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COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

It is unfortunate that the City Council delayed voting on the ban on use variances (“Legislation on zoning put off,” Dec. 10).

I understand why Mayor John Drayman was forced to move it to a date certain in February. Councilmen Bob Yousefian and Ara Najarian were reluctant to move to protect our single-family neighborhoods.

The ban of use variances was unanimously recommended by the Planning Commission. It was a compromise that only affected single-family neighborhoods to protect them from encroachment of inappropriate uses that are not allowed in single-family zones. If one wants to change the use in a zone where such uses are not allowed, there are other avenues without the use variance. A code adjustment, either to the use or conditional use, or a zone change could be pursued. Many Southern Californian cities have banned the use variances, including our sister cities of Pasadena and Burbank.

The use variance initially only requires a decision by one person, the zoning administrator. Requesting a zone change requires a higher standard. It goes to the Planning Commission, where a staff report is issued, there is wider public notification, and it is deliberated and decided by the Planning Commission.

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Councilmen Dave Weaver, Frank Quintero and Drayman were ready and willing to vote for the ban. Yousefian was against banning the use variance, while Najarian claimed he needed more time to study the issue. It is evident which council members are truly striving to protect our residential neighborhoods. Yousefian and Najarian may say that they want to protect single-family neighborhoods, but their actions belie their words. Council members are supposed to protect our residential neighborhoods, as promised in the Downtown Specific Plan, without the hue and cry of residents. Homeowners associations and residents alike urged the council to approve the ban.

In this incident, Najarian said community involvement was necessary. This is vastly different from when he told a large number of residents appealing to the council to down-zone Area 14.

Then there’s Yousefian, who suggested a large group of residents was a lynch mob because the residents were asking to have a project fit into their neighborhood instead of the oversized and overpowering apartment complex that is standing there today.

Najarian and Yousefian, it is not enough to spout how you are in support of homeowners and residents and you want to protect single-family neighborhoods; your actions must match your words. Perhaps it would have been better if Drayman had moved the issue to May instead of February. By that time, perhaps, residents will have selected council members who not only say what they mean, but protect our residential neighborhoods as a matter of conscience and duty.

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 SUSAN ROBERTS is a Glendale resident.


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