In preparation for the June 3 election, Crescenta Valley Weekly asked four questions of Glendale City Council candidates. Their responses are listed in order of receipt. Note that candidate Paula Devine had an adjusted question No. 4 because this is the first time she has sought a seat on the Glendale City Council.
1. Talk is turning to developing the property on which the former Rockhaven Sanitarium sits. What do you feel is the most feasible use of the property?
Mike Mohill: I believe that the property should be preserved, renovated and be utilized as a historic site. This is what the community desires and we should listen to the voices of the people in the community. The site can also be used as a community meeting place, small concert venue, location to display art work, etc. Where possible, a green belt should surround the property [where] families can enjoy being under the oak trees in a natural and serene environment reminiscent of its original intent.
Paula Devine: The most feasible use of the Rockhaven property cannot be determined until options are presented and all of the stakeholders have had an opportunity to voice their concerns and ideas.
I fully support the proactive decision by Council to issue a Request for Qualifications which will allow qualified entities to submit innovative ideas/proposals for Rockhaven’s future use. Once these proposals are received, everyone will be able to let Council know which options, if any, are acceptable. If none of the options are acceptable, then Council will have an opportunity to explore other avenues of restoration, including working with non-profit organizations.
My vision for the future of Rockhaven is a project that incorporates the history of the site while preserving the valuable open space. I believe that public uses such as a library, park, offices for historical organizations, or a Women’s History Museum should be incorporated into the final plans.
Rick Barnes: This is not the optimum time to consider taking any action on Rockhaven. However, when that time arrives, we must recognize that the property was purchased for historic preservation and therefore the site must be preserved. I would require a plan by a skilled architect/designer to maintain the original sanitarium with perhaps a small museum and café with adequate parking to attract visitors and tell the story of the site – and generate revenue which would be designated for the ongoing maintenance of the site.
Vartan Gharpetian: Rockhaven was specifically purchased from the developer for it not to be developed. It should be kept historic and should be renovated to preserve its historic nature. My goal is to make a portion of it to be Glendale, La Crescenta, and Montrose History Museum. The vacant land, however, could be used to build an art center and or a recreational/community center for the community to enjoy.
Chahe Keuroghelian: When a city council determines a need and makes plans for open or recreational space, other city councils should continue on the original intentions of those plans. With increased population, our options for open space diminish every year.
Rockhaven should be passive parkland with pathways and gardens as a type of retreat keeping in spirit to the original use of the property. The buildings should be preserved for its architecture and used for art shows and music events similar to the way that Brand Park is used for North West Glendale.
2. How would you address concerns from residents over the perception that run away development is eroding quality of life (e.g., added traffic, less public parking spaces, etc.)?
Mike Mohill: The residents absolutely should be concerned that the run-away growth is eroding their quality of life … this is not a perception, this is reality. The damage has already been done by this council and previous councils. The traffic and congestion is already here. Council made little provisions for the nearly 4,000 apartments planned for our central business district. Additionally, concessions were given to developers to use some public parking areas that should be for Glendale residents and businesses only and not to entice a developer, further worsening the situation for residents at the taxpayers’ expense.
Additionally, traffic circulation cannot handle the current traffic infrastructure and the damage already created by this council and previous councils. The 134 freeway exits at Brand, Central, Pacific and Glendale will continue being a nightmare due to this building explosion. Also, never considered were the effects of the units on water usage since we have been told for years that we are in a drought and need to conserve. In addition, council never took into consideration the additional trash that would overburden our very limited landfill when approving these units. Now council is considering expanding the landfill in various ways, all of which will affect the quality of life in an adverse manner for every Glendale resident. We must have a moratorium on all new development.
Paula Devine: Residents have legitimate concerns about the impact of the downtown development on their quality of life. I would address these concerns in two ways.
First, I would propose solutions for the immediate resolution of the traffic safety, traffic congestion and parking issues. These solutions would include, but not be limited to, the implementation of education, engineering and enforcement programs for traffic safety, the implementation of traffic light synchronization and one way streets for traffic congestion and promoting the use of our now underused parking structures to ease the parking concerns.
