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Council Working Out Details of Growth-Control Program


Glendale City Council members said Tuesday that they were entering the homestretch in a two-year effort to curtail apartment and condominium construction, but they disagreed about just how close they are to the finish line.

The council began listening to final public comments on a complex growth-control program that calls for citywide zoning changes and a limit on the number of new housing construction permits that will be issued each year. The hearing will continue at next Tuesday's council meeting.

When the testimony ends, the council must approve each provision before it lifts the current freeze on new condominium and apartment projects.

"I'm convinced that the council is ready to make a decision in the next two weeks," Mayor Larry Zarian said after the meeting.

But Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg said it could be two months before the council settles several disagreements over the growth-control plan. "After all the testimony, then all of us have to go through and fine-tune it," she said. "There are an awful lot of parts to it."

Bremberg said much debate will probably surround the rules for reconstructing large, older apartment buildings.

Some council members say that if the city dramatically reduces the number of new units that can be constructed at such a site, the owner will have no financial incentive to rebuild, and the building will continue to deteriorate. But others have argued that allowing the owner to rebuild many units with insufficient parking will defeat the purpose of the growth control plan.

Planning Director John W. McKenna said Tuesday that he will bring the council a proposal addressing the issue.

The council must also resolve several disagreements between city staff members and the Glendale Planning Commission.

On Montrose Avenue between New York Avenue and Frederick Street, the planning staff has recommended that the zoning be changed to allow only single-family houses on each lot. But the Planning Commission agreed with residents of the street, who favor zoning that allows duplexes and triplexes.

At Tuesday's meeting, several of the Montrose residents told the council that a switch to single-family zoning would decrease the value of their properties. Following the city staff's recommendation would cut into the retirement income that many longtime Montrose Avenue residents are counting on, Marilyn Wazdan told the council.

"I'd like to have you reconsider," she said.

Council members said they would make no decision on the Montrose Avenue lots or other disputed areas until all public testimony has been heard.

The staff and the Planning Commission also disagreed on a provision of the proposed building cap ordinance, under which the city would issue no more than 1,400 building permits annually for new housing units. The staff has recommended that 740 of these permits be reserved for lower-cost housing. But the commission lowered it to 600, with the remaining homes to be priced according to prevailing market rates.

The council also is considering a proposal to change the zoning of some Glendale school sites to prevent construction of more apartments or condominiums on the land if the campuses are ever sold. The Glendale Unified School District opposes this plan.

The council made no decision Tuesday on the building cap or school zoning issues.

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