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.
Steve Zurn announced this week he will retire as general manager of Glendale Water and Power on Dec. 31, marking the second retirement of a prominent city administrator this fall. The departure of Zurn, who has been with the city for more than 34 years, follows longtime City Manager Yasmin Beers’ October exit. The city’s plan for possibly appointing an interim GWP leader and searching for Zurn’s successor was not immediately clear. The city named Zurn as the head of the utility in 2012, after he’d served as the interim general manager for around five months. At that time, he also was the city’s public works director, a job he started in 2003 and held through 2014. His prior roles with the Public Works Department included budget officer, project manager, special project liaison and assistant director/chief administrative officer.
In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the City Council formally adopted a modified version of its metallic balloon ban that it first introduced for review weeks ago. Starting on Nov. 30, Glendale businesses are barred from selling the balloons — colloquially called Mylar balloons — if they are inflated with helium or any gas “lighter than air.” Further, such balloons inflated with air may only be sold when affixed to some sort of decorative structure, like a post or balloon arch; otherwise, they are to be sold uninflated. The council adopted the ban at the urging of Glendale Water and Power as well as residents frustrated with power outages and damages to electrical systems as a result of wayward Mylar balloons entangling themselves in lines or equipment. “There is a really good reason why we’re looking at this kind of a ban,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said, highlighting the importance of some residents to have medical equipment or air conditioning powered consistently.