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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City’s Pet Project: Seeking Potential Dog Park Site

First published in the Oct. 30 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

More Glendale residents may get the treat of a dog park within city limits, now that the City Council this week has given the go-ahead for the Community Services and Parks Department to consider where to install such an amenity.
Officials will investigate a variety of possible locations, though council members’ preference for the moment seems to be South Glendale, which is the most densely populated part of the city and is far away from the county-managed Crescenta Valley Dog Park. That space is located within city limits in the Crescenta Highlands neighborhood.
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City to Align Purchases With Sustainability Goals

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

The city plans to beef up its sustainability endeavors by crafting a new policy of environmentally preferable purchasing that will ostensibly set a course for more earth-friendly procurements that also are fiscally prudent.
Building upon policies adopted in the 1990s, the city will shape the enhanced EPP policy and take input from the Sustainability Commission before bringing the document back to the City Council. All five council members agreed to move forward with the update this week.
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City Council Discusses Electing Mayor, Creating Districts

Following a lively discussion on whether the city ought to develop dedicated City Council districts and potentially make the mayor’s seat an elected position, the council concluded the debate by filing an informational report and moved on.
The council indicated it may pick the discussion back up in the future, but it’s clear that some members will have to convince others to proceed forth with any changes.

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City Restricts Watering of Lawns

This article was originally published in the Glendale News-Press on Aug. 14

Glendale became the first city in Southern California this week to enhance mandatory water-use restrictions for residential customers, a decision made in anticipation of a substantial reduction in available water next year.
The City Council voted unanimously to make the policy change, which now limits outdoor watering of gardens and lawns to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for no more than 10 minutes. By implementing what is called Phase II of the city’s Mandatory Water Conservation Ordinance, the city aims for a 20% reduction of potable water use.
Residents also will be assessed the Phase II drought charge of 30 cents per hundred cubic feet of water — translating to about 40 cents per 1,000 gallons — but residents with reduced water usage are unlikely to see their bills change, the city said; in fact, bills could go down in some cases.

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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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A Time of Pandemic, Protest, Change

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
A large crowd marches down Central Avenue en route to Artsakh Avenue in support of Armenia and the Artsakh Republic in their conflict with Azerbaijan. The local Armenian diaspora’s efforts have included activism and donation drives.

For many, Friday, Jan. 1, represented a long-overdue turn of the page from a year that lived up to no one’s expectations.
From the beginning of 2020, news trickled into American airwaves and newsprint that a mysterious virus had secretly wreaked havoc throughout much of China and had begun spreading at uncontrolled levels through South Korea, Iran, Italy and Spain. Reports of overwhelmed hospitals, mass graves and widespread lockdowns also spread.
And then the accounts started coming out of New York City. And Seattle. And a well-known pork processing plant in South Dakota.
By March 11, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was declared to be a global pandemic. Locally, by March 13 — auspicious, indeed, as a Friday the 13th — school districts were closing, cities were declaring states of emergency and officials were openly discussing what would become the Safer at Home orders. Restaurants were limited to takeout or delivery. Personal care services, entertainment venues and bars closed. Nonessential retailers had to close. The NBA suspended its season.

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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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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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