“I mean, I’m talking about tearing stuff down,” Councilman Ara Najarian said.
Homeowners associations and other residents have long waged battles over new homes that don’t match previously approved applications — grievances that over the past two years that have contributed to a broad restructuring of planning review at City Hall.
Front yard walls and fences more than three feet tall would require a permit and be subject to a hearing before the Design Review Board.
City planners would also push to have rooftop air conditioners placed inside attic space to preserve neighborhood aesthetics, no matter the higher price tag, according to the direction given at Tuesday’s special meeting.
And a contentious zoning provision that allows for residents to rebuild homes that do not conform to existing laws if termites have damaged 50% or more of the structure would be abolished if the proposed provisions are eventually adopted.
“The 50% rule, I’m totally sick of it,” Councilman Dave Weaver said, after several residents, including Mirna Stanley, president of the Verdugo Woodlands West Homeowners Assn., complained about a home on Niodrara Drive that had expanded far beyond the original plans that were excepted because of alleged termite damage in 2005.
“All this without design review,” she said. “It’s just not good.”
Taken together, the revisions would help turn the perception of Glendale as a city where “forgiveness is much easier to attain than permission,” Councilman Bob Yousefian said.
The toughening of the zoning codes was so beyond what city planners had expected at the meeting that plans to introduce the amendments as an ordinance at the regular 6 p.m. meeting were scrapped to allow time to rework the proposal.
“What I’m not getting from this report is how we’re going to deal with these issues,” Drayman said.
City planners will likely return with a revised set of zoning code amendments for review in coming weeks.
City Manager Jim Starbird acknowledged that city officials would have to change their approach — as in being more strict with applications to install rooftop air conditioners despite zoning codes that ban them in single-family residential neighborhoods — given the City Council’s clear direction to do so.
In the spirit of wanting to do the right thing, “we allow ourselves to get gamed,” Starbird said.
After Tuesday’s meeting, he said his staff would take steps to “stop being the nice guy.”