City Council meetings are free entertainment! Here are my notes on our nearly weekly Glendale City Council meetings and Council-related events.
May 24, 2022
The afternoon Housing Authority/Council meeting heard the results of Glendale’s 2022 Point-in-Time Homeless Count, in which I participated:
Link to afternoon meeting: agenda
We counted 225 homeless people on Feb 25, 2022, which is a 33% increase from Glendale’s last point-in-time Homeless Count in Jan 2020. The reasons for this increase are not yet clear because the results of LA County’s Homeless Count will not be released until July. My guess is that this is a low number because the entire week of Feb 25 had been unusually cold and unhoused people may have made additional efforts to find some kind of temporary shelter, in ways that were not counted. It is likely that housing situations for many people deteriorated during the pandemic, together with drops in income, which would match the stories I’ve been hearing from tenants throughout the pandemic.
The evening Council meeting at 6pm started with Mayor Kassakhian making an impassioned speech about the shooting in Uvalde that had occured earlier that day, and before full details were known. Please take a few minutes to watch Ardy’s speech, because I believe that he spoke for many of us, who were still reeling from the shooting in Buffalo, NY on May 14:
Link to 6pm meeting: Video
May 11, 2022
The League of Women Voters hosted a televised Candidate Forum on 5/11. If you missed it, you can watch it on tv or via the link below:
I think I scared off the student volunteers I invited to this forum, so warning: I have a sharp tongue. I am the most sarcastic member of a very sarcastic family; not only is this my nature, but it’s also a useful skill because I never got anything by asking for it nicely.
May 3, 2022
I’ve been watching Glendale City Council meetings regularly for five years–from beginning to end–no matter what is on the agenda. Why?
It’s free entertainment!
Here is a link to the last City Council meeting on May 3, in case you want to catch a glimpse. If the thought “How on earth does this affect my life?” pops into your head, you are not alone. It’s like walking into an alternate universe, with plenty of entertaining elements.
Yes, I learn a lot from watching Council meetings, but I keep waiting for them to talk about something that affects me. This is why it’s important for ordinary people to bring our concerns to the attention of City Hall. It can be a long wait, so I started speaking, at around 1:26:20:
Friends tell me that I talk with my hands. Here, I am gesturing about how someone on a NYC subway taped up an anti-Asian poster aimed at me, and how a fellow passenger ripped it off the wall. It can help a lot when even one person speaks up and says that these racist actions are NOT okay.
A few weeks ago, some Glendale students threw racist and homophobic slurs at students from other schools, at a swim meet. We might not be able to prevent all such hateful incidents, but we can come together as a community and say that this behavior is not acceptable. Even when the ugliness is not aimed at us directly, bystanders can always stand up and speak out–this sends a message not just to the bad actors, but also to other witnesses, that we always have this power within us. I have often been the target of these ugly actions, and this is why I will always speak up about them.
I concluded by saying, “Not long ago, I saw a lot of people holding signs saying, ‘My body, my choice’–that was in reference to vaccines. Let’s see those same people take the same position regarding abortion rights in this country.”
Candidate Forums, April 28, 2022
There were two candidate forums on Thursday, April 28, 2022–one held at 11:30am, hosted by the Women’s Civic League, and another held at 7pm, hosted by the Verdugo Woodlands (VW) Homeowners Association.
The Women’s Civic League interviewed each candidate for 10 minutes, asking the same questions. Candidates were held in a waiting room, so we didn’t hear what the questions were ahead of time. The interviews were recorded and can be viewed here:
The VW forum in the evening was fun! It was held at the Dad’s Club and 60 to 70 people arrived. It was funny, lighthearted, and collegial overall, in spite of unexpected problems with the microphones and the sound system. The moderators asked questions about public safety, design, and environmental issues.
The next Candidate Forum will be held on May 11, hosted by the League of Women Voters. It will be televised from City Hall, although the public will not be allowed to attend the event in person. I am allowed to bring up to four guests, however.
Candidates in the Press–CV Weekly April 21, 2022
Candidate Forum on April 7
Oops, I’m a bit behind in providing updates.
On Thursday, April 7, the Northwest Homeowners Association held the 2nd Candidate Forum of the campaign season. The Crescenta Valley Weekly covered the event here:
And video of the event can be viewed here:
The video didn’t start right away due to techinical difficulties, so here is a key point that the video did not show. At one point, the moderators asked a series of questions with simple “yes” or “no” answers. When asked, “Who is AGAINST rent control?”, the only candidate who raised her hand was Anita Quinonez-Gabrielian.
