Housing Element Topic of Council Meeting


“It’s only 450 pages,” quipped Glendale councilmember Vrej Agajanian about the proposed housing plan the council reviewed at its Tuesday night meeting. “I was trying to read it but it’s too difficult.”

City staff wrote, “The Housing Element is one of eight state-mandated elements of  … Glendale’s General Plan. The Housing Element identifies the City’s housing needs and conditions, and establishes goals, objectives and policies that form the basis of the City’s vision and strategy for its housing in the City. The Element … is updated in eight-year cycles with the current update referred to as Cycle 6.”

The proposed plan runs from 2021 through 2029.

Community Development Director Phil Lanzafame explained the process to the council: “The housing element is a policy document where we collect all the goals and programs aimed at housing in one document. It’s not fixed but can be amended during the eight-year cycle,” he said. “It’s also treated as something of a contract – with the community and with the state’s department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which coordinates and oversees the housing elements of all of California’s municipalities.”

Consultant Amanda Tropiano, principal with the De Novo Planning Group, provided the council with a detailed summary of the draft document.

HCD sets regional housing needs numbers and for six Southern California counties, including Los Angeles, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) functions as a regional intermediary and establishes local targets for 197 jurisdictions, including for the City of Glendale.

The state needs 3.4 million new units; SCAG set the regional housing allocation at 1.3 million. Glendale’s share of the housing need is 13,425 units.

Tropiano explained that Glendale “sets the stage” for housing developers to build projects in line with the city’s general plan, including its housing element, zoning ordinances and other planning documents. It is the city’s job to demonstrate there is enough land zoned for housing to accommodate additional housing planned at each income level. The City of Glendale does not build housing; the private market builds housing.

“Why don’t we have more affordable housing?” said Mayor Paula Devine adding she is asked this “all the time. The answer is money.”

Ultimately, the council delayed action on this until next week, in part to give staff a chance to review recent questions and comments submitted by housing advocate Mike Van Gorder.

The draft plan is available to preview at https://tinyurl.com/bdcnu85n.         

Earlier in the meeting, the council voted to accept $2.2 million from Metro and from a federal congestion management and air quality “call for projects” grant to purchase five battery-electric buses for Glendale’s local Beeline bus line.

“As gas prices are expected to near $6 a gallon in the near future, what better way to help build our future transit system? Kudos to Metro for this,” said Councilmember Ara Najarian.

Councilmember Dan Brotman proposed that the council adopt a symbolic resolution in support of “reproductive freedom and a commitment to access to safe, high-quality sexual reproductive healthcare including abortion.” Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian seconded the motion and Mayor Devine asked the city attorney if it would be legal. It would be, city attorney Mike Garcia responded. The matter will come back to the council for discussion once the resolution is drafted.

Councilmember Brotman also sought clarification of the responsibility of the city’s new franchised trash haulers to pick up bulky and abandoned items. According to Public Works Director Yazdan Emrani, “Haulers are responsible for picking up all abandoned items in the public right of way” and encouraged residents to report these items via the city’s My Glendale app: https://glendaleca.citysourced.com/.

Emrani distinguished bulky items from abandoned items, noting that the new franchise agreements provide multifamily buildings with free bulky item pickups four times per year, coordinated by building managers. This was a compromise to keep costs down as the new franchising scheme is rolled out, replacing the unlimited bulky item pickups previously provided by city crews. The new haulers have a roving truck operating weekdays in each region, Emrani added.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 8, the council is expected to review the final environmental impact report (EIR) regarding the proposed repowering of the Grayson plant. The final draft EIR can be reviewed at https://ceqanet.opr.ca.gov/2016121048/6. As the city describes, “The City of Glendale, Dept. of Water and Power (City) is proposing to repower the Grayson Power Plant. A majority of the equipment and facilities at the Grayson Power Plant were completed between 1941 and 1977, and are proposed to be replaced with more reliable, efficient, flexible and cleaner units. The City is proposing to replace the existing generation equipment and related facilities with the exception of Unit 9 (a simple cycle peaking plant built in 2003), by installing a combination of new combined cycle and simple cycle gas turbine generation units. The generating capacity would increase from 238 megawatts (MW) to 260 MW (an increase of 22 MW) to meet a regulatory requirement for reliability.”