Glendale City Council candidates meet in Crescenta Valley

From a view protection ordinance to a restaurant-deficient main street to a proposed freeway tunnel, the Crescenta Valley Community Assn. grilled nine of the 12 candidates for Glendale City Council on Thursday night on issues affecting residents in the northernmost part of the city.

Almost all the candidates said the issues brought up during the candidate forum were tricky and may not be resolved for quite some time.

However, they all said they'd rally against a potential tunnel connecting the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways. The pronounced stance against one of several options being explored by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority was not surprising after roughly 125 Crescenta Valley residents attended an anti-tunnel forum the night before.

While the candidates united against the tunnel, they disagreed on almost everything else.

Several candidates said a view protection ordinance would be difficult to hammer out since opinions vary on what sort of views can be protected.

“One man's meat is another man's poison,” said Mike Mohill, a self-described city activist, adding that he believes whoever buys property first should have the highest priority.

The City Council renewed the view ordinance debate in February 2012, but no public hearings have been held on the matter since then. Homeowners associations cried out for a law to protect the views of their members roughly three years ago, but after several community meetings, progress stalled.

Incumbent Ara Najarian said he would work with residents to decide what kind of view to protect — from mountains to valleys — and challenger Roland Kedikian said he'd take a balanced approach, but others denounced the idea.

Rick Barnes, a Realtor, said private-property rights need to be protected, while incumbent Laura Friedman and newcomer Jefferson Black said the process should be left to the city's two Design Review Boards for decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Former neighborhood services administrator Sam Engel said he was concerned about the “growth of government in this area.”

“I'm not sure we always need government to step in,” he said.

During the same forum though, Engel and other candidates applauded the city for buying Rockhaven Sanitarium, which many Crescenta Valley residents consider an important historical landmark.

The city bought the former sanitarium in 2008 for $8.25 million, saving it from being developed into senior housing. But the property has remained vacant because the city doesn't have the millions of dollars it would take to renovate the 1923 building.

Many candidates said not much can be done at the landmark until revenues bounce back after years of deep cost cutting. While Herbert Molano, a longtime City Hall critic, said he supports protecting open space, Glendale's park-deficient region in the south should be a top priority.

Another difficult issue to resolve is the lack of restaurants and entertainment offerings on Foothill Boulevard, a main street in North Glendale, candidates said.

Barnes said residents can't have strict height regulations like the ones they pushed for in 2011 and also expect a vibrant commercial area.

“There's no vortex of energy,” due to the strict regulations, Barnes said.

A 2011 city report also said a 35-foot cap on buildings along Foothill Boulevard may limit commercial investment, yet the City Council unanimously approved the rules.

Friedman said adding trees and benches would develop a more pedestrian feel along what was once considered a main highway.

“Until people get out of their cars, you're only going to have big-box stores like Osh and Petco on Foothill,” she said.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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