Monday, October 24, 2011

Last Piece of Open Land in Downtown Glendale For Sale*

Downtown Glendale's last piece of open land is for sale - the proposed City Center II site at Brand and Wilson.  I posted about the site previously here.  City Center I is the skycraper on the same block at Brand Broadway.  As I understand it, City Center II was supposed to be built just after City Center I, but the early 90's recession hit.  A few years ago The Amidi Real Estate Group was, again, going to build City Center II - and our current recession hit!  So the one of the best located spots in downtown Glendale remains a weedy, empty lot surrounded by a chain link fence and the only use it ever sees is as a staging area for film shoots in the area.

From the press release I found announcing the sale:
Institutional Property Advisors (IPA), a recently formed multifamily brokerage division of Marcus & Millichap serving the needs of institutional and major private investors, has retained the exclusive listing for City Center II, a 1.38-acre development site located at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale. The property is being offered as an open bid.
Ron Harris, an executive vice president investments, and associate directors Paul Darrow and Joseph Smolen are representing the seller.
“City Center II is located in a true infill location two blocks from the The Americana at Brand lifestyle center, the Glendale Galleria and dozens of local stores and restaurants along Brand Boulevard,” says Darrow. “The site is currently entitled for the construction an 18-story tower and a 20-story tower that combine for a total of 184 condominium units and 172 hotel rooms.”
Although the current entitlements are being evaluated by a number of developers, many prospective buyers are considering re-entitling the site for a lower density mid-rise concept consisting of apartments over retail.
“The multifamily rental market has gained significant momentum, both in operations and values,” adds Harris. “Many developers are indicating that they find a mid-rise concept to be a more cost-efficient approach that will be better suited to current market conditions.” 

 My previous post on City Center II.

*Updated: new post showing what used to be at the southwest corner of Brand and Wilson-

Friday, October 21, 2011

South Brand Permit Parking Prices May Jump, Dealerships May Be Allowed To Park on Permit Only Streets*

*Updated at 3pm.  I changed the focus of my piece slightly after hearing additional concerns from residents in the neighborhood about dealerships obtaining non-resident permits on permit-only streets.

If you live in South Glendale, you probably recently received a vaguely worded notice about proposed changes to zoning and parking regulations in the South Brand neighborhood. Most of these changes are fairly minor.  The city is attempting to make it easier to get permit-based parking on residential streets. This is a good thing.

During the day, my street is an absolute mess, with dealership employees and customers taking up all of the available parking. To make matters worse, a handful of nearby streets have parking by resident permits only, which distorts the market for parking in the neighborhood by putting additional parking pressure on the streets which are not permit based. Currently it is very difficult to get your street set up as permit only. Part of the proposed regulations are designed to simplify the process of becoming a permit only street -- but the city also want to allow dealership employees to park on permit-only streets and jack up the price of permits for residents.

Here is a summary of city staff's parking recommendations for South Brand:
Residential permit parking regulations
  • Current Condition: Regulations change street-to-street, or by block
  • Proposal: One standard regulation for the South Brand neighborhood – 2 hour parking, Monday-Saturday 7am-7pm except by permit 
Process for permit district approval
  • Current Condition: Petition submitted with 75% approval of residents on-street, than goes to a public hearing for final approval
  • Proposal: Petition threshold lowered to 66% of residents on-street, approved automatically – no public hearing required for approval 
Cost and number of permits per household
  • Current Condition: Unlimited number of permits per household, $6 each annually, with two free guest passes included.
  • Proposal: Increase permit price to cover costs at $25 per permit annually, limit to 3 permits per household. First 30 guest passes free (one-time use), then 5 guest permits for $10.
Option for non-residents to park in resident permit districts
  • Current Condition: Not currently allowed in the City of Glendale
  • Proposal: Number of permits may be given to South Brand employees based on 25% of available street spaces on the residential street.
  • Non-resident permits will be available for $120 per employee annually
My strong opinion is that permit program should be at no cost to the residents and that the dealerships should not be allowed to get non-resident permits at all on residential streets.

Instead of allowing the dealerships access to the permit program, the city should remove the 3 hour parking restriction on Brand Boulevard to allow dealership employees to park there. If the dealerships want the Brand Boulevard spaces open for their customers, they should have to pay the full cost of parking for their employees by providing off-street parking that does not negatively affect the neighborhood.

Additionally, some dealerships, including Pacific BMW, have requirements to provide off street parking in their conditional use permits, but ignored those requirements and did not allow low-level employees access to off-street parking, which was what spurred Windsor Road in particular to successfully apply for residential permit parking. To allow dealerships access to the residential permit zones for a fee is the exact opposite of the reason residents would lobby for a permit zone in the first place!

All Glendale residents benefit from the revenue from the car dealerships, but only South Glendale suffers the impact of living next to the megadealerships - noise, traffic, speeding, and large trucks coming and going at all hours.  To ask residents to pay to park on the streets where they live while continuing to allow dealership employees to park there is an additional burden that many in South Glendale - the lowest income area in the city - can not afford to pay. Residents shouldn't have to pay to mitigate a parking problem that they themselves are not causing.

More detailed information on the South Brand Boulevard Study is available here:

This matter will be discussed at a joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the Transportation and Parking Commission on October 24th, 6pm, in City Council Chambers (613 E. Broadway). The dealerships are paying close attention to this and will likely have representatives at the meeting, but residents tend to not pay much attention to parking and zoning. If you have opinions regarding the proposed changes and would like to counteract the influence of the dealerships, please come to the meeting on October 24th or at the very least e-mail a letter expressing your opinion to Michael Nilsson in the Community Development Department:  You can also e-mail the members of the Transportation and Parking Commission here. Your feedback makes a difference!

Monday, October 10, 2011

CicLAvia and Glendale Bike News

 Yesterday I participated in the third CicLAvia event with a group of cyclists from Glendale.  We biked from Glendale to LA City Hall and had a great day enjoying the streets of Los Angeles.  Here are my photos from the event on flickr.
There is lots of exciting bike action happening in Glendale right now, and I encourage you to get involved.  Erik Yesayan and Justin Klein have been leading regular Tuesday night rides starting at the Glendale Public Library.  They also started a Facebook group, Glendale Bike Rides, to publicize the Tuesday night ride and start more Glendale area rides.  We are also in the very early stages of forming a Glendale-specific bike and pedestrian safety advocacy group.  Currently we are keeping in touch via occasional meetings and have a mailing list via Google Groups, if you'd like to join us in advocating for safer streets in the community please contact me and I can add you to the mailing list.

Glendale's Bike Master Plan is also in the process of being updated.  You can keep track of its progress here:

Please come to some of the Bike Master Plan outreach meetings to get up to date and make your voice heard.  The importance of getting involved at this stage cannot be overstated.

From the City of Glendale:
The Glendale Bicycle Master Plan will be most successful with input from the public. Please take time to contribute to the process by submitting your comments on the form below or by participating in one of our Community Outreach meetings. You may also submit comments on a comment card available at local libraries and participating bike shops. The entire community is invited to participate and we are looking forward to comments and recommendations.

Community Outreach Meetings have been scheduled as follows:
October 13, 2011
6:00 pm
Civic Center
633 E. Broadway Room 106
Glendale 91206

October 20, 2011
6:00 pm
Sparr Heights Community Center
1613 Glencoe Way
Glendale 91208

I hope to see you at the outreach meetings.