One garden concept OKd, another on the way

CITY HALL — Coalition for a Green Glendale, on a 4-1 vote, got approval for its first community-run garden Tuesday, and without even asking for it, seeds were sown for a second site nearby on the Verdugo Wash.

The garden site approved Tuesday will be at 870 Monterey Road, on a vacant city-owned, P-shaped lot near the corner with Cordova Avenue that can accommodate up to 40 raised plots for organic produce farming.

Unlike two other public gardening sites at Palmer and Verdugo parks, the 11,000-square-foot Monterey garden will be the first in Glendale to be independently run with bylaws and a lease agreement with gardeners, all under the administration of a local nonprofit, Coalition for a Green Glendale.

It will also include a drought-resistant demonstration garden and communal fruit trees.

Coalition members and community development officials have for months been hammering out the framework under which the garden would operate, including one false start in September.

Citing concerns that the proposed site at 870 Monterey Road would be too noisy and bring unwanted parking troubles to the densely populated neighborhood, Councilman Bob Yousefian offered a substitute motion Tuesday that would have postponed the proposal in favor of the alternative site on Coronado Drive bordering the Verdugo Wash.

“Just something about me says this is the wrong site,” he said of the Monterey site.

His motion later failed on a 3-2 vote.

The City Council not only turned over the vacant, derelict Monterey property to a $1-a-year lease for five years, but directed city officials to return for a similar proposal for the Coronado Drive site.

“Let’s try this one on for size [first],” Councilman Dave Weaver said.

The outcome pleased and surprised Coalition for a Green Glendale members, who after the meeting said the offer of a second plot of land on their first time out at City Hall was energizing.

“It went better than expected,” coalition co-founder Ana Khachatrian said.

The budding nonprofit was only recently formed, and Tuesday’s clearance for the community garden was its first major city project. Even so, Khachatrian said her group was prepared to take ownership of whichever lots they were granted.

“We hit the ground running months ago,” she said.

Encouraging them along the way has been Mayor John Drayman, who has strongly advocated on their behalf at City Hall to get the concept up and running.

Despite their concerns of bringing additional vehicle traffic into the neighborhood from gardeners who don’t live near the site, the majority of the council agreed it was time the gardens started proliferating the city after they died out decades ago.

Councilman Frank Quintero, who voted for the Monterey Road site despite calling it a “horrible, horrible location,” said he was keen on seeing the concept, should it prove successful, spread more into south Glendale — the most densely populated part of the city.

Under the agreement, the Los Angeles Community Garden Council, a nonprofit organization that assists and organizes about 70 community gardens throughout the county, has agreed to hold the lease, while Coalition for a Green Glendale oversees and maintains the site.

Gardeners will pay $80 annually for a full plot, $40 for a half plot, with a $20 deposit. They will also have to sign onto a set of bylaws and rules that, if broken, would put them at risk of having their lease terminated.

Organizers said they hope to have the site up and running in time for a spring crop planting in January. A ribbon cutting, showcasing the goods, is tentatively set for April.

Coalition for a Green Glendale co-founder Alek Bartrosouf said the initial set of gardeners would be chosen from two waiting lists and responses to public notices for the project sent out in the surrounding neighborhood.

While time of submittal would factor into the selection, proximity to the site would be among the foremost in keeping with the group’s goal to promote community and walking, Bartrosouf said.

The coalition would likely be contacting prospective gardeners in the coming weeks, he added.

Community development officials said a report on establishing the same garden concept on the Coronado site would likely be ready for review in January.

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