Second, I would slow down future development projects in two ways: 1. I will be very judicious in evaluating variance requests; 2. I will ask for the Downtown Specific Plan and the Mobility Study to be brought back to Council for review and updating of the existing incentives, concessions and zoning requirements that are currently too liberal.
Rick Barnes: When I am elected I will fight to stop the runaway development of our downtown and focus instead on returning business, with parking spaces, to the existing downtown areas, and other city maintenance as identified as necessary.
Vartan Gharpetian: This is not a perception. It is a valid concern. The reality is that I do not have control over the types of projects which have been already approved/constructed. However, as a future councilman, I would propose a GAP study to review and revisit the previous EIR (Environmental Impact Report). This way we would be able to compare the EIR with already approved/constructed projects and determine how to deal with impact of the completed projects on traffic, parking spaces, open space/parks, freeway on/off ramps, etc. The study would also show whether we would need more units in the future. Based on my professional experience, I believe this massive wave of construction would slow down in the near future.
Chahe Keuroghelian: Runaway development is no longer a perception, it is a reality. Any development must be limited by the city’s infrastructure limitations and quality-of-life impacts on current residents.
The landfill is nearly topped out and development must be limited to our ability to increase recycling.
We have a severe drought and the city must set a top overall limit on water use. Development would be limited to the city’s ability to reduce consumption. The water savings would set the potential of water available for new residents.
We have limitations on electrical generating capacity and that capacity is limited by an aging infrastructure and more rules for renewable energy sources.
Traffic congestion is getting horrific during more days of the week and parking reductions to developers is aggravating the problem.
3. With respect to the shuttering of the gun show and installation of the “comfort woman” statue, Glendale has stepped into controversial issues that may not affect it directly, if at all, often to great controversy. Do you see your role as councilmember, as well as that of the city legistlative and executive bodies, as being activist roles? If so, why?
Mike Mohill: With regard to the gun show and installation of the comfort women statue, I do believe these issues affect Glendale directly. Glendale should make its own decision on the gun show and lean toward what the people want to have on city property. We need to listen to our residents, since they voted for us, and always have their best interests come first.
Regarding the “comfort woman” statue, Glendale should be able to make its own decision because we do have a large Korean/American community and we need to represent everyone. We are all Americans, no matter from which background we come. We should give the wishes of the Korean/American community our support.
As for your question, “Do you see your role as being council persons as being activist roles?” I prefer to use the word advocates than activists. I see the role of council person as the advocates of the people. That should be their primary responsibility.
Paula Devine: As a council member, I see myself in a policy making and leadership role. In that role, I will use my values and my ability to bring people together with divergent viewpoints, to address the concerns of the citizens of Glendale. Not all of those concerns will have a direct impact within the city’s borders, yet they nonetheless are important to vast numbers of our residents. For example, the Armenian genocide has great significance to many who live in Glendale. This tragedy should not be ignored simply because it does not affect the city’s business.
With respect to issues like the ban on the gun show and the Comfort Woman statue, it was important for the Council to take a stand and “send a message” that Glendale supports efforts to end gun violence and to bring awareness to human rights and social justice issues.
Rick Barnes: We need to be activists.
I see things happening in our country that need our attention and it needs to start in our own community first. We need to be out in our community talking with the people and listening to them. We need to become better informed about all these issues.
Vartan Gharpetian: When elected, I will always advocate and listen to our residents’ concerns and needs. After all, council members are elected to represent and serve the entire community at large. I have been a community activist and an advocate of people’s rights for many years and continue to do so after being elected.
On issues presented before Council (controversial or not), I will listen to both sides of the issue, be open minded, fair and vote with my conscious.
Chahe Keuroghelian: We don’t live in isolation from county, state or national issues. Council members respond to the needs of its residents and a city like Glendale, with its wide diversity, will be asked to chime in to wider issues. Democracy and justice don’t stand still. We have many issues that need resolution and the issues presented serve to educate the population.
4) You’ve run for Glendale City Council before unsuccessfully. What qualities do you bring to the ballot this year that you feel makes you a stronger candidate?
