By Julie BUTCHER
“An unrecognized genocide is a genocide repeated, a government-sponsored hate that remains into the 21st century,” Mayor Paula Devine read from the city’s proclamation commemorating the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Glendale City Council. “The hurt is deep. We look forward to a time when the tragedy will be universally recognized by consistently remembering and forcefully condemning the atrocities committed against the Armenian people and by honoring the survivors.”
Devine then commended city staff for planning this year’s virtual event, the 20th annual event, planned for Saturday, April 24 at 7 p.m. (The event can be viewed on Chanel 6 or 99, depending on cable provider.)
City hall will be lit with the colors of the Armenian flag throughout the week of remembrance.
The council addressed a long list of issues during its Tuesday meeting. Dan Mabe from the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA) recognized the city for its participation in transitioning eight “public parks and properties” into “green zones,” moving its grounds maintenance from gas-powered to electric and “people-powered” tools.
“I offer these metrics to explain how big this is. By transitioning these eight parks, you’re removing 12 tons of CO2, 712 pounds of ozone-forming exhaust, 5,000 pounds of carbon monoxide, 150 pounds of particulate matter from the air, reducing noise by 40%-70% and improving the working conditions of staff and vendors,” Mabe said.
He also recognized the contribution of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for its commercial lawn and garden tool exchange program.
Councilmember Dan Brotman recalled being in the audience for a presentation of battery-operated leaf blowers from a South Pasadena councilmember and urged their “complete implementation in all parks and city sites” as soon as possible.
“The health benefits are massive to the whole community but especially to groundskeepers and gardeners,” Brotman said noting that there is state legislation pending that would ban the selling of “small off-road engines” by 2024.
Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian observed that climate change means it will only get warmer and urged city staff to ensure every bus stop offers a “modicum of shade” and a place to sit down. Bus stops “should be inviting and welcoming so that people will be happy to wait there for the bus,” he said.
“Metro Micro is starting in Glendale soon,” Councilmember Ara Najarian explained Metro’s new transit service, piloting in a few cities in the coming months, that attempts to address getting folks the first and last miles of their trips and commutes. Najarian likened the service to Uber for the cost of a $1.75 bus trip.
Mayor Devine noted thanks she has been receiving from local grocery workers, grateful for the city’s adoption of additional hourly “heroes pay.”
Further, the mayor shared that city Sustainability Officer David Jones would include information on “Race to Zero” in his update scheduled for April 27. Race to Zero is “a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth,” according to the organization’s website, https://tinyurl.com/32s7yp5t.
Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas reported on the city’s vaccination efforts, announcing that the city has provided more than 60,000 vaccines at its mass vaccination site on the campus of Glendale Community College. Approximately one third of Glendale residents are vaccinated, Lanzas told the council, and appointments are available Thursday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are available on all four days by calling (833) 540-0473 or online at the Jewel City Vax site bit.ly/jewelcityvax.
Once again, the council heard comments on a local ban of flavored vaping products. The ban is set for a final vote at the next council meeting.
The council reviewed, debated and ultimately adopted plans to move forward franchising trash collection for commercial and multi-family residences in four zones, with four trash hauling firms.
The Crescenta Valley portions of Glendale are in Zone B and will be serviced by Athens.
Public Works Director Yazdan Emrani summarized the city’s planning to implement the new franchise system, starting with preliminary approval from the council in January 2020. He explained that the city plans to expand its call center operations to deal with issues as they arise.
City manager Roubik Golanian assured the council, “We’re not going to leave trash out on the street. We have our own crews if need be – we’ll figure out how to charge them back for it after.”
Councilmember Dan Brotman referred to communications received from Los Angeles area apartment and building managers. Callers into the meeting criticized the rollout of a similar program in Los Angeles including cost increases of 400%-600%. One caller recalled the fifth year of Adrián Beltré’s baseball contract.
“There is a legitimate need for another company in the dugout,” said the caller.
Councilmember Vrej Agajanian noted that he raised his concerns at the time, that one hauler in one zone is not sufficient and that he is the only member of council who actually dealt with trash haulers.
“This is different,” Councilmember Najarian responded. “This is an all-star team of trash haulers; they’ve got the proper MRFs to sort trash and handle recycling, to partner with us as we figure out how to collect organics. The LA model was not handled well but we’re looking to learn from their experience.”
Finally, the council debated a replacement hotel at 120 W. Colorado St. The owners of the existing Vagabond Inn at that address want to build a new six story, 130-room AC Hotel on the site. City staff recommended the approval of the extension, following preliminary approval from council in May 2018. Numerous callers identified themselves as members of UNITE HERE Local 11, the hotel workers union, and urged the council to oppose the project.
“We don’t need more hotels. We need affordable housing,” they said.
Councilmember Brotman urged the developer to participate in programs supporting homeless people. The approval of the project was introduced, with a reduced timeline, pending further deliberation.
Next week, the council will study the budget at a 9 a.m. council session, and at afternoon and evening meetings finalize its ban on flavored tobacco products and review plans for the Crescenta Valley fireworks show set for July 4, 2021.