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”

City Council Extends Moratorium on Rent Hikes, Resident Evictions

The city’s moratorium on eviction for residential tenants, as well as its freeze on residential rent hikes, was extended a month by unanimous vote at this week’s City Council meeting.
The City Council also renewed its broad requirement that people wear face coverings while out in public, and allowed its moratorium on commercial evictions to expire. Those officials expect to revisit the three ongoing policies again before they’re scheduled to sunset, as it customarily has done since implementing the pandemic-related responses.
However, Councilman Ardy Kassakhian warned that the city will face “a serious reckoning” in the near future if no solution is uncovered to meet the financial needs of those landlords who have missed out on months of their income.
“It cannot continue indefinitely,” Kassakhian said, suggesting that city officials bridge meetings between tenants and landlords groups. “I don’t know what the county is going to do. I can’t predict it. But I can only imagine what would happen if this situation continued.” Continue reading “City Council Extends Moratorium on Rent Hikes, Resident Evictions”

COVID-19 Battle May Even Extend to Crosswalk Buttons

Glendale Public Works staff members will research and present options to the City Council to add precautionary implements to pedestrian crosswalk buttons in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
The council on Tuesday unanimously backed the idea advanced by Councilman Ara Najarian and Councilwoman Paula Devine after a lengthy discussion on modifying crosswalk signals in accordance with the present pandemic hygiene culture. Though the discussion initially considered placing crosswalks and traffic signals on a predetermined timer, officials seem poised to later consider that modification as part of a broader conversation on traffic calming and the city’s walkability.
“I think the motorists and residents are going to go bananas” if signals are automated, Najarian contended Tuesday. “We’ve got a difficult situation at best in our downtown area.” Continue reading “COVID-19 Battle May Even Extend to Crosswalk Buttons”

Local Protesters Join Others Throughout Nation

Hindman Protesters march peacefully in Montrose on Wednesday in a rally against police brutality and institutional racism following the death of George Floyd, a black man, while he was being arrested in Minneapolis in May.
Photo courtesy Kate Hindman
Protesters march peacefully in Montrose on Wednesday in a rally against police brutality and institutional racism following the death of George Floyd, a black man, while he was being arrested in Minneapolis in May.

