Glendale homeowners opposed to a controversial grading project in the Verdugo Mountains are deadlocked over the selection of an alternative to complete the Oakmont View housing development.
"The whole issue is in pandemonium right now. It's in a total state of confusion," said Steve Cameron, president of the Oakmont Property Owners Assn. "We can't get any of the homeowners to come up with anything they can agree on."
The Glendale City Council last month asked that homeowner groups formulate a compromise solution to help complete the 197-lot subdivision, approved by the council in 1976.
Gregg Development Co. of Glendale last year discovered that it lacks enough grading material to fill in a 6-acre debris basin dug during construction of the subdivision. Filling and grading the hole would create the last 24 lots, worth about $5 million.
The developer earlier this year quietly proposed to slice as much as 70 feet off the top of a prominent ridge in the mountains to obtain 250,000 cubic yards of dirt needed to fill the hole. The lots would become home sites for custom-built houses valued at $800,000 or more each.
The cut would have been clearly visible from the Verdugo Canyon and La Crescenta Valley, according to city reports. In July, the City Council rejected that plan and ordered that a grading permit for the project be withheld.
The developer has threatened to sue the city if he cannot complete the subdivision.
The council met in August in a closed-door session to consider a series of alternatives proposed by both the city and the developer to complete the project, in the mountains above the Oakmont Country Club.
While the alternatives have not been publicly disclosed, city officials have presented the plans privately to members of five homeowner groups, Glendale City Manager David Ramsay said.
The alternatives include slicing from 50 to 100 feet from mountain hillsides or trucking in dirt from grading projects elsewhere in the city. Representatives of homeowner groups said all proposals for further cuts in the mountains have been rejected.
"The homeowners are all dead-set against cutting down of ridges," said Archie Eley, president of the Glendale Hills Coordinating Council, an umbrella organization of nine homeowner groups.
The only alternative left, he said, is to truck in dirt to fill the hole. That task would involve large truck and trailer rigs rumbling through steep, narrow hillside roads every few minutes for several months.
Now, homeowners are warring with one another over which routes should be used.
"Residents want to save the ridge by having the dirt hauled in," Cameron said. "But the biggest stumbling block is that nobody wants the trucks coming up their street. I don't know how they expect the dirt to get up there. By helicopter, I guess."
Routes under consideration include Oakmont View Drive, Beaudry Terrace, Beaudry Boulevard, Greenmont Drive and Country Club Drive, Cameron said.
He said many homeowners firmly believe that the project should be left incomplete.
However, city officials said the debris basin, left as is, poses a hazard for the subdivision. Besides, the developer is sure to sue, which would leave the decision for completing the project up to the courts, they said.
An attempt to resolve the issue will be made at another homeowners' meeting, to be held Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Eley's home, 3455 Linda Vista Road.
Any recommendation from the homeowners will be brought back to the City Council, which is expected to decide the issue later this month, Ramsay said.