Glendale to reduce its housing goals

CITY HALL — City planners on Tuesday were authorized to submit a draft General Plan amendment to state housing officials that, if approved, could halve the number of residential units the city will otherwise have to work toward providing by 2014.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development is expected to return the proposed draft amendment to city planning and development officials with comments that could require additional research before the final proposal is due June 30.

Regional planning officials recently agreed to slash the housing needs forecast for Glendale from 6,099 to 3,131 residential units between 2006 and 2014 — a move that, if adopted, would relieve pressure on Glendale to absorb regional housing demands, city planners said in presenting the amendment to the Housing Authority for authorization Tuesday.

If the state accepts the amendment, several major residential high rises already approved for downtown would put Glendale in a position to realize more than half of the new 3,131-unit goal, according to city reports.

And those projects — including the 287-unit Verdugo Gardens and 200-unit Alexander high rises — are still vital to addressing local housing needs despite the proposed reductions as Glendale continues to field regional demand, city officials said.

“I don’t know of a city that’s been able to put in a gate and stop people from coming,” City Manager Jim Starbird said. “It just has to be addressed; they have to go somewhere.”

While Glendale’s population continues to grow 1.2% a year, it is much slower than the boom days in the 1980s and 1990s, which saw the number of residents grow at about 2.5% a year, according to the state Finance Department.

Between 1980 and 1990, the city absorbed 40,978 new residents, but in the 17 years since, the population has grown by just 27,119, according to the department.

Revising the city’s housing goals to more accurately reflect reduced demand means the city won’t be in danger of not meeting “unrealistic expectations” and, in turn, risk losing out on future grant funding for community development projects, city officials told the Housing Authority.

“There are repercussions,” said City Councilman Dave Weaver, who chairs the Housing Authority. “We just can’t put our head in the sand and say, ‘No more.’”

The smaller goals — which the city would be mandated to help meet through its use of zoning codes and other development processes — were also borne out of negotiations between Glendale officials and the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which issues the Regional Housing Needs Assessment report that apportions each city’s housing goal.

A coalition of city officials persuaded the association to ditch its old formula of relying heavily on past growth and development trends and instead allot housing goals based more on which areas have more room to absorb new residents and that lend themselves to “smart growth” standards, Planning Director Hassan Haghani said.

Glendale is nearly built out, except for growth potential in its redevelopment zones along the San Fernando Road corridor and downtown, according to city reports.

That position, together with lowered population growth forecasts, also factored in to the reduced housing needs assessment for Glendale, Haghani said.

The revised Housing Element document will be available for review and public input at a community meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Pacific Park Community Center’s Sycamore Room, 501 S. Pacific Ave.

City planners said they would send those comments to state officials for consideration as they review the proposed amendments.


 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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