Planning moving forward

Glendale News Press

CITY HALL — City officials this week moved closer to a set of development guidelines for the North Glendale annex of the Crescenta Valley.

The City Council on Tuesday gave city planners direction to proceed with drafting the North Glendale Community Plan, which would serve as a "constitution" to guide other policy documents and potential zoning changes.

The move is a milestone in a process that started in 2008 when the City Council directed the Planning Department to respond to concerns from residents who wanted to preserve their area's rural feel and mountain views from encroaching development.

"I do believe we need to make some changes up there," Councilman John Drayman said Tuesday. "We need something comprehensive in terms of design guidelines."

Planning officials detailed the results of an extensive, yearlong community outreach process that included multiple public meetings and the establishment of an advisory committee to hash out areas of disagreement.

The North Glendale Community Plan Advisory Committee — a 34-person group of local residents, business owners and Realtors — met about 10 times to formulate recommendations for the plan, which were presented Tuesday.

The plan's area includes the neighborhoods of Whiting Woods, Montrose, Verdugo City, Sparr Heights, Montecito Park and the Glendale portion of La Crescenta. But much of the recommendations focused on Foothill Boulevard, which emerged as the most pressing issue at the community meetings.

Foothill development has been controversial — a proposed three-story mixed-use project was denied by the City Council last year after massive public outcry.

Many residents support limiting commercial buildings to two stories and refining the guidelines to ensure compatibility with the area's rural feel. But developers, Realtors and other local business owners have warned that too many restrictions will hamper much-needed development in the area.

The committee's suggestions include beautifying Foothill Boulevard with landscaping, street and sidewalk maintenance and potentially changing building height limits.

Council members on Tuesday lauded the committee's work, but acknowledged that there was still a long way to go before any changes were implemented.

"This is the end of the beginning," said Councilman Frank Quintero. "There is plenty of work that still needs to be done."

Beyond contributing to the community plan, advisory committee members said the meetings helped business owners and residents find common ground and better understand conflicting viewpoints.

"As we went along, all the residents and the businesses learned to work with each other," said Jean Maluccio, president of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce and an advisory committee member. "I think out of all this it's going to be a much more working relationship."

Officials expect a draft of the community plan to be complete by this fall.

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