Facing an increasing coroavirus case rate among its residents, the City Council has tasked the Glendale Police Department with imposing fines against residents and businesses that are flouting the city’s face-mask mandate. First offenders are subject to a $400 fine, with a second offense rising to $1,000 and a third ticket coming out to $2,000. Though Glendale was among the first Los Angeles County cities to impose a mask mandate for those in public, compliance issues have repeatedly been aired to city officials. Continuing spikes in local COVID-19 cases have only added urgency to the issue. “None of us want to do this,” Councilman Ardy Kassakhian said. “We’re all looking down at a potential other shutdown. I don’t think any of us want another shutdown. Nobody wants us to go under lockdown again, yet if you read the news articles and look at statistics, that’s where we’re headed. So, if it takes a little bit of tough love — and, quite honestly, I’ll trust our law enforcement and the police chief to do whatever they need to do and however they need to do it — then that’s what will be needed.”
The City Council once again extended its protections for residential renters this week, prolonging Glendale’s eviction moratorium and rent freeze till at least Aug. 31 as the nation continues to reel from the coronavirus pandemic. In renewing the eviction moratorium, the council on Tuesday also set modified guidelines by which renters must show pandemic-related hardship as a reason for deferring their monthly rent payments. Those tenants must show documentation — such as bank statements or check stubs indicating income loss, bills showing new medical or child-care expenses or a letter from an employer attesting to reduced work — to their landlords on or before the rent due date. Council members certainly seem aware of the precariousness of continuing to kick the can down the road with regard to rent deferment. The majority of city residents are renters, a situation that creates a perfect storm of apartment dwellers — who already had a hard time affording rent — losing their income and mom-and-pop landlords suddenly suffering their own loss of income. “It’s a very sad and very difficult time for tenants especially and landlords also,” Mayor Vrej Agajanian said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Nobody was expecting to see something like this and I don’t see any solution to it in the near future.”
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.
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”
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”
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. Continue reading “City Plots Course to Help Residents, Businesses Recover”
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. Continue reading “Council Dictates 12-Month Rent Repayment Policy”
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. Continue reading “‘Slow Streets’ Modifications, Social Distancing Discussed By City Council”
A special budget workshop for the City Council this week included a look at potential capital projects as well as uses for the city’s Measure S sales tax revenue.
In this particular instance, the city will be able to consider whether to merge the two, as both of the capital projects that got a preliminary approval on Tuesday might fall under the umbrella of Measure S, which was marketed as a quality of life and essential services tax when voters approved it in 2018. Continue reading “Council Considers Bike Path, Traffic Study for Capital Projects”