Cities In Decline
Recently, Glendale City Council announced the acceptance of a $155,000 grant from Los Angeles County for our park maintenance. For many years, grants from federal, state and county governments have financed 90% of our city parks. Today, barely 10% of the general fund is being used for park maintenance.
About 10 years ago, approximately 50% of our sales tax went for infrastructures, i.e. roads. Council today depends on grant funding only.
Grant funding is food stamps for failed city governments. Our city managers and council members blame Washington D.C., Sacramento and the county for the financial woes of our “Jewel City.” However, they set the salary and pension benefits for our city workforce. Eighteen years ago, about 30% of the general fund paid for fire and police salaries and pension benefits. Today, 80% is required!
The influential San Bernardino fire and police unions contributed generously to local elections. In 2008, San Bernardino City Council approved changing their retirement benefit factor for fire and police personnel. After 30 years of service, retirement age was reduced from 55 [years] to 50 and they received a whopping 90% rather than 75% of their last year’s salary as a lifetime pension. A staggering 72% of their general fund went for salary and pensions for police and fire departments.
The once proud middle class city of San Bernardino, population about 214,000, after diverting city resources to pay for salary and pensions, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012. Irresponsible council management allowed their parks, roads and other city services to deteriorate, as is occurring in the once strong middle class City of Glendale today.
Because of our once strong economic base in 2000, Glendale City Council approved the same generous salaries and pension plans that eventually sunk and bankrupted the City of San Bernardino in 2008. Will Glendale’s fate be any different than San Bernardino?
Efforts Underway to Complete
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
Efforts are underway to better protect wilderness and open space in the San Gabriel Mountains and to complete the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
In October 2014 the President established the San Gabriel Mountain National Monument, providing national recognition for over half of our backyard mountain range but omitting the national forest above Pasadena, La Cañada, La Crescenta and Sunland-Tujunga. Efforts are underway by San Gabriel Mountains Forever and other groups to ask Congress to complete the work started by the President. Congress has the authority to expand the Monument but it will take overwhelming public support to get anything passed.
Our new National Monument is doing well. Chronic problems are beginning to be addressed by the Forest Service as it hires more staff, re-opens visitor centers, improves trash pickup and gets more rangers in the field. The Forest Service is making innovative plans to improve the visitor experience in the highly popular areas along San Gabriel River north of Azusa that are currently in terrible shape. Millions of dollars in private money have been pledged by the National Forest Foundation and others. A new management plan is being developed for the National Monument that should address innovative approaches like transit to trails. We hope to see more programs for youth and families.
The challenge is that the benefits of the new National Monument do not extend to our area. We don’t want our area to be permanently left out. A letter of support from your group, business or organization supporting completion of the Monument would really be helpful. Contact John Monsen at (818) 427-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Monsen, Consultant
San Gabriel Mountains Forever
Here we go again?
The new landscaping at the intersection of Honolulu and Ocean View reminds me of the Arizona desert and is sadly out of place in our beautiful foothill community. I wonder if this is another example of the City of Glendale knowing what’s best for our community?
The City supports the [Montrose] Shopping Park Association with our tax dollars. Did they consult with the Shopping Park Association board during the planning phase?
The City has abundant supplies of reclaimed water which they sell to La Cañada to maintain La Cañada’s traditional urban landscaping. Did the City share with our local leaders why they decided not to use some of the same reclaimed water to maintain our beautiful landscaping?
The new desert landscaping is a decomposed granite surface that increases the dust and grit in the air. Has the City publicly explained how our environment is improved by the increased dust and grit in the air – dust and grit that is stirred up by the breeze from cars driving through the intersection?
I suspect that this is another example of a city council that is so busy looking out for the City that it is too busy to look out for the individual neighborhoods.
City Hall has Open Ears
I read with interest Mike Lawler’s column published July 8 titled, “So What’s Going to Happen to Rockhaven Sanitarium?” Mike recounted the history of Rockhaven precisely as I remember it including the plans put forth at the time that [the City of] Glendale purchased the property. His column is very thought provoking and is something that all Glendale residents should read, especially those of us in the far north [part] of the city.
Recently I emailed our Glendale City Councilmembers asking about Rockhaven. The responses were swift. Councilman Vartan Gharapetian responded the same day that I sent the email. The other councilmembers responded through City Manager Mr. Scott Ochoa the very next day. This makes me believe that we are being listened to at City Hall.
I can understand, somewhat, the response from our city council. Many things have changed since the city acquired Rockhaven. We have a new Los Angeles County Library nearby on Foothill Boulevard; Fire Station 29 is supposedly doing okay as they are; tax revenues are down canceling or postponing Rockhaven and other projects throughout the city.
My idea of what Rockhaven should and could be was pretty much shot down by the response. I felt, and still feel, that we should move the Montrose Branch Library to the site allowing an expansion of Fire Station 29 into the library building. I felt, and still feel, that a “mini” city hall could and should be established at the site allowing “northerners” access city services without making the trip downtown. I felt, and still feel, that we need meeting rooms for community groups and an open park area-like setting where people can just relax.
I have spoken to many people who agree with what I would envision with Rockhaven. Our opinion must be heard. Referring [to my earlier comments when] I point out the quick responses from city council, I believe that we are being listened to. However, if we do not communicate our thoughts to our city councilmembers they will not know what we want.
I urge you to communicate [your feelings].