Rockhaven on Council Agenda


“Do I even speak? Are they listening?” asked Friends of Rockhaven president Joanna Linkchorst just before the first of two meetings on Tuesday of the Glendale City Council. “They meet with us and nod politely, then tell us what they’re going to do. It’s good that something is moving forward but our main concern is that none of the other historic buildings will be protected in this plan.”

“It seems like all the decisions have already been made. The mayor says he won’t collaborate with the Friends of Rockhaven ‘because of the lawsuit.’ Were they collaborating with the community before that? We only want to preserve this important historic resource. If they do that, the lawsuit goes away,” Linkchorst added.

At a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, three members of the Council voted to “authorize contract amendment with SWA by $900,765 for new not-to-exceed amount of $1,050,765 to provide Additional Design Services for the Rockhaven 

Project.” The Council gave additional instructions to city staff to explore ways to protect all the historic buildings and landscaping n this property.

At Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Roubik Golanian said he was pleased to announce plans for Rockhaven are moving forward. Community Development Director Bradley Calvert indicated that the aim of the current action is to “set realistic expectations of what can be done given the limitation of existing resources.” He summed up the history of the facility, opened in 1923 by nurse Agnes Richards as a “private women’s facility that provided specialized care in a beautiful, gated setting.”

Since the city purchased the 3.8 acres, located at 2713 Honolulu Ave., in 2008, there have been three failed attempts at development/preservation. In June 2021, State Senator Anthony Portantino secured an $8 million grant from the state to create a museum on the site. According to Calvert, the city conducted an “evaluation of deferred maintenance and the limited reuse of buildings” in July 2021, and the Council in October 2021 considered reuse options that included a park with commercial opportunities, a museum, the relocation of the Montrose Library and affordable housing. That analysis went to the Council in May 2022. Pines Cottage on the property was identified as the best place for the museum; the Council determined that further study was necessary regarding stabilizing the buildings, improving the grounds, opening the museum, addressing parking, conducting outreach and other feasibility analyses. In 2023, the city replaced the roof of Pines Cottage and tarped the remaining buildings to attempt to protect them from further rain and water damage.

Today, Calvert explained, the contract extension with SWA would provide comprehensive design and engineering services for a narrow, realistic scope: renovating Pines Cottage for the museum, renovating the historic grounds (landscaping and pathways) to open them to the public and studying parking feasibility (estimates suggest parking could be increased 30%-40% with proper reconfiguring).

Most of the public commenting criticized the city’s lack of plans to protect the buildings other than Pines Cottage, the lack of outreach to the city’s historic preservation experts and community, the consultant’s lack of historic restoration experience and the appearance of “demolition by neglect” in the city’s lack of appropriate action to preserve the historic property over many years.

Councilmember Ara Najarian urged staff to provide the Council with a clear analysis of what is needed.

“Are we talking about $50 million or $2.5 million to properly ‘mothball’ these buildings? Will it do to have a bake sale or are we talking something more long term?”

Najarian also asked for outreach to the water district regarding the well on the Rockhaven grounds and the arrangements for payment for the water delivered.

“It’ll be years before we even have a plan,” said Mayor Dan Brotman, suggesting that $2.5 million to preserve the other buildings could be indicated. “We spend $2.5 million on lots of things.”

Councilmember Paula Devine questioned Calvert about the amount of outreach.

“You’ve proposed, what, three outreach meetings? One with the Council, one with the planning commission, and one with the public? Why not have the first one now? If we approve this today, the first thing you’ll do is meet with the Friends of Rockhaven and the historic preservation community?” she asked.

Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the Council took significant historic action in joining more than 130 California companies and seven other California cities in signing the California Equal Pay Pledge. The commitment was approved unanimously; the city will collect and analyze data to evaluate its hiring and promotional practices, to promote best practices that will close the pay gap between men and women, reduce unconscious bias, and ensure fundamental equity for all workers, according to Paula Adams, the city’s Human Resources chief. Women earn 84 cents for each dollar earned by men. The divide is bigger for working women and for women of color. The disparity extends to retired women, Adams told the Council. Among the Glendale city workforce, 31.5% are women, 68.5% are men.

Equality activist Hans Johnson called in to support the city’s adoption of the pledge.

“Glendale joins cities including Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego and Fresno and corporations such as AT&T, Cal Chamber, Chipotle, Cisco Systems, Kern Energy and Levi Strauss to close the longstanding pay gap and to eradicate bias against women’s participation in the workplace,” said Johnson.

“Diversity benefits us all,” said Mayor Brotman before the vote.

The Council approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the city’s managers that provides wage increases of 6%, 4%, and 4% for each of the three years.

“This is the first significant increase these workers have seen since 2015,” reported City Manager Roubik Golanian.

Following years of debate, the Council authorized the creation of a nine-member Charter Reform Commission to be appointed once enough applications have been received. The Commission would work on two tracks, city staff said. Immediate considerations include creating Council districts; directly electing a mayor; adjusting Council compensation; and recommendations for civil service changes. The Commission could also consider longer-term changes for future elections.

The Council also granted a density bonus to the development of a four-story 33-unit residential building at 413-419 Irving Avenue. The developer said that eight of the units would be affordable for what are considered very low-income households.

Additionally, the Council approved amendments to standards for multi-family and mixed-use projects along the city’s major commercial corridors. Because the state no longer allows cities to implement subjective development standards, the city is adopting objective standards to improve and streamline the review process and ensure resulting designs are not “just a regular box.”

“I like the setbacks and hope we get our trees. Everything we build needs to be pedestrian friendly,” said Councilmember Devine.

There are openings on several city commissions including the Commission on the Status of Women and the Water and Power Commission and the Design Review Board. Qualified members of the public are encouraged to apply.

The city is taking pre-qualified applications for its Citrus Crossing low-income senior housing project, currently under construction. Interested folks can call (855) 407-6797 or find more information at

Glendale Water and Power is reported to be hosting an upcoming series of informational meetings about the city’s solar energy and energy storage plans.

City Clerk Suzie Abajian reminded the Council that Election Day is Tuesday, March 5. Voters can drop their completed ballots off at many drop boxes throughout the city and county. Eleven-day voting centers are open now and four-day voting centers will open on March 1. Abajian emphasized the importance of voting and directed Glendalians to for added details.

The Commission on the Status of Women, the City of Glendale, and Glendale Arts announce an event honoring International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 7 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the ace/121 Gallery at 121 N. Kenwood St.

Mayor Brotman commended the staff and students at John Marshall Elementary School where he served as “Principal for a Day.” He added that Glendale’s is one of few school districts experiencing an increase in enrollment.

The YMCA announced a free event co-hosted with the city’s Armenian-American, Filipino-American, Korean American, Latino-American communities, the Glendale Unified School District, Glendale Community College District and the City of Glendale on Saturday, March 16 beginning at 3 p.m. at 140 N. Louise St. It is called Celebrate YOUniqueness, “a festival of international food, songs, dance, music, arts, crafts, and more.”