Glendale Takes Reins in Rancho Neighborhood Issues

At a meeting that highlighted key differences in Burbank and Glendale’s bordering Rancho Equestrian Neighborhoods Wednesday, the Glendale City Council discussed matters of importance to the historic horse area that spans both cities along Riverside Drive and the Los Angeles River.
In the first of its “Council in Your Neighborhood” meetings, the panel led discussions on issues related to equestrian facilities, which have been battered by recent storms, the Verdugo Wash Visioning project, parks projects like the Garden Bridge project and the Riverwalk, an innovative manure collection program and the Glendale housing element.
“When you drive through this part of Glendale, and you notice the unique architecture of some of the homes, once you get beyond those gates, you find a very unique lifestyle that our residents are keeping alive through the caring and keeping of horses,” said Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian.
The heart of the neighborhood — the Los Angeles Equestrian Center — is located at the northern tip of Griffith Park, sitting between Burbank and Glendale. There, equestrians can access tracks and trails with ease, receive training and board their horses.
The city recently implemented a manure collection program: Repurposing horse droppings that otherwise would wind up in landfills, but are now used to fertilize Glendale plants.
The city also has the only publicly available horse arena, where residents can take their horses to play, expelling their pent-up energy, said resident Liz Radley, president of the Glendale Rancho Equine Advisory Committee.
“One of the reasons we are so grateful for it is when horses are penned up for days, like kids, they want to come out and play. We can set them loose to play and run around so that they are safe to ride on the trails,” Radley said.
The city is also in the process of increasing access to trails. The Glendale Narrows Riverwalk is a trail that runs along the north bank of the Los Angeles River opposite Griffith Park from Bette Davis Park past DreamWorks Studios to the 134 Freeway. After completion, the Riverwalk will provide approximately one mile of trails for bicyclists and pedestrians that will include parks, rest areas, river overlooks, an equestrian facility and a garden bridge connecting the Riverwalk to Griffith Park. There is currently only one bridge connecting the Rancho with Griffith Park, and it is in Burbank.
On the Burbank side of the Rancho Equestrian neighborhood, neighbors have spoken out against several multi-family housing units, citing zoning concerns and stressing that increased housing density and traffic could endanger horses and riders. One such development is mere feet away from the suspension bridge on Mariposa Ave. Horse riders have expressed concerns about the proximity of the construction projects to the bridge, citing an incident in which a horse was spooked by noise, and bucked its rider into the nearby river.
Glendale no longer has to worry about undesired multi-family housing developments. That’s because the city still has local control over housing developments given its success in meeting state housing quotas. Burbank, which has yet to meet state-mandated housing development numbers, are forced to approve any housing development that meets basic zoning requirements. Because of this, the Burbank City Council’s hands are tied when it comes to development proposals in the Rancho.
“The issue is mostly on the Burbank side,” said one resident.
Instead, Glendale is running into issues related to ADUs in the Rancho. Residents said during the meeting that homeowners are tearing down private horse lodgings and arenas in their backyards in favor of developing small housing units for profit.
“It’s frustrating to see continued development with very little local control as to what gets developed and how it gets developed,” Kassakhian told the Leader. “We’re constantly aware of it, we’re working on it, we’re trying to protect the interests of our city and our neighborhoods, but it’s an ongoing struggle and challenge.”
Burbank has set its sights on cushioning the impact on the Rancho by meeting housing quotas and building mostly in the downtown and Golden State district areas, though any qualifying project in the Rancho must be approved per state requirements.