Glendale Hits Cruise Control for Classic Cars

Photo courtesy city of Glendale

It was a cruisin’ good time last Saturday for those who caught “Cruise 2020,” the scaled-down version of Glendale Cruise Night, typically the city’s largest public event of the year. About 125 classic and eclectic vehicles rolled up and down Brand Boulevard as outdoor diners took photos and others strolled. “Everyone wore their masks and people seemed happy to get outside and get some fresh air to enjoy the cars,” said Glendale special events coordinator Patty Betancourt.

City Plans Racial Reckoning; Panel Discussion July 30

Glendale officials plan to continue researching specific past actions that contributed to a local culture that discriminated against black residents and workers, as part of a long-term reckoning with the city’s former reputation as a sundown town.
The pledge comes after administration officials joined in a variety of outreach sessions with local civic and cultural groups to plot a course to promote racial equity in city government and healing from past practices that excluded minorities from the community. The next step of this process will be a panel discussion hosted by the city on Thursday, July 30, titled “Racism: Past and Present.” In preparation, city employees are diving into the city’s history.
Meanwhile, the city plans to join a regional coalition that works to promote racial equity practices, but City Council members — at the urging of local residents — pumped the brakes Tuesday on adopting a formal resolution acknowledging the past for now.
“Our staff is working on looking through our [past] ordinances at this time and our library staff is working on going through whatever they have in their archives of articles and whatnot and other resources we can go through,” Christine Powers, a senior executive analyst for the city, said at the council’s meeting.

Continue reading “City Plans Racial Reckoning; Panel Discussion July 30”

Officials Urge Safety Protocols as Businesses Again Shut Down

As COVID-19 continues to surge — with Los Angeles County on Thursday registering its biggest single-day total of new cases, 4,592 — Glendale officials are urging residents to remain resilient and follow safety protocols, including wearing face coverings in public and staying home if possible.
The city is also entreating residents to maintain social distancing and limit physical contact to family members with whom they live — what the Glendale Fire Department has dubbed “keeping it family style,” said Chief Silvio Lanzas.
“If you’re going to be out in public, you should wear a face covering,” he said, emphasizing that those who are outside but not around anyone — jogging early in the morning, for example — should have a face covering with them and be ready to put it on should they cross paths with another person.
“We are really trying to focus efforts on the educational piece — when our team is out in the community we constantly remind people to put their mask on and to wear it properly, put it up over the nose,” Lanzas said.
Though Lanzas said he is aware there is some resistance among community residents to wearing masks, officials are trying hard to praise those who are doing a good job of following safety protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Continue reading “Officials Urge Safety Protocols as Businesses Again Shut Down”

GPD’s Explorers Discover Rewards of Volunteering

By Haley Sawyer | Special to the Glendale News-Press

Photo courtesy Glendale Police Department
As former Glendale Police Explorers, Brianna Guzman and Valeria Medina (center) lead a group of their peers new to the program during a pre-pandemic meeting. The pair are now Glendale Police Department cadets.

Flor Silva has been involved in the Glendale Police Department’s Explorer program for only nine months, but it has already had an impact on her life, through the friendships she’s made and the hours she’s spent serving the community as a volunteer.
“So far, the best thing I’ve done is when we donated toys to the people in need in December for Christmas and we took Christmas trees to their houses,” said Silva, 16. “Seeing the happy faces on the kids, it was a really good memory.”
Due to concerns over COVID-19, community service and many other Explorer activities have been halted. Battle of the Badges, a highly anticipated physical and mental competition involving the Glendale Explorers and their counterparts in other cities in the area, has been canceled.

Photo courtesy Glendale Police Department
Charlton Vidal instructs Glendale Explorers at the shooting range. The Explorer program is for people ages 14-21 who are interested in learning about or pursuing a career in law enforcement.

