The City Council splintered on a largely symbolic vote to weigh in on Proposition 15, a statewide ballot initiative asking voters to decide whether the state should bump up property tax collections from certain commercial entities. The proposition would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market values, as opposed to the value of the most recent sale price. (This excludes properties zoned as commercial agriculture.) Advocates of the proposition see it as a way of circumventing Proposition 13, which made all property taxes based on sale price when it was approved by voters in 1978.
Local officials this week, bolstered by overwhelming public support, joined the cacophony of the world’s Armenian diaspora in excoriating Azerbaijan and Turkey for their amplified military action in the Republic of Artsakh. The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution harshly condemning the violence, and the Glendale Unified School District also issued a statement of solidarity with the diaspora and offering support for students with direct ties to Armenia and Artsakh. After some skirmishes between the Azerbaijani military and Armenian-bolstered defense units in Artsakh in July, the former began directing heavy artillery fire into the breakaway republic last weekend, reportedly including civilian targets.
Retailers within city limits are soon expected to have to cut off their sales of Mylar balloons, assuming that a second reading of an ordinance goes without a hitch before the City Council. The proposal to ban their commercial sale gained unanimous approval this week by the council, which hopes to curb the frequency with which the decorative pieces float into power lines and transformers and send portions of the city into darkness. The ordinance permits latex balloons to continue to be made available to Glendale shoppers. “There are so many negative impacts from Mylar balloons that I really think it’s time for us to take the first step in a proactive leadership role,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said Tuesday.
In reflecting on an entire professional career for the city of Glendale, which culminates in October and is capped by nearly three years as the city’s chief executive, Yasmin Beers recalled telling the City Council when it hired her that this wasn’t the sort of thing that happens by chance. For starters, she said she had her parents — who “immigrated to the United States for a better life for their daughters” — to thank, alongside her sister, who often took care of Beers’ children while she or her husband were working. Beers also, of course, had to thank her husband, not least because being a city manager means you’re always on call and routinely being contacted by council members or administrators. And speaking of those administrators, plus Beers’ “partner in crime,” City Attorney Michael Garcia:
In future months, the city may pilot a shared mobility program, bringing those rentable bicycles or scooters to the downtown area for residents and workers to use. The City Council voted unanimously to open a bidding period for shared mobility companies to offer proposals for bicycles — manual or electric — as well as electric scooters to be placed downtown. Per Councilwoman Paula Devine’s suggestion, bids for each vehicle will be separate in the event the council wants to commit strictly to one or the other. If Devine has her druthers, it would certainly be bicycles.
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.”
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”
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”