The Ramifications of the City’s Downtown Overdevelopment Haste
Between 2006 and 2014, city officials added about 2,500 new dwelling units, roughly 250 or 10% of which were affordable to very low- and low-income households, adopted changes to reduce parking requirements for housing units in downtown and created new mixed-use residential zones, according to the report. (1)
The City Council gave planning staff the go-ahead to begin drafting policies for the development of homes on skinny, smaller lots in December 2012. The guidelines aim to allow developers to take an average lot in south Glendale of 5,000 to 7,500 square feet and build multiple small homes in order to encourage developers to build single-family residences rather than multiunit complexes in already crowded neighborhoods. (1)
Glendale’s building boom troubles Caltrans – Cumulative impact on freeways isn’t being taken into account, official says. Officials with the California Department of Transportation are worried that the massive development boom in Glendale may have significant impacts to nearby freeways that aren’t being addressed in environmental reviews for new projects.(2)
The reviews tend to focus on traffic generated by an individual building, rather than the cumulative impact of all other projects combined. A recent environmental review didn’t take into account the 21 other projects either recently built, still under construction, or in the planning stages in Glendale. One project, by itself, the traffic impact seems minimal, but not when you combine all the on-going and what’s planned projects.
There are roughly 3,800 units either constructed or in the pipeline for south Glendale, a development boom that followed a massive revamp of the city’s zoning in 2006 with the goal to move development from the city’s hillsides to downtown. The plan was to transform a downtown blanketed with commercial properties into an area where people could live and work. The rezoning, known as the Downtown Specific Plan, along with city impact fees that were purposefully set low to encourage development, worked initially, but now Caltrans officials are concerned about the potential transportation effects from future developments. (2)
Although a handful of perennial City Hall critics had complained about traffic during the approval hearings for numerous projects, City Council members discounted their traffic concerns. Council debate tended to focus more on project design. Only one council member voiced recent opposition to put the brakes on new development because of traffic and other quality-of-life concerns.
The new developments in Glendale, could strain traffic on the freeways and it could take decades for state agencies to get enough money to fix the problems. City officials should be working together with Caltrans, to pinpoint which areas will have the most severe problems to mitigate traffic congestion — anything from ramp widening to streetlight synchronization. (2)
Glendale just only recently hiked the impact fees for developers for parks and libraries and officials— from $7,000 to $15,645 — due to the high number of developments underway. (3)
This amounted to a loss of $8,646 per unit or $3.285 million dollars in City revenues.
Residents in south Glendale and downtown have long complained about parking issues, especially on streets with a mixture of commercial businesses and multi-unit housing. There are about 58 on-street parking spaces in the 300 block of West Lexington Drive, where on average 76% of the parking is in use between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., with cars evenly split between residents and nonresidents. Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., about 82% of the spaces are occupied as employees, customers and residents compete for limited parking, according to a city report. (3)
Vehicles already clog the on-street parking near Brand Boulevard, as many multi-unit buildings in the area have insufficient parking. On top of that, some businesses employees park on residential streets, further reducing parking availability. (4)
Parking delays Tropico project – The City Council asks developer to come back with a less-dense proposal, for the 225-unit apartment complex on Los Feliz Road, by at least a 25% density reduction to better accommodate the amount of parking in the project. Council members voted 3-2 to require the developer to trim its number of units proposed at 435 Los Feliz Road in order to ensure there’s adequate parking prior to being granted approval to build. The developer was looking to build a five-story buildingand aparking structure with 337 parking spaces. Zoning in the area would require the developer to provide 508 parking spaces, but city staff applied the Glendale’s Downtown Specific Plan to grant an exception, based on the proposed project site is close to transit and the area has similar characteristics to downtown. Najarian said, the current mix of 225 units with a 171 parking-space shortfall is too much for the community to bear. Council members required the project density to be reduced by 25% while keeping the same number of parking spaces. (5)
Najarian said that the councils willingness to make such concessions for builders in the past led to the influx of projects, burdening the city’s infrastructure. He said, while it might be too late to curb some of the negative impacts, such as added traffic, there could be ways to put the brakes on growth.
Officials expect Glendale development boom to slow. With more than 3,800 new residential units in various stages of development with over 21 projects, Glendale has surpassed the halfway mark of its projected growth with more than 20 years to go, though some city officials expect that pace to slow in the coming years. (6)
“The first thing that we need to do is stop offering incentives for these developers,” Najarian said, adding: “We need to look forward and stick to our zoning elements and stop giving incentives, we’re not dying for units anymore.” About 10 years ago, the city started working to bring more multifamily units to Glendale that were in high-demand at the time, but now the city is almost entirely built out, Haghani said. (6)
In the mayor’s State of the City speech, at the Chamber of Congress event this week, he said, that efforts to stop GWP transfers and repeal the utility users tax threaten city services. “They’ll be destroying the city if these measures go through,” Weaver said, threatening that many of the city’s departments will be virtually eliminated. (7) This is fear mongering at its worst.
Weaver also encouraged the roughly 600 people in attendance at the Hilton Glendale to support new tax measures the city is been considering, adding that, “It just shows the public is not educated on various matters,” Weaver said, referring to Voters not in favor of placing a new tax measure on the June ballot according to an $80,000 survey that the City authorized. (7)
Weaver said the city must continue to grow, ignoring critic’s complaints about increasing traffic and other impacts of new residential development. “If we stagnate, we’re dead in the water,” he said.(7)
This is a fool’s penchant calling to lead the city down the prim rose path of destruction with its failed policies, by relying on low information voters. City officials are apparently only bent on increasing revenues, with no consideration for reducing expenditures, i.e. by streamlining and reducing the number of city managers substantially increased during Jim Starbird’s tenure as City Manager, eliminating salary perks, overtime, additional pay, pension abuses, i.e. final last-year active employment payroll gimmicks to artificially enhance their starting pensions . It will eventually be impossible for the city to meet its debt obligations regardless of the outcome of pending lawsuits.
It is Weaver and other council member who are intent on destroying the Jewel City by misrepresenting facts to residents and businesses, by approving MOU contracts with employee unions for salaries, pension and benefits that are unsustainable. In reality it is he and the City Council, in their zest to generate new revenue, to pay for these unsustainable costs, by selling out to developers by allowing them to develop 21 properties with inadequate parking spaces that is creating a traffic nightmare and making Glendale the city capital for the highest automobile insurance rates.
Weaver and the other council members refuse to follow the city charter, the state constitution, and the law. They’re diverting money from the GWP to pay for general appropriations, resulting in water and electrical rate increases. Rather, they resort to fearmongering. When is enough, enough?
The City has other avenues to increase taxes rather than relying on GWP fees as a hidden tax to pay for general appropriations. Weaver and his cronies can inform the public of its need to raise taxes for police and fire services, by seeking the public’s approval at the ballot box. Almost 40% of the city employees’ workforce is expected to retire over the next decade. Both employer and employee contributions, plus investments, are not sufficient to sustain the city’s unfunded debt to pay for both new retiree pensions and their replacements. Weaver and the city council will solely be responsible for the lost of city services that will occur regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit and the repeal. This is what Weaver meant, by stating, “If we stagnate, we’re dead in the water”.