City Limits Eateries’ Distribution of Plastic Cutlery

First published in the Sept. 18 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

The City Council this week agreed to bar food and drink vendors from automatically throwing plastic cutlery, straws or other such accessories into to-go orders unless the customer requests them.
In doing so, the council and other city officials aim to curb the local contribution of single-use plastics to landfills and stymie the litter that makes its way to oceans. Activists have urged the reduced use of these plastics, which do not degrade and harm a variety of wildlife that incidentally ingest them.
David Jones, the city’s sustainability officer, said in 2016 that Americans used 561 billion pieces of disposable food ware. Continue reading “City Limits Eateries’ Distribution of Plastic Cutlery”

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 Braces for Sales Tax Hit

A review of the city’s financial status at the five-month mark tracks only slightly off of expectations, which had already been tweaked during the fiscal year in anticipation of additional pandemic-related shortfalls.
These projections, as is typical, could be considered with a grain of salt, of course. Even in a normal year, revenues are more erratic than linear, and revenues through November would not be expected to offset expenditures yet. The first round of property taxes — among the city’s highest and most consistent revenue sources — don’t start rolling in until after November and weren’t reflected in the city’s report.

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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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Council Hires Recruiter to Find City Manager

After seven firms applied for the job and four were named finalists, the City Council decided this week to contract with CPS HR Consulting to identify candidates to become the municipal government’s next top executive.
This search for a new city manager will be led by Frank Rojas, the firm’s executive recruiter, through a $25,000 contract with Sacramento-based CPS HR. Council members picked Rojas, who is based in the Los Angeles area, in part because of his familiarity with Glendale and the region.

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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 Sustainability Commission Seeks Applicants

The City Council approved an ordinance this week formally creating a sustainability commission for the city, without much hitch since it was introduced last week.
The timetable of seating that commission is fairly aggressive, with David Jones, the city’s sustainability officer, aiming to advertise for applicants before the December holidays and have the council select members in January. Under that schedule, the commission would have its first meeting in February.
The council directed the city to develop plans for this commission in August. Jones explained last week that he studied similar commissions in Pasadena, Long Beach, Chula Vista, Burbank and Palm Springs as part of his research.

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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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Council Approves Modified Mylar Balloon Ban

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.

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