to the two boards after most of the previous board members retained their seats in a purging process that some on the council have billed as an important part of overhauling the design review system to better address community concerns over neighborhood compatibility.

“I’m coming over with an open mind,” Ellis said Tuesday night after the vote, adding that he looked forward to putting “a little more confidence” in the process.

Tuesday’s vote puts to rest renewed contention that came with Yousefian’s original nominations of former Design Review Board No. 1 Chairman Vartan Gharpetian and Michael James, who served on the second board.

Gharpetian failed to get reappointed in November after homeowners association members and others claimed his management of a private property rights association while serving on a city commission that controls the flow of multimillion-dollar residential development projects represented at least a potential conflict of interest.

James was also heavily criticized in November after admonishing several speakers for opposing a project that was not in their immediate neighborhood.

On Feb. 5, Councilmen John Drayman, Frank Quintero and Dave Weaver blocked a vote on Gharpetian and James’ nominations, forcing Yousefian to bring back alternatives and delaying the reconstitution of the newly appointed Design Review boards.

Yousefian remained slightly defiant two weeks later to a process he had grown to oppose after lending initial support, arguing it was unfair to single out a few board members for removal who had devoted countless hours to civil service.

When introducing his two alternatives last week, Yousefian said people who criticized his original nominations just “didn’t get it.”

“I wanted to prove a point — there was no reason for us to go through all these gyrations and pull people from the boards who we felt weren’t doing their jobs,” Yousefian said.

Ellis and Carter represent choices on the other end of the spectrum of contention. Both men were deeply involved with the initial creation of the two Design Review boards in the 1990s, and both are former presidents of the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn. — one of the most active associations in the design review process.

“We’re delighted, and I have complete confidence in their abilities,” said Peter Fuad, current president of the homeowners association.

Neither men are architects, instead working in the entertainment industry, but their long history of involvement with issues of neighborhood compatibility and the design review process will no doubt provide a unique perspective on the two boards, Yousefian said.

City planners will soon bring a comprehensive package of draft code amendments to the City Council that were the result of long-standing criticism from residents that the design review process was allowing incompatible, overly large homes to rise in mostly older neighborhoods.

The Planning Commission last week approved the package of amendments largely unchanged after they received strong support from the Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council.


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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