City Updated on Virus Protocols in Place


The Glendale City Council met virtually again this week, with newly installed councilmembers Ardy Kassakhian and Daniel Brotman taking their seats via video conference. At a special meeting on Monday, April 13, the body will select a new mayor who will chair council meetings and lead the body for the coming year.

At the conclusion of this week’s meeting, the council also set a general direction for the process to replace the city clerk (Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian, Glendale city clerk since 2005, was elected to the council last month.) Rather than spend more than an estimated $1 million for a special election, councilmembers reached a consensus to make an appointment to fill the remainder of the term until 2022.

City officials detailed the city’s updated response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas offered a somber preface to his report.

“As has been the case in advance of every report, as I sit in the back of the room and wait for my time, the numbers continue to change,” he said.

As of Tuesday night, there were 1,428,428 cases confirmed worldwide; 398,185 in the U.S.; 6,910 in LA County; and 154 in Glendale. There have been two deaths confirmed, to date, in Glendale. Glendale’s rate of infection is statistically high at 70.43. The county’s website has the most up-to-date information on the regional spread of the disease

Lanzas updated the council on everything the fire department is doing to keep firefighters safe including tracking attendance and readiness, developing and perfecting contingency plans; the city’s fire stations are closed to the public and non-essential activities have been canceled. Boots are no longer allowed inside the stations, some administrative and support staff are working from home when possible, and the use of outerwear is being minimized for the ease of cleaning and continuous disinfecting.

Chief Lanzas commended the “Verdugo dispatchers” and the cooperation of the county’s separate 30 fire departments, described a dashboard tool they developed jointly to share vast stores of data, including staffing levels and testing statistics, all aimed at assessing and sharing their relative ability to provide mutual aid.

“Work that would normally take years, every chief did the right thing and came together as one region. It’s a testament to the service we’re providing,” Lanzas shared.

“This week and the week following are critical to flattering the curve. We’ll continue to see deaths.”

He did commend the use of social distancing, urging continued vigilance.

“It’s working. We’re doing well for a big city,” he said. “But we could do better. Never has there been a clearer role for each one of us to play. Every single person can help by simply staying home.

“Stay in place. Maintain your space. Cover your face. It’s a little catchy and it’s a little rhymey. The fire department is here for you, fully staffed and ready for any emergency. What we ask of the public is that you stay home for us.”

City Manager Yasmin Beers also expressed appreciation for the response, thanking community and business members as well as city employees and people serving on the front lines: “healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store clerks, postal employees, delivery drivers.”

Parking enforcement is relaxed for street cleaning. The first 20 minutes at the city’s meters are free for curbside pick-ups and deliveries. Late fees are suspended.

The State of California has extended the deadline for filing state taxes to July 15 for all taxpayers. Southern California Gas Company has suspended service disconnections for non-payment.

Glendale Unified School District is providing free meals for all children under 18; Glendale Community College is operating a drive-thru food bank in Parking Lot B at its Verdugo campus.

Some residents may qualify for the Glendale Water and Power “helping hands” program for low-income customers; the council voted to halt utility shut-offs and late fees for the duration of the public health emergency.

All city parks will be closed for the weekend.

The city has set up a COVID-19 hotline, operating weekdays at (818) 548-3301.

Testing is being done at the area’s three hospitals. Glendale Memorial has partnered with Los Angeles County to provide any resident of the county with testing without regard to zip code, Lanzas reported. Concerned residents should contact their health care providers or they can find the preliminary testing application on Glendale Memorial’s website to download. These drive-thru tests take approximately 30 seconds, he explained, and the availability and variety of tests is changing quickly.

In response to a question from the mayor, the fire chief recounted the volunteer program in place that currently delivers groceries and prescription medication to seniors and high-risk Glendale residents.

“On March 17, I sent out an email asking for volunteers to step up and help and by the end of the first day, we had 30 volunteers. Now there are over 100 and that includes firefighters and chief officers, dispatchers, administrative staff, fire prevention employees, and folks from other city departments and community groups,” Chief Lanzas said.

Residents can call (818) 548-4814 and answer some basic questions to establish genuine need. The next day, volunteers will make the delivery, collecting only the cost of the supplies.

“I meet with each of the volunteers when they come back, and they are proud to do it. These folks really need the help. We’ll keep doing it as long as we have volunteers,” Chief Lanzas told the council.

Police Chief Carl Povilaitis also briefed the council on the varying responses demanded by the crisis. Police helicopters are patrolling trails and parks for a “bird’s eye view,” for instance, and patrol officers are responding to people congregating unsafely outside grocery stores.

Some reports may be taken by phone; Povilaitis detailed changes the public may observe or “we may ask you to come outside to talk to us.”

Mayor Ara Najarian expressed appreciation for the all of the city’s work.

“I’m glad we have a strong public safety infrastructure,” he said. “And I also want to thank the sanitation workers. It’s not the sexiest department we have but picking up trash is important. We’ve all gotten the calls when those bins start to fill up.”

Councilmember Paula Devine emphasized the need to maintain safe physical distances even when wearing a mask, and asked that the city send a letter out to all landlords reminding them of protections against evictions voted on by the city and the state, for a council vote to extend the rent repayment period to 12 months (from six), and for the city to require grocery workers to wear facial covering masks, as has the City of Los Angeles.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the 12-month repayment period and to require all employees and customers of essential businesses utilize facial coverings.