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La Canada Council Backs Hillside Building Limits : Development: The proposal, due for a final vote Monday, would govern the size and character of new houses so they are compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.


The La Canada Flintridge City Council has tentatively approved a package of strict development standards aimed at keeping the community's prominent hillsides looking much the way they do now.

Pointing to Glendale as an example of the overbuilding they would like to avoid, council members unanimously supported the proposed ordinance Monday.

"We don't want the hillsides scarred as some have been in Glendale," Mayor John W. Hastings said.

The measure would regulate the size and character of new hillside houses so they are compatible with surrounding neighborhoods. It would also seek to preserve the semi-rural character of the wooded hills by limiting the grading of natural features such as ridges, knolls, valleys and creeks.

Final passage of the new rules is expected at the council's meeting Monday. The law would go into effect 30 days later.

The measure, largely unchanged from a version seen by the council in December, emerged from more than a year of study by city planning officials and residents concerned that a trend to conspicuously large new hillside houses would overwhelm the natural look of the terrain. The hillsides covered under the proposal account for more than one-third of the city's area and make up much of La Canada Flintridge's remaining undeveloped land.

Last month, the council extended a year-old moratorium on hillside building to bar new construction until the new rules are in force.

The hillside ordinance seeks to maintain the views from existing houses by limiting the height of new buildings, plantings and visible walls that are used to create level house lots. The measure would also restrict the amount of a slope that could be carved away to make way for a house and regulates buildings that would jut above the skyline.

Builders would have to submit more plans and other evidence than was required in the past to establish that the proposed construction would not harm views, terrain or ground water. More projects would be subject to public hearings than under present rules. The rules become stricter for steeper sites.

Citing the value of their neighborhood's "million-dollar view," several La Canada Crest Drive residents praised the package Monday and asked that such standards also be devised for future multifamily buildings. Craig Ewing, the city's community development director, said rules governing multiunit development are under review.

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