Trees, Cap Park and More Discussed at Council Meeting


The calming effects of trees was the topic that opened the Tuesday night Glendale City Council meeting.

“It says here in the report on page 2 that trees help to calm traffic and reduce crime when they are well-kept. Can you tell me where you came up with this?” Councilmember Vrej Agajanian asked Loren Klick, the City’s urban forester.

Klick replied that a number of studies over the past 20 years highlighted the benefits of planting trees.

“One study out of Baltimore shows that 10% more trees planted on a block led to a 12% reduction in robberies, burglaries, thefts and shootings on the block. Trees have a calming effect on the entire neighborhood,” he explained. The council approved the request to apply for a grant to plant an additional 500 trees, primarily in the southern part of the city.

Councilmember Dan Brotman again commented on the “spate of pedestrian accidents” and urged additional action.

“Let me add my voice,” Councilmember Ara Najarian said, “as some in the community seem to think that if you don’t actively express support for traffic safety that you’re against traffic safety.”

He then elaborated that in 1996, when he was a member of the Transportation and Parking Commission, over an extended period of time the Commission developed the first collection of traffic calming measures that made available to the community a variety of strategies and designs such as speed humps and stripes. The Commission engaged traffic experts from Cal Berkeley and worked with the State Office of Traffic Safet; Glendale was one of only two California cities to get this special training for traffic engineers and planners, and law enforcement, in some cases.

“We continued from there, testing innovative crosswalks and fluorescent flags that could be used to give pedestrians an added measure of safety,” Najarian continued. “On the Metro board, I’ve worked hard to direct millions of dollars to the City of Glendale. … I do think we should look at what we’ve tried before, what has been successful and what has not. Our efforts have included enforcement and engineering and education and they’ve worked for a time. But after so many months, drivers revert to their poor driving habits.”

He added that perhaps funds for education or boosting the police force should be sought.

“Not everyone’s in favor of boosting the police force. As we know, lately there are a lot of critics of increased police enforcement, but if that’s something that works then it’s something we should try,” he said, concluding his remarks on the subject.

Next the council approved a long-term renewal of a master purchase agreement with Motorola Solutions, Inc. through December 2026, with a potential for another five years, to continue to support the city’s radio system. City chief information officer Jason Bradford explained that “over the last 20 years, we’ve built out a robust multi-agency radio system that is highly available and highly reliable, that is used every day for 9-1-1 emergency dispatch by our police and fire departments, and also by our field crews to maintain critical infrastructure for GWP, public works, and recreation and parks.”

Moving on, the council approved the purchase of two used trash trucks to supplement the city’s fleet. Public works director Yazdan Emrani reported on the aging state of the city’s fleet. Eleven of the department’s 24 CNG side-loaders are currently being replaced but there is a backlog of approximately a year for the trucks to arrive. In the interim, Emrani detailed, the number of trash routes is increasing from 18 to 22 to reduce overtime, creating the need for even more trucks.

Councilmember Brotman wondered if a strategy to delay the purchase of the 11 trucks could be devised while technology catches up to produce a functional electric trash truck as “we know they’re on their way.”

In response, Emrani shared that the city is currently “undertaking an electrification study to look at all of our fleet – not only sedans but also looking at heavy-duty trucks such as trash trucks and the electrical infrastructure to support them.”

Bradley Calvert, assistant director of the city’s Community Development Department, updated the council on ongoing plans for Space 134, to make improvements to the ramps on and off the 134 Freeway in downtown Glendale and to potentially envision a cap park to be built over the freeway.

“This project is a moonshot,” Calvert began before sharing drawings of a cap park connecting the north and south parts of the city with a new downtown and neighborhood park and connections to two transit systems. Improvements to the freeway ramps, such as braiding, are expected to cost $109,300,000 and Phase 1 of the cap park would cost approximately $534,900,000.

“As long as I can remember, Glendale has been divided into above and below the freeway,” Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian commented. “Glendale is bisected in more ways than a freeway. This is an ambitious project that could do a lot of good.”

Mayor Paula Devine recounted the enthusiastic response from the public when this idea was introduced initially. Councilmember Agajanian reminded his colleagues, “President Biden just signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill.”

“Unless you dream, it will never become a reality. Go ahead and look for money,” Councilmember Najarian urged.

Next the council approved a three-year labor contract with the city’s firefighters.

“After five months of negotiations – it’s never easy,” said city manager Roubik Golanian thanking the members of both bargaining teams.

The memorandum of understanding runs from July 2021 through July 2024 and covers approximately 160 rank-and-file sworn fire professionals (fire engineers and fire captains) and the associated paramedic ranks, city HR director Matt Doyle briefed the council.

“Our goal is to be able to attract and retain the best available candidates,” Doyle said. There are no raises scheduled for the first year of the agreement with increases possible for employees depending on the number of years of employment.

“For the past 10, 15 years, the (Glendale Firefighters Association) has been quite reasonable, working with the city all the way back to the great recession of 2008. They’ve deferred scheduled raises several times. They pay 4.5% of the employers’ portion of their CalPERS costs, in addition to the 9% employee share – the highest of all California cities,” Doyle noted.

Councilmember Najarian commended the firefighters’ union.

“You stepped up when you didn’t have to and took ‘goose eggs’ for many years. You and the police make Glendale what it is – you are the cornerstone to our peace of mind. It’s a tough job and we’re lucky to have men and women like you protecting us.”

Responding to several maps drawn in the redistricting process that happens every 10 years following the census, the council voted to authorize the mayor to write a letter advocating that the cities of Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena remain together in the fifth supervisorial district.

Finally, the council voted to extend its moratorium on hotel development in the downtown area for an additional 10 months and 15 days, consistent with relevant law.