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Quiet Approval of Zoning Law Changes Seen

February 06, 1986|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Sweeping changes in Glendale's zoning laws, which were met with widespread protests when unveiled a year ago, are expected to be approved this month with little discussion by the City Council.

The proposed new general plan and zoning ordinance will lower the permitted density of new development in large areas of the city, significantly curtailing population growth. Under the new laws, the current population of about 149,000 could increase to 200,000 by the year 2010. Old rules would have permitted it to double.

The city planning department began studying the issue more than three years ago and released its proposals in November, 1984. Dozens of public hearings have been held, with the last of them scheduled Tuesday.

The new zoning plan is expected to become effective in March, said Gerald J. Jamriska, city planning director.

Controversy Has Faded

Most of the controversy that surrounded the issue faded during months of discussion and compromise. The general plan and zoning ordinance package that will go before the City Council is "fully endorsed" by the Glendale Building Industry Assn., the Chamber of Commerce, their boards of directors and the city planning division, Jamriska said. Also, four of the five members of City Council have indicated they will vote for it.

During the review process, officials examined zoning and building codes affecting all 53,000 parcels of land in the city and recommended significant changes for more than 6,000. Staff members and representatives of businesses and builders then devoted more than 700 hours to meetings in which they hashed out details of a whole new zoning ordinance. The result, they say, simplifies and modernizes zoning regulations.

"This community was extremely helpful and beneficial," Jamriska said. "Education occurred on both sides. We learned about some of the problems builders and business were having in the field with our code, and they became better acquainted with some of the problems we were having with their construction."

Marlene Roth, a planning consultant who represented the building industry during the process, said: "It isn't a case of winning or losing. We all had the objective of trying to improve development in the city."

Charter Cities Exempt

Glendale may be among the first cities in California to comply with a 1971 state law requiring that cities and counties make their zoning consistent with the goals of their general plans, which are generally more restrictive. Most had delayed the massive undertaking until recently and there was debate in Glendale whether the law even applied to the city .

The state consistency law applies only to counties, general law cities--which operate under state guidelines--and the City of Los Angeles, according to state officials.

Charter cities such as Glendale, which operate under their own laws, are exempt from the legislation, which was narrowly adopted 15 years ago. However, Glendale City Manager James Rez said residents in several such cities have sued to force consistency between zoning laws and growth objectives.

Terry Rivasplata of the state Office of Planning and Research said he does not know of any cities or counties that have brought themselves into compliance with state laws.

Officials of Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles estimate that their studies won't be finished for three years. "If we are not the first, we are definitely in the top 10" to comply with the law, Jamriska said.

Radical Changes

The original proposal by the city contained a variety of controversial concepts that could have affected virtually every property owner in the city. It called for such radical changes as requiring that only high-rise development be permitted in the downtown residential area and that more than 100 homes in an industrial area be zoned for industrial uses. Both those proposals were dropped.

In hearings that considered each controversial aspect independently, residents, business leaders and builders reached agreement with city staff members on the type and extent of changes needed.

The changes are a complete reorganization of the city's building laws, providing for:

More leniency in the amount of time granted for construction.

Establishment of buffer zones between incompatible development, such as commercial buildings and homes.

Keeping building heights unlimited in certain areas of the city, such as the Redevelopment Project, but limiting heights in other areas. Developers are to be encouraged to build pitched roofs on buildings rather than flat roofs.

Preservation of medium- and low-density neighborhoods now zoned for high-density development, such as much of the South Glendale area, which is largely homes, duplexes and small apartments.

Increasing parking space requirements for new apartment buildings.

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