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New Rules for the Hills

March 18, 1993|MARTHA L. WILLMAN

The hillside development ordinance and policies adopted by the Glendale City Council provide some key changes in the rules:

DENSITY: An estimated 724 new homes could be built on the remaining 1,500 acres of privately owned undeveloped hills in the city, with an average allowable density of .45 dwelling units per acre. The old ordinance would have accommodated an estimated 1,042 new houses with allowances for one to three housing units per acre, depending on a slope's steepness.

SLOPES: Cuts are generally limited to 1 foot of vertical rise per 1.5 feet of horizontal measurement to a maximum of 120-foot-high slopes, with far lower restrictions in many cases. Previous standards permitted steep slopes with angles of one foot rise to one foot of distance, with no height restrictions.

LOT SIZE: The minimum lot size is 12,000 square feet, smaller than the recommended proposal of 14,500, but greater than current standards of 7,500 square feet. The regulations regarding size of flat building pads have been eliminated, to allow developers greater flexibility in building innovative homes on slopes.

PRESERVATION: Primary ridges, the highest ones, have been protected for years. Secondary ridgelines, those not as prominent but still visible from neighborhoods, are protected by strict guidelines. So are streams, natural habitats and woodlands, although exceptions are permitted. Rules on these important issues were previously lacking.

LANDSCAPING: New guidelines require developers and homeowner associations to restore and maintain the natural appearance of hillsides and encourage the use of vegetation to sustain the native wildlife. The rules are new to the city but are considered an important element to preserving the ambience of the mountainous terrain that is the city's backdrop.

DEVELOPMENT: Design guidelines call for building that is more sensitive to the hillsides--gentler slopes, smaller grading cuts, houses built to more naturally fit the terrain. Steeper and narrower streets may be permitted and sidewalks and curbs adapted for a more rustic, rather than urban, appearance.

PROCESSING: Streamlined procedures provide for more efficient and amiable development of proposed subdivisions, allowing for informal meetings with developers, city planning officials and residents to iron out potential areas of controversy before the actual planning approval process begins. An outside judge could be called in to arbitrate differences in extreme cases of disagreement.

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