By Julie BUTCHER
At a meeting of the Glendale City Council on Tuesday morning, city staff presented detailed financial and programmatic plans for three city departments during the city’s second budget study session.
The Community Services and Parks Dept. plans to replace gas-powered handheld equipment with electric equipment; complete the renovation of Fremont Park adding a community center, water play feature, multi-use field and a pickleball court along with new restrooms, playground and picnic shelters; hold four-week sessions of nature camp at Deukmejian Wilderness Park for 6 – 14 year olds from June 21 through July 15 to “teach children wilderness survival skills and appreciation for nature and animals;” and to conduct a new senior needs assessment.
The overall department budget proposed for FY 2022-23 is $43.6 million with $18.6 million coming from the general fund and additional multiple sources of funding.
The Library, Arts, and Culture Dept. is proposing to increase its overall staffing to 76.81 full-time equivalents (FTE), with 48 of those full-time, to respond to an uptick in demand. With a total budget of $15.3 million, $11.7 million in general funds, the department hopes to complete improvements to the Central Library this year. It also plans on adding an all-electric outreach vehicles to reach non-library users with educational programming at special events, schools and senior living facilities, focusing in South Glendale; hosting a book festival; adding digital resources for youth and adults; and piloting a public library diversity residency program to improve the department’s diversity and to test a new internship-type plan.
“The problem is that someone gets a masters in Library and Information Science but if they’ve never worked in a library, how do they get a job?” department head Dr. Gary Shaffer explained the pilot program to the council. “This would be for someone new to the field. We train them how to be a public librarian; they work here for two to three years and then they can get a job anywhere. It’s common in academic libraries but this would be the first in a public library.”
The third department presenting its budget this week was Community Development, which includes neighborhood services and graffiti removal, building and safety, permitting and licensing; land use oversight; transportation planning; Section 8 housing administration; housing development and inspection; and other related city operations. The department’s proposed annual budget is $91.7 million, with $17.2 million coming from the city’s general fund. The departments hopes to increase staffing from 138.9 FTEs last year to 146.03 this year and plans on focusing on affordable housing; establishing objective design standards; updating the citywide bicycle transportation plan; completing the visioning of the Verdugo Wash project to build a 9.4 linear mile park and nature trail for walking and cycling; rehabilitating Rockhaven by finalizing the visioning for the historic resource and acting to accept the $8 million state grant to fund its restoration, museum and ADA improvements; completing the construction of Artsakh Avenue as a significant art installation; and, finally, implementing the city’s Vision Zero Plan and benchmarks “to eliminate transportation-related fatalities.”
Councilmembers Paula Devine and Dan Brotman emphasized the importance of code enforcement. Brotman also wanted the codes to be updated. Devine wanted to ensure that the outreach associated with the Verdugo Wash project includes local residents.
“They want to have a voice and I want to give them that voice,” she said.
Councilmember Ara Najarian commented on the status of housing legislation passed by the State of California, SB 9 and SB 10.
“Is there a legitimate challenge?” he asked. “Some people are saying that the Glendale council has dropped the ball, that we should be suing over this. Pasadena tried to declare the entire city historic to thwart SB 9; the city of Woodland Hills tried to declare itself a habitat for mountain lions. Are there other cities that are challenging SB 9?”
City attorney Mike Garcia responded, “As you know, last year the council voted to implement SB 9 and we’re working to implement standards that would protect single-family neighborhoods to the greatest extent possible while still complying with the law. There are a few South Bay cities challenging SB 9 and our recommendation would be to develop the standards necessary but that we do not wait for a court decision as it could take years. The state and the attorney general have made it clear that they will vigorously defend SB 9. If the lawsuit is successful, all cities in California will be beneficiaries of that.”