Council Takes Shine to Possible Mylar Balloon Ban

The City Council has asked for an ordinance to ban the sale of Mylar balloons in Glendale because of the problems they cause for electric utilities.
Photo courtesy Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

In the coming weeks, the City Council expects to take up a possible ordinance banning an innocent-looking party product that can cause nuisances that have frustrated Glendale officials for decades — the Mylar balloon.
City Attorney Michael Garcia will, at the unanimous request of the council at its Tuesday meeting, prepare an ordinance that would ban outright the sale of the metallic balloons — known to drift into power lines — in city limits. The council, for now, eschewed a ban on possession, citing enforcement issues for such a law.
“These products have unfortunately become a nuisance and we have to do the right thing by our residents and by the users of our utilities,” said Councilman Ardy Kassakhian, adding it was a “no-brainer” to enact a sale ban. “I don’t think we can do anything about the possession of them, and I think the enforcement of that becomes a little bit more difficult and troublesome. Our code enforcement is already stretched thin. Our police are now enforcing our mask guidelines and rules. I think now is not the time to add anything of this sort to their plate.”

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City Extends Renter Safeguards, Recognizes Landlords’ Hardships

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.”

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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.

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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”

As Businesses Suffer, City to Offer New Aid

Local businesses ravaged by the pandemic will — with some restrictions — be able to apply to the city for grant funding to help their bottom line once the new fiscal year revs up on July 1.
Glendale plans to make available an additional $1.6 million of its own dollars to help out businesses that missed the boat on the first round of municipal grants and federal stimulus money. Additionally, the city expects to implement a $500,000 grant program aimed at assisting local art and nonprofit enterprises and is well on its way to establishing an outdoor dining program, paid for by $150,000 in local money, to nourish the town’s eateries.
The City Council discussed and committed to a direction on these economic recovery strategies at a special meeting this week, as a follow-up to a budget approval process that included the financial commitment to the measures. The first infusion, funded by a $572,500 Community Development Block Grant, will make $5,000 grants available for 114 qualifying businesses.
“We have to do something quick,” Mayor Vrej Agajanian said Tuesday. “Businesses are suffering so much. To wait, more of them are going to go and will have to close. I know $5,000 is not major or big money, but at least it may help them a little bit.” Continue reading “As Businesses Suffer, City to Offer New Aid”

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.
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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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