By Julie BUTCHER
The first action taken by the Glendale City Council at its meeting Tuesday evening was to present a proclamation in support of reproductive rights. Councilmember Paula Devine made the presentation in the absence of Mayor Ardy Kassakhian.
“We all know what’s going on,” she said. “After four decades of reproductive freedom, the ability to exercise control over one’s body, the right to privacy is critical.”
“This past Jan. 22 was likely the last anniversary of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Eighty percent believe abortion should be legal and that private medical decisions should be left to the individual and their doctor. Issuing this mayoral proclamation is a reaffirmation to the residents of Glendale that every person’s constitutional right to privacy, their right to parent or not parent, and their right to self-determination and bodily autonomy will be respected and upheld,” said Norma Rodriguez, director of Public Affairs for the Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley Planned Parenthood, who then thanked the council for its action and support.
Next, Councilmember Dan Brotman expressed concern at seeing slow street signs being knocked over with impunity.
“It seems the materials are not what we hoped for and I’m hoping staff acts quickly to halt the installation of the signs,” he said, adding that he hopes a solution is found for sturdier designs, perhaps made of metal, double-sided and perhaps larger.
“I’m against these signs,” Councilmember Vrej Agajanian weighed in. “I said this before – the low height – it’s hard not to knock them down.”
Public Works Director Yazdan Emrani explained that the city was waiting for a quote from the contractor for double-sided signs and that they were only put in the middle of streets wider than 36 feet.
Councilmember Ara Najarian reported that he has been advocating on the board of Metro (where he currently serves as the first vice-chair) for help to close a funding gap for the Glendale Beeline bus service and that he was successful in securing $11 million. He added that even if he is no longer on the Metro board or on the city council (pending election results) that he would work “’til the last day doing everything I can to make Glendale a better city.”
Next, the council approved the overall budget for FY 2022-23. City Manager Roubik Golanian acknowledged and thanked the city staff members who worked to prepare the budget and detailed the six budget study sessions in which the council engaged. Director of Finance and Information Technology, Jason Bradford, summarized the $1.096 billion spending plan, noting a few small changes such as funding for summer concerts at city hall and support for GUSD’s afterschool services. The budget includes $263 million in general funds spending and $17.5 million from Measure S; the city’s reserves are anticipated to be 30.6% at the end of the fiscal year.
“We’re feeling good about the budget now, but it’s not going to last,” Councilmember Brotman observed, expressing concern about the future finances of the city.
“We’ve started conversations to avert a shortfall two years from now,” Golanian responded. “It’ll be here before we know it and we know we need to prepare.”
In further business, the council approved two street rehabilitation projects: $3 million for the Broadway rehab project that will pave approximately one mile, improve 4,200 feet of curbs and gutters including 16 new curb ramps, 19 new street trees, the modification of three traffic signals, cool pavement, two creative crosswalks, restriping and green-painted bike lanes; and $4.1 million for Phase I of the Maintenance District 6 rehab for 4.8 centerline miles of various street improvements between Cañada Boulevard to the west, Verdugo Park to the south, the Verdugo Mountains to the north, and Country Club Drive to the east. Phase II is planned for next fiscal year.
Finally, the council moved to adopt an ordinance to protect and increase the pay of Glendale hotel workers. With council chambers packed with members of the union, UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents hotel workers, city attorney Mike Garcia announced that more than enough signatures had been submitted and verified to require a public vote on the measure during the next municipal election (March 2024) or in a special election, or the council could vote to adopt all the provisions of the initiative (the council previously voted to approve select provisions).
According to the staff report, the ordinance “provides measures to protect hotel workers from violent or threatening behavior [which largely mirrors an ordinance the council adopted in 2020 pertaining to hotel workers]; provides measures to provide fair compensation for workload, including workload limitations, proration, voluntary overtime payment and records preservation; and establishes a minimum wage for hotel workers in the amount of $17.64 per hour or the rate set for hotel workers established in the City of Los Angeles Municipal Code, whichever is more. The Initiative Ordinance provides a waiver for the fair compensation and minimum wage provisions pursuant to a bona fide collective bargaining agreement.”
“Is there a problem with LA setting the wage?” Councilmember Vrej Agajanian asked. “This is an independent city, and it doesn’t feel or look right to connect us to another city like that.”
“When the pandemic hit and 95% of our members were out of work, this council took action to support hotel workers. Residents of Glendale overwhelmingly support this effort and signed the petition to stand with us,” a representative of the union told the council. Workers detailed the increase in work they now perform and the smaller number of workers who are working.
“We used to offer daily cleaning of rooms,” one worker said as an example.
“It’s a large number of signatures – I don’t know if we’ve ever had this number of signatures collected. Council has adopted some of these. It is the least we can do. I appreciate a clean room when I check into a hotel,” Councilmember Najarian said.
Councilmember Paula Devine agreed
“When I was campaigning, I heard a lot of concern for the safety of hotel workers,” she said. “I know how hard you work – you deserve as much as we can get for you.”
“It’s incredible the work the union does when you put your mind to do it,” Councilmember Brotman commended UNITE HERE Local 11. “I can only imagine how hard your work is.” Brotman moved to introduce the ordinance and, by unanimous vote, the council voted to bring it back for approval on June 28.