Last week, the City Council unanimously approved the largest historic district in the city, covering more than 500 homes in the Rossmoyne neighborhood. Historic districting puts into place a specific set of architectural guidelines and rules that protect the historical nature of the facades of the homes in the area.
The Rossmoyne area has an unusually high percentage of homes that have withstood time dating back to the 1920s. The historic districting will help preserve the integrity of this important part of Glendale’s history by requiring any modifications to the exteriors of these houses go through an approval process with the Glendale Historical Commission and meet specific guidelines.
Rossmoyne has a large footprint, so the new historic district is Phase 1 of what could be an area much larger depending on whether residents in other parts of Rossmoyne pick up the baton to finish the relay race.
The effort was broken into phases because while city guidelines require more than 50% of homeowners to approve, the City Council typically likes to see higher than 70% approve of a historical districting application in order to minimize controversy.
As it is, with more than 500 homes in Phase 1, it was a herculean task spearheaded by the Rossmoyne/Mountain Homeowners Assn. I am on the board of the association and own one of the historical homes in the district.
I have a unique appreciation of what it took to accomplish this through the countless hours devoted by many volunteers, but also through the leadership of our HOA president, Lorna Vartanian. Every team needs a leader, and she was relentless in keeping all of us on task to achieve the goal.
While we went door-to-door collecting signatures, a few who are strong believers in property owner’s rights disagreed with historic districting, and I certainly respect their right to have a different opinion. But I believe that in the long run, ensuring we protect the character of neighborhoods such as Rossmoyne is an important way to respect our city’s history.
As an American of Armenian decent, I found the exercise of building community support for the historical districting especially meaningful. In Armenian culture, respecting and appreciating both national and family history is an important value. I felt we were doing the same with Glendale’s history as we canvassed the neighborhood, so in its special way it brought the two worlds together.
One of the symbols reminding me of how fortunate we are to live in Rossmoyne are the three very old olive trees on our property that are probably older than the house, which was built in 1928. In that time period, not only was the area blessed with orange groves, but also with olive trees.
These trees are a legacy and a reminder of that rich past.
The journey to get the necessary signatures from homeowners was also meaningful. Knowing your neighbors seems to be something from the past and that is unfortunate. Canvassing the neighborhood and talking to residents played an important larger role of reigniting the feeling of community.
At the end of the day, it is that sense of community that preserves the character of a neighborhood more than the role of government. Whether you live in a historical neighborhood, it’s only when people get to know each other and take the time to care that you build a sense of community.
Preserving the character of our neighborhoods, ensuring safety, upkeep and cleanliness all contribute to the quality of life, but that is only achieved when people respect their neighborhoods and contribute to the greater whole.
In Rossmoyne, we’re fortunate that there are a lot of people who care and the result is a great neighborhood to call home.
Hopefully, the Rossmoyne historical district effort will encourage people in all parts of Glendale to become more active and take an interest in making their neighborhood the best that it can be too.
ZANKU ARMENIAN is a resident of Glendale and a corporate communications and public affairs professional. He can be reached at email@example.com.