Callers Welcome at City’s Virtual Meeting


The City of Glendale is being hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic with 76 cases currently confirmed by a March 31 LA County Dept. of Public Health report, the third highest in the county. The City of Los Angeles reports 1,386 confirmed cases; Long Beach has 115. There are 3,011 cases and 54 deaths currently confirmed across Los Angeles County. Glendale leads both Los Angeles and Long Beach in cases per capita.

The Glendale City Council met mostly remotely Tuesday night to say farewell to councilmembers Frank Quintero and Vartan Gharpetian and to install re-elected councilmember Paula Devine and new members Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian and Dan Brotman.

Brotman will serve the remainder of the term vacated in 2019 by Zareh Sinanyan until 2022. Kassakhian secured the four-year term by winning more votes.

Before the swearing-in ceremony, Mayor Ara Najarian convened the virtual council meeting and heard remote public comments from dozens of callers [(818) 937-8100 is the number to call to publicly comment on matters before the council – be sure to turn down your television or computer stream before speaking]. Many thanked and commended the city and its workers for their responsiveness to the crisis; many urged the city to take action to protect the city’s renters by halting rent payments; a great many used the opportunity to express concerns about the potential negative health effects of 5G wireless technology.

“The City of Glendale has an obligation to implement a rent moratorium for the duration … the eviction protection doesn’t go far enough,” urged one caller.

Another observed that, “no one on the council is a renter in a city with 60% renters. Imagine what it would feel like to empty your bank account to pay the rent.”

Los Angeles County elections official Rita Buchanan gave an overview the Glendale City Council election results by phone. Twenty one vote centers operated for the March 2020 election, the first time local Glendale elections have been administered by the county. Seven of the vote centers opened on Feb. 22 and 14 opened on Feb. 29. The election is expected to cost the city slightly more than $1 million.

Voter turnout increased by 18.66% since the last municipal election in 2017 with 40.96% of Glendale’s 110,834 registered voters participating (turnout was 22.3% in 2017).

Councilmember Gharpetian left the council having served since 2015. He thanked his family, supporters and the voters and wished the new councilmembers well.

Najarian thanked councilmember Frank Quintero for stepping up to fill in.

“We couldn’t have picked a better person for the job,” he said.

Quintero replied that “it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.” He thanked the council and the community for “the vote of confidence,” commended the “better group of councilmembers I’ve worked with,” the executive team assembled by city manager Yasmin Beers, and the “rank-and-file Glendale employees.” He listed accomplishments of worthy note including the city’s focus on renewable energy, comporting local legislation facilitating the building of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) with statewide mandates, the attention paid to regulating short-term and vacation rentals, actions to ease homelessness including the purchase of two properties directly, and the lobbyist registration and disclosure ordinances adopted by the council last month.

“The city will get through this crisis and I am happy I live in Glendale,” Quintero said, adding he looks forward to watching the new council, rooting for the next mayor.

State Senator Anthony Portantino administered the oath of office “fondly remembering my eight years on a neighboring city council and thanking my wife for putting up with me for 30 years – it’s our 30th wedding anniversary.”

Returning councilmember Paula Devine thanked her campaign staff, family and the “volunteers who were the heart of my grassroots campaign – and they were the best!” Devine went on to emphasize her ongoing commitment to seeking input from the residents, preserving the integrity of neighborhoods, protecting the historic resources she views as essential to the “fabric of our community.” She highlighted goals for the next four years: more affordable housing, groundbreaking for the Armenian-American museum, and a comprehensive citywide traffic study.

“I’m proud of the city [and] the staff in face of this crisis,” she said. “Our city leadership puts service over self.”

She also urged that while they’re putting their well-being and their lives on the line all Glendalians should stay home.

Ardy Kassakhian has served as the city’s elected city clerk since 2005. He took the oath of office via video from his living room. He thanked his campaign staff, the voters, his family, and “my spouse and best friend Courtney, who happens to be in the room next to me right now with our son, and my 5-year-old son who makes me realize each day that despite my degrees and years of professional experience, I still have a lot to learn. My family is the most important part of my life and they are a constant reminder of how blessed I am and why I made this commitment to our city.

“As far as my agenda and what I hope to accomplish, that has not changed no matter what we face or how great the obstacles before us. In fact, it is at times like this that we must recommit ourselves to absolute transparency, greater accountability, fiscal responsibility, environmental sustainability and ensuring the safety and security of our city. It is precisely when we are feeling lost that celebrating our diverse culture, supporting the arts, and working together to help our local businesses will help guide us through the dark times.”

The council has 30 days to appoint a new city clerk and may call a special election to pick a permanent replacement for Kassakhian, opt for a November election for the seat, or leave an appointee in place until the next regular municipal election in 2022. If it fails to act within 30 days, it is required to call a special election.

Dan Brotman congratulated Devine and Kassakhian for “running great campaigns,” thanked Councilmember Vrej Agajanian for being “one of the first who encouraged me to run,” and told Najarian that he looks forward to doing “good things together” even though they had “butted heads” in the past.

“I’ve butted heads with some people on staff, but I do believe they always do what they think is best for Glendale,” said Brotman. “We may not always agree but I know we can work together.”

Characterizing himself as a “relative newcomer,” Brotman expressed fascination at discovering the city’s varied neighborhoods as he knocked on more than 2,000 doors campaigning for office.

“Glendale really has a lot going for it and a depth of talented people who want to contribute. There is a level of abundance along with the ability to maintain a small-town feel,” he said, observing natural abundance and the “rich diversity of cultures” at the core of the city.

Brotman hopes to focus on the sustainability of the city, supporting Devine’s goal of reaching 100% renewable energy powering the city by 2030, wanting to work on improving transit and transportation systems to “get people out of their cars” and to enhance pedestrian safety, improve air pollution, and help with traffic. Brotman wants to close Scholl Canyon and “reduce waste to avoid reliance on the dump.” He expects the new office of sustainability be staffed with “someone with a real commitment” and wants to see a “serious action plan.” On housing, Brotman wants the people of Glendale, not the state, to decide where and how, but anticipates an increasing supply.

“Make no mistake, more density is coming,” he said. “The question is how to manage it.”

The council will select a member to serve as mayor for the coming year at its meeting of April 13.