By Ted AYALA
Glendale City Council adopted a report from city staff concerning local development on Tuesday. The report contains three components: transportation demand management, land analysis and a self-certification process. It also comes at a time when concerns from residents and local businesses over what they perceive as runaway development in the city is reaching fever pitch.
The report submitted to the city covers the period from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. According to director of Public Works Roubik Golanian, the city “aced” the report. But City Manager Scott Ochoa reminded council that the report was “basically a paper exercise.”
Councilmember Ara J. Najarian voiced reluctance to “rubber stamp” the report, though admitted that he and his colleagues had done just that in previous years.
Before voting to adopt the report, Najarian voiced his own concerns over development and its effects on traffic congestion. He also noted that Cal Trans has repeatedly sent notices to the city warning them that its growth is overloading its highway system.
“I don’t think we can rubber stamp this anymore because Glendale is changing,” he said. “I don’t think any other city in the entire county is facing the issues we are with growth.”
Looking over the report’s statistics demonstrating that 401 permits for new units were issued last year, Najarian warned that the city in coming years could face growth that would increase that number several times over.
“This year has been like none other year in terms of the growth Glendale has experienced,” he continued. “The assumption is that these [new residents] are going to be ‘hipsters’ who will bike and have no need for a car. Let’s make sure we’re ready with [pedestrian and traffic improvements] first.”
The councilmember also mooted the idea of the city self imposing a congestion management fee in order to mitigate these problems. Saying that such an idea was not “half bad,” he said that such an idea would be preferable to having one imposed on them from an outside agency. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), he said, was mulling over that idea on a countywide level, while Cal Trans is possibly considering a statewide fee.
“Would we consider implementing our own fee before having one imposed by MTA?” he asked. “Let’s look ahead at the upcoming year at what we’re going to do differently.
Ochoa said that the idea should be considered, though it poses challenges.
“We are a city that values development … but the idea of a local congestion management fee has been elusive,” he said. “Lawmakers in Sacramento may have to help us help ourselves.”