The City Council took the final step on Tuesday to implement an annual business registration fee as well as restructure the approval process for some housing projects, among other changes aimed at streamlining the city’s code.
The most controversial change had been replacing the city’s $198 zoning use certificate for new businesses with a $198 business registration fee — and a $50 annual renewal charge.
But after some tweaking prompted by Councilman Ara Najarian on Tuesday night, the council decided to charge new businesses the $198 fee as soon as they register with the city.
However, existing businesses will not have to pay the $198 initial fee and they will be granted a grace period until July 1, 2015, before they have to pay the renewal fee.
The business registration fee is supposed to pay for the cost of tracking what businesses exist in Glendale by city staff. Because the city does not have a business tax, officials currently do not know which kinds of businesses are where.
Officials say that by culling this information, they can better serve businesses that have clustered near similar businesses, so programs and services can be created to fit their specific needs.
The new certificate is described as a fee because it only covers the cost of issuing it, while a tax would include excess money that could be used for other city services, officials said.
Other changes approved include:
— Allowing some conditional-use permits, such as serving alcohol at a restaurant, to be issued administratively instead of holding a public hearing.
— Eliminating the city's Environmental and Planning Board, which hasn't met since 2006.
— Allowing the Community Development Director to make decisions without a public hearing for new condominium projects with six units or fewer and for all condominium conversion proposals. He will also be the review authority for parking exceptions in downtown and can authorize certain alterations of structures that are currently not up to city code.
The changes were largely welcomed by the business community when they were first introduced at a council meeting last month. Officials plan to review the streamlining in 15 months.