On to the next step

The community has spoken and the City of Glendale Planning Department said it has listened.

The planning department held two meetings on June 1 and June 3 at Clark Magnet High School to present local residents and business owners with feedback gathered regarding a community plan for the Glendale portion of the foothills. The information had been collected from area stakeholders since October who had the chance to comment on a variety of local aspects including parking, beautification efforts and traffic.

About 30 people attended each meeting at the school’s auditorium. Topics highlighted were the uniqueness of the Crescenta Valley, the quality of life in the foothills, the condition of Foothill Boulevard and Montrose, Sparr Heights and Verdugo City. A four page summary was distributed to attendees which represented opinions on these topics collected from between 140 and 150 area folks. The summary also sparked additional comments by the audience that further refined the opinions. When a question was posed whether or not the city’s design review boards were doing a good job in the foothills, for example, Pete Smith of Bob Smith Toyota didn’t hesitate in saying no.

“The DRBs seem to be OK in the residential neighborhoods,” said Smith, “but in the commercial and business areas? Not doing well at all.” The dealership went through several rounds with the DRB when trying to expand its facilities on the south side of Foothill Boulevard. Fortunately for the Smith family, the Nissan dealership across the street was vacated and the business was moved there, negating the need for expansion plans and the subsequent approvals necessary.

Stephanie Reich, senior urban planner, acknowledged Smith’s frustration. “The current guidelines are anemic,” she said.

As ideas flowed back and forth between audience members and city planners, one question was raised again and again: Who’s going to pay for any of the sought-after improvements?

Laura Stotler, one of the city’s principal planners, said that would be determined whether the project was a capital improvement or something that would be paid out of the general fund.

However, funding for projects is a long way out, as the process of completing the plan is still in its infancy, Stotler said. Before any action can be taken, the projects have yet to be identified.

First the city needed to gather the information, which it did since October, holding community outreach meetings with local businesses and residents. After the planning department analyzed the data, they would bring it back to the community. Last week’s meetings were that second step.

After again analyzing the data, the planners hope to be on the Glendale City Council’s June 23 agenda when they will request that a citizen advisory committee be formed of foothills residents and business owners.

The advisory committee will represent a variety of interests in the community, said Stotler, and will be about 30 members strong.

The North Glendale/La Crescenta Community Plan is the first in a series planned for the diverse city of Glendale. Originally a general plan was proposed, but funding was unavailable for a city-wide project.

“The responsible thing, therefore, was to utilize existing resources [within the planning department],” said Stotler. These include Alan Loomis, a recognized urban planner and Reich plus architects and other professionals.

The entire process is estimated to take about two years, said Stotler, however the desired result will be an “active document” tailored for the community.

“We want a community plan so when a question comes up,” she said, “that plan is the first thing we grab.”

To learn more, visit the city website at www.ci.glendale.ca.us/planning/NorthGlendaleCommunityPlan.asp.

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