There has yet to be a graduation ceremony for those who have completed the program, and new applications aren’t being accepted, either.
The Explorer program, which is funded by the GPD and fundraisers, has been condensed, with two-hour meetings on Tuesday nights. Although the schedule has changed, the teens are still finding strength in the bond they have with each other and the program itself.
“It definitely helps me because I feel like I have something to look forward to since school is online now,” said Christopher Magana, 20, who has been involved with the Explorers for four years. “That’s my little escape from what’s going on. It helps me a lot and I look forward to it almost every single week.”
The Explorer program is for people ages 14-21 who are interested in learning about or pursuing a career in law enforcement. Potential Explorers must submit an initial application, pass an oral interview, a background check and have satisfactory grades and a readiness to serve the community.
Participants in the program must complete a 14- to 18-week Explorer academy in which they are challenged physically and mentally. They can also be credited with service hours, which are required for graduation in the Glendale Unified School District.
“It’s a lot of time dedication and kids are busy,” said Officer Michelle Gonzalez, who runs Explorers. “I have some really good kids, and you have to be able to manage your time. Homework is not an excuse to miss a meeting. I think they come out at the end better, and the parents are extremely happy and complimentary of the program.”
Gonzalez has managed to keep the program fun but structured for all involved. Explorers are expected to meet grooming standards even for online meetings and participate in peer-led presentations.
The officer has also invited them to attend online meetings in the community, such as neighborhood watch meetings. A goal of such participation is to emphasize the importance of dialogue between law enforcement and the people it serves, especially in times when attitudes towards police officers can be tense.
“They do have a uniform. It might look a little bit different from ours, but they’re still representatives of the police department,” said Gonzalez, “and I think the community at large thinks that they have all the answers and equal training and all that stuff. It’s to really prepare them for those interactions and give them the tools of knowledge to be able to interact with the community and give them information that they’re seeking.”
Gonzalez is unsure of when the Explorer program will be full-fledged once again, since it will depend on Los Angeles County and state health regulations, although she has considered having in-person meetings with small groups in the near future. Until then, the Explorers are still dutifully studying and building connections.
“It’s really like a second family, if I have to be honest,” said Narek Hayrapetyan, a third-year Explorer. “At first those people were acquaintances, now they’re friends and now I see them as a second family.”

There’s a Lot of Litter We Can Pick Up

Yesterday, I brought a garbage bag on my morning walk because street trash ruins my relaxing vibe. Fully masked and gloved, I went from my Verdugo apartment to Mayor’s Bicentennial Park, picking up debris.
I’ve lived in Glendale since 1990 and have never seen anyone cleaning up litter, so I do. I pick up Starbucks and Boba Time cups, water bottles, etc., from my block, every few weeks.
As I made my way to the 2 overpass, my garbage bag was half-full. There were so many masks and gloves I wondered, “What’s so hard about tossing your mask and gloves in your own trash?” Plus, those thousands of cigarette butts we see leach toxic arsenic and lead, etc., into the environment daily.
And it’s clear from the drain covers that say “Drains to Ocean” where the litter ends up.
At the overpass, food bags and beverage containers sat as though waiting for room service. I picked up plastic bags and cups deliberately put in bushes. I grabbed a plastic straw that splintered in my glove and will probably end up in our water supply.
A young, homeless-looking man walking by kindly helped me pick up trash. Another man stepped out of his Mercedes to thank me for cleaning up, and I wondered why no one picks up the trash in front of his home.
At the park, someone had a birthday party leaving confetti everywhere, then stuffed their garbage into one can, leaving it spilling out, even though another can sat within a few yards. I ended up with an overstuffed garbage bag, two packed plastic grocery bags, and even more trash.
If everyone on Earth picked up debris in front of their home or business, we’d have a clean planet. Can’t businesses ask customers not to litter?
If we can’t pull together during a pandemic, when can we?
Whether you rent or own, walk outside and pick up the trash on YOUR street, or in your park, because people will more likely litter if garbage is already there.
If we all took responsibility, Glendale really could be the jewel city.

Fran Tunno
Glendale

Fire Chief Clears the Smoke

A Glendale Fire Department rapid intervention crew was praised in a review of this Jan. 16 blaze, when the team quickly moved to rescue two firefighters who had fallen through the first floor of an apartment building into the basement. One of the rescues is pictured here.
Photo courtesy Glendale Fire Department

As Silvio Lanzas sees it, transparency is a vital part of leadership and professionalism in the firefighting world.
The Glendale fire chief said that’s why he elected to publicly share the department’s summary report of the Jan. 16 response to 140 Carr Drive, an apartment building with a fully developed blaze on the first floor as well as the basement. The response ultimately injured two firefighters, but the four tenants who were inside were rescued — and, most important, there were no fatalities.
“Culturally, one of the things I’m trying to bring to the Glendale Fire Department is one of transparency,” Lanzas said in a phone interview this week. “I’m very proud of our organization, both for what occurred on that day and also equally as proud for their willingness to be open and transparent about what things could have been done differently and what things were done well. That’s really how you make the fire service better.” Continue reading “Fire Chief Clears the Smoke”