Mike Mohill: I have garnered a lot more support from when I ran in the past. Since we have no primaries, only general elections, it takes time for people to know the candidates and their positions on all issues. This time, I bring more knowledge about budget issues, pension reform issues and quality of life issues affecting every person living and working in Glendale. I have retained all of my supporters and, fortunately, my message resonates even more loudly than last time with many more people.
I represent no special interests – only the people of Glendale. They know I will fight on their behalf. Their support and vote for me gives them the sixth vote on City Council.
Paula Devine: What prompted you to run for city council? I am running for City Council because I care about this community and its residents. Glendale is a beautiful and prosperous city and I want to preserve what is best about our community while addressing the issues we face. As a member of the City Council, I will be able to propose and implement plans and ideas for preserving the quality of life we all enjoy, resolving our issues and moving to a more prosperous future. I want to bring new energy to the Council to help address effectively the issues we face.
I have lived in Glendale for over 30 years and spent the last 15 years in public service. My extensive experience in leadership and collaboration and my service on a city commission and on the boards of numerous organizations have given me the skills, knowledge and ability to be the voice of all the citizens of Glendale.
Rick Barnes: Running for office is a complex undertaking and this time, more familiar with that process, I am more able to focus on issues. I have worked to gain a better understanding of the budget process and categories, I’ve sought input from representatives from all areas of the city, all ethnic groups, business and residential groups and any one else who wants to talk about our city. When elected, I will bring accessibility and accountability to City Hall so all of our residents and business people can have input and understand the decisions made, and I will work to “market” the city to bring back small businesses and bring shoppers to all areas of Glendale, and with the synergy that creates, increase sale tax revenue to the city.
Vartan Gharpetian: I previously ran for City Council five years ago. Since then, I have continued my volunteer community work, which I have been involved for over a decade. In the past 10 years, I have done a great deal of community work serving on several boards and commissions for the City of Glendale such as Historic Preservation Commission, Parks and Recs and Community Services, Green Building Task Force and Design Review Board. It has been truly a privilege for me to serve on these city commissions, not only giving me an opportunity to give back to our great city, but also allowing me to gain more knowledge about the infrastructure of our city government and to learn about policies, codes and regulations, which would definitely help me to make informed decisions when I get elected to City Council.
I have also served on two other foundations (Glendale Adventist Medical Center Foundation and D&M Educational Foundation) which has allowed me to become familiar with our youth’s needs as well as our community at large.
The record of my community service and expertise speaks for itself. I have built strong ties with the community members from all walks of life and ethnicities.
I am a successful business owner, a property owner, a family man with three children and a longtime resident of Glendale with a great deal of passion for our city.
I am proud to have received endorsements from many organizations, elected officials, and individuals, including Glendale News-Press. www.vote4Vartan.com. Vote #223
Chahe Keuroghelian: Being unsuccessful in the past, or having failed, is at the heart of any growth. The women’s suffrage movement failed many, many times. No one learns a musical instrument without struggle and failure. The core foundation of science and engineering is based on multiple failures. Failure is a misconception that we need to correct in our schools and in the way we govern.
Running for office is a learning experience. Each year we learn more about the city’s complex finances, or its infrastructure, or its varied issues across multiple neighborhoods. In my case, every time I have run for office I have garnered more and more votes. As evidenced on the City Clerk’s website, (Glendalevotes.org), between 2007 and 2013, my votes increased by 38% while I spent 17% less money. Last year I came within 350 votes of winning a council seat.
It does seem as if candidacies that depend on a grassroots effort tend to fail more often than those candidates supported by the city’s various public unions like police, fire, and management. Candidates supported financially by developers, real estate interests, and those with government contracts seem to garner the most money to run their campaigns, thus making winning candidates accountable to either the three major city unions or to developers or government contractors.
Abraham Lincoln also failed several times in winning elections, but we now are beneficiaries of his resilience. The issues I care about have not been addressed by various city council during the time that I’ve run for office. Youth programs are still underfunded. We have yet to have a commission on senior issues. We don’t have an ombudsman for small business owners. We need to further our partnership with and support our non-profits and service organizations.