Congratulations to the community advisory committee that just finished up its recommendations for Glendale’s new North Glendale/La Crescenta Community Plan. This is an effort to tune up the city’s zoning and design standards to accommodate future patterns of development in the Glendale portion of the Crescenta Valley.
Currently when a developer looks to upgrade or build new in our area, he’s faced with decades-old and fairly vague design standards to give him a direction to go with his development. The standards as written now reflect what’s currently there, a mish-mash of various styles with no clear theme. The new Community Plan will instead lay out a map for future development – a vision of what La Crescenta can be, rather than what it is now.
Urban planners in Glendale’s planning department would have been well within their rights to draft a plan by themselves in the comfort of their own offices. Instead they took this task to the people who live here. Last year they convened a series of meetings that asked attendees questions like, “What do you like about Foothill Boulevard?” and “What do you like about Montrose and Sparr Heights?” and “What makes Crescenta Valley a unique place?” From these group discussions, a clear view of what’s good about our community began to emerge. Naturally the next step was: “How do we preserve, enhance and add to the good, and minimize the bad?”
A committee was formed this summer to hammer out some very specific recommendations for future development, and the names of the participants read (for anyone who follows local politics) like a recipe for a brawl. It was a dynamic mix of community activists such as Mountain Oaks preservationist Dave Meyers, Foothill Lumber fighter Nancy Comeau, and Montrose Peace Vigil leader Roberta Medford, matched with business stalwarts such as Pete Smith of Bob Smith Toyota, president of the CV Chamber of Commerce Jean Maluccio and Andy’s Transfer icon Joe Kroening.
Thirty-three very divergent local personalities came together peacefully and fruitfully for 10 meetings to create a rough draft of a map for the future of development in our community. Special mention is due to Chris Waldheim of J’s Maintenance – he came to almost every meeting and was a real leader for the group (in addition to the community at large).
From here, planning staff will put all the committee’s recommendations together for several presentations back to the community, then to City Council, then to the various city commissions, and finally back to City Council for formal adoption by next fall. At that point, we’ll have a guide for development that is more in tune with what the residents and businesses of our valley actually want, rather than more monuments to developers’ egos like we have been getting from the hit-and-run speculators that aren’t invested in our community.
To close I’d like to share with you the “Vision” statement that this group cooperatively wrote in the first couple of meetings as a base sentiment that they could all agree on and work towards. Remember that this group is made up of long-haired leftists, suit-wearing city officials, neighborhood busybodies, commercial realtors, mom-and-pop store owners, and high-end architects. Yet they all share the same agreed-on sentiment: That we live or work in a truly special community and we want to keep it that way.
Here’s what they wrote:
“We value and embrace a rural suburban lifestyle which allows us to live and work close to nature, offers unique and varied neighborhood-based shopping opportunities, quality schools, a variety of recreational opportunities, and recognizes our connection to the mountains, neighboring communities, and our history. We seek to protect open space, advocate sustainable and responsible development, preserve and enhance neighborhood character, provide transportation options, and balance land uses.”
Hats off to the Glendale Planning Department for coming to us first, rather than last, for plotting the future of our valley.
Mike Lawler is the president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.