Council member makes rare appeal

Glendale News Press
24 Feb2005

Published February 24, 2005
Council member makes rare appeal
Manoukian isn’t happy with variances for 8-story building at 300 N. Central
By Josh Kleinbaum, News-Press and Leader
GLENDALE CITY HALL — Councilman Rafi Manoukian appealed city approvals of
an eight-story condominium, taking a swing at the council’s shift toward
high-rise development in parts of downtown Glendale.
City officials could not remember a council member ever appealing a city
planning decision.
Manoukian paid a city-required $500 fee Tuesday to appeal 10 variances city
zoning administrator Edith Fuentes granted for a proposed eight-story
building at 300 N. Central Ave. Fuentes granted the variances after the City
Council, acting as the city’s Redevelopment Agency, approved the project’s
design in January. Manoukian cast the lone dissenting vote on the design.
Because the project did not meet city codes, it then had to go to the zoning
administrator for approval.
The proposed eight-story, 114-foot building would have 72 condominium units.
The city’s zoning code allows for 27 units on three stories with a maximum
of 36 feet.
Manoukian hopes his appeal will draw attention to what he describes as “the
problem of rampant development in downtown Glendale.”
“We should ask for reasonable development that will enhance the downtown
area, as opposed to compounding the problem of traffic,” Manoukian said.
In her ruling, Fuentes said the project meets four requirements for a
variance: The code provides unnecessary hardship to the applicant; there are
exceptional circumstances on the property that do not apply to other
properties in the neighborhood; and the variances would not be detrimental
to public welfare or contrary to the objectives of the zoning code.
Fuentes said the Redevelopment Agency’s decision did not affect her ruling.
“I tried to stay away from even listening or hearing [the agency’s]
discussion,” Fuentes said. “I thought that everything was in accord with the
city’s general plan, and [the applicant] made the four findings.”
Manoukian’s appeal will be considered by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals
within the next two months, Planning Director Elaine Wilkerson said. The
board’s decision can then be appealed to the City Council by either side. If
that happens, Manoukian may have to recuse himself from the discussion
depending on whether the wording of his appeal shows bias against the
project, City Atty. Scott Howard said.
The current City Council has encouraged downtown development, approving the
project on Central Avenue and a high-rise condominium project on the corner
of Brand Boulevard and Wilson Avenue.
Both projects required variances because Glendale’s zoning code does not
allow high-rise residential buildings in the downtown area. The city is
expected to rezone the entire downtown area by the end of the year to allow
such projects.
“Mr. Manoukian has been the only one who has been saying no to that over and
over again,” Mayor Bob Yousefian said. “But it takes more than one person to
set city policy.”
The city will study the impacts of high-rise residential buildings during
the rezoning process. Manoukian said the city should not approve high-rise
buildings until those studies are done.
“Traffic and development are the most important issues for the next 20 years
in the city of Glendale,” Manoukian said. “If we don’t prepare ahead of time
for what developments happen in the downtown, we will regret it in the
Yousefian appealed a variance in 1999 before he was on the council, while
serving on the Board of Zoning Appeals, then known as the Board of Zoning
Adjustments. He was elected to the council in 2001.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress