EDUCATION MATTERS:

Much attention has been focused on the proposed multistory building at the present site of Foothill Lumber & Hardware Company in La Crescenta.

Residents who would be directly affected have unanimously opposed the project, as have those of us who live in the vicinity and don’t wish to see another gigantic box placed along Foothill Boulevard.

And so, once again, the public has spoken, and our decision makers, if they’re interested in maintaining their positions, are listening. I have no doubt that they will rule in favor of the community over the designs of a single developer.

I can’t help but wonder though how another project, more centrally located in our communities and much larger than the one mentioned above, was originally given the go-ahead to proceed.

I refer to the multistory monstrosity that is being built on the corner of Verdugo Road and Broadview Drive, just below Honolulu Boulevard. It is slated to be a medical building and is completely out of character with anything in the vicinity.

I spoke to some of the merchants surrounding this project, and most did not remember receiving any notice two years ago when it was first proposed. The few merchants that did recall the letter from the city had no idea about the size of the building.

Apparently, the notice was given only to property owners immediately adjacent to the site.

I don’t pretend to understand all of the criteria that precedes a project of this size, but I do have some questions, albeit after the fact.

Shouldn’t there have been a more comprehensive notification that included a wider area of both Montrose and Glendale? Virtually everyone I’ve talked to about this project is incensed that such an eyesore has been allowed to be built in the heart of a community that prides itself on small-scale construction.

This medical building is completely out of sync with the architectural standards that have come to define Montrose.

This, of course, brings into play the recurring question of conflicting rights. Property owners and developers have rights, among which include the right to turn a profit on the land that they own.

But as with all rights, there are limitations.

I can punch the air all day with a clenched fist, but I obviously lose that right once your face comes within range. Builders can build what they want so long as what they build does not negatively affect the lives of others. That seems pretty basic.

Just north of this proposed project is a liquor store that once had a large “LIQUOR” sign on its premises and was situated at the very entrance to Montrose. The sign sat there for years until a group of people got together and said what thousands of others had thought. The sign is too large and inappropriate. Eventually it was removed.

In that situation, I would ask whether the merchant’s right to advertise was denied, or were the wishes of the community paramount?

The question has been asked over and over again in our area and it remains a constant struggle — property rights versus the rights of a community to dictate norms of development.

For many years in Glendale, the developers have had their way and have transformed a town into a big city. I would hasten to add that a large segment of the population in Glendale believes that to be a great improvement over what once was.

Single homes en masse bulldozed to make way for apartment houses, small-town merchants giving way to skyscrapers, streets congested, schools overcrowded, services strained to the max — but then, who can argue against a city that boasts a square mile of trendy shops in its mega malls and a business sector that rivals the biggest in the state?

Some of us citizens just north of the great metropolis of Glendale have a slightly different view of progress and growth. We have these beautiful mountains that surround us, and just about anywhere you go in the foothills, that lovely view is unobstructed. It seems perfectly natural that our proximity to the mountains would dictate a low-lying community at their base.

The building on the corner of Verdugo and Broadview opens a door that needs to be slammed shut lest it become a precedent rather than an exception.

How this one slipped through the cracks is something of a mystery, but when the city next proposes a building that is obviously incompatible with its surroundings, perhaps the departments whose job it is to notify the public might do a more thorough job.

In the final analysis though, we the people need to be more aware and more vigilant.

Public opposition is difficult to overcome, even for well-heeled developers who are politically connected.

Public apathy, on the other hand, is a green light to overdevelop and a convenient excuse to public officials who need to be prodded to do their job.


 DAN KIMBER is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@ sbcglobal.net.

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