Who is Pushing for this Plan?

Are Glendale Residents Represented?

Many property owners who live along the Verdugo Wash were recently surprised to hear of a plan to build a bike and pedestrian path that runs directly behind and attaches to their backyards.

Many others residents in the area have no knowledge of the plan at all. There has been little public outreach except for the quiet unveiling of a preliminary report and designs by a high-profile design firm from New York City.

The “Verdugo Wash Visioning” was adopted by the City as part of Glendale’s Bicycle Transportation Plan back in 2012. Some neighborhood representatives were told years ago by City Staff that the plan was dead, there was no money, and if the plan was ever revisited, the neighborhood representatives would be the first to know and be involved in the process.
This promise has not been kept and the neighborhoods along the Wash, the true stakeholders, have not been represented at all.

Public outreach held on February 19, a public holiday, was woefully inadequate. According to the City’s records, only 120 people attended this meeting. Note that there is a population of approximately 200,000 residents in Glendale, with 1000’s who live along the Wash.

The City states “The Verdugo Wash is an element of the Bicycle Transportation Plan, adopted by City Council in 2012, which included public engagement, so the public is aware of the intentions of the wash and the route.”

City documents also state “The City implemented a comprehensive public outreach program to learn about the local cycling environment, to understand cyclists’ needs and ensure they are met, and to set priorities.”

This supposed “outreach” was inadequate and very one-sided, aimed mainly at cycling enthusiasts and those who promoted the plan to begin with. 

According to City documents, the “outreach” consisted of:
– Distributing comment cards and flyers at public counters, bicycle shops and Beeline buses
– Posting information about outreach meetings on the City website and on GTV6
– Sending information to recipients on the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition mailing list

Workshops were held to create the City’s Bicycle Transportation Plan, but these workshops were also promoted in the same manner.  City documents state “The City reached out through the Glendale Bicycle Transportation Plan website, GTV6 updates, LACBC e-mails and website, e-mail blasts to City listservs, and flyers at local bicycle shops and retailers.”

According to the City, the public also had the opportunity to:
– Participate as a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee
– Attend public workshops
– Mail or fax a comment card to the city
– Call the Traffic and Transportation Division and select an option to comment on the Bicycle Transportation Plan
– Visit the Glendale Bicycle Transportation Plan website and submit an e-comment card

There has been NO DIRECT OUTREACH to Glendale residents, either by way of direct mail or physical canvassing of neighborhoods – especially those along the wash – was ever conducted!

As a Glendale resident, you would have no clue about this proposed project unless you are a cycling enthusiast, visited bicycle shops, visited the City’s public counters, rode the Beeline, regularly visited the City’s website, watched GTV6 (the City’s cable channel), are on the LACBC mailing list or visited the Glendale Bicycle Transportation website.

The VWNC believes that any plans for the Wash should include a TRUE representation of ALL stakeholders, with a guiding voice by those who are most impacted by such plans.

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So who is really pushing this plan?

City of Glendale Staff
Some working for the City believe that the Verdugo Wash Visioning project is “an opportunity to create civic pride, create something that serves as an attraction not only for our residents but [also] in the region and, as our consultant has noted, maybe this is something that can attain a national attraction.”

There are elements within the City who feel a bike and walking path will be a benefit to merchants and restaurants as users will have easy access to their establishments. This, of course, does not apply to North Glendale where the path comes nowhere near the Montrose Shopping Park and users will need to exit the path to utilize several miles of 4-lane streets with existing bike lanes or invade residential surface streets for access to establishments.

Elements within the City also feel a bike and walking path will facilitate the migration away from travel by car and motorcycle. This may be a lofty goal, and may work for the urban portions of the City, but in suburban North Glendale there’s a considerable altitude change from downtown that would result in an approximate 9% grade for the pathway, making for a difficult ride uphill for the novice cyclist.

LA County and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)
Bicycle Master Plan – infrastructure that supports walking, biking and public transportation as the future primary mode of transportation.

Special Interest Groups
A small faction of cycling enthusiasts along with eco-friendly groups feel that an enormous amount of infrastructure investment is needed, and warranted, to support personal recreational use, without taking into consideration the effect this project would have on the people and properties along the wash. 

One petition, which may have led to the City’s feasibility study, asked for the City to determine possible alignments for the trail along the Verdugo Wash (all the way from the Los Angeles River to Crescenta Valley Park), cost estimates, transportation connectivity and include comprehensive community input.

So far, there have been no estimates for the impacts on the adjacent properties or costs for ongoing security and maintenance.

 

“Stakeholders” according to the City
Without full representation, the City has quietly chosen a committee to guide this plan.

Besides the Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council (GHCC), which actually represents only a small portion of City residents, the committee does not include any representatives of the neighborhoods most impacted by the plan.

We know, for a fact, that the idea for the Verdugo Wash bike path originated from someone who does not even live within the City of Glendale, yet they are members of the Stakeholder committee while many City residents – especially those with property along the wash – are not!

Below is the list of the City-chosen “Stakeholders” represented on this committee:

1. Arroyo and Foothills Conservancy
2. Friends of the Los Angeles River
3. Glendale Chamber of Commerce
4. Glendale Environmental Coalition
5. Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council (GHCC)
6. Glendale Parks and Open Space Foundation
7. GoGlendale
8. Los Angeles River Works
9. Northeast Trees
10. Southern California Association of Governments
11. Walk/Bike Glendale
12. Representatives from the City of Glendale

Although the GHCC, an organization consisting of dues paying HOA’s in Glendale, may be considered a stakeholder for neighborhoods and homeowners, it has been non-responsive to concerns brought to their attention by some of its own members and seems to have embraced the City’s vision without full disclosure of the project.

The VWNC admires and supports many of the projects that these organizations stand for, but we would like to have a full discussion with these groups to see how the Verdugo Wash Visioning Plan would actually fulfill their goals and what type of funding these organizations would authorize to make this project happen.

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