By Charly SHELTON
Smoking, the future of Montrose and the introduction of the new area commander were the lead topics at last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Montrose Shopping Park Association.
Smoking, an ever-present problem in the shopping park, was discussed with City of Glendale representatives in attendance and Lt. Oscar Rodriguez, who introduced himself to the board as the new area command lead for the Glendale Police Dept.
Montrose is part of the City of Glendale, which passed an ordinance in November 2008 that prohibits smoking in many areas of the city. According to the city’s website, the ordinance prohibits smoking in or on the city’s property, including parks, libraries, city hall and more, except on streets and sidewalks and in a “smoking permitted area” that the city may designate; common areas of multi-unit rental housing except within a “smoking permitted area” that the landlord may designate; common areas of condominium complexes; private balconies and patios of units in multi-unit rental housing and condominium complexes; outdoor dining areas of restaurants, except within designated smoking permitted areas that restaurant owners may designate, subject to regulations; publicly and privately owned indoor and outdoor spaces to which the public has access, including parking lots and structures, and within 20 feet of areas where smoking is prohibited.
Also, the ordinance requires landlords to provide disclosure to a prospective renter, prior to signing a lease, as to the location of possible sources of second-hand smoke, relative to the unit that they are renting. While not law, it is recommended that owners either make the building “smoke-free” or separate smoking units from non-smoking units as they turn over.
An issue that was discussed at the meeting that has been met with debate and speculation during the last several meetings is the 20/20 Vision survey available on pages 11 and 12 of this paper and online at surveymonkey.com/r/MontroseCA.
The survey is from the City of Glendale, which wants to understand the issues that are important in Montrose and what can be done in moving forward to realize positive changes by the year 2020. There are many different topics on the survey ranging from infrastructure to new developments to events. The survey offers business owners, residents and visitors of Montrose the chance to share their opinions on what is most important to them and what changes they would like to see. Certain members of the MSPA board met the survey with hesitation and resistance because there is no clearly defined outcome when the survey’s results are tallied.
“They wouldn’t be starting this unless they had a long-term plan, is my opinion,” said Ken Grayson, MSPA board member. “And you guys are asking us for support of what we don’t even know we’re supporting. As far as I’m concerned, we will not cooperate until we know what we’re cooperating with.”
MSPA board president Andre Ordubegian was quick to respond to Grayson’s comments.
“We are cooperating. But [Grayson] is not wrong. The fact is that we are here to do what’s best for our merchants in town and the people who visit us here. And as a board, we have done a good job so far – we’ve brought a lot of attention to Montrose, we’ve brought a lot of foot traffic, but in all honesty we need to see exactly where we’re headed. So what he says has merit to it. We don’t know what it is that [City of Glendale] is planning on doing.”
One of the fears Ordubegian has is that Glendale will take money that could, for example, be going toward new parking lot infrastructure and instead be used to build skyscrapers in Montrose. Jennifer McLain with the City of Glendale, who was presenting information on the 20/20 Vision survey to the board, said that she has “not yet seen any mastermind to come up with, as you brought up, some giant mixed-use projects in Montrose.”
The prospect of change, Grayson noted, could be shocking to the community.
“I want to clarify something. I am not against change, but the vast community is against change,” he said. “They want Montrose to stay like it is.”
This sentiment was echoed by board member Gigi Garcia, who monitors public sentiment through the Sparr Heights Facebook page and other local neighborhood Facebook pages.
“I guess the real fear is that downtown Glendale has grown so fast in such a short period of time. I’ve read and heard a bunch of feedback on how no one wants that up here,” said Garcia who owns It Takes A Village children’s clothing store. “You can’t find what we have here in Montrose anywhere else. You can’t find the small town feel, you can’t find the mom-and-pop shops. I don’t think any of the community wants big change here. I’ll speak for myself; I don’t want any change here. But I think that overwhelmingly that’s what I’ve been hearing and reading so that’s the major concern.”
McLain hoped to assuage fears of the board, businesses and residents of Montrose. This survey, she said, has no end result until the public voices its concerns. The survey is to help spot common themes in what the survey takers feel are the biggest issues to help get a broader, overall view of what the community wants and needs.
“It’s really that together we are coming up with what the priorities should be for Montrose, what should we be working on together. We just want to get a pulse on what are some of these comments and then from there be able to craft it,” McLain said. “And the board will be along for this process the whole way.”