By Mary O’KEEFE
Last week the Crescenta Valley Meher and Satig Der Ohanessian Armenian Youth Center held an “Evening with Glendale City Mayor Dan Brotman.” The event began with an introduction by Harry Leon that the evening would be conducted in a “dignified” manner and, for the most part, it was. However, there were some people who identified themselves as Glendale residents and Glendale Unified School District parents who had concerns about a recent social media post by the mayor that commented on the violence of the recent GUSD school board meeting, which ended with the arrests of three people. Parents at the meeting said they did not like how they had been characterized as being the issue when, in their points of view, it was antifa members who had caused the violence.
Brotman said he did not state it was GUSD parents who were at fault and wanted the words he had written to be quoted directly and not paraphrased, which some of the parents did instead of using direct quotes. Another parent had spent over an hour with the mayor at another event. Both the parent and Brotman said they learned something from each other’s point of view. That parent stated that her issue was how one-sided she thought the events at GUSD had been portrayed in the media. She felt it was not just one side that caused the violence. She put most of the blame on members of antifa that were present at the June 6 school board meeting. She felt the focus had been too much on parents being part of the violence.
“We feel that our voices are not being heard,” she said.
She added she just wanted to have an equal voice.
Glendale police stated that at the protests at the June 6 GUSD board meeting there were agitators on both sides of the issue.
Although there was some aggression during the meeting at the Armenian Youth Center, members of the Center including Leon maintained a civil tone and allowed for other issues be brought to the forefront that were important to those living in Glendale.
Brotman was joined on the panel by Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian and City Manager Roubik Golanian.
The cost of living in Glendale was one of the more focused issues for those in the audience. One woman, who stated she was retired and receiving Social Security, worried that she would have to move away from the Crescenta Valley/Far North Glendale area that she had called home for years due to rent increases. She had thought she was part of the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County but found her home was actually part of Glendale. She was concerned that the rent increases in Glendale would allow her rent to continue to be raised up 10% annually.
She added that if it was increased by just 5% her Social Security could handle that amount but not up to 10%.
Brotman explained the state increase rate is different depending on when her building was built and that he understood the complicated issue of high rates of rental units but added that rent control is not the answer.
“If [there is] rent control developers will not build,” he said.
He added that housing and high rents are problems throughout the state and it will take many years to deal with the issue because there are not enough homes/apartments being built. For now the City does offer some help through the relocation funds for those who see rent increases of 7% in a year, but relocating is something the woman wanted to avoid.
She countered that the apartments and other housing that has recently been built in Glendale was not affordable housing but more luxury complexes.
Brotman said the state is requiring the City – all cities – to meet certain building criteria over the next six years and City officials are working to follow those rules.
The very next question was from a man who stated he had been a resident of Glendale for the last 55 years. His complaint was that there was too much building.
“Do we need all the apartments on Central?” he asked.
The issue of traffic was another concern related to the increased housing, he said.
Golanian stated the City was working on synchronizing traffic signals throughout the City.
The man continued to say that a trip that used to take him five minutes now could take over 30 minutes due to traffic.
There was another concern surrounding proposed district-based voting in which there would be six specific areas that would each have its own council representation, as opposed to the current citywide elections. This is often referred to as “redistricting,” which is not the case. Redistricting is done every 10 years and is guided by a committee and census reports. What the City of Glendale is proposing is a change in the way councilmembers are elected. Each particular area of the City would be represented by a specific councilmember. Then there would be a mayor who would be elected citywide and representing the entire city as a whole.
Districting is a complicated issue and will be covered more in next week’s CVW.