La Crescenta and Montrose residents made it known this week that they stand with countless others throughout the state, nation and world in calling out the police conduct linked to the deaths of George Floyd and other men and women believed to be targeted for being black.
Some marchers said that the sheer ubiquity of the current movements — which are ongoing in every state of the union and throughout the world — may represent a sea change in public opinion on law enforcement conduct, particularly toward minorities who are overrepresented in myriad criminal justice system statistics.
“This feels super different,” said La Crescenta resident Kate Hindman, who attended the Montrose protest on Wednesday. “I’ve gone to protests in the past, and I’d be so fired up that I basically just wanted to be seen. [The public responses now] are fueling the idea that if we keep going, we’re going to see actual, tangible changes instead of just the abstract ideas of ‘We’re protesting and this is why.’”
Protests erupted last week after video surfaced of Floyd’s arrest on May 25, in which one Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while Floyd suffocated, according to an autopsy. Three other officers were shown simply looking on as a crowd of people pleaded for the officer to stop. Although mostly concentrated in major cities at first, they have especially in Los Angeles County trickled down to the various suburbs, including here.
“You think to yourself, ‘I should be there I should be in the thick of it. That’s where the change is happening,’” explained Love Lee, a 20-year-old La Crescenta resident who helped others plan Wednesday’s demonstration. “There’s so much change happening, so you think to yourself ‘What can a protest in La Crescenta do?’ We needed to have this so badly in our community. I would see comments online saying, ‘We don’t need this kind of thing in our community.’ I think those comments show precisely why we needed to bring this here. That in itself is privilege, when you can step back from politics and social activism and not suffer any systematic repercussions or consequences.”
The group, which had anywhere from 100 to 300 participants by various estimations, marched down Honolulu Avenue to Verdugo Boulevard, and down to Montrose Community Park. There, the protesters knelt for an 8-minute-46-second duration and listened to a handful of speakers.
A contingent of officers with the Glendale Police Department remained nearby, according to Sgt. Christian Hauptmann with GPD. Though officers were not escorting or guiding the demonstration, they did move in to pause traffic when people entered the roadways.
“One way or the other, we diverted traffic for them,” Hauptmann said.
However, some of the group felt the outsize presence was unnecessary.
Some of the protesters “were calling for some of the GPD in front of us to take a knee in solidarity,” explained 21-year-old Gwenyth Greco, a La Crescenta native attending Cal State Northridge. “After about 5 or 10 minutes, the protesters clustered closer together and some of the GPD began revving their motorcycles.”
Greco, who was among the organizers of the protest, said a couple of motorcycle officers rode close to the group, in a manner she felt was meant to intimidate.
“I hope it isn’t a reflection of GPD as a whole,” she added. “I don’t know if it was the same officers on the motorbikes, but two officers were sort of brandishing their batons, and members of the crowd were pleading with them to stop and put them away. There were still children in the crowd, and older adults. There were families, parents, not just teenagers.”
Hindman said she agreed.
“It just really clashed with what we were trying to do,” she said. “It just felt a little intense and a little aggressive and a bit of a reminder of where so many of our resources are being spent.”
Hauptmann acknowledged that videos were circulating on social media regarding this instance.
“We’re aware of it and it’s being investigated,” he added.
Lee and other explained that they first met through social media posts about wanting to organize a protest and eventually formed a Discord chat group to plan the event. Planners privately invited friends and family, Lee explained, to avoid attracting the attention of outsiders who might want to escalate the demonstration.
“These are people who are trying to fulfill some fantasy they have about destroying property,” Lee said, referring to rioters and looters from L.A.’s protests, “but the movement itself is trying to push an agenda that is peaceful.”
Being part of a worldwide moment is proving to be surreal, particularly as it seems to be crystallizing into possible policy change, the demonstrators said.
“It’s cool to see that we’re all taking a stand together,” Greco said. “When was the last time all 50 states did something together? This is all across the world. I never thought we’d see something like it.”
Hindman noted that this week, the FBI opened an investigation into the March killing of Breonna Taylor, a black EMT, when Louisville police officers were engaged in a no-knock search warrant on her apartment regarding a drug investigation which had two suspects already in custody.
“I feel like the focus is kind of shifting to her now, so I find myself wondering what’s the next thing after that,” she said.
Nick Zamora, a 19-year-old Crescenta Valley High School graduate, said he, too, is hopeful for continuing progress.
“I was very proud of it, considering that we were able to keep it so peaceful,” he said, speaking on the protest. “I feel like we need to bring our support even though we don’t specifically face the same problem others do. We need to show our support in the community.”

College Success Fund ‘Planting Seeds of Hope’

This Glendale 1st-grader hopes to use the $50 from the Student Success Fund to attend college and become a veterinarian, saying, “When I make animals feel better, I feel happy.”

Amid the requisite challenging financial news that accompanies every meeting in the COVID-19 era, the Glendale Unified School District launched a truly uplifting program on Thursday evening that pierced through the typical report of budget deficits and dwindling reserves.
It’s called the College Success Fund, a long-awaited new initiative that will provide each 1st-grader within GUSD with a $50 savings account to begin the long financial road toward post-secondary education.
Continue reading “College Success Fund ‘Planting Seeds of Hope’”

County Receives Go-Ahead for More Reopenings

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
The Americana at Brand plans to reopen its stores for normal business — at half capacity — starting on Monday. Los Angeles County officials decided this week that retailers could reopen with the restrictions.

Los Angeles County officials have given the green light for restaurants to resume dine-in service, as well as for barbers and hair salons to reopen, provided they adhere to proper distancing and hygiene protocol.
The Friday update followed an announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom that L.A. County was free to reopen those businesses according to state guidelines. Glendale, like most L.A. County cities, follows health direction from the county Department of Public Health.
Continue reading “County Receives Go-Ahead for More Reopenings”