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Council approves new height limit for North Glendale buildings

The plan reduces the current 50-foot limit to 35 and brings the possibility for residents to install front yard fences.

December 02, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Areas of North Glendale will be getting shorter building height limits and the ability to install front yard fences that are banned in most parts of the city under a new community plan unanimously approved by the City Council this week.

City officials are working their way from community to community developing plans to create a blueprint for what residents and stakeholders want an area to look like. They began in North Glendale, which includes the Whiting Woods, Sparr Heights, Crescenta Highlands and Montrose Shopping Park areas, almost four years ago.

North Glendale residents said in dozens of community meetings that they wanted less dense development in order to preserve mountain views.

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Areas along Foothill Boulevard, from the city boundary west of Lowell Avenue to the west side of Pennsylvania Avenue, currently can have buildings up to 50 feet tall, but when a developer proposed such a project on the former Foothill Lumber site in 2008, it was denied by city commissioners who called it incompatible with the area.

That project sparked the call for shorter buildings, said City Planner Laura Stotler.

“It’s more than just a zoning code. There’s a feel you want to get on the street,” Stotler said.

Under the new community plan, buildings will be limited to 35 feet tall.

Referring to the public uproar the Foothill Lumber site plans caused, Mayor Laura Friedman said at the meeting Tuesday that it was important to match zoning code with residents’ image of the community, otherwise, developers will run into a situation where “the neighborhood is out there with pitchforks and the developer doesn’t understand why.”

Residents who came to speak at the meeting agreed.

“The special quality and uniqueness of this area is due in large part to the incredible views,” said resident Susan Bolan, who opposed denser development because it could turn her neighborhood into “Any Town, USA.”

Because of the street slope, the new height cap may limit some sides of buildings to one story. According to a city report, the 35-foot cap was opposed by business leaders who called it too restrictive. The report also stated the cap may limit commercial investment on Foothill Boulevard.

But officials said developers could get around the new height limit by applying for city variances or taking advantage of state density bonuses that permit taller buildings if projects have an affordable housing component.

In addition to the height limits, the new plan also allows residents to install fences in their front yards. Some areas in North Glendale allowed the fences prior to annexation.

But before installing a new fence, residents will have to petition the city with the approval of the entire block, Stotler said.
 
 

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