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Commission gears up parking plan

Head Start request for fewer spaces worries residents.

September 30, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

Despite concerns about traffic and child safety, the Planning Commission on Wednesday approved part of a parking plan for a proposed Head Start child development center on Victory Boulevard.

The 3-0 vote is a step forward for Pasadena-based Center for Community and Family Services, which operates four Head Start centers in Glendale and hopes to open the new center next spring for 200 Glendale toddlers and children.

Several Rancho neighborhood residents have opposed the facility, arguing it will worsen traffic and create safety hazards for children who use the center, residents and the horses many homeowners keep. They also questioned plans for using an alley behind the building for pick up and drop off of students.

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City officials are expected to make a decision on the agency's parking proposal for the vacant site on the 1800 block of Victory Boulevard in the next few weeks.

Head Start officials are asking for a variance to operate the center with fewer parking spots than normally required under city zoning rules.

Head Start officials say the traffic impacts will be staggered throughout the school day because most children attend only in the mornings or afternoons. And they say they have plans in place to ensure safety of students and parents entering and leaving the grounds.

Planning Commissioner Stephanie Landregan voted to approve most of the Head Start requests, but said in general the city needs to provide more parking for the projects it approves.

"We're under-parking too many places," she said.

Commission Chairman Bill Kane "very reluctantly" sided with Head Start, but he emphasized that the city should create a bus zone on Victory Boulevard. The city and Head Start must also notify neighbors with details of how they plan to operate, he added.

City traffic engineer Tom Mitchell acknowledged the site isn't perfect, but said, "I think the traffic management plan can take care of that and really minimize any adverse impact on neighboring streets."

Head Start officials have said the Victory location is close to many of the struggling families that benefit from the program. They said their organization has a spotless record when it comes to addressing safety or quality-of-life concerns for neighbors.

Neighbors have 15 days from Thursday's vote to appeal the decision to the City Council.

Remaining concerns center on a parking reduction request for a lot at 312 Allen Ave. The results of a hearing will likely be announced in the next few weeks.

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