Meeting the Candidates Part 2

Posted by on Mar 3rd, 2011 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Crescenta Valley Weekly put forth three questions for each candidate vying for a seat on Glendale City Council. Below are their answers. We hope this information helps our readers make an educated and informed decision on April 5. (Note: Councilmember Dave Weaver and Chahe Keuroghelian’s answers were not received as of press time. Their answers will be in the March 10 edition.)

1. Governor Jerry Brown proposes to eliminate redevelopment funds. If this passes how do you think Glendale will be affected?

Garen Mailyan (Zhiraryr Mailyan): Not only Glendale, but all California cities will be affected to different degrees. We can not rely on any state handouts, but, instead we should balance our budget wisely, with a good deal of fiscal discipline. Most people would lament loss of redevelopment funds, but challenges and difficulties have their own hidden blessings, which should be discovered by learning the lessons of the seeming disaster. The lesson in this situation is that we can not rely on outside funds, but we should build our budget on our own immediate revenue, since outside handouts can cease anytime.

John Drayman: If the Governor’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies is implemented, the consequences will be dramatic and far-reaching.  Projects, such as the Glendale Galleria, Americana at Brand and the new Art & Entertainment District are all projects made possible by redevelopment.  In addition, to these more visible projects, Glendale’s ability to compete with surrounding cities by attracting businesses, both retail and corporate are tied to incentives made possible by redevelopment, such as Laemmle Theatres, Bevmo, LegalZoom.com, our downtown hotels, the Museum of Neon Art, the San Fernando Road Creative Corridor, Technicolor, Disney Imagineering (Disney being our largest employer), Dreamworks, etc.  Without these businesses, which generate revenue to our city’s General Fund via sales and transient occupancy taxes and an infusion of income into our local economy via wages and salaries paid to our residents who work for these companies, nearly every service provided by the city will be in jeopardy, from police, fire and emergency services to road repairs and trash collection.  So, clearly, what happens to redevelopment in Glendale is inextricably tied to our residents’ quality of life.

2. ADI was a company that had a long-standing reputation with cities as a low housing developer, yet many of their practices are now under investigation. What checks and balances do you think the council can implement so this type of situation is avoided in the future?

businesses, which generate revenue to our city’s General Fund via sales and transient occupancy taxes and an infusion of income into our local economy via wages and salaries paid to our residents who work for these companies, nearly every service provided by the city will be in jeopardy, from police, fire and emergency services to road repairs and trash collection.  So, clearly, what happens to redevelopment in Glendale is inextricably tied to our residents’ quality of life.

Rafi Manoukian: By eliminating redevelopment areas and funds, the city of Glendale and most cities will not be able to rejuvenate areas of the city that are dilapidated. In addition to rejuvenation, redevelopment areas also provide funding for affordable housing, which will be eliminated as well. Redevelopment zones and funding were enacted to help cities redevelop areas that are run down, however, Cities have been abusing Redevelopment laws, by indefinitely extending the life of Redevelopment areas.

Mike Mohill: It is time for Redevelopment Agencies to end. They’ve served their purpose but also transferred billions of dollars of property value to  well-connected developers. Today, in Glendale, it has been used to pry one property into the hands of another as was the case of the current councilmen in their attempt forcibly take the Golden Key Hotel through eminent domain and give it to Caruso Affiliated Holdings. Tax money that the Redevelopment Agency keeps is used by councilmen to purchase land that then is given away to developers for free. That money is better used at the state level to support schools and colleges.

2. ADI was a company that had a long-standing reputation with cities as a low housing developer, yet many of their practices are now under investigation. What checks and balances do you think the council can implement so this type of situation is avoided in the future?

Garen Mailyan (Zhiraryr Mailyan): The city council can and should periodically bring up this issue by doing basic checks on these projects through its agencies, as well as by publicly inviting all parties involved to have their say, if there are any revelations, critiques and comments.  There is no alternative to publicizing the whole process.  Let us keep it open, transparent and everything will be all right.

