Glendale pushing more live, work in city

Glendale officials have for years been trying to shake the city's image as a bedroom community to L.A. by bolstering the business base and building new apartments downtown.

They've done so in the hope that more people will work closer to where they live, preferably doing both in Glendale. And according to figures recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the strategy may just be starting to work.

A growing number are living and working locally — about 32% of the roughly 93,000 professionals in Glendale, according to a compilation of five years of Census Bureau data through 2010 on commuting. That's more than the 28% who lived and worked in Glendale in 2000.

City Council members say they're pleased by the positive trend and want it to continue.

"That's what we're trying to achieve," Councilman Frank Quintero said.

Strategies for reaching that goal include enticing more businesses to settle here — such as Disney's Creative Campus and Whole Foods' regional headquarters — and increasing the downtown housing stock.

"I think it's a good trend that we're seeing, but I think Glendale's successful future is dependent on a large — greater than 32% — number of workers living and working in the city," Councilman Ara Najarian said. "That's really a critical premise that our downtown growth is based on."

The council has green-lighted nearly 2,000 new apartment and condominium units downtown, many of them aimed at hip, young professionals. Likening a new development as "a great fit for Disney workers" is a common refrain during design-approval meetings.

But if the future residents of those developments just hop on the freeway to travel to work, clogging already traffic-prone highway entrances, it would all be for naught, Najarian said.

"That is an absolute critical key to everything we're doing downtown," he said.

While Glendale's population took a dip in 2010 after the latest decennial census, it's rising to year 2000 levels again. According to a smaller-scale annual survey taken in 2012, there are an estimated 194,478 people living in the city, up from 191,719 in 2010, but slightly less than the 194,973 in 2000.

According to the compilation of Census data through 2010, Glendale's average travel time to work was about 25.6 minutes, down from 27.3 minutes in 2000. Average commuting times were similar in neighboring Burbank and Pasadena.

Glendale's live-work population is also on par with Burbank, at 31%, but Pasadena beats both at 41%.

Pasadena has been the fastest-growing in the live-work area, increasing five percentage points over the past decade. Burbank increased about one percentage point.

"I think it's healthy for people to work in the city that they live in," Councilwoman Laura Friedman said. "It's really a luxury that people want.

Glendale's transition into a job center over several decades has outpaced the development of housing for young professionals, Friedman added.

On the campaign trail this spring, she said many young Glendale workers are living in Atwater, Eagle Rock and other neighboring Los Angeles communities because the housing stock in Glendale isn't in line with what young professionals want.

The million-dollar homes are out of their price range and the '70s-style apartment complexes in South Glendale don't fit their style, she said.

The new apartments springing up in downtown have Generation Y in mind. Some are New York-style small — Elevé Lofts and Skydeck, a 208-unit building has units as small as 375 square feet — and others feature outdoor amenities, such as the solar-powered pool and a Jacuzzi planned for the 220-unit Verdugo Gardens.

"We're no longer a bedroom community," Friedman said. "As a whole, you can live and work and eat and shop and never leave the city."


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