By Ted AYALA
Aspirants to the Glendale City Council and its two incumbents met last Thursday afternoon in a forum held by the Glendale League of Women Voters.
The forum, which was held in the city council chamber, had candidates field a number of questions, ranging from the permitting process to concerns over what some residents see as runaway development.
“We’re not going to be able to handle it,” said candidate Evelyne Poghosyan about development in the city’s downtown. “We’re already overcrowded.”
The sentiment was echoed by Edith Fuentes. “We need to stop the developments for now. The impact will spill into other neighborhoods.”
Among the solutions Poghosyan offered were increasing parking spaces along the city’s periphery and providing a shuttle service for workers commuting to downtown Glendale. She also advocated for the increased use of rideshare services such as Uber as a way to alleviate clogged traffic arteries.
Councilmember Paula Devine who, along with incumbent Councilmember Dave Weaver, agreed with Poghosyan on improving Beeline and shuttle services to and from downtown Glendale. But she sharply disagreed with calls to stop development.
“We can’t stop development,” she said. “What we can do is slow it down and control it.”
Devine touted the city council’s efforts to mitigate runaway development by increasing impact fees, as well as reducing and eliminating incentives for property owners to maximize development.
But she reminded her audience that, “[growth] is market-driven.”
The Glendale Narrows Riverwalk project also sparked disagreement among the candidates.
Erik Yesayan called the project an “exciting opportunity” adding that he “looked forward” to it. He also noted that most of the funding for the project would be provided by the city of Los Angeles and the federal government. Nonetheless, Yesayan said that Glendale has a “huge stake” in the Riverwalk and that South Glendale in particular stands to benefit.
Vartan Gharapetian, who had formerly served as the city’s Historic Preservation commissioner, added his support, though he qualified it with concerns about funding for what promises to be an integral part of the project: a multi-user bridge that would span the Los Angeles River from the Riverwalk to Griffith Park.
“[That is] going to be the major issue,” he said. “I hope we have the budget for it.”
Incumbent Weaver, who reminded the audience of his years of work in the Army Corps of Engineers, decried the project, voicing his concerns over the ability to control the flow of the river through the bend along the Riverwalk.
“I don’t believe the project is going to work there,” he said.
Some common ground was found on Measure D, which puts forward to voters the question of scrapping the city’s current at-large election system in favor of districting.
Weaver and Devine stated that they both voted for placing the measure on the ballot in order to avoid a lawsuit. But both incumbents made their opposition clear.
“I hope everybody votes it down,” Weaver said. “We don’t need it.”
Devine voiced concerns that districting would encourage councilmembers to form “little empires” that put their home districts’ priorities over the good of the whole city. She proposed electing an at-large mayor to counterbalance the problem.
Stating his opposition to “vague ballot measures” Gharapetian strongly opposed Measure D. The candidate said that the districting would have nothing to do with geography and would “create corruption.”
“I hope [voters] will turn it down,” he said. “The only reason this is on the ballot is because of a lawsuit by greedy attorneys.”
Candidates Poghosyan and Yesayan, however, voiced support of the measure, though they added that an elected mayor at-large would offset the fractioning that districting would create. Both candidates also called for an independent body to draw up district lines, saying that no ethnic demographic should be favored over another.
A random selection of qualified people was suggested by Weaver.
“Put all the names into a hat and pull them out,” he said. “That way it won’t be political. Let the people do the district drawing.”
But he quickly added: “But please vote [Measure D] down. Just get rid of it.”