History – and More – Explored by Council


The Glendale City Council meeting on Oct. 10 focused on history. First, Mayor Dan Brotman announced a proclamation recognizing October as Filipino American History Month.

Filipino Americans are the second-largest Asian American group in the nation and the third-largest ethnic group in California, after Latinas/os and African Americans. The celebration of Filipino American History Month in October commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the U.S. on Oct. 18, 1587 when “Luzones Indios came ashore from the galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza and landed at what is now Morro Bay, California,” according to the Filipino American National History Society.

“We made history this afternoon when the City of Glendale approved to enter into an agreement with the City of Santa Rosa Laguna, Philippines to become a sister city for the City of Glendale – that’s the first ever for the City of Glendale [and] the Philippines,” said Edith Fuentes, vice president of the Filipino American Business Association of Glendale and the chair of the city’s Planning Commission.

Then the mayor read a proclamation to recognize October as National Hispanic Heritage Month. (According to the U.S. Dept. of State the month lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.) He added that 18.2% of the population of the City is Hispanic.

Members of the Glendale Latino Association and Glendale Unified School District’s ¡Adelante Latinos! including Crescenta Valley High School principal Christine Benitez were on hand to accept the proclamation.

According to the Glendale Historical Society (GHS), a permanent Spanish presence was established in what is now Glendale in 1769. Two years later, Mission San Gabriel was founded.

“Jose Maria Verdugo, a soldier at the mission, received title to Rancho San Rafael in 1797. His son Julio inherited, but in 1871 the land was lost due to bankruptcy proceedings. Two adobes built by Verdugo family members survive from that time and are now city parks,” according to GHS.

City Clerk Dr. Suzie Abajian announced Oct. 9 as Indigenous People’s Day. She recognized the Tongva Gabrielinos people “whose land we stand on today.”

Abajian also recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (CVW will have an article specifically regarding this recognition in next week’s publication.)

The City of Glendale then dove into the issue of changes to the ordinance regarding streamlining the historic district designation process.

The options in front of the Council were: Option 1 – requiring a simple majority of 50% +1 signature to establish a historical district with no signature verification. Option 2 requires a 67% signature process of approval from neighbors and would require signature verification.

However, according to many speakers during the Council meeting, the process to become a historical district is complicated and difficult.

One speaker shared her neighborhood’s journey to historical designation. She stated she and her neighbors had already collected the signatures in accordance with the previous requirements but now the designation is on hold with the City as this debate occurs over streamlining the process.

Another speaker voiced her concern that the streamlining and gathering of 50 +1 signatures would deter “young innovators” from moving into Glendale.

A speaker from Abundant Housing LA (an organization that supports efforts to promote the affordability, livability and sustainability benefits of more housing through education and advocacy work) spoke in favor of the 67% signature process and against streamlining stating it had “little to no” benefit to those outside of the historical neighborhoods.

Another speaker asked to raise the signatures needed even higher to 70% or 75%.   

Speakers in favor of Option 1 spoke of respecting the history of Glendale and keeping its integrity intact.

A point was made by speakers that the Council had the option of not approving a neighborhood regardless of the number of signatures attained.

“A 50 +1 merely triggers Council review of proposed districts; it doesn’t create it,” said a speaker.

Bradley Calvert, the directory of Community Development for the city, made a presentation of the options and showed that several of the neighborhoods had attained over 50 +1 signatures.

When it came to the discussion with the Council, Councilmember Ara Najarian asked to put the decision aside in order to have a study session on the historical decision process.

That motion was voted down 3 to 2, with councilmembers Paula Devine and Ardy Kassakhian and Mayor Dan Brotman voting against the pausing of the vote and study session.

“Historic districts are a covert method for continuing redlining,” Najarian said.

In the mid-20th century, redlining was prevalent. Redlining was the practice of outlining areas with sizable Black populations in red ink on maps indicating to mortgage lenders areas in which Black people resided. These areas would in theory suffer lower levels of investment than those with White residents, according to the Brookings Institute.

Najarian cited several articles that state many cities are discussing redlining areas and historical districting; however, Devine, who was attending the meeting remotely by phone, cited a study by the LA Conservancy that found that historical districts were presently more diverse.

“HPOZs (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) are more ethnically, racially and income diverse than the rest of Los Angeles as a whole,” according to the study.

Councilmember Elen Asatryan said she is the one who proposed 75% signatures and Najarian brought it down to 67%. She added she had not changed her views on the issue but wanted a super majority. She also said that she, and others, can’t afford to buy a home in Glendale implying that historical districts would make housing more expensive.

Brotman pointed out that a house may be of more value but not necessarily more expensive.

Councilmember Devine added that she had spoken to several Realtors about the subject.

“Historic districts are not driving up the home [costs],” she said.

Kassakhian said he was not in favor of “kicking this can” down the road and called for a vote.

“In terms of those [who] are advocating for a super majority there is a super majority process for the approval of historical districts and that is a super majority of Council – four-fifths – most decisions here can get passed with just three votes but in order for there to be the affirmation of the will of the majority of neighbors you need to have the super majority of the Council,” he said.

He pointed out that neighbors can still make changes to homes in historic districts and that “the doom and gloom messaging” is not reality.

In the end Option 1 was passed 3 to 2, with Asatryan and Najarian casting the dissenting votes.

The Council unanimously approved the Request for Proposal to be released concerning the operation and maintenance of fixed routes and Dial-A-Ride.

The fourth public hearing regarding establishing Council districts was held. The proposal is to move from an at-large election to district-based councilmember elections. The proposal includes the election of six city council members and a mayor.

Before the discussion began Councilmember Najarian made a motion to table the district discussion to look to exploring cumulative, limited and/or ranked voting processes. This would change the proposal from being brought to the voters in March to November.

Kassakhian said that although he supports district voting he supported the study session into these different types of processes.




Kassakhian made a motion that was passed to pause the discussion on district voting and to have a study session in the coming weeks to look into the costs of having an election in November versus March, to explore alternative voting processes and to continue to review the proposed district maps that had been gathered during outreach meetings that have already taken place.