“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” –Franklin D. Rooselvelt
By Mary O’KEEFE
“Get out the vote” has been a cry from citizens groups, cities, counties and, yes, even politicians.
On April 7, people throughout Glendale and La Crescenta will have the opportunity to participate in an American tradition over 200 years old – they exercise their right to vote.
For Crescenta Valley residents, the vote once again highlights how different the area is. At first glance, it is a Glendale city election; however, residents in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County/La Crescenta and the far west area known as Sagebrush in La Cañada Flintridge vote for Glendale Unified School District school board and Glendale Community College board of trustees.
By far one of the most interesting issues for those in the Crescenta Valley and La Cañada is the proposed territorial transfer of the Sagebrush area.
The territorial transfer has been discussed by La Cañada and Glendale district members for almost two years. The discussions began quietly but soon escalated as more residents got involved, especially parents of children attending or planning to attend Mountain Avenue Elementary – the school that will be most affected by the proposed transfer.
There is a lot to debate over the issues surrounding Sagebrush that include a GUSD bond, a LCUSD parcel tax, the pocket park used by Mountain Avenue Elementary, money and the motivation for the transfer.
“We are still in communication,” said Dr. Richard Sheehan, GUSD superintendent. “We met and discussed the [Ocean View] park and the legalities around the park.”
The two districts recently met, along with an attorney brought in by the La Cañada district who advised them on the issue of transferring the Ocean View pocket park to La Cañada and if that would affect the bond measure residents of Sagebrush, as part of GUSD, are responsible for.
The districts also learned from the attorney that the Mountain Avenue Elementary student phase-in could not extend beyond five years.
“We had [discussed] a 12-year phase-in,” Sheehan said.
To change this five-year phase-in limit, GUSD would have to change the law which would mean getting state legislators involved.
However, Sheehan pointed out, this was not the first attorney they had reached out to concerning a territory transfer and, with each lawyer, comes a different opinion.
The transfer would affect 360 students in the immediate future.
There have been issues brought up by Crescenta Valley residents concerning Sagebrush and the need for the transfer. One is the permit process. In the past and at present, GUSD does allow students in the Sagebrush area to transfer to La Cañada schools if they fill out a proper permit.
“We have not denied any permits,” Sheehan said.
Unite La Cañada, a group composed of La Cañada residents, voiced their concern for the bigger picture of wanting students who live in La Cañada to go to schools in La Cañada.
One thing that seems to be certain is the increased value of Sagebrush homes if the transfer is approved. In fact, one real estate company is promoting the transfer and advising buyers to buy now. A flyer has been distributed with information that the Glendale district has been in discussions concerning the transfer and buyers should take advantage of “current bargain prices.”
The question for voters on April 7 is which candidate shares their opinion concerning Sagebrush, be it for or against. And if the transfer is approved, what lies ahed for Mountain Aveneue Elementary? Does it stay the same or become a magnet school, or perhaps something completely different?
GUSD board members will not just be dealing with Sagebrush but will also have issues of construction, making certain that CV schools get their fair share of Measure S funds, that they continue to follow the implementation of Common Core and the expansion of technology throughout the district.
Voters will vote for no more than two candidates for GUSD.
Glendale Community College board of trustees is another candidate race that is important to those in Crescenta Valley. Many graduates from Crescenta Valley and Clark Magnet high schools attend GCC. Rising tuition costs, expansion of available courses, enrollment, four-year college transfers and partnerships with GUSD schools are just some of the issues that board members will have to face.
Voters are asked to vote for no more than two candidates for GCC board of trustees.
Voters within the city of Glendale will have to decide on city councilmembers, three charter amendments and one ballot measure.
The council, on the whole, will be managing the organization post recession, said Scott Ochoa, Glendale city manager.
“The good news is we are finally emerging from the recession,” Ochoa said. “We are finally in a position of reaping the benefits but [the council] will have to make tough decisions.”
The question facing whoever is elected will be how to be fiscally responsible while continuing to grow the city.
“It [will be] about building teamwork…budget is right around the corner,” he said.
There will be ongoing discussions of infrastructure, what to do with Grayson’s Power Plant and the Scholl Canyon landfill, as well as pedestrian and traffic safety.
Charter Amendment C would amend the City Charter with regards to council salary. A “yes” vote would remove the salary requirement from the Charter and allow council to set it by ordinance. A “no” vote would continue to tie council salaries to those of general law cities as established statewide, according to the city of Glendale.
Charter Amendment D was inspired by possible litigation. Several cities have been sued regarding district voting as opposed to elections at large. At present, the city of Glendale practices the latter. Voters are being asked to decide the method of electing council members either from at-large – meaning where they reside in the city – or districts –dividing the city into geographic sections where council members would come from.
A “yes” vote is in favor of adopting the measure and removes the at-large elections. A “no” vote means the at-large election method remains.
Charter Amendment E is asking the same district vs at-large voting method for Glendale Unified School District.
Ballot Measure O would amend the Transient Occupancy Tax to increase the rate of the hotel bed tax from 10% to 12%.
City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian and his office have been working to “get out the vote” with posters, banners, advertising and social media.
“What determines the turn out is going to be if people are excited about [the issues] they will turn out to the polls,” Kassakhian said.
If they are not excited, they will not turn out. He is aware of the Sagebrush issue, but did not want to estimate if that issue would bring out voters.
There is a new law, SB29, which went into effect this January. This allows voters to vote by mail on the day of election. As long as ballots are postmarked by April 7 and arrive at the clerk’s office within three days, they will be counted. In past elections, there was a cut off date for vote-by-mail prior to election day.
Voters can also vote early if they wish by going to the Glendale Police Department’s community room. They check in with the front desk, show identification and receive a ballot.
The city has made voting easier. Information on the measures and candidates is mailed to voters’ homes and are available online at www.glendalevotes.org
The future of city development, school district boundaries, funding for education, police, fire and quality of life all rest in each voter’s hands, and it is easier to be an informed voter than ever before.
Voting is on April 7. To find a polling place, visit
www.glendalevotes.org or call (818) 548-2090.
“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” — John F. Kennedy