By Julie BUTCHER
On an ironically cold and wettish night, the Glendale City Council voted to move to Phase III of the city’s mandatory water conservation measures, reducing the number of days allowed for outdoor watering from three to two (Tuesdays and Saturdays only, 10 minutes per watering station).
Glendale Water and Power chief assistant general manager of water Michael De Ghetto explained that 31% of Glendale’s water comes from the San Fernando basin; 4% from the Verdugo basin; 7% is recycled water produced at the LA Glendale Water Reclamation Plant (LAGWRP) and the remaining 60% is purchased from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD).
“There is a 66% chance MWD will need to contribute to Lake Mead storage in 2024,” De Ghetto said, detailing the urgency of the ongoing drought notwithstanding recent precipitation tracking above normal as of today, Thursday.
Regional investments have helped adapt to climate change, he noted, but recent snow is resting on dry ground.
“We’re always in Phase I [of water conservation prohibitions],” he said. “There’s no need to ever waste water washing sidewalks. Turn off your sprinklers when it rains. There are common sense actions everyone can take.”
Phase III will take effect on Feb. 1.
The city reports a 6.3% reduction in water usage since August 2021. The governor is urging a statewide reduction of 20%.
De Ghetto reported that 77% of the city’s water use is residential, with multifamily homes using 39% and single-family homes using 38%. Summer usage increases by 12% in multifamily units and by 70% in single-family houses. Glendale has 48,900 multifamily and 22,100 single-family homes.
“We’ve added 3,300 dwelling units since 2013 and have seen an 18% reduction in water usage in the same time,” De Ghetto told the council. “There are rebates for turf replacement and native plants, tips on how to plant a climate-friendly garden.” He urged residents to take advantage of various rebate programs available on the utility’s website at https://tinyurl.com/499hnycv.
Councilmembers Vrej Agajanian and Ardy Kassakhian wanted the council to revisit the rules on artificial turf.
“Getting to 20% will be tough,” Kassakhian observed, “but we have to do it. And the city needs to lead.” He confirmed that the city’s “water features” are all turned off.
Councilmember Dan Brotman asked if the “drought charge” of 60 cents per 1,000 gallons could be incentivized by lowering the first tier, emphasizing the need “to reduce reliance on imported water.”
Mayor Paula Devine summed up the council’s action: “If you conserve, if you watch your water usage, your bill will not go up – and it may even go down.”
The council next approved a pay raise of 5% for city manager Roubik Golanian.
Then, the council discussed a response to a petition for a partial referendum to repeal the ordinance the council passed in October 2021 to enter into a development agreement for a hotel at 120 W. Colorado Street (to replace the Vagabond Inn at the site). According to city attorney Mike Garcia, the requisite number of signatures has been submitted (at least 10% of registered voters) and the city could either repeal the development agreement or put the referendum on the ballot in the next election or hold a special election (the next scheduled election for Glendale voters will take place in June 2022). The council opted to repeal the agreement and Garcia reported that the petitioners accepted that action.
Elena Smith of Unite Here Local 11 was one of several callers regarding the issue of the development agreement.
“I want to thank the council for rejecting the development agreement,” Smith said. “I canvassed on this project and spoke to hundreds of voters who made it really clear that Glendale wants more housing – they don’t want more hotels.”
Finally, the council voted to extend provisions enacted in response to state legislation on housing development (SB 9) and lot-splitting building projects for additional time, up to a year, in order to study the projects to refine the local regulations.