The City Council seems poised to enact an urgency ordinance on Tuesday to essentially enter into a contract with a local hotel developer that would involve committing the operation to temporary homeless housing vouchers.
Under the general terms of the proposed ordinance, which was discussed this past Tuesday, the Vagabond Inn on West Colorado Street would continue to accept vouchers for the homeless tenants through the remainder of the year and would consider six-month renewals after that until the site is demolished. In exchange, developer Vista Investments LLC, which owns the inn, will be granted a contractual development agreement with the city that allows Vista additional time to complete the approved project with its variances. The Glendale Youth Alliance would administer the voucher program, with assistance from the city, and hotel stays would be capped at 28 days per client.
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.”
The city is likely to order a ban on selling flavored tobacco products after introducing an ordinance this week. The ordinance is expected to be formally approved at a later meeting and pre-empt a potential statewide ban of the products’ sale. Councilman Dan Brotman introduced the ordinance this week, after Mayor Paula Devine had asked for it earlier in the year. “Hopefully this won’t actually be in effect for very long, because there’s a referendum next year,” Brotman said, “and, well, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think it’s likely the voters will support a ban statewide and we’ll be able to just align with that.”
For the next four months, employees at the larger grocery and drug store outlets in Glendale will be paid an extra $5 per hour, under an urgency ordinance dictating “hero pay” to those workers. The City Council approved the policy on Tuesday, after which it immediately went into effect. The discussion of the ordinance throughout March was borne of other cities throughout Southern California also implementing the hazard pay, which has politically been coined as “hero pay” because of the necessity of grocery stores and drug stores throughout the coronavirus pandemic. “They have been there since the very beginning of this pandemic,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said during last week’s initial debate, noting that grocery employees have had the highest uptick in workplace mortality. “That is extraordinary and scary. Imagine going to work and knowing that you could die. Very easily, you could become infected and be one of the workers that loses their life over this.”
The City Council affirmed its commitment to fostering a city that is inclusive of its diversity this week, unequivocally condemning a national surge in hateful rhetoric and violence toward Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in a resolution. The condemnation was issued a week after a 21-year-old white man killed eight people in a shooting spree in Atlanta-area spas, six of whom were Asian women. That tragedy followed a year in which Asian and Pacific Islander residents across the country have reported a rise in harassment and attacks by others, a trend corresponding to the coronavirus’ origins in China. In recent months, these attacks have grown increasingly violent and deadly.
Roubik Golanian will continue his decades-long career with Glendale after the City Council confirmed him this week to be the permanent city manager moving forward. Golanian — who was the assistant city manager under his predecessor, Yasmin Beers, since May 2018 — is now tasked with continuing to guide the city through the end of the coronavirus pandemic, improving the efficiency of the city’s bureaucracy and with implementing the council’s myriad policy goals, which range from ramping up affordable housing construction, developing sustainability practices and modernizing the city’s transportation infrastructure. He had been keeping the seat warm as interim city manager since October, when Beers retired.
The City Council plans to continue looking at options to potentially make permanent the Slow Streets program that it piloted last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The council had considered a number of options at its meeting Tuesday and ultimately sought more research on an additional batch of options that were brainstormed at the meeting. There was not a vote on Tuesday, but there likely will be eventually. “People are, at this point, vested in the program,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said. “I’m for creating a permanent program.”
Planning officials provided a number of quick updates on mobility projects at a special City Council meeting this week. Many of the updates concerned typical long-term planning topics such as circulation studies, while more pointed projects such as the Verdugo Wash linear park also came up. No decisions were made, as the presentations were information-only, but many of the projects are due to come before the council again for myriad reasons.
Vision Zero This is perhaps the most wide-ranging of the city’s plans, as it encompasses all facets of transportation and safety for those undertaking it. Pragmatically, it’s more of an approach than it is any singular project.
More than two hours of discussing what one caller coined as “winegate” produced more headache than anything for the City Council this week. Ultimately, four council members voted to formally codify a rule directly forbidding the consumption of alcohol during board, commission or council meetings. However, a separate motion to simply recognize the event in question — that a member of the Design Review Board was on two occasions seen sipping from a wine glass during a meeting — fizzled out on an unusual 2-1-2 vote.
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.