Officials Re-Emphasize Caution as Virus Cases Rise

Heading into the weekend, Glendale neared 900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its residents as officials urged people to continue to practice social distancing and wear face coverings in public.
Parks and trails have reopened, and more businesses are allowed to resume operations under limitations, but the City Council also recently renewed its requirements that individuals wear face coverings when outside. Those shopping inside grocery stores and other essential businesses are required to keep their faces covered as well.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, there have been 886 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Glendale residents as of Friday, with 72 deaths. This gives the city a per capita ratio of more than 429 cases per 100,000 residents. More than 43,000 cases have been identified across L.A. County, with 2,049 recorded deaths.
In La Crescenta-Montrose, there have been 26 confirmed cases among residents and one death.
The county also lists skilled nursing facilities and other institutional residential facilities in its daily caseload updates, including cases that have occurred among employees, cases that have occurred among residents and deaths overall.
In Glendale, these include Autumn Hills Heath Care Center (24 employees, 56 residents, 11 deaths); Chandler Convalescent Hospital (eight employees, 26 residents, five deaths); Glendale Adventist Medical Center’s skilled nursing facility (one employee, one resident, no deaths); Glendale Healthcare Center (10 employees, 10 residents, three deaths); Glendale Post Acute Center (23 employees, 48 residents, nine deaths); Glenhaven Healthcare (15 employees, 19 residents, five deaths); Glenoaks Convalescent Hospital (eight employees, 24 residents, eight deaths); Griffith Park Health Care Center (one employee, two residents, no deaths); Leisure Glen Post Acute Care Center (31 employees, 65 residents, four deaths); Leisure Vale Retirement Home (no employees, three residents, no deaths); and Park Paseo Independent Living (no employees, four residents, one death).
In Montrose, 21 employees and 34 residents at the Montrose Healthcare Center have been confirmed to have had the disease, with 11 deaths; and 14 employees and 15 residents at the Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre also have been confirmed to have had it, with two deaths.

Council Affirms June as Official Pride Month

June is officially Pride Month for Glendale, and the city will formally promote the virtual event that takes the place of what would have been the city’s first pride festival.
The City Council officially made the proclamation this week after signaling its intent to do so earlier this month in time for the virtual event. Councilman Dan Brotman, who made the initial push for the proclamation, read the item aloud at Tuesday’s meeting. As part of the observance, City Hall will be lit in pride colors to show support to the city’s LGBTQIA-plus community.
“Though Glendale’s first-ever Pride Festival was forced to cancel due to COVID-19, we invite everyone to support the community by coming to see our light display in front of City Hall and by participating in their reimagined e-event, ‘Glendale Pride Because,’” Brotman said.
Participants in the virtual event are invited to use the hashtag #GlendalePrideBecause in their applicable Instagram posts on May 30-31, “whether it’s a performance, drag, music, comedy, spoken word or just a bit of shared thoughts,” according to the Glendale Pride organization. The group also is collecting content using Flipgrid, which can be accessed on its website at glendalepride.org.
The original event, which was to have been at Central Park on May 30, would have provided food, music and other entertainment for guests and would have included a kid-oriented space to complement the rest of the family-friendly celebration. City officials got the ball rolling under direction of then-Mayor Ara Najarian.
Other organizations involved in planning the event include GlendaleOUT, the Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society, Equality Armenia and Revry.
“We have a great group of friends and allies who are helping us out through all of this, including the entire Glendale City Council, and we’re very thankful for that,” Grey James, one of Glendale Pride’s organizers, told the council on Tuesday.
Council members voiced their support at this week’s meeting.
“I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to move forward with your huge festival,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said, “because I know it would have been great and a lot of fun and great education for our community, but we’ll do it for real next year.”
Councilman Ardy Kassakhian quoted Harvey Milk, the gay rights icon who was assassinated 11 months after his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978: “It takes no compromise to give people rights and it takes no money to respect the individual.”
“Ultimately we need to strive for a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who they are and who they love,” Kassakhian added Tuesday. “I know that this is a modest gesture by the council, but I hope it will go some ways to assuring our citizens that every single one of them adds value to our city.”

