City Discusses Rockhaven Redo

First published in the Nov. 6 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

Glendale officials are once again mulling what to do with the Rockhaven Sanitarium property, more than a dozen years after the city acquired the historic site and tried thrice to develop it.
This time around, they have $8 million in state funding to help grease the wheel, a grant secured in June by state Sen. Anthony Portantino during Sacramento’s budgeting process. Though there is a catch that whatever happens on the property must include a museum, the city is otherwise free to explore other uses for the site’s buildings and park-like space.
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Outdoor Dining: Making It Permanent

First published in the Oct. 23 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

They will be gone, but not for long.
After removing several al fresco dining zones ahead of the Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival this weekend, the city of Glendale aims to replace the popular spaces at the Montrose Shopping Park area with more thoughtfully designed and built parklets. While the prior areas, divided from parking spots by concrete K-rail barriers, were intended as a temporary solution to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the parklets figure to be a part of the shopping park for the foreseeable future.
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Leaders Praise Funding Boost for Hiking, Biking Paths

First published in the Oct. 2 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

A snowy egret practically joined a news conference this week at the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, as if to underscore the picturesque sights that await the pedestrians and cyclists who will eventually use the Garden River Bridge project that elected officials were discussing.
The project received a major boost this week, as Assemblywoman Laura Friedman announced that she’d helped secure an additional $10 million in state funding for the bridge, on top of the $20 million allocation she’d previously helped arrange. Additionally, Sacramento has committed an extra $5 million for the Colorado Street undercrossing.
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City Nixes More La Crescenta Fireworks Funds; Sparks Venue Search

In lieu of further assisting the traditional Crescenta Valley Fireworks show, the City Council asked for city staff to explore partnering with another organization to try producing an Independence Day fireworks show that would be in or near downtown Glendale.
Whether the city can make it happen is another story, as a specific location remained undetermined, as did the ability for it to even locate a vendor who isn’t booked for the national holiday. Still, they will try to make it work, likely with help from the Downtown Glendale Association or another unnamed organization suggested by Councilman Ara Najarian.
“I would much rather see that to be done in an area where people from around the city can get there, maybe by walking or looking outside their window,” he said Tuesday. “As you know, the downtown area is very highly populated.”

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City Council Looks to Take Sting Out of Beekeeping Restrictions

After the city’s new Sustainability Commission is assembled, one of its first tasks will be to dive into what it might take to expand beekeeping opportunities in Glendale.
If the city ultimately adds to those opportunities, they’re likely going to be at additional public spaces, and perhaps on properties large enough to accommodate the insects without creating a nuisance for neighbors. Because they would constitute a zoning amendment, the Planning Commission also will have to sign off on any changes that the council would consider.

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City to Rethink Mayoral Selection Process

Changes may be coming to the process through which the position of Glendale mayor is rotated among City Council members, in an effort to make it more predictable and less transactional.
The council directed at this week’s meeting that these changes be written out in ordinance form, for later consideration and approval. It also expects to consider an ordinance banning single-use plastics by municipal agencies in the future, after asking for that ordinance as well.
At Councilwoman Paula Devine’s suggestion, the council is likely to consider a policy that will organize mayoral hierarchy in a “zip line” fashion — that is, the council member who has waited the longest will serve as the next mayor for the year. Since two or three council members sometimes are elected at the same time, any ties that occur will be resolved on the basis of the number of votes they received in the election.

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City Looks Into Establishing Its Own Public Health Department

The City Council has asked administrative staff to look into what it might take for Glendale to establish its own public health department.
The curiosity follows the mandate from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to shutter all outdoor in-person dining at restaurants, one of many restrictions re-imposed after record-shattering spikes in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. The council has not committed to following through on the bureaucratic expansion, but there remains the chance it finds value in federalizing itself from the county.
“Local rule,” coined Councilman Ara Najarian, who advanced the idea.

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City Shows Support of Artsakh With Formal Recognition

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
A local man waves the flag of the Republic of Artsakh, which Armenians consider part of their ancestral homeland. Artsakh is fighting for independence from Azerbaijan.

The city joined other American municipalities this week in formally recognizing the Republic of Artsakh’s independence, a symbolic move meant to bolster awareness of the breakaway nation’s effort to separate from Azerbaijan, which has resulted in military hostilities.
The move comes as federal officials — including Congressman Adam Schiff, who represents Glendale — have called for American recognition of Artsakh, a predominantly Armenian-populated region considered part of Azerbaijan by all other nations. In the years since Artsakh voted by referendum to declare independence in 1991, it has attained recognition only from other unrecognized nations and, more recently, 10 American states, including California.

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New York Design Firm to Head Verdugo Wash Project

Work will soon begin on the researching, outreach and design phase of the bike path and linear park envisioned to line the Verdugo Wash all the way to the Los Angeles River.
The project is likely to come in phases, officials said, and would ideally be funded in large part by outside grants aimed at promoting the sustainability, active transportation and habitat restoration that the project would achieve. The City Council voted 4-0 to approve a $440,000 contract with New York City-based design firm !melk this week to take the reins. (Councilman Ara Najarian abstained because his wife owns property abutting the Verdugo Wash.)
“I’m tremendously excited about this, and I want us to move forward,” Councilman Dan Brotman said Tuesday.

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City Council Aligns Rent Repayment Plan With State’s

In anticipation of future state legislation and hopes of mitigating growing confusion among renters, landlords and their legal advisers, the City Council elected this week to abdicate its own rent repayment schedule and align with the state’s own plan.
Mayor Vrej Agajanian and Councilmen Dan Brotman and Ardy Kassakhian supported the measure on Tuesday, with Councilwoman Paula Devine voting against it and Councilman Ara Najarian choosing to abstain after its passage was assured. The decision ends the city’s previously adopted 12-month quarterly rent repayment plan that was scheduled for first installment at the end of November.

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