By Mary O’KEEFE
It was coffee and conversation on Monday when Assemblymember Mike Gatto visited Montrose Bakery to speak to the community on issues of concern.
Residents from downtown Glendale and Burbank to Crescenta Valley asked questions on a variety of issues ranging from taxes to medical marijuana.
Gatto holds periodic community meetings throughout his district to hear what his constituents’ issues are and, in some cases, to gather suggestions for him to take back to Sacramento.
“You are my bosses,” he said of the audience.
One question concerned how the state legislation will combat businesses leaving California. Gatto referenced AB 1839, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September. Gatto and Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra introduced the bill.
“It was a [tax] incentive that was targeted for productions that employ people in this area,” he said.
The bill expanded the state’s film tax incentive program to help stop, or at least slow, “runaway Hollywood.” Tax incentives and benefits in other states, and countries, have chipped away at the film industry jobs that were once prominent in Los Angeles.
As for supporting small businesses in California, he made reference to another bill signed last year that amended Proposition 65. Gatto introduced AB227 after his small business committee brought to him the issue of meritless lawsuits concerning signs that were required to be displayed by businesses serving food and beverages. The bill amended the proposition allowing business owners 14 days to comply with allegations of improper signage, instead of having to go directly to court.
There were several questions regarding specific city ordinances not relating to the state; however, Gatto listened and offered some suggestions on what the state government may be able to do.
On Nov. 4, voters approved Proposition 47 that affects criminal sentencing. The passage of this proposition changed some drug and property offenses from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Gatto said he didn’t agree with the proposition but, because it was a proposition, it did not originate in the state assembly. He added that perhaps it was time to look at how propositions are placed on the ballot.
Another issue that was brought to Gatto’s attention was development in the city of Glendale. Although this is a concern for the city government, residents who live near Central Avenue in downtown Glendale asked the assemblymember if there were any type of development restrictions that could be enacted on what they felt was over building.
The residents stressed they understood that growth for a city was necessary. But they said they were worried that when growth took place all at once traffic issues were raised – issues that were not only annoying but dangerous. They were concerned that recent traffic studies only concentrated on a specific development and did not take into consideration development that may be a few blocks away.
Several people at the meeting spoke about the apartment units that are being built in the city of Glendale and the lack of parking.
“Even without the new buildings,” said one resident, “parking is difficult.”
Gatto said he saw this type of building in the city of Los Angeles from Los Feliz to Hancock Park and how traffic was impacted.
“And now I see a lot of this happening in Glendale as well,” he said.
He added he could look into some state ordinances that might help with controlling development but, for the most part, this was a city issue.
The evening ended with Gatto’s staff distributing business cards and encouraging those in attendance to contact the assemblyman’s office with any issues.
“I will answer your emails,” Gatto said.