The New Year is typically a time for reflection. For better or worse, such reflection is a balance between perception and reality. Both of these dynamics are powerful and, often, where you stand depends on where you sit. While 2014 was a year of lively public engagement on matters related to quality of life, finance, public safety and development, a comprehensive year-end review reveals the reality that Glendale is today safer, stronger and better positioned for success than at any time in recent history.

Scott Ochoa,  Glendale City Manager
Scott Ochoa,
Glendale City Manager

Our fire and police departments help ensure that our residents and businesses are safe and secure. Though calls for service continue to rise, our response times and crime rates are flat thanks to innovative leadership, technology and the constant reevaluation and redeployment of assets and resources. New and renovated parks (Maryland, Maple and Edison) are now on line, the Brand Library restored, and Central Library is being renovated. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in Glendale’s critical infrastructure by GWP and the Public Works Dept. New office tenants, shopping and restaurants are flocking to Glendale, largely due to our pro-business attitude and aggressive marketing. Simultaneously, our internal service departments are ensuring that the machinery of the City organization functions properly and cost-effectively. Truly, there is much, much more right with Glendale than wrong.

The anxiety over downtown development is considerable and must be addressed. We must appreciate that construction impacts are an inconvenience, no doubt; but they are not everlasting. And though the number of projects under construction draws out this time frame, it is not open-ended. As the window of investment in mixed-use development in downtown closes, the City will surely have to evaluate anticipated impacts and opportunities to alleviate any lingering difficulties through our transit, transportation and parking operations – and we will. The long-term takeaway, however, will be the vibrancy and dynamism that bringing residents to downtown will have on sustaining the mid-Brand district as an attractive, safe and economically viable place. Certainly there is room for competing opinions, and opposing viewpoints need not be mutually exclusive. Ultimately, the long-term debate will revolve around some folks’ idea of what they want downtown to be, and the reality of what a healthy central city core needs to be in order to thrive.

Glendale has challenges today, to be sure. Traffic congestion and population density in historically single-family and mixed-density neighborhoods are chief among them. Addressing these challenges through ongoing pedestrian safety education, smart growth (i.e., aggregating density in areas that feature amenities like shopping, dining and entertainment), and strategic redevelopment are the best – although complex and not quick – solutions.

The diligence and discipline to sift through challenges and execute a long-term plan do not lend themselves to a world of instant stimulus and feedback. Truly, understanding and appreciating perception versus reality and what is popular versus what is necessary is essential to our future success. And no one has all the right answers. Thus, it is important to occasionally pause and honestly take stock of both the obstacles and opportunities, and assure our community – and ourselves – that we are doing the right things, the right way and for the right reasons.

Such honest reflection is difficult but, after all, it is the New Year…