Week in Review

PoliticsPropertyDisasters and AccidentsProperty TaxHomes

EDUCATION

Eighth-grader Vanuhi Khdryan heard the warning tone Monday outside Toll Middle School, but stuck around a few minutes waiting for her friends on their first day back from summer break.

Glenwood Road — which, according to the state Department of Education, accommodates more than 4,300 students on their way to Toll Middle, Keppel Elementary and Hoover High School — was the scene of the usual hustle and bustle as school began Monday.

Glendale Unified officials said the opening bell was a success, a radical departure from last year when school was delayed during the Station fire.

Families walked along Glenwood Road as crossing guards kept watch. At Keppel Elementary, families huddled around whiteboards that listed classroom teachers. Motorists shared the road, cutting down on double parking.

Glendale resident Sal Tipu and his two daughters found their Keppel classes quickly, he said.

Two miles east and three hours later, state Supt. Jack O'Connell joined Glendale Unified officials and families at R.D. White Elementary School to welcome students back to class, but also press state leaders to release federal stimulus funds.

Glendale Unified officials expect to receive up to $5 million, which was earmarked to rehire more than 40 laid-off teachers.

The rally featured several student classes flanking elected officials, parents and teachers who spoke in the school's quad.

Students, all of them younger than 12, said they were no strangers to budget cuts.

Fifth-grader Lilia Vasghanian said understanding budget cuts is universal, not merely belonging in the domain of adults or elected officials.

BUSINESS

Short sales finally may be having their day.

The number of short sales — in which lenders agree to sell homes for less than what is owed on the current mortgages — in Glendale from May through July more than doubled compared with the same period in 2009, from 21 to 45, according to statistics compiled by agent Keith Sorem with Keller Williams in Glendale.

For the region including Glendale, Burbank, La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge, the number of short sales grew from 61 over that three-month period in 2009 to 90 in the same timeframe this year.

Short sales can reduce the loss lenders take on homes, because foreclosures take several months, require costly legal action, often result in decay or damage to the property and cause values of other properties in a neighborhood to sink. Homeowners, meanwhile, can avoid long-term damage to their credit ratings with short sales.

--

Just in time for the first day of school, the Salvation Army Glendale Corps and BB&T-Knight Insurance Services combined Aug. 29 to issue 150 backpacks laden with school supplies to local students in need.

Workers at BBT's 38-person Glendale office took two hours to hand out the gear, help cook up hot dogs and supervise games at the Salvation Army community center. This is the second straight year BBT has pitched in for children selected from struggling families served by the Salvation Army, YWCA and New Horizons Family Center.

--

Fresh produce and a festive atmosphere are calling people to farmers markets in Glendale and Burbank, which are just hitting their seasonal stride as peaches, melons and avocados come in from around the region.

Business is up at the Harvest Market in the Montrose Shopping Park, said John Drayman, Glendale city councilman and founding director of the Sunday market on Honolulu Avenue.

Other Glendale and Burbank markets, including the Thursday market on Brand Boulevard, Saturday markets at Kenneth Village, the Americana at Brand and the Burbank Farmers Market behind Burbank City Hall also report steady interest from customers in buying locally-grown produce and meeting the farmers who raise it.

POLITICS

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D- Silver Lake) hosted a Government Fair Aug. 28 at the Burbank Farmers Market, meeting constituents and fielding questions on topics ranging from his mother to Medicare.

Gatto aides caught shoppers as they walked past and routed them toward the freshman assemblyman, who shook hands and handed out business cards and brochures. One man asked when the state might pass a budget. Another told the assemblyman that he is not excited about either candidate for governor, Democratic Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown or Republican and former eBay executive Meg Whitman. One couple asked Gatto if he knew whether it is legal in Burbank to plant plastic grass instead of a real lawn.

Gatto is running for re-election in November against Burbank businessman and Republican Sunder Ramani.

——

Residents affected by the Station fire and subsequent winter storms could soon see some financial relief after state legislators on Tuesday passed a bill that would offer tax breaks for damaged properties.

The so-called "Disaster Relief Bill" — co-authored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore) — would provide state property tax breaks to homeowners whose homes were damaged or destroyed in last year's natural disasters.

The bill, which now awaits Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature, would go into effect immediately.

In the short term, the tax liability for affected residents would be re-evaluated to reflect damage to the property. It would also allow people whose homes were destroyed to retain certain homeowner tax exemptions while they are in the process of rebuilding.

And later on, affected residents who repair or rebuild their homes would not incur higher property tax bills.

La Cañada Mayor Don Voss said the legislation had been well-received by residents affected by February's debris flows. Many of the residents have already begun rebuilding, he said, and will benefit from not having to pay higher property tax bills.

The legislation was originally written in the wake of the Station fire, which burned 160,000 acres to become the largest fire in Los Angeles County history.

The bill was amended in the wake of the ensuing winter storms, which brought the debris flows in La Cañada that damaged dozens of homes and left nine uninhabitable. It was later expanded to include "pretty much every disaster area in the state," Portantino said.

The designated natural disaster areas span 11 counties, