Construction issues main meeting topics

By Brandon HENSLEY

Construction for the three-story complex going up in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard may have hit a snag, and that was the main topic of the Crescenta Valley Community Association’s meeting July 28 inside the Dunsmore Park community room.
The new building is going on the lot where the plumbing store Plumb Crazy used to be, but new revelations late last month have community members hopeful the complex won’t be as large as originally planned.
According to L.A. County code, buildings on Foothill Boulevard must be no higher than 35 feet from its natural grade, or the slope that was there before grading. The designs from Regional Planning, however, show that the natural grade is higher than residents remember it being. If this is true, the height of the building would exceed 35 feet when completed.
“We’re hoping that third story is not going to be legal,” said Sharon Raghavachary, a steering committee member who led the discussion on the topic for nearly an hour.
The project is not a popular one. Plans were approved in April 2009, and slipped through Foothill Boulevard’s Community Standards District, which was approved last October, and can have an influence on what new buildings look like.
Excavation for the underground parking lot would also have an effect on the roots of the nearby fig tree, which is over 100 years old and which many residents hold dear, although the owner of the property has said once it comes to that, he will consult with an arborist on what to do.
In an email this week, the planner assigned to the project, Richard Claghorn, confirmed that neighbors have said the existing grade was inaccurate. He said a site inspection will take place most likely next week.
“If it turns out the natural grade was in fact lower, then I would have to discuss how to deal with the situation with my supervisor,” wrote Claghorn. “It’s possible the project would need to be redesigned to resolve the height issue, but at this point I’m not sure how it would be resolved.”
The meeting also included a visit from Glendale Planning senior planner Vilia Zemaitaitis, who explained to the residents the process of the Design Review Board, which reviews plans for developments of the Glendale part of La Crescenta.
This had to do with a three-story residential town home complex being built on Piedmont Avenue. There is some concern from neighbors because all of the other complexes on the street are two stories. The building will be built to level, and not to slope.
Zemaitaitis explained the DRB is five-member panel that takes into account scale and compatibility of new projects. Neighbors can take their complaints in front of the board, and vote against them. The Piedmont project has not yet been taken to the board.
Crescenta Valley Town Council vice president Steve Goldsworthy was in attendance, and asked how the board could have let the building on 3600 N. Verdugo Rd slip by. That complex, nicknamed Starship Verdugo by some for its futuristic design, was called “an embarrassment” by Zemaitaitis, and said there really was no excuse for what happened.
“There’s been a lot more of a heightened awareness of architecture and neighborhood compatibility,” she said.
The next CVCA meeting is scheduled to take place Aug. 25. at 7 p.m. inside the community room at Dunsmore Park. That meeting will mostly revolve around Community Standards District construction.