City Plots Course to Help Residents, Businesses Recover

When the Glendale City Council starts to truly grind out its 2020-21 budget next month, it will draw out what could be a wide-reaching recovery program for residents and businesses whose livelihoods have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The body decided at its final budget study session on Tuesday morning to use $6.25 million as a starting point for renter and homeowner assistance and $3.65 million for commercial recovery when it meets on June 2 for formal budget talks. From there, the council will determine how much will be allocated where, and how the funds will be administered.
“That’ll be a longer discussion,” Councilman Ara Najarian said at the study session. “’Do we combine it all [into one program]? Do we split it all into categories?’ As long as we’ve got the chunk of money reserved for budget purposes this coming month, we can work on the details later.”
Philip Lanzafame, director of community development, outlined the proposed programs as part of the discussion of the upcoming fiscal year’s Measure S projects, so named for the voter-approved tax to fund essential services and quality of life improvements for residents. It is projected to generate around $20 million for the year.
The assistance programs outlined Tuesday actually were adaptations of proposals being developed before the pandemic put millions of Californians out of work and businesses scrambling for federal stimulus funding.
“Now, as we look at the COVID situation and people needing assistance, some of those programs fit nicely,” Lanzafame said. “We have them developed in concept pretty well. We need some continuing detail that we would have to put with it. What we’re looking for here is for two or three of these programs that you might be interested in pursuing. None of them have any staff attached to them, so we couldn’t do them all, but we may be able to pull some of these into existing program units and have that team administer both programs.”
Perhaps the most relevant of these programs was the Emergency Non-Recurring Rental Assistance Program, or ENRAP, that would bridge a to-be-determined amount of money to tenants who are experiencing sudden income disruption. A separate idea applies this concept specifically to student renters, and yet another one targets rental units that include several generations of a family under one roof who have limited income.
Also presented was additional programming that similarly targets homeowners with mortgages or rental property owners who need assistance with low- and high-level maintenance but can’t afford it because of income disruption.
Najarian wondered aloud whether the city should simply consider cutting checks to virtually the entire city, as with the stimulus checks doled out through one of the federal government’s relief packages.
“Just split up the money to every household throughout the city, give everyone an equal amount to be used for mortgage or rent. If we’re going to be fair about it, why don’t we just whack it up? Everyone’s paying into this fund. Just whack it up,” Najarian said. “I’m just putting it out there. I think my general outlook on this is that we have to be equitable to all levels of the community, not just renters, not just low-income renters, but owners of multifamily, owners of single family, renters of single family. I’m just trying to find some equity in our discussion.”
Najarian added he would strive to prevent local residents who are also landlords from “double-dipping,” as their tenants would ostensibly be redirecting their checks to rent payments.
Councilman Ardy Kassakhian said he envisioned having renters apply for relief and the city sending checks directly to those landlords and would prefer to target the most at-risk residents first, with Najarian countering that the administration required to vet need might be burdensome. Councilman Dan Brotman agreed with Kassakhian.
“I think we certainly want to be helping the people that have the greatest need and yes, the administration is difficult. It’s hard, but I think it’s necessary, so I would not be in favor at all of handing out money to people who are living in nice homes, like myself, who are employed and have nice resources,” Brotman said. “I could see us expanding some of these rental assistance programs. We could increase that [amount] and expand some of the eligibility guidelines, but I think if we do anything, it’s got to be directed to the low-income people who need it.”
Proposed economic recovery initiatives included a variety of programs offering direct fiscal relief and also a potential plan to establish large outdoor spaces to permit restaurants and other eateries to have “dine-in” customers in a manner that observes social distancing requirements.
“We know that the restaurant business model doesn’t work if you’re taking away half the tables, so we’re going to have to help them by providing public space to spread out,” Brotman said. “I think customers also would be a lot more comfortable eating outside and doing shopping outside. We know it’s not risk-free, but we do know the risk of infection outdoors is a lot lower than indoors.”
Kassakhian and Councilwoman Paula Devine both urged the city to work with all businesses in an area being considered for this type of space, should the city ultimately move forward with it.
“We have to have outreach and we have to have total agreement from those who will be impacted,” Devine said.
In setting a time to fully hammer out these programs, Kassakhian stressed the urgency of the current crisis as a factor in sorting out what money goes where.
“I liked your entire economic recovery package as it was, and I would fund it all,” he told Lanzafame. “Ultimately, this goes hand in hand with rental assistance and landlord assistance and the other programs. To me, these are the top priorities, at least for this year. Next year, whatever happens, we have an opportunity to come back and revisit [other initiatives], but for me, these are paramount.”

