The Adams Hill Homeowners Assn. was formed to fight rampant apartment development in South Glendale. The increase in population density and traffic congestion would have been devastating.
Adams Hill saw itself as the dumping ground for policies generated by a City Council that had no clue what was going on there, rarely visited the area and, with only one brief exception in at least the last half century, had no members that lived there.
There are things about a neighborhood you understand only by going to sleep there every night and waking the next morning to deal with traffic and parking. Councilman Ara Najarian seems to get that now. I no longer live in Adams Hill — I am now one of the “North of the 134” crowd — but I am convinced that district representation in some form is critical to Glendale’s future.
There are speed bumps throughout neighborhoods in my new neck of the woods, but it took a tragic accident in front of a park to get two of them — two speed bumps for the whole from Adams to Glendale Boulevard.
Every morning I watched car after car come in from Eagle Rock and make a dangerous left turn toward Cypress as a short cut, avoiding Chevy Chase to get into Los Angeles. Yet we couldn’t convince anyone to take a serious look at traffic solutions in Adams Hill.
I understand that there are competing interests to insure representation of a variety of constituent groups in Glendale, but the fact that the most densely populated region of the city hasn’t produced a council representative in recent memory is ample proof that there is a problem. As much as council members wish to proclaim an interest in what’s happening south of the Ventura (134) Freeway — and I am convinced that they really believe they do — they can’t really represent an area in which they do not live.
When the City Council first looked at the hillside ordinance changes five years ago, there was a perception that the issue was incompatible construction from an overheated housing market. When the economy tanked and positive changes were implemented in the planning department, the push for zoning changes advocated in the Hillside Ordinance went away.
Had any council member lived in South Glendale, he or she might have understood that it was much more than that: It was parking, emergency vehicle access and converting houses from “legal nonconforming” to “conforming” so that homeowners could make responsible changes to their properties.
The beauty of democracy is that we can do whatever we choose if it better serves our community. The fact that Glendale is a little too big for open council seats and a little too small for districts doesn’t mean there isn’t a simple solution that accommodates the representative needs of constituents that are spread throughout Glendale and in particular neighborhoods.
We have elections every two years, alternating two and three open seats. There is no reason why three of those seats couldn’t be district seats in one election cycle while the alternate election cycle can be citywide for the remaining two. Having three district seats and two citywide seats insures that no measure passes council without the support of either all three district representatives or, failing that, the support of at least one citywide seat.
It is difficult to persuade an elected official to tweak the system they successfully navigated to get elected, but we should try. Shaking things up and getting a few new faces on the dais would be a good thing.
For Glendale, I think the Goldilocks solution serves the community best: For a city whose size is neither too big nor too small, we should find the path that accommodates the best of both.
MICHAEL TEAHAN is a business owner and lives in Glendale. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.