With no discussion, the Glendale City Council this week unanimously enacted a controversial ordinance requiring that firefighting sprinklers be installed in the ceilings of all new buildings except single-family houses and duplexes.
But a second controversial ordinance proposal--one that would regulate the type and size of walls and fences in front yards--appears headed for defeat in a council vote next week.
The sprinkler ordinance, effective in 30 days, requires that construction plans submitted to the city for buildings larger than 1,000 square feet include provisions for sprinklers. City fire officials who proposed the ordinance say sprinklers will significantly reduce fire losses.
The law does not apply to existing buildings. However, additions exceeding 1,000 square feet or major improvements costing more than half the value of the building will not be approved unless sprinklers are installed in the entire building.
Despite earlier controversy surrounding the issue, no one spoke in opposition before the council Tuesday. Developers, who earlier had protested the added costs stemming from the new regulations, said they had conceded that the law would be adopted.
Council members said this week that they are opposed to another ordinance to regulate front-yard fences. A 1922 law prohibits all walls and fences in front yards unless they are built under a variance. The law governing fences is considered to be the strictest in the state. Yet thousands of illegal walls and fences exist in the city, officials concede.
Proposed in April
Councilman John F. Day last April proposed that the city change its rules in order to legalize many existing fences and to ease procedures to build fences legally. But, after months of study, council members admit that the city has been unable to draw up workable rules.
Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg urged this week that the proposed fence ordinance, which contains strict regulations and is widely opposed by homeowners, be dropped without a vote and "never darken our door again." However, Day introduced the ordinance for a formal vote next week, even though all five council members said they will vote against it. Day said he wanted to follow formal procedures.
Several council members said they believe the city still needs guidelines for fences but that the proposed ordinance would be unenforceable.
Mayor Larry Zarian suggested that the city monitor the problem of illegal fences by asking the city's utility meter readers to report any construction of walls. Zarian encouraged the public to notify officials of fences being built in their neighborhood.