Local residents, worried about the size of the proposed 50-foot-tall project at the existing site of Foothill Lumber in the 3500 block of Foothill Boulevard, showed up at the site early Sunday morning with measuring tools in order to gauge how the proposed buildings will visually impact the area.
Before they got started, though, Foothill Lumber property owner Farshid Khosravi called Glendale Fire Department and police to put a halt to the impromptu measuring party.
The residents, which numbered around 10, are part of the Crescenta Valley Community Association and had submitted a formal request to Khosravi and the property developer Rodney Khan in January to be allowed onto the property in order to take the measurements.
Khan declined the request stating, on behalf of Khosravi, that the exercise would be unsafe due to the close proximity of the utility poles to the building.
“We’re also concerned with the liability and injury,” Khan said. “We understand those that oppose the project, but there’s certain standards that have to be followed regardless of whether someone opposes or supports the project.”
On Sunday morning, the CVCA members decided to move ahead with getting the measurements without accessing Khosravi’s property. They rented a lift to which they had planned to attach a giant balloon. The plan was to raise the balloon to a height of 50 feet in order to get a visual marker on the height of the proposed project.
However, Glendale fire station 28 Captain Brad McMartin said that the operation could not take place under the power lines.
Nancy Comeau who lives behind Foothill Lumber and is opposed to the proposed three-story building, was one of those disappointed that the measurements couldn’t be taken.
“All we want to know is how high the proposed building is going to be,” Comeau said.
But Khan, who was also on site Sunday morning, said that there is already a way to know how the 50-foot building is going to look.
“The height of the existing power poles [in front of Foothill Lumber] is on file with the city of Glendale. The poles provide the visible benchmark,” he said.
Khan said the poles, installed in the 1960s, stand 50 feet tall.
However, David Meyers of the CVCA contests that claim.
Meyers said that the poles were 50 feet prior to being sunk into the concrete and, according to a standard formula per the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), the top height of the power poles is most likely closer 43 feet above the surface with seven feet below the surface.
Sunday’s confrontation is just one of several that Khan and Khosravi have encountered since beginning the process of building a three-story structure, with most negative remarks coming during public comments at the meetings of the city of Glendale’s Design Review Board.
Khan contends that he has done due diligence regarding the project including conducting traffic studies, designing a courtyard for the project that is pedestrian-friendly, and meeting with local commercial Realtors for advice on what he and Khosravi can expect in terms of occupancy during these tough economic times.
Khan indicated that the current state of Foothill Boulevard is not in line with attracting business and he hopes that the new development would be an improvement for the health of the business community.
Khosravi is optimistic that the new commercial space will be have a positive influence on the area. “This project will create tax dollars for the city and new jobs,” he said.
But Comeau remains unconvinced, saying that she is concerned with the visual impact of the building and also the loss of her view of the mountains to the north.
Khan said that he addressed that issue, too, by redesigning the rear area of the building with a slope to lessen the impact of the building’s size. However, he does acknowledge that those to the south will have their mountain view altered.
“Will people lose some of the view? Yes, but not all of it,” he said.
Khan added that one of the challenges he has faced is that there is not one unified voice regarding what is desired for the Foothill Boulevard location.
“One faction wants two-story, another just one-story, some no change in the existing building whatsoever,” he said. “We can’t please everyone.”
Comeau challenged this stating, “They’ve never gone to the neighbors behind the proposed project to get their opinion.”
Civic leader Mike Lawler was also on hand Sunday morning.
“Khan has created this scene because he has not been responsive to the requests of neighbors,” Lawler said. “This same type of atmosphere is not happening at Walgreens (at Ramsdell and Foothill) because that developer has gone to those neighbors to get their input.”
Khan said that he had met with the Foothill Design Committee, which designed the Community Standards District for the unincorporated area of La Crescenta. That guideline is currently on the board of supervisors’ desk for approval.
Critics argue that the Foothill Lumber project is in the city of Glendale portion of La Crescenta; the Foothill Design Committee would have no bearing on this project.
But for Nancy Comeau, no matter what design issues are addressed, the building is just too big for the area.
“No matter how pretty they make it look it, it will still be 50 feet tall,” she said. “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig.”