By Julie BUTCHER
Hoover High School’s marching band received recognition as four-time defending state champions from Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and the entire city council at the beginning of the Tuesday night council meeting.
“You bring so much pride to the city of Glendale,” Mayor Sinanyan told the student musicians and their families, “and congratulations on winning your fourth division 4A championships as well as winning the silver medal at the California State band championships.”
In addition, Michael Cacciotti provided a report from the South Coast Air Quality Management Board (SCAQMD) on air quality. Cacciotti represents Glendale as well as 35 cities on the 11-member board responsible for improving the region’s air quality. He commended the City for securing and utilizing funds to benefit the health of its people by replacing gas-fueled equipment and vehicles with compressed national gas – CNG – and electricity-operated alternatives. He demonstrated an electric leaf-blower that lowers noise by 50% and operates at approximately 20 cents per hour (versus the $2 hourly cost chalked up by the two-stroke gas version).
Councilmember Paula Devine noted that she had attended the City’s Arbor Day event focusing on the importance of trees and landscaping in Glendale. Commending Glendale Beautiful for its work, she announced that lots of trees were donated and would be planted in Verdugo Park on Saturday (March 9) from 9 a.m. to noon.
“Bring your shovels and plant some trees,” Devine told the Council and those in the audience.
She also requested that the Council adjourn in the memory of Jeraldine Saunders, writer of the 1974 book “The Love Boat,” who died on Feb. 26 at the age of 96. Councilmember Devine added, “At the time of her passing, she was writing a daily horoscope column. There’ll be a memorial service at Forest Lawn on March 23 at 2:30 p.m.”
The Council also announced a “City Council in Your Neighborhood: The Walking Edition,” a walking and meeting event on Wednesday, March 27 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Beginning at Porto’s at 315 N. Brand for coffee and treats provided by Porto’s and the 85°C Bakery Café, “we’ll do a little walking, patronize some local businesses on the way,” the mayor explained the format of the event.
A representative of the Glendale Youth Orchestra announced a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” with three chorale groups and solo performances by eight members of the orchestra on Sunday, March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Alex Theatre.
A member of the public shared a video depicting defects in the City’s streets and sidewalks as well as pictures of broken and abandoned scooters and photos of injuries reported to have resulted from scooter accidents. Mayor Sinanyan defended the condition of Glendale’s streets, “especially compared to our neighbors in, say, Los Angeles, our streets are in good condition and we’ll act to fix them quickly after the rains.”
Responding to the issue of the scooters, Councilmember Ara Najarian said that the City had acted “to preempt a dump of thousands of these vehicles on the city streets, we took the proactive step to set some framework in regulating them, so we’d be ahead of the curve.”
“It’s a pilot program,” Sinanyan added, “so we can get rid of them if it doesn’t work out.”
The Council reviewed a report from staff in response to a September 2018 request for a review and recommendations regarding the appointment of city commissioners. According to Councilmember Najarian, “the current process is not working; it’s too political.” The staff report notes and compares the appointment process in 14 other cities, some general law cities, others charter cities, like Glendale, and thus able to change specific provisions of the process. Ultimately the Council agreed to consider new rules that would prohibit lobbyists and elected officials from serving on Glendale’s boards and commissions and failed to reach agreement on barring board members who are suing the City.
Councilmember Devine advocated accountability from the councilmember making the appointment.
“The onus is on us, on the councilmember who made the appointment, to watch the behavior of our appointees,” said Devine.
The Council considered and approved the acceptance of the gift of an art piece, “Languish for Wisdom 2017.: Described as mixed media on canvas, the art is 72×24 inches, by artist Shenping Wang who was born in Beijing, China, and who has been a resident of Glendale since 2015. The acceptance of the gifted art is consistent with the City’s policy for receiving such gifts, reported Gary Shaffer of the City’s Library, Arts, & Culture Department.
“‘Arts’ is our middle name,” he quipped. “We’re happy to accept this generous gift.”
Councilmembers expressed surprise that the City has a policy for accepting gifted art for display.
“Mark my words, we’re going to hear from local artists tomorrow,” Mayor Sinanyan commented.
Finally, the Council reviewed changes proposed to the City’s Downtown Specific Plan (DSP). Bradley Calvert, assistant director of the Community Development Dept., reported that a moratorium for residential development in the DSP is set to expire on March 23. The objectives of proposed DSP amendments are to: improve the overall design of buildings and to avoid “big box” uniformity; to improve streetscapes and the overall public realm; to achieve higher-quality publicly accessible open space; and to modify the incentive system previously used with a system focused more on community benefit (rather than increasing value for developers).
By allowing taller buildings, up to 245 feet in some areas of downtown, it may be possible to gain 164% more open space at ground level. After hours of debate and dialogue, the Council adopted new standards that require higher levels of family-oriented units (two- and three-bedrooms) at all levels of development: 20% at Tier I; 30% at Tier II; and 40% at Tier III.
“It’s a bold move,” City Manager Yasmin Beers observed about the action, “but sometimes we have to be bold. We’ll look at the economics to make sure we’re not going to have a chilling effect on development.”
An accompanying ordinance was passed that changes the ratio of hotel parking spots required from one to .8 spaces per hotel room.