Council passes on developer fees

CITY HALL — The City Council on Tuesday voted not to impose higher development impact fees for a mixed-use project downtown, but Mayor Ara Najarian argued that the lost revenue amounted to a lost opportunity to fund more parkland in central Glendale.

The delay was prompted by a request from the developer, American Multifamily, which argued the higher fees — which are meant to offset the impacts of added density to the public infrastructure — could hurt their ability to obtain financing for its Broadway Lofts project — 248 studio and loft apartment units on top of several major ground-floor tenants.

When the City Council first imposed the fees in 2007, they were heralded as a way to bring in tens of millions of dollars to combat a lack of park space and aging library facilities.

But on Tuesday, the City Council voted 4 to 1 to delay a scheduled fee increase for another year in order to encourage development at a time when most projects have halted in a frozen financing market.

The current fees would have doubled as of Dec. 1, rising to $7,000 per residential unit, $2.67 per square feet of commercial space, $3.26 per square foot of office space and $1.33 per square foot of industrial space.

Any project not in the pipeline when the fees were approved in 2007 would have been subject to the increase.

All but Najarian said they were willing to support the delay to help a project that would replace a blighted building, which once housed Circuit City on Broadway and Maryland Avenue.

"I think that the project is something that we need, something that would be good for Glendale," said Councilwoman Laura Friedman. "And I'm willing to give them the extension."

Mayor Ara Najarian argued against the delay, which would apply to all project proposals for the area, saying it amounted to a "free ride" for the developer, and negated the point of the impact fees.

"I don't know where our concern is for our children," he said. "This development is going to bring dense development into the downtown area. They have not purchased the land. Why aren't we telling the developer to go back and renegotiate the land price?"

But Councilman John Drayman took issue with Najarian's argument, contending that putting the rest of the council in a league with developers was not a fair characterization.

"I will never sit here and allow one of my colleagues to cram that garbage down my throat," he said.

Friedman added that receiving at least the current fees was better than receiving none if the project stalled.

"If this project goes away, the parks and libraries lose immediately $762,000 they would have gotten from the fees," she said.

Other projects that could benefit from the delayed increase are the Legendary Tower Glendale, an 80-unit condominium complex slated for the corner of Central and Wilson avenues, and the Mitaa Plaza project, a 163,000-square-foot office, retail and commercial complex planned for the San Fernando corridor.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World