First published in the Jan. 21 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
By Gavin J. Quinton
The Glendale City Council held the first of its “Council in Your Neighborhood” meetings, in the Rancho Equestrian Neighborhood Wednesday, discussing matters of importance to the historic horse-friendly area that stretches from Glendale to Burbank along Riverside Drive and the Los Angeles River.
Councilmembers and the community alike praised the event, which seeks to connect neighborhoods with their local government.
Discussions were more open than standard City Council meetings, and staff encouraged comments from residents throughout the evening. Discussed during the Wednesday gathering were issues related to equestrian facilities, which have been battered by recent storms, the Verdugo Wash Visioning project, parks projects, an innovative manure collection program and the housing element.
“It was my intention when I became mayor to make sure that my colleagues [and I] are meeting with the community as often as possible in places where the community frequents,” Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian told the News-Press.
The heart of the neighborhood — the Los Angeles Equestrian Center — is located at the northern tip of Griffith Park in Burbank near the Glendale border. There, equestrians can access tracks and trails with ease, receive training and board their horses.
“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,” Kassakhian said during the meeting.
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 Avenue. 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.
The Council is planning several meetings in other neighborhoods throughout Glendale, and hope to address the area-specific problems that residents may not otherwise be available to communicate.
“I think we are better public servants when we hear from the public regularly,” Kassakhian said. “And I think the public has greater confidence that we are making decisions that are in their very best interest when they are able to express their concerns directly to council members and staff.”