In the latest development in Glendale's protracted battle to control its soaring population growth, the city's Planning Department launched an ambitious program this week to cut roughly by half the number of new building units allowed in neighborhoods zoned for apartments, condominiums and townhouses.
Planning Department officials said Monday they mailed flyers to 24,500 property owners announcing a series of upcoming informational meetings and hearings on the proposal.
If they meet public approval, planners said, the proposed zoning changes would be written into a slow-growth ordinance that would replace the city's 15-month moratorium on apartment, condominium and townhouse construction.
Such an ordinance would go a long way toward achieving the council's oft-stated goal of limiting the city's population to close to the 200,000 recommended in the General Plan.
Under current zoning standards, Glendale Principal Planner Jim Glaser said, the city's population--estimated at 165,000--could grow to 260,000 before reaching full occupancy. If the proposed zoning changes are implemented, he said, population growth would be limited to a ceiling of around 220,000.
The city's first attempt to comply with the General Plan's population recommendation resulted in a 1986 growth control ordinance, but city officials acknowledged soon after it was passed that developers had found loopholes in the law and were working around it.
In 1988, the city adopted the building moratorium and went to work on a second growth-control ordinance, which was adopted after several delays in October of last year. But once again, officials soon realized that this ordinance, too, would have a negligible impact in controlling population growth.
The council extended its moratorium for another year and sent planners back to work on a third growth-control ordinance, which was finally unveiled last week.
In the new proposal, planners have returned to the 1986 concept of curbing growth through zoning restrictions. Only this time, the proposed zoning limits are twice as stringent as those adopted three years ago, and the loopholes have since been covered by the adoption of building restrictions such as parking and landscaping requirements.
Under the current proposal, neighborhoods currently zoned to allow eight units on a typical 50X150-foot lot, would be cut back to only four units. Those zoned to allow six units per lot would be cut to three, and those zoned to allow four units per lot would be reduced to two.
The Planning Department has divided the city into three areas for the informational meetings.
They will be held Jan. 24 for north Glendale and Verdugo Canyon residents at the Clark Community Center, 4747 New York Ave.; Jan. 30 for east and southeast Glendale residents at the main library, 222 East Harvard St.; Feb. 6 for west and southwest Glendale, also at the library. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by Planning Commission hearings the next day at the same place and time to receive public input.
On Feb. 12, the Planning Commission will hear more public comments at its regular meeting at 3:30 p.m. in Room 105 of the municipal services building. The council will hold its hearing on the proposal at 2 p.m. Feb. 27 in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 613 E. Broadway.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the council voted to relax the moratorium a bit to allow the construction of churches, convalescent homes, public service signs, single-family homes and minor additions to apartments in neighborhoods covered by the building freeze.
This temporary ordinance--it will be in effect only for the duration of the moratorium--would allow apartments, condos and townhouse owners to add up to 400 square feet to their properties, provided the total floor space after the addition does not exceed 1200 square feet.
Also at Tuesday's council meeting, City Manager David Ramsay announced a council study session for Monday to discuss the possibility of establishing yearly quotas for the granting of building permits, a strategy designed to slow down the pace of development in the city.
All five council members have expressed their desire to establish building quotas, citing the unprecedented strain the city's growth is putting on schools, police and other city services.
But establishing building limits, city planners warn, is the most difficult growth-control mechanism to defend in court. Under state law, cities must prove they are taking on their "fair share" of the region's housing needs, Glaser said.
At the study session, planners will discuss various building permit quotas and their chances of holding up in court, Glaser said. The study session will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Manager's Conference Room at City Hall and is open to the public.