Council Endorses Proposition 15 on Split Vote

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.

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Glendale Moves to End Sale of Mylar Balloons

Photo courtesy Glendale Water and Power
Local crews worked to remove several metallic Mylar balloons entangled in Glendale power lines in September. The City Council this week introduced an ordinance banning the sale of the balloons in Glendale in an effort to stymie the havoc they can wreak on electrical systems.

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.

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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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Police to Impose Fines for Ignoring Face-Mask Law

Glendale police officers, shown here at last week’s Cruise 2020 event, are expected to begin fining residents and businesses for not complying with the public face-mask mandate, at their discretion.
Photo courtesy city of Glendale

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.”

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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 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”

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.
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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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