By Tyler BIDDLE
On Thursday, Feb. 28, the Crescenta Valley Community Association hosted a Glendale City Council candidate forum at the La Crescenta Library. Nine of the 12 candidates were there and were asked questions on a range of subjects from community view protection to utilities costs.
Each candidate made short opening and closing statements introducing themselves and mentioning what is most important to them in the campaign. Common issues were rising utilities costs, financial mismanagement, and the 710 freeway extension.
The proposal for the freeway extension produced a unanimously negative response. In his opening statement, incumbent Ara Najarian explained, “If [the 710 extension] gets built, your quality of life will change like it never has before.”
When talk turned to the city’s purchase of the Rockhaven Sanitarium, many candidates applauded efforts to preserve what is considered to be a local landmark of history by residents. A voice of dissent was candidate Mike Mohill who explained that the purchase was made without any sort of plan for renovation.
“What kind of vision did they have?” he asked, referencing the fact that the complex has remained vacant since it was purchased back in 2008. “We aren’t getting anything out of it.”
The question of what role the city council should play in attracting new businesses was also met with some mixed responses. Candidate Herbert Molano said that too many restrictions and regulations are very unfriendly to small restaurants that would, for example, have to pay thousands of dollars extra just to put up a small sign perpendicular to the sidewalk for their business.
Incumbent Laura Friedman said that the problem with attracting small business to the area lies, in part, with the fact that Foothill Boulevard was designed to be a highway.
“We need to make the area more pedestrian friendly,” she said, explaining that the addition of more benches and better landscaping would be an excellent way to attract more businesses.
Another issue repeatedly heard at the forum was that of utility cost increases. Mohill and fellow candidate Aram Kazazian said that the utility costs are crushing businesses especially on Foothill Boulevard and that any future attempts to raise them must be opposed.
View protection throughout the area proved to be a complicated and difficult issue.
“I am willing to work to find out what kind of view we want to protect,” Najarian said. View protection has also played a role in the development of businesses on Foothill Boulevard, with a maximum height cap for structures restricting building options.
“When you buy a property, you buy the community with it,” said Roland Kedikian, pointing out that the city has a responsibility to those who buy in it to protect their investment.
Pedestrian safety was also discussed at the forum in light of the recent hit and run tragedy near Griffith Park. Rick Barnes said that more police are needed, specifically more traffic officers. Sam Engel mentioned that the problem is more social than anything else and that you “can’t always engineer safety.”
Future forums for the candidates will be held on March 11 at 6 p.m. in the Sparr Heights Community Center, March 13 at 7 p.m. in the Chevy Chase Country Club, March 14 at 6 p.m. in Glendale City Hall Council Chambers and on March 20 at 7 p.m. in the New Life Christian Church. The March 14 forum will also be televised on GTV6.