3901 San Fernando Road | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

3901 San Fernando Road

On December 10, the Glendale City Council voted in support of the proposed mixed-use development called the Glendale Link Project, effectively clearing the way for the demolition of the historic building at 3901 San Fernando Road. Their action certifies the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the proposed project.  

In our testimony before the City Council, we stressed the following issues and flaws with the FEIR:

1) The EIR fails to acknowledge there is a historic resource involved  and instead relies on flawed analysis and an expert opinion that lacks a factual basis. It draws conclusions and dismisses the building and its potential significance. The Conservancy believes there is substantial evidence provided within the record that otherwise would support an alternative conclusion, one that clearly demonstrates the building at 3901 San Fernando Road meets the minimum threshold for the California Environmental Quality Act CEQA and consideration as an historical resource.

2) The EIR fails to acknowledge and incorrectly states the proposed project will not have a significant impact on a historic and cultural resource. The Conservancy  disagrees as there is a known historic resource involved, whereas a significant impact that will occur due to demolition. Further, the EIR fails to acknowledge or assess visual impacts as required through CEQA.

3) There has not been a good faith consideration of at least one bona fide preservation alternative. What was evaluated in the EIR is not an "apples-to-apple"s comparison or adequate, as it is designed and intended to fail in terms of meeting the project’s objectives.

A report on this project by the City Planning Staff recommended that the Glendale City Council approve the project and demolition of 3901 San Fernando Road. The report is available here.

At question was a difference in expert opinion on whether or not the building at 3901 San Fernando Road is historic. The consultant hired by the city for the applicant determined it not to be significant. However, an independent assessment by Historic Resources Group (HRG) found the building to be eligible for the Glendale and California Registers under multiple criteria.

HRG's report illuminates glaring errors in the project's Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The EIR, prepared by the developer's consultant, is inadequately researched, ignores basic facts, and summarily dismisses clear evidence of the architectural and historical significance of the building. As a result, the EIR concludes that the building is ineligible for listing on either the local or the state historic registers and rejects the adaptive reuse of the property. 

 

In March 2013, the project and its environmental review process was officially initiated. The Conservancy, in partnership with The Glendale Historical Society (TGHS), pressed for a preservation alternative and recognition of the building at 3901 San Fernando Road as a historic resource. We were disappointed that the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) failed to acknowledge this and instead relied on analysis that appeared to draw conclusions and dismissed the building and its potential significance. An independent assessment prepared by Historic Resources Group (HRG) found the building to be eligible for the Glendale and California Registers under multiple criteria.

The Conservancy and TGHS urged the City to require full consideration of at least one bona fide preservation alternative. Alternative 2 was provided -- a reuse/reduced density alternative -- yet it fails to state the purpose of this alternative or the importance of the building at 3901 San Fernando Road. Other alternatives may be available but have not been analyzed within the DEIR. Alternative 2 meets “most of the project objectives” and is considered the "environmentally superior" alternative. However, Alternative 2 is essentially designed to fail based on the way it was structured, whereby the DEIR concludes Alternative 2 “would not be sufficient to offset the cost of the land and would not be economically feasible for the applicant for this reason.”

The City of Glendale’s San Fernando Road Corridor Redevelopment Project identified the building at 3901 San Fernando Road as “the only example of a Moorish Revival-style commercial building extant within the San Fernando Road project area.” At that time it was determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and appearing eligible for the California Register.

No evidence demonstrates that the building at 3901 San Fernando Road has been significantly altered since the mid-1990s and the time of the redevelopment project. The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) assessment incorrectly states the building has had “major alterations” and therefore lacks significant integrity, rendering it ineligible for listing at the local, state and national levels. Material evidence does not support this claim, nor does the independent assessment performed on the building by Historic Resources Group (HRG).

The Conservancy believes there is a substantial level of evidence now entered into the record to suggest the building meets, at a minimum, eligibility for the local City of Glendale Register of Historic Resources. As such the building at 3901 San Fernando Road should have been treated as an historical resource as part of the EIR process for the proposed project, and as required through California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

 

The Conservancy strongly believes the EIR process for this project is flawed. We think creative reuse options exist for the building at 3901 San Fernando Road while meeting most of the project objectives. The project site offers a lot of flexibility, allowing the historic building to remain and be adaptively reused while still providing for sensitively-designed infill construction.  

If you are disappointed in the outcome and the decision to approve the proposed project and demolition of the historic building at 3901 San Fernando Road, reach out to the Mayor and City Council: 

Mayor and City Council: citycouncil@ci.glendale.ca.us

Mayor Dave Weaver: dweaver@ci.glendale.ca.us

Council Member Laura Friedman: lfriedman@ci.glendale.ca.us

Council Member Ara Najarian: anajarian@ci.glendale.ca.us

Council Member Frank Quintero : fquintero@ci.glendale.ca.us

Council Member Zareh Sinanyan: zsinanyan@ci.glendale.ca.us

City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian: akassakhian@ci.glendale.ca.us

You may want to use the following talking points as part of your message and outreach to the Mayor and City Council members: 

  • The EIR for the Glendale Link Project was fatally flawed, as it is inadequately researched, ignored basic facts, and summarily dismissed clear evidence provided on the architectural and historical significance of the existing building at 3901 San Fernando Road and its builder, Lloyd Harmond Wilson.
  • The City should insist that development of the site, and others like this in the future, make a good faith effort to incorporate the existing building.
  • The existing building is a increasingly rare example of the use of Mediterranean Revival style architecture in a commercial structure in Glendale.
  • The building's association with L.H. Wilson, a leading advocate for the development of the San Fernando commercial corridor, makes it historically significant.