Board Discusses Schools’ Bleak Financial Forecast

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
A Glendale Unified School District maintenance worker places a congratulatory banner for the Class of 2020 on the GUSD Administrative Building, one of many remote acknowledgements thanks to the pandemic. The GUSD Board of Education this week had a sobering discussion on the fiscal fallout of the global crisis.

There is probably not a single meeting of a public agency in the nation that doesn’t include the inevitable grim financial forecast, and Tuesday’s Glendale Unified School District Board of Education session was no different, as historic budget shortfalls were discussed.
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Glendale Woman Walking For Zoo Animals

Photo courtesy Dr. Monica Metzdorf
Glendale resident Dr. Monica Metzdorf, shown here at Aquarium of the Pacific, is walking from the Los Angeles Zoo to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to raise money to help feed zoo and aquarium animals during the pandemic.

Much like Forrest Gump was just compelled to run ceaselessly in his eponymous film, Dr. Monica Metzdorf said she simply decided a few weeks ago she would walk.
Now, the key difference between the fictitious Gump and the very real pediatric urologist is that Metzdorf started last Saturday at the Los Angeles Zoo and by tomorrow — or hopefully today — will have reached the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Glendale resident also has inspired folks from all over to donate money to her clear cause: feeding the animals at these local institutions.
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Council Dictates 12-Month Rent Repayment Policy

The City Council voted narrowly Tuesday to extend the residential eviction moratorium to June 30, and established a baseline 12-month period requiring residential tenants to pay a quarter of their back rent every three months.
The extension, which evoked a largely divisive debate Tuesday, also allows tenants and landlords to strike an alternative agreement for rent repayment. Either way, the clock would start ticking on July 1, barring any further extension by the City Council.
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‘Slow Streets’ Modifications, Social Distancing Discussed By City Council

Councilmen Ara Najarian (left) and Dan Brotman debated the merits of “slow streets” enhancements on Tuesday night.

In the immediate future, the city will explore implementing what are called “slow streets” modifications in a variety of neighborhoods, which will be aimed at giving pedestrians and cyclists extra cushion as they cross into roadways to keep distance from those on sidewalks.
Longer term, officials will target other areas for demonstration projects, which would essentially be a temporary test run to see if it’s worth the fuller investment in installing pedestrian- and bike-friendly enhancements throughout the city. The City Council agreed to both items on Tuesday as part of a broader discussion on how to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for residents.
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Music Center Names Verdugo Academy Musician as ‘Spotlight’ Finalist

Anoush Pogossian

Anoush Pogossian, a senior and clarinet player at Glendale’s Verdugo Academy, was selected as one of the 14 most talented high school students across Southern California and will be among The Music Center’s “Spotlight” Grand Prize Finalists.
In addition to appearing in the virtual Spotlight Grand Finale show, Pogossian will receive a $5,000 scholarship.
This fall, she will attend an exchange program between Columbia University and the Juilliard School, which will allow her to pursue an academic track and a music conservatory.
“While I plan on playing the clarinet and pursuing some form of music in the future, I still feel like I have a lot to learn and am also really interested in studying how music fits into other areas, such as neuroscience and history,” Pogossian said, noting that she’s still unsure of what a professional path may hold for her, but adding that the Music Center’s Spotlight program has helped her learn and grow.
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Glendale Pride Holding Cyber Festival Event

Glendale Pride will keep its May 30 debut date with a cyber celebration and online campaign. The organizers of the namesake pride festival will kick-off the 2020 pride season with a comprehensive cyber celebration and online campaign, featuring the social media hashtag #GlendalePrideBecause
“Coalescing the queer community in Glendale is a relatively recent undertaking,” said Grey James of GlendaleOut. “This was poised to be ours and Glendale’s first festival style Pride event, a very big deal for this town. It generated an unanticipated amount of buzz and interest, and such an amazing cross-section of people came together for it.
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