Glendale forces residents to remove mirrors from trees

A handful of residents living along a busy stretch of Glendale Avenue say city officials are forcing them to take down mirrors they’ve attached to trees in the public right-of-way so they can better see oncoming traffic while exiting their driveways.

The residents, who live north of the Ventura Freeway, say that in the absence of any speed-reduction enhancements — such as humps — the convex mirrors are one of the few safety measures they have. City officials, though, say the mirrors aren’t allowed on city-owned trees.

Joseph Vargas and two of his neighbors installed mirrors after several near collisions with cars heading south on Glendale Avenue. Two other residents had planned to install mirrors, Vargas said, but changed their minds after their neighbors’ run-in with the city.

Vargas said he often backs into his driveway when he arrives home so he can pull out heading forward.


“Trying to back out into the street is almost impossible,” Vargas said.

The riskiest times are during the late morning, early afternoon and weekends, he added.

Vargas and his next-door neighbor attached the mirrors to trees in the public right-of-way using metal straps called plumber’s tape.

According to city officials, Vargas added, the straps are damaging the tree bark. “But it’s a mature tree,” he said.

Glendale forces residents to remove mirrors from trees

The third neighbor placed his mirror on a lamppost. “I think that’s what started the whole thing,” Vargas said.

Jano Baghdanian, Glendale’s traffic and safety administrator, said it’s about more than tree damage. Municipal code doesn’t allow anything to be attached to city-owned trees or lampposts. And nothing can be placed in the public right-of-way because of liability concerns.

But some cities, such as West Hollywood, allow metal posts with convex mirrors to be placed in the public right-of-way along driveways with poor sight lines.

Residents there who have trouble exiting their driveways are allowed to install the mirrors after city officials assess the situation and decide whether other options to improve visibility won’t work, said Walter Davis, West Hollywood’s neighborhood traffic management program specialist.

Baghdanian said Glendale residents can place mirrors on private property. But Vargas’ property line is too far back for a mirror to do any good.

Officials have the option to limit street-side parking so that parked cars won’t block the view of the street.

But Vargas said any reduction in parking space would probably irritate his neighbors.

If public demand for convex mirrors is strong enough, the City Council could consider changing the code, Baghdanian said. But for now, the mirrors have to come down.

Vargas received a notice this week from code enforcement officials, who said they will visit his property Oct. 10 to make sure the mirror has been removed.