Public outreach gives guidelines

NORTH GLENDALE — Creating design guidelines for Foothill Boulevard, limiting residential growth and maintaining its unique small-town feel were among the top concerns residents shared with city planners over the course of several months of community outreach, officials reported Monday.

About 30 residents and business and property owners attended a Planning Department meeting Monday aimed at sharing the results of its public outreach campaign regarding a North Glendale Community Plan. City planners said they wanted the public to vet the comments and confirm their accuracy.

The community input will be used to help develop new development guidelines for land use, transportation, parks and open space, community services, infrastructure and sustainability, as well as design and zoning standards, for North Glendale.

“It will ultimately be kind of a vision plan for North Glendale,” said Alan Loomis, principal urban designer for the city. “It will be an expression of how the community of North Glendale and La Crescenta would like to see their community evolve.”

The plan’s area includes the neighborhoods of Whiting Woods, Montrose, Verdugo City, Sparr Heights, Montecito Park and the Glendale portion of La Crescenta, according to a city report.

In August, the City Council directed the Planning Department to study the North Glendale area in response to concerns from Crescenta Valley residents who felt the area’s rural feel and mountain views were being lost to encroaching development. They also said they wanted safer walkways and lighting.

In December, the council authorized roughly $6,000 to solicit public input from area residents to help develop a community plan.

The meetings were at four locations to gather input on topics that had commonly been brought up by residents. The most common concerns related to Foothill Boulevard and its current and future development projects, Loomis said.

“There’s a lot of interest in how Foothill Boulevard should be developed,” he said.

Foothill Boulevard projects have often sparked controversy. In April, city commissioners unanimously opposed a controversial three-story mixed-use proposal for the former Foothill Builders and Hardware site.

La Crescenta resident Nancy Comeau — a member of Highway Highlands Neighbors, which organized to oppose the project — ranked the proposed three-story building as her top concern.

“We feel it’s incompatible with the neighborhood,” she said.

In February, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted new design guidelines for Foothill Boulevard, completing an arduous eight-year process. The guidelines regulate building heights, design features and street signage, as well as limiting developments to adhere to either Victorian, Craftsman, Mission, Prairie, Spanish or Foothill Eclectic architecture.

“There has been some discussion with community members about whether Glendale should adopt something similar and, if so, how similar,” Loomis said.

After this week’s community meetings, the department will present its findings at a City Council study session late this month, during which planners will request that an advisory group be formed, Loomis said.

The group would meet during the summer to formulate details of the plan, which will then be presented to the City Council this fall in another study session. Formal adoption hearings for city commissions and the City Council are projected for late 2009 or early 2010.

La Crescenta resident Sharon Weisman, a representative for the North Glendale Homeowner’s Assn., lauded the Planning Department’s extensive outreach effort. The Foothill Builders site topped her list of concerns as well.

“We should take some time to do some planning now before more projects pop up,” she said.

An identical outreach meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Clark Magnet High School.

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