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Glendale City Council to revamp a few rules

Changes would be aimed at making life easier for residents, businesses.

March 20, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Glendale officials have moved to streamline administrative procedures that critics say keep home buyers and businesses from adopting the city.

The City Council this week unanimously agreed to start reviewing a variety of changes, including getting rid of one of the city's two Design Review Boards and the zoning use certificates all businesses must have amid concerns that they were having a dampening effect.

“Many members of our association have had clients refuse to buy homes here because of the entitlement process,” said Laura Olhasso, a member of the Glendale Assn. of Realtors.

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That process often requires that applications for home repairs and renovations jump through administrative hoops, including multiple hearings before the city's Design Review Boards.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who sat on the Design Review Board for five years, said she agreed with giving more decision-making power to city officials to speed up the process for minor changes, adding that during her time as a commissioner, she ruled on simple window replacement cases that could have been handled at the staff level.

Among the business rule changes being considered were fees for promotional steps, such as setting up merchandise outside a store, which can require a $10,000 variance.

Permission to host live music could also cost thousands of dollars.

“I'd like us to be able to say ‘yes' more often,” Friedman said.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian agreed with most of the streamlining suggestions, but there were some, such as licensing managers at certain businesses, that he disliked.

One staff suggestion was to require managers of nightclubs who violate city rules to obtain a license that could be revoked. In that event, the business could still operate so long as a new manager was hired who also had a license.

“It's just a red flag for me when we talk about licensing managers and professionals,” Manoukian said.

While he has opposed any type of new fee for businesses, he said he could be “talked into” supporting a business registration license.

City officials would like to replace zoning use certificates that businesses pay $226.40 for when they open or change owners with an annual business registration license that could cost about $100 originally and then less than $50 to renew every year.

The fee could help officials track which types of businesses are in Glendale and shape appropriate economic development services.

“Right now we have no database for the businesses in town,” said Community Development Director Hassan Haghani. “We have no way of adjusting our economic development accordingly.”

Officials plan to discuss their suggestions with interest groups, such as Realtors, homeowners and business owners, over the next four to six months and then bring a formal proposal back to the City Council.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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