By Brian CHERNICK
Glendale City Council and Housing Authority held a joint meeting to address updates to the implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The council did not agree to adopt the changes recommended by the staff and instead voted to move discussion to the next meeting after facing criticism from community members and council members alike.
California law states that each public agency adopts local guidelines and implementations to establish objectives and regulations in order to meet environmental safety standards.
A major point of contention with community members was a portion of the updated guidelines which would allow developers in non-residential zones to hire on their own environmental impact report (EIR) consultants. This was seen by many as a potential conflict of interest.
City Manager Scott Ochoa defended the staff’s recommendations, stating that such a conflict of interest had not been previously experienced and that no major changes would be had with environmental regulations and procedures.
“We have not seen that deviousness, that nefariousness, that agenda, that is being portrayed,” Ochoa stated to council member Zareh Sinanyan. “We fully appreciate and respect the concern that folks have voiced … I get that people are afraid, but does that make for the right policy?”
The council voted unanimously to follow the already established ordinance on campaign contributions and increase its limit to $1,100 per person per election cycle.
The council also heard from the newly established Pedestrian Safety Task Force which had its first meeting last week when it introduced its goals and set a schedule to make walking in Glendale safer.
The committee will have its first walking audit to observe
any issues that need to be addressed for pedestrians throughout the city. The committee is due to report back in May with its findings.
The council also appointed Onnig Bulanikian as the city’s new director of Community Services and Parks Tuesday afternoon during the council’s special meeting.
Bulanikian has served as interim director since June after Jess Duran, who served as the previous director for nearly four decades, retired. Bulanikian has held previous titles of community service administrator and community services manager. Bulanikian first started his career with Glendale in 2003 when he joined on to be a community service coordinator for the Pacific Park Community Center.