Residents decry 300-unit complex

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — David Honda may want to develop a 300-unit apartment complex on Grandview Avenue, but a Monday night meeting clearly showed that Pelanconi residents are already building something of their own — organized opposition.

More than 50 potential neighbors of the proposed project on 1011 and 1015 Grandview Ave. packed a conference room at the Glendale Water Treatment Plant Monday night to provide environmental consultants with suggestions on what to include in an upcoming draft Environmental Impact Report to the city.

It was the first of several public input meetings on the proposal, and the first time those beyond a select group of neighborhood representatives showed up to lodge their concerns.

“I really do think it's outrageous,” neighborhood resident Nancy Kubota told city planning staff members and environmental consultants.

It was a sentiment shared by dozens of her peers, all of whom took their turns to voice concerns about the potential impacts on traffic, parking and privacy that an estimated 800 new residents would have on this single-family-home neighborhood pinned in with Glenoaks Boulevard to the east and the industrial San Fernando Road corridor to the west.

“We do not think this fits in the community, and we think it will have a negative impact,” Jolene Taylor said.

A major issue with neighboring homeowners are the four major zoning variances the four- to five-story building, as proposed, would need to obtain in order to be built.

Those include a near doubling of the allowable height to 60 feet, and an exception for 35 fewer parking spaces than the 679 spots that would normally be allowed, according to the preliminary project proposal and city planners.

Density is also a major sticking point for neighborhood opponents, who say the proposed 300 units — 210 of which would be studio and one-bedroom apartments — far exceed the allowable 127 units for the 3.65-acre parcel.

Some residents also said the increased population would bring more graffiti, trash, crime and degradation to the adjacent Pelanconi Park.

“We are the stakeholders in this neighborhood, and no one has the right to come in here and propose a project like this,” said Patrick Masihi, president of the Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn. “The office that we have there now is supported by the neighborhood.”

The current three- and two-story building on the site is occupied by Glendale Career College, which administrators say is reeling from the financial damage inflicted from a failed development deal that would have moved the campus downtown.

The after-effects have the owners of the college looking for a buyer in the face of probable closure, according to a city report.

But by the end of the meeting, it was clear residents want the current structural setup on the 1100 block of Grandview Avenue — which includes the career college, a parking structure and a state office building — to remain the same.

And so Honda, who submitted an application for the proposed development earlier this month, likely faces an uphill hike against a neighborhood that has already been battle-tested, with fights against a city-proposed railroad crossing and beautification project. Both produced mixed results.

He and his representatives have for the past few weeks sought to engage the neighborhood through an outreach effort promoting the project as an improvement to the area.

“This is a project that's really devoted to what I'm looking at, and I'm looking at quality of life,” he told the crowd at the beginning of the meeting.

His time serving on the city of Los Angeles North Valley Area Planning Commission, he said later, had prepared him for the negative feedback.

“Everybody is afraid of change,” he said.

But initial development proposals are fluid, and are often modified as the community weighs in throughout the process, he added.

“It's only the first meeting,” he said.

Deputy Development Services Director David Ahern emphasized at the meeting that the city had not granted any entitlements for the project and that city planners were merely responding to Honda's application, as they would with any proposed development.

Comments made at the meeting would be compiled and ready for review in about a week, Ahern added. Residents will have 45 days to review the draft Environmental Impact Report — which will look at 16 categories, including hydrology, traffic, urban planning and other factors — to make further suggestions before work on the final draft would begin, environmental consultants said.


?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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