By Ted AYALA
The Crescenta Valley area falling under the jurisdiction of the city of Glendale is abuzz these days with the winds of change. Residents and businesses in the Crescenta Valley have been working together with Glendale city hall in the creation of the North Glendale Community Plan (NGCP): a blueprint for the direction residents, local business leaders and the city wish to see the area move toward in the coming years.
With a proposal already drafted and receiving widespread support from both city officials and local interested parties, the plan is now being subjected to reviews from area locals. Sparr Heights Community Center was the stage for the first in a series of these discussions on Wednesday night.
The meeting was intended for local residents and businesses to review the details of the NGCP that have been drafted so far. Though the meetings are not meant to be a forum for debate, comments were accepted by Glendale city staff at the close of the meeting. These comments would be included in the impact report that city leaders will review before voting to implement the NGCP in the future.
“I think the city has done a terrific job,” said owner of Andy’s Moving and Storage, Joe Kroening.
Kroening, who also sits on the committee that helped draft the NGCP, added to his praise.
“The reason I’m here is to represent the local businesses. What we’re looking to do is to merge our vision with that of the residents. So far the community has done great here. We’ve all come together and really hammered out something great. It’s a great plan.”
Fellow committee member and resident Roberta Medford also had expressed her satisfaction with the plan, but qualified it with a few concerns.
“What bothers me are the height limits,” she said. “We need to find a compromise that can make everyone happy. But ideally, I’d prefer height limits that are more nature friendly.”
Resident Sharon Weisman echoed that sentiment.
“Call it ‘human scaled’ height limits. We’re happy with the success the Americana at Brand has enjoyed in Downtown Glendale. But we need something appropriate for our area. My main concern is that a height limit of 50 feet is much too high. All these tall buildings on the side of Foothill Boulevard would create the feel of a tunnel. How would that be conducive to development and spurring the growth of local business?”
She illustrated her point by drawing attention to the controversial medical complex built on the corner of Verdugo Boulevard and Broadview Avenue.
“It just sits there unoccupied for the most part. Frankly, it doesn’t fit in with the aesthetic of the area. That’s what we want to avoid.”
The height restrictions have proved to be the most contentious issue faced with various parties still trying to find a resolution. Along the corridor of Foothill Boulevard disagreement has been sparked in respect to whether the height limits should be 35 feet or to keep them at their current limit of 50 feet. Compromise alternatives were floated by at the meeting, including imposing a 50 feet limit for only the front side of the business.
“Just because we can’t agree on heights yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support this plan,” reminded Hassan Haghani, Glendale’s director of Community Development. “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. We can work together to reach a compromise.”
Despite the differences in opinion the meeting was a model of community unity and civility.
“I’ve been very encouraged and excited to see the level of community involvement here,” said former Crescenta Valley Town Council president Steve Pierce. “We’re very proud of the work the city has made. This is a perfect example of how a city and community can work together.”
Mayor Laura Friedman also stopped by to talk to people in attendance.
“Seeing this community engaged so passionately about the [NGCP] makes me very happy,” said the mayor. “Even after working hard at it for nearly two years, everyone is still energized and focused on the common good. This is something to be very proud of and will be of great help for all of us as we continue to move forward.”