A new plan for South Brand

CITY HALL — Auto dealers on the Brand Boulevard of Cars could soon benefit from simplified zoning regulations as part of a pending overhaul of the South Brand area that could make expansion plans less of a red-tape hassle.

The potential changes discussed at City Hall on Tuesday could also ease parking tensions between the auto dealers — a key source of tax income for the city — and nearby residents.

The City Council last summer initiated zoning changes for the South Brand area, which includes a mix of residential and commercial zones that include single-family homes, car dealerships and multifamily housing units.

The current zoning for the area bounded by Colorado Street, Glendale Avenue, San Fernando Road and Central Avenue was established in 1992 as the South Brand Boulevard Specific Plan, which planners say has proven to be ineffective.

Transportation planners are working with an outside consultant to revamp the area’s parking regulations, turning the neighborhood into a battlefield between residents and local businesses frustrated by the limited off-street parking.

“A lot of that is a direct result of the parking regulations that are in place,” outside consultant Bonnie Nelson said.

City planners on Tuesday also said they will likely recommend streamlining the code to ease the application process for dealership expansions.

The recommendation was cheered by several local car dealers, who said expansions are made difficult by outdated, cumbersome zoning codes.

Johnny Harrison, vice president and general manager of Lexus of Glendale, said it took six years to build a new facility.

“It was quite an adventure to go down,” he said.

Other potential zoning changes include allowing greater flexibility for a variety of commercial uses along South Brand Boulevard and a more clear set of design standards, building heights and setbacks, according to a city report.

In an effort to calm the area’s parking “hot spots,” planners said they are working to create a more comprehensive approach in lieu of the city’s current preferential parking process that allows for street residents to apply for permit parking.

“I think the important thing is we find a global solution to that area where the residents, the dealership employees, the visitors and patrons all have the parking that they need,” said Mayor Ara Najarian.

The City Council is slated to take up the final parking and zoning recommendations this summer.

In the meantime, Councilman Dave Weaver said he hopes stakeholders will help city officials develop a compromise.

“I would urge you all to work together,” he said. “Right now you have a mess down there.”

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