John Drayman: ADI was a developer of affordable housing in Glendale from 2004 until 2010.  They were considered the leading builder of affordable housing in the State of California with projects in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Anaheim and Long Beach in addition to Glendale.  Their projects were noted for coming in on time and on budget.  Of the seven cities in which they had projects, not one was aware of their forged invoices.  The State of California’s auditors never caught the forgeries, nor did the financial auditors from any of the banks or lending institutions which lent money on these projects.  In fact, it appears that at least one of the auditors for the state agency which oversees these matters may have been in on ADI’s scheme.  The forgeries came to light as a result of a divorce proceeding between the owners of the company, so it is not surprising that the City of Glendale did not catch these forgeries either.  The city has already made several policy changes to create additional checks and balances, such as independent audits of individual subcontractors to verify that the invoices received by the city are indeed those submitted by the actual subcontractor rather than what is submitted by the General Contractor, which was a subsidiary of ADI itself.  In addition, I have asked that the city create a database of vendors who have worked on any city subsidized projects, so that the public and elected officials alike can have a clearer picture of who is performing this work.

Rafi Manoukian: The city has to appoint able and knowledgeable project managers to oversee the expenditures by the affordable housing developer. We need to set benchmarks and performance indicators to keep the developer accountable for every dollar that is spent.

Mike Mohill: I don’t accept your premise. ADI should long-ago have been investigated, along with the people who approved outrageous prices for low-income housing. I have the city records where the Redevelopment Agency and the Housing Authority approved the construction of apartments at $536,452 for Glendale City Lights development and $507,151 for the Vassar City Lights project. Current prices with land included in Glendale are in the $200,000 per unit range.

The checks lie with full disclosure to the public of these outrageous costs being proposed.  In the Case of the investigation of John Drayman with the sub-contractors of ADI, and the non-payment of his condo make-over, maybe we can learn from Federal Investigators how to prevent such unethical practices in the future.

3. The city of Glendale completed an in-depth survey of Foothill residents and businesses regarding development along the Glendale annex portion of the Foothill corridor. What suggestions are you in favor of implementing?

Garen Mailyan  (Zhiraryr Mailyan): There is no reasonable alternative to development.  Development is not an option, but imperative.  The opinions of Foothill residents and businesses should be taken into account  to the degree that do not challenge the major thrust of the project – that is moving on with the development.

John Drayman: As the council member who asked for this survey, I am extremely happy that our Planning Department made the Glendale portion of the Crescenta Valley their first priority.  Foothill Blvd. travels through no less than four jurisdictions within a span of a few miles, including Glendale.  Until 2007 when I joined the City Council, the so-called “Glendale Annex,” and in fact the entire “Far North Glendale,” was simply not on the city’s radar in terms of civic improvements.

I especially like the suggestions emanating from the survey dealing with view considerations of both the San Gabriels and the Verdugos, height restrictions for building projects on the north (uphill side of Foothill) as well as on the south (downhill side of Foothill).  I am pleased with the discussions of landscaping, architectural styles and increasing the “walk-ability” of Foothill Blvd.  As the first Crescenta Valley native ever elected to the City Council and the first to serve as Mayor of Glendale, I am pleased that this entire effort came about during my tenure.  More importantly, however, I am anxious for the suggested guidelines to be implemented.

Rafi Manoukian: I agree that Foothill Blvd. should become a healthy and attractive commercial area and the character of the area should be preserved.

In the Sparr Heights area, trying to make Oceanview a pedestrian friendly street certainly would add value to the area.

I am also in favor of maintaining the character and integrity of the residential areas.

Mike Mohill: I am in agreement to promote good urban planning. That is what is still missing in South Glendale. The complaints by residents near the ADI project were dismissed by all the councilmen including Drayman and Weaver. Thank God we have involved residents in the Foothills who work hard at keeping the character of their community intact. We need to implement the same ideas at each district in Glendale hopefully with district representation.




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