Pelanconi residents start their opposition early

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Pelanconi residents are gearing up for yet another development-related fight, this time to stop a proposed 300-unit apartment building on Grandview Avenue that they argue would further degrade the neighborhood's single-family-home atmosphere.

Residents in the area — where modest single-family homes mix with industrial businesses along the busy San Fernando Road corridor west of Glenoaks Boulevard — already feel slighted from previous development battles that didn't go their way.

Pelanconi residents fought for years to get the city to expand a multimillion-dollar landscaping project along San Fernando Road to more closely resemble what was originally promised more than 10 years ago. Many area residents also still resent the approval of an at-grade rail crossing for Flower Street that they opposed, an issue they say exemplifies a consistent push from the city to accept whatever comes their way despite neighborhood consensus.

“Down here, you don't even count anymore,” said Terry Larson, who lives on Cleveland Road, across from Pelanconi Park, which will serve as a slim green buffer between his home and the proposed apartment building on the 1000 block of Grandview Avenue.

Neighborhood residents have already started to organize against the project, publicly chiding it at City Council meetings and engaging a property rights law firm to help guide their opposition.

A 300-unit apartment building, they argue, would bring more traffic and parking problems to an already busy area where noise pollution and industry are annoying facts of life.

But representatives for the project — which would demolish the Glendale Career College at 1015 Grandview Ave. and the adjacent state Department of Toxic Substances Control administrative building — are touting it as a chance to replace drab structures and “beautify the face of Grandview.”

“It's really, really going to be beautiful,” said Ani Vartabetian, who is representing developer DS Honda Construction on the project.

While the project is still in the preliminary planning stage, the “Tuscany-style” building would offer high-end luxury apartments and provide 625 parking spaces in a partly underground structure, according to an Environmental Impact Report preparation notice.

But developers would still likely have to obtain zoning variances to reduce the amount of required parking and increase allowable building height and site density, according to the notice.

Public review of the project has not begun because DS Honda has not completed its development package, said Development Services Director Philip Lanzafame, but a March 17 public meeting to seek input on what other issues to include in the draft environmental report will give neighbors their first chance to get involved.

But some are getting a jump start.

Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn. President Patrick Masihi at Tuesday's City Council meeting slammed a letter he received from Vartabetian seeking a meeting to discuss the project.

“My answer to Ani Vartabetian is a big 'No way,'” Masihi said. “We are not going to sit down with you.”

After being forced to accept a diminished San Fernando Road corridor beautification plan, and losing the battle to prevent the rail crossing at Flower Street, Masihi later said that the Pelanconi neighborhood was fed up with being forced to deal with redevelopment aspirations for the area.

“You know what? We don't want any changes,” he told the council.

Still, Vartabetian on Thursday said she would follow up on the March 17 meeting notices — which will be mailed out today — with door-to-door meetings with residents and business owners in the area.

“We're out here to listen to them,” she said.

The public meeting for the draft environmental report will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 17 at 780 Flower St.


?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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