Changes may be coming to the process through which the position of Glendale mayor is rotated among City Council members, in an effort to make it more predictable and less transactional. The council directed at this week’s meeting that these changes be written out in ordinance form, for later consideration and approval. It also expects to consider an ordinance banning single-use plastics by municipal agencies in the future, after asking for that ordinance as well. At Councilwoman Paula Devine’s suggestion, the council is likely to consider a policy that will organize mayoral hierarchy in a “zip line” fashion — that is, the council member who has waited the longest will serve as the next mayor for the year. Since two or three council members sometimes are elected at the same time, any ties that occur will be resolved on the basis of the number of votes they received in the election.
The city joined other American municipalities this week in formally recognizing the Republic of Artsakh’s independence, a symbolic move meant to bolster awareness of the breakaway nation’s effort to separate from Azerbaijan, which has resulted in military hostilities. The move comes as federal officials — including Congressman Adam Schiff, who represents Glendale — have called for American recognition of Artsakh, a predominantly Armenian-populated region considered part of Azerbaijan by all other nations. In the years since Artsakh voted by referendum to declare independence in 1991, it has attained recognition only from other unrecognized nations and, more recently, 10 American states, including California.
Work will soon begin on the researching, outreach and design phase of the bike path and linear park envisioned to line the Verdugo Wash all the way to the Los Angeles River. The project is likely to come in phases, officials said, and would ideally be funded in large part by outside grants aimed at promoting the sustainability, active transportation and habitat restoration that the project would achieve. The City Council voted 4-0 to approve a $440,000 contract with New York City-based design firm !melk this week to take the reins. (Councilman Ara Najarian abstained because his wife owns property abutting the Verdugo Wash.) “I’m tremendously excited about this, and I want us to move forward,” Councilman Dan Brotman said Tuesday.
In anticipation of future state legislation and hopes of mitigating growing confusion among renters, landlords and their legal advisers, the City Council elected this week to abdicate its own rent repayment schedule and align with the state’s own plan. Mayor Vrej Agajanian and Councilmen Dan Brotman and Ardy Kassakhian supported the measure on Tuesday, with Councilwoman Paula Devine voting against it and Councilman Ara Najarian choosing to abstain after its passage was assured. The decision ends the city’s previously adopted 12-month quarterly rent repayment plan that was scheduled for first installment at the end of November.
In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the City Council formally adopted a modified version of its metallic balloon ban that it first introduced for review weeks ago. Starting on Nov. 30, Glendale businesses are barred from selling the balloons — colloquially called Mylar balloons — if they are inflated with helium or any gas “lighter than air.” Further, such balloons inflated with air may only be sold when affixed to some sort of decorative structure, like a post or balloon arch; otherwise, they are to be sold uninflated. The council adopted the ban at the urging of Glendale Water and Power as well as residents frustrated with power outages and damages to electrical systems as a result of wayward Mylar balloons entangling themselves in lines or equipment. “There is a really good reason why we’re looking at this kind of a ban,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said, highlighting the importance of some residents to have medical equipment or air conditioning powered consistently.
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.
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:
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.”
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”