By Julie BUTCHER
On Tuesday night the Glendale City Council moved forward on several pending issues, including reconsidering regulations to control sidewalk vending and adopting recommendations for upgrades and improvements to parking in both the downtown area and for the Montrose Shopping Park.
First the council recognized police officer Ryan Insalaco for his passion for working to get drunk drivers off the streets of Glendale. Insalaco averages 30 stops and 13 DUI arrests each month. In 2018 he made 60 DUI arrests and has been recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD); in 2019 he has already made 120 drunk driving arrests.
In response to concerns raised by the public and members of the council, police chief Carl Povilaitis summarized the department’s prioritization of traffic enforcement, emphasizing that it seeks to base deployment decisions on data. Since parking enforcement has been outsourced to a private company, Povilaitis explained, the police department has been better able to focus on traffic enforcement. The department’s traffic bureau is made up of nine motorcycles and three police cars, but traffic enforcement is a priority for the entire force beyond those 12 officers, he reported.
Povilaitis noted that the new speed radar signs are equipped to capture and transmit traffic information to help further target traffic “hotspots.” He estimated that half of those cited for traffic violations are from Glendale.
“Some of these [traffic] tragedies are avoidable. This is our community. The police department is here to do our part; this is ‘us’ driving in our community, our kids driving. I’m going to ask everybody to take the time to watch out for each other. These accidents are preventable – if we’re watching out for each other.”
Councilmember Paula Devine expressed frustration that the “perception is that there’s not enough enforcement.
“It’s kind of like the economy or inflation. We should be giving more citations now than we did in 2014. We have more cars and more people. There should be more than 20,000 citations,” said Devine. “People need to know that you’re out there and right now they don’t know that.”
Mayor Ara Najarian weighed in saying that he thought the police department has been “unfairly characterized” in some neighborhood publications and social media posts. He compared the ratio of police to the population of Glendale and those of neighboring forces in Pasadena, Burbank, and Los Angeles.
“You come to us every year for a budget,” he said adding that “the harsh reality” is that the council asks the police to do more and more with less and less. “We don’t have a quota system [for traffic citations] and we don’t want a quota system,” Mayor Najarian said. “It’s wrong and it’s not what we’re about.”
In other actions, the council approved contracts for the construction of approximately 1.2 miles of soundwalls along both sides of the 210 Freeway between Lowell and Pennsylvania avenues. The issue of building the soundwalls has lanquished for more than 15 years.
Additionally the council approved the acceptance of $4.5 million for Beeline maintenance.
“Much of this funding is coming from Metro,” Mayor Najarian emphasized, “not just because I’m on the board but because of previous criticism of Metro, that we pay in without getting anything back.”
Both the soundwalls and bus maintenance improvement funding were approved.
Local representatives of the Glendale Quilting Guild (https://www.glendalequiltguild.org/) gave the council an early preview of their big expo at the Glendale Civic Auditorium next March 28-29.
The Soroptimists of Glendale announced an upcoming forum on hunger and food insecurity on community college campuses saying that 40% of 2.1 million students report skipping meals because they couldn’t afford to eat. The forum is set for Thursday, Nov. 14 from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. at the downtown Central Library. The forum will include local experts, State Senator Anthony Portantino, Glendale Community College students and representatives of the college’s food pantry Food for Thought.
“Seventy-five percent of the people standing in food bank lines are women,” the Soroptimists told the councilmembers. “You don’t have to do something big. A flat of ramen noodles costs around $4 and could be the difference between someone being really hungry or having something in their stomachs.”
More information about the upcoming forum can be found at http://www.soroptimistglendale.com/.
The results of an ongoing study of parking issues and opportunities in the downtown and Montrose areas were debated and adopted by the council. As previously reported in the Sept. 5 issue of the CVW, the city studied parking strategies; employed a consultant; in Montrose, helped to organize a parking task force composed of local business and community leaders; and proposed changes in parking meter hours, nominal price increases to encourage off-street parking options, and the introduction of advanced user-friendly technology.
“Parking can be a valuable asset,” consultant Dan McKinney of the Transpo Group told the council, said that it enhances economic development, reduces traffic congestion and improves neighborhood livability. Drew Sugars, Glendale Community College’s director of communications and community outreach, served on the Montrose parking task force and spoke in support of the recommendations as well as commending city staff and the other members of the task force for their willingness to work together.
Parking task force chair and president of the Montrose Shopping Park Association (MSPA) Andre Ordubegian addressed the council in support of the recommended actions.
“It shows the great work that the community can do when we come together,” he said.
Crescenta Valley civic leader Steve Pierce echoed Ordubegian’s remarks.
“The task force was incredibly worthwhile – we reached out to all of our businesses, which all came together. We’re planning on continuing the task force with the city. We had a lot of concerns going into this process and we addressed every one of them.”
Mayor Najarian applauded the effort and the council adopted the provisions of the report. Specifically, the council acted to change the hours of parking meter operation to allow for more flexibility and to increase the cost of some parking meters. Councilmember Frank Quintero emphasized the need to “take our time increasing the cost of parking.” He expressed excitement at the new technology, such as license plate technology that would allow parkers to pay for parking and to identify themselves via license plate recognition software. Quintero also mentioned the need for added signs “even if they’re tacky and intrusive. I still have to tell people where the parking lot is.”
Before voting there was some debate about extending meter times to midnight in some downtown areas with some saying it would be excessive. Mayor Najarian raised an historical note that the council faced a recall in the 1940s after installing parking meters on Brand Boulevard.
In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, the council approved a contract with American Reclamation for $208,618 to supplement the city’s work in picking up Christmas trees and holiday debris.
“Who knows the phone number?” Mayor Najarian asked to highlight the city’s bulky item pick-up service. “It’s free. Just call and put [items] out on your regular pick-up day.” The phone number for bulky item pick up for Glendale residents is (818) 548-3916.
Finally, regulations controlling sidewalk vending came back before the council for further consideration in advance of a final vote expected on Nov. 19. While decriminalizing vending activities overall, consistent with the intent of SB 946, the draft rules would require an annual license fee application of $598; a valid sales tax number; background checks including fingerprinting; a permit from the county health department for food service; and $1- and $2 million in insurance. The proposed ordinance would prohibit vending activity on public property and in busy areas such as the Arts & Entertainment District, portions of Brand Boulevard and Central Avenue, the Montrose Shopping Park, Kenneth Village and the Adams Square commercial area.
Councilmember Frank Quintero noted that the “comprehensive ordinance is severely restrictive, geographically and multiple other ways, to keep vendors from coming to the city. We’ve got a couple here, one selling kids’ trinkets outside the Americana and a hot dog vendor outside Giggles [nightclub] late at night. Now without any rules. I don’t believe there are going to be hordes of vendors.”
Quintero added that he would vote for the rules but not for the million-dollar insurance requirement.
Mayor Najarian explained his support of requiring insurance to protect members of the public.
“What if somebody buys a hot dog and gets sick? Or one of those glow-in-the-dark things explodes and blinds a child?” he said. “Otherwise, there’s no one to go to.”
Ultimately, the body agreed to consider final rules that reduce the permit fee from $598 to $295 and mandate $100,000 and $200,000 insurance coverage.