Keep Your Distance: City Sees Spike in Virus Cases

Officials are urging caution and adherence to policies meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as, weeks after California began reopening and mass protests began forming across the county, there has been a spike in reported cases of the virus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has largely taken direct initiative to reverse an easing of restrictive policies that counties were mostly left to enact at the start of the pandemic in March. This week, he ordered a flurry of counties, including Los Angeles County, to bar indoor sit-down service at restaurants, shut down bars altogether and, ahead of the holiday weekend, close down beaches.
The county’s overall numbers of daily new confirmed cases have steadily risen in recent weeks, Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas told the City Council this week, and although Glendale itself experienced seven spikes of greater than 20 new daily cases during June — four of which were greater than 30 — its seven-day average only crossed north of 20 once.
“That 20 number is a number that I feel is one that would keep us on a flattening-type curve,” Lanzas said Tuesday. “However, the cases across the county are troubling, and therefore the county and state have taken action to reverse some of the openings that have happened.”
As of press deadline this week, Glendale has had a total of 1,455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its residents, of whom 108 have died from the illness. Roughly half of those deaths are associated with skilled nursing facilities in Glendale, although the county’s data does not make it clear how many of those associated deaths are among residents or staff members.
In unincorporated La Crescenta-Montrose, the county has listed 57 confirmed cases and one death among residents. Continue reading “Keep Your Distance: City Sees Spike in Virus Cases”

School Friends on a Mission to Help People, Environment

Glendale High School graduates Felipe Arias and James Mizuki recently joined forces to give new clothes to women at the Los Angeles Mission Women’s Shelter.
Photo courtesy James Mizuki

Though they largely grew up together, two Glendale High School graduates led widely divergent paths after grade school but were recently drawn together by a mutual need to give back.
And so the two young men — James Mizuki and Felipe Arias — got together last Saturday and gave out hundreds of items of clothing to the ladies who stepped off of Skid Row for a moment and paid a visit to the Los Angeles Mission Women’s Shelter.
“We ended up giving out eight full boxes of clothes, which probably translates to 350-400 items. It was just really positive overall,” said Mizuki, a 2011 graduate of GHS. “This ‘word-of-mouth’ buzz started happening and we had a lot of people show up. People were really looking out for their friends that day.”
The clothes were manufactured by iToo Clothing, which was formed in large part by Mizuki’s childhood friend Arias, who graduated from GHS in 2012; the pair both attended Wilson Middle School and played football together at GHS. While Mizuki enrolled in Cal State Northridge to study communications, Arias traveled to Hong Kong in lieu of his original plan to join the U.S. Coast Guard, where he ultimately linked himself to clothing manufacturing in China.
As fate would have it, Arias’ company has a location near Skid Row, so right away he thought of donation opportunities when he discovered a backlog of clothing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and recalled a conversation he had with Mizuki about a nonprofit endeavor he was building.
“I knew James was on this project for a while,” Arias said. “Before he started the whole thing, he came to me and told me about it and I thought it was a great idea.” Continue reading “School Friends on a Mission to Help People, Environment”

Al Fresco Eateries as Oases of Economic Hope

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
The city has begun implementing outdoor dining spaces, known popularly as al fresco, as a measure to help restaurants and eateries serve more customers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Those concrete barriers popping up around downtown Glendale and Montrose? For the foreseeable future, they are part of the new normal for restaurants that are now reopening dine-in service to their patrons.
The city this week has been busy setting up K-rail barriers throughout public spaces, later adding tables with umbrellas, chairs and potted plants to make the setting a bit more picturesque. Along Honolulu Avenue in Montrose, the half-dozen al fresco parklets utilize sections of street parking to allow the eateries to spill outdoors to accommodate more customers and make those customers more comfortable as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
Continue reading “Al Fresco Eateries as Oases of Economic Hope”

Reminder: Fireworks Are Illegal in Glendale

Ahead of the Fourth of July, city officials have reminded Glendale residents that it is illegal to discharge fireworks in city limits.
In an announcement, the city re-upped its “zero tolerance” policy for all personal fireworks, including the “safe and sane” varieties. Citing the personal danger that arises from fireworks use, and also their propensity to start home and wildfires, the Glendale Police Department may arrest those in violation of the municipal code; a conviction could result in up to a six-month jail sentence and/or fines of up to $1,000.
“Statistics show that fireworks are among the most dangerous of all consumer products,” the city wrote in its announcement. “Even hand-held sparklers, which many consider safe, are dangerous and can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, causing serious burns and fires.”
City officials have kept consistent messaging on this issue. The Glendale Fire Department in particular has been utilizing social media to also promote ways of mitigating the risk of brush fires during the summer months, in addition to warning against the use of fireworks.
Residents are encouraged to report fireworks use to the Glendale Police Department by calling (818) 548-4911.