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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Artsakh Avenue was filled to the brim last Saturday night — a boisterous gathering that included countless flags waving about, repeated choruses of Armenian mantras and a man dragging around a Turkish flag tied to his ankle. And yet when Vaché Thomassian — a well-known member of the many Armenian advocacy organizations in the Glendale area — roared into the microphone that night, his simultaneously angry and hopeful words hushed the rapt audience. Hundreds had marched from the Armenian Consulate to Artsakh Avenue in support of the Artsakh republic, which with assistance from Armenia has fought to repel an Azerbaijani military onslaught since Sept. 27.
The City Council splintered on a largely symbolic vote to weigh in on Proposition 15, a statewide ballot initiative asking voters to decide whether the state should bump up property tax collections from certain commercial entities. The proposition would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market values, as opposed to the value of the most recent sale price. (This excludes properties zoned as commercial agriculture.) Advocates of the proposition see it as a way of circumventing Proposition 13, which made all property taxes based on sale price when it was approved by voters in 1978.
Local officials this week, bolstered by overwhelming public support, joined the cacophony of the world’s Armenian diaspora in excoriating Azerbaijan and Turkey for their amplified military action in the Republic of Artsakh. The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution harshly condemning the violence, and the Glendale Unified School District also issued a statement of solidarity with the diaspora and offering support for students with direct ties to Armenia and Artsakh. After some skirmishes between the Azerbaijani military and Armenian-bolstered defense units in Artsakh in July, the former began directing heavy artillery fire into the breakaway republic last weekend, reportedly including civilian targets.