Acknowledging that transportation issues have become one of the key challenges confronting Glendale, City Council members said they are committed to creating a commission that would address traffic congestion, parking problems and mass transit.
The new panel would replace two advisory boards that review only parking issues. City Manager David Ramsay told the council Tuesday that the new appointees would take a wider and more in-depth look at local and regional transportation matters.
"Currently, aside from the council and the staff, there is no one city group that is taking a comprehensive look at transportation," he said in a written report. "Establishment of a Transportation Commission would be an important step toward taking such a comprehensive approach."
The council unanimously ordered the staff to prepare an ordinance creating Glendale's new Transportation and Parking Commission for introduction Tuesday. A final vote probably would occur a week later.
The council made minor changes in Ramsay's proposal for the commission, such as expanding its membership from five to seven appointees. Commissioners would serve three-year terms.
If the commission is approved, Glendale's Parking Commission and the Montrose Parking Board, which have more narrow responsibilities, would be dissolved.
The proposal drew sharp criticism from one speaker at Tuesday's meeting. Longtime Montrose businessman Tom Jeffers said the council should not eliminate the board that reviews parking issues in his north Glendale shopping district.
Montrose residents and business leaders have complained that city officials have neglected their community in favor of the central business district.
"If we get buried in a downtown committee, we'll lose our identity and we'll lose our enthusiasm," Jeffers said. "I think it's very important that we be left alone. We would like to keep our parking board separate."
Council members rejected the plea.
"I hope I'm not hearing that you want to be detached from the city of Glendale," Mayor Ginger Bremberg said. "I feel very strongly that you are a very important part of the city."
Councilwoman Eileen Givens added: "I don't see this ordinance as taking anything away from any community. I think the only thing we're going to bury is the piecemeal way of doing things. I don't want a downtown transportation commission any more than you do."
Council members said commissioners should represent a cross-section of the city but that commission seats should not be reserved for specific communities, such as Montrose.
Councilman Larry Zarian said the commission should include at least three or four members with expertise in complex transportation matters.
The commission is expected to evaluate public transportation issues such as the city's Beeline shuttle, Dial-a-Ride service, bus routes and proposed commuter-rail and light-rail projects. It would also regulate taxicabs and other vehicles for hire.
The panel would set parking time limits on certain streets and approve preferential parking zones in residential neighborhoods.
Under the proposed ordinance, the commission's decisions could be appealed to the City Council. The commission would have no authority in the city's redevelopment areas, which would remain under the control of the Glendale Redevelopment Agency, which is made up of the five City Council members.
The new panel would legally be obligated to meet once a month, but city officials predicted that it would likely meet more often. Because of the time demands and the range of issues the commission would address, council members recommended that the panel have seven members. Other city commissions and advisory boards have five.