By Julie BUTCHER
This week the Glendale City Council accepted an $18.5 million grant from the State of California for a bridge over the Los Angeles River as part of the ongoing Riverwalk project. According to design documents, Phase 3, “otherwise known as the Glendale-Los Angeles Garden River Bridge Project, includes the planning, development, design, and construction of a 320-foot curvilinear concrete or concrete and steel bridge with concrete substructure planking and two piers in the river, safety railings, trash cans, pet waste stations, interpretive signs, pedestrian safety lighting, and access gates.”
The footbridge will connect the John Ferraro Soccer Fields in Griffith Park to Flower Street in Glendale and is expected to include shaded seating, benches and planters, and “viewing pods;” the bridge would link the LA River Greenway Trail, the pedestrian and bike path that goes along the Griffith Park side of the river, to the Glendale side of the river, the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, and Glendale’s bikeway system.
Councilmember Frank Quintero expressed his support of the project.
“This is something we talked about many years ago,” he said.
Councilmember Paula Devine thanked local Assemblymember Laura Friedman for helping to secure the funding.
Mayor Ara Najarian reported that he had attended a dedication of a new garden adjacent to the Glendale Library, notable for its drought tolerance, and that it will be irrigated with recycled water.
On behalf of the non-profit Glendale Beautiful, Lenore Solis announced Glendale’s participation in this year’s international celebration of Play Music on the Porch Day with an event planned at Glendale’s historic Casa Adobe, 1330 Dorothy Drive in the Verdugo-Viejo neighborhood, on Saturday, Aug. 31 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In response to a public comment opposing the approval of the police union contract on the council agenda, Solis added her own personal opinion.
“In this environment, when there’s so much hostility towards our first responders, be it police or fire, I don’t think there’s any amount of money that is too much to pay these people to risk their lives every moment of the day,” Solis said. “God bless them and thank you very much for your service.” The council approved the new three-year agreement with the Glendale Police Officers Association (GPOA) unanimously. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – as a collective bargaining agreement or a contract is known in the public sector – comes from “long and difficult negotiations,” per city manager Yasmeen Beers who recommended adoption of the deal.
“Neither party is 100% happy,” Beers observed, “which means it’s a good agreement.”
The City’s labor negotiator shared the City’s interests in controlling costs while staying competitive in a “tight labor market.” The contract provides “modest salary adjustments,” he said, of 1.5% in the second year and 2.5% in the third. Significantly, the deal includes a new longevity pay provision to reward sworn police officers with 10 and 20 years of service.
Mayor Najarian commented on the importance of retaining trained officers, particularly when considering the expense and investment of training and community integration; it is “worth every penny” he commented about the cost of the police contract.
In further action, members of the council were appointed to represent the city on various local governing boards: Councilmember Vartan Gharpetian to the Metropolitan Water Board; Councilmember Vrej Agajanian to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority; and Mayor Najarian to the board of the Independent Cities Association.
Christine Powers, a senior analyst in the city manager’s office, updated the council on outstanding issues currently being deliberated in the state legislature, reiterating the city’s “legislative platform” and highlighting the importance of local control.
Powers shared the city’s legislative strategies to address housing issues. Adam Schiff is working on the Affordable Housing Incentives Act of 2019, expected to be introduced in the U.S. Congress in September, to allow more time for sellers to reinvest capital gains when selling directly to a public housing authority specifically dedicated to building affordable housing.
State Senator Anthony Portantino is carrying two bills supported by the city. SB 521 would add tax incentives to encourage owners to rent to eligible Section 8 tenants and SB 532 would facilitate the sale of the remaining redevelopment bonds expressly for the development, acquisition, rehabilitation or preservation of affordable housing.
Assemblymember Friedman’s AB 1110 would increase the amount of advance notice landlords are required to provide to tenants before implementing rent increases between 10% and 15%, and more than 15%. The council opted to support 90 days’ rather than the bill’s 120 days’ notice for increases greater than 15%. Najarian added that he opposes statewide rent control entirely, favoring decisions made at the local level.
The entire legislative update is posted online with the City’s agenda for the Tuesday, Aug. 27 council meeting: https://tinyurl.com/y4kfxsu4.
Camille Levee updated the council about the activities of the city’s Senior Services Committee, announcing her re-election as the committee’s chair.
“There are 45,000 seniors in Glendale,” she said, and that number is growing. “We don’t want to be known as a senior community, but we do want to be known as an age-friendly community, not just for our seniors, but for the entire community.”
The group is focusing on housing, she noted, both affordable and senior housing. The group is studying effective strategies that have been used in other cities as well as planning an emergency preparedness fair set for Oct. 5.
At an afternoon meeting, also on Tuesday, Aug. 27, the council considered two conceptual designs for the continued vitalization of the downtown Artsakh Arts & Entertainment District, one option for creating a permanent plaza and one for a more flexible one-way shared street option. Glendale created the paseo in 2018 when it renamed Maryland Avenue between Wilson and Harvard streets Artsakh Paseo and aimed at developing the area as a pedestrian-friendly arts and entertainment district.
Studio Movie Grill VP of Development Andrew Bucki introduced himself to the council, speaking in support of the one-way shared street option as better for him and “our neighboring businesses.”
Studio Movie Grill has signed a lease to open one of its dining and movie theaters at 128 N. Artsakh Ave. Bucki said that the company currently operates 32 theaters in 10 states and that the company is “excited to become part of your community.”
Councilmember Gharpetian expressed concerns about the city’s ability to regulate street performers and street vending as well as of the amount of pink used in the renderings of the project shared with the council.
Mayor Najarian did not hold back in sharing his thoughts.
This is a “great investment in this two-block area,” he said. “I don’t see those businesses [that] were so outraged that we would change the name of Maryland to Artsakh and stomped their feet and cried how unfair the city is to them and their businesses. I don’t see them here today commenting on the millions and millions of dollars.
“So where are you? Are we treating you unfairly? No! Just the opposite. We’re focusing our attention on this two-block area in a much greater way than any other portion of Glendale, so I don’t want to hear any complaints.”
The council voted to move forward with the one-way shared street option.