April 5, 2022 City Council Meeting
It’s been two and a half years since I last sat in Council chambers, in Nov 2019. It was good to be back, and nice to see City Hall filled with happy people. Note: When the Council chambers are full, it’s usually because a bunch of people are angry about some issue or other.
The office of Mayor of Glendale passed from Paula Devine to Ardy Kassakhian today. Outgoing mayor Mrs. Devine gave a speech summing up the City Council’s achievements over the past year, and became emotional when colleagues mentioned the loss of her husband, Art Devine, last year (Mr. Kassakhian poured water for Mrs. Devine and passed a box of kleenex to her). Then incoming mayor Mr. Kassakhian gave a speech listing his priorities for the coming year.
Note: The mayor is the ceremonial head of the City Council, a position that rotates each year until all Councilmembers get a chance to serve as mayor. In Glendale’s Council-City Manager system of municipal government, the Mayor has no real power greater than that of any other City Councilmember, other than a few ceremonial duties.
I’m especially interested in Ardy’s proposal to work with Glendale schools to make school yards open for children to play in on weekends and at other times when schools are closed. This change would make more green space available to kids without waiting to create more park space.
When I was a kid in Hawaii, I went to an elementary school that had four acres of open play space with swings, monkey bars, slides, jungle gyms, an outdoor basketball court, and my favorite, the “caterpillar.” The school was surrounded by hedges but had no fence and the field was never locked. We kids played in the school yard on weekends all the time, so it makes me sad when I walk past schools today that are closed off with high fences and locked most of the time.
There was only one Action Item on the agenda, regarding creating a new dog park. Lot 11 on Colorado Ave in South Glendale that currently serves as a parking lot was selected as the site, and the Council passed the first steps toward designing a dog park there, 5-0.
Earlier today, the afternoon Housing Authority meeting discussed the status of the Section 8 program. Glendale recently received about 220 new Section 8 vouchers and City staff members are working to place unhoused people in permanent housing using the new vouchers. Fourteen people have been placed already, with 80 more in the pipeline.
April 2, 2022 Candidate Forum
How did the the first Candidate Forum go? It’s the first pancake. The candidates are warming up and learning about the campaign and about each other. The forum was moderated by a reporter from ABC7 and questions concerned building codes, housing and homelessless, auto insurance, crime, speeding cars, GWP rates, the salaries of City staff, and whether Glendale should have an elected mayor. Friends told me that we all should have smiled more.
The next Candidate Forum will be held on Thursday, April 7, hosted by the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn, and can be viewed either in person at 1320 N. Brand Blvd. or via Zoom (register at http://www.nwglendaleha.org). It will also be recorded.
March 31, 2022 Housing Summit
Councilmember and Housing Authority Chair Ardy Kassakhian hosted the first ever Housing Summit in Glendale, which featured panel discussions and lasted from 8:30am through 1pm.
Breakfast was a bunch of refined carbs, which I skipped. For lunch, I ate some salad because I didn’t want to risk a mystery sandwich.
I was pleased that Keynote speaker Dr. Richard Green from USC picked up on three points that I made in between those meals:
- By holding these types of meetings on a weekday morning, they effectively exclude the voices of renters like me. The only people attending these meetings are those who are paid to be there or people who can afford to miss half a day’s pay.
- Nationwide, 75% of white households are homeowners while only 42-44% of Black hoseholds own their homes. What are the local numbers for Glendale? Because this is a key metric in seeing what progress we’re making in correcting historical racism as expressed in housing practices. Dr. Green also talked about the racist origins of single-family zoning and how some states are getting rid of it entirely.
- The purpose of government is not to make developers happy. The purpose of government is to serve the needs of the people who live here. Dr. Green suggested that governments should incentivize development as opposed to giving away all its assets to developers.
There was other discussion around modular housing, how the city of Burbank does not have a Design Review Board, and other topics that delight the hearts of housing policy wonks. Shane Phillips of UCLA talked about how the city of Seattle worked with various community groups and other stakeholders for five years, to obtain everyone’s input on housing issues. That sounds like a great example of how cities are perfectly capable of courting the community when they actually want community input, as opposed to minimal advertising around a single event that is held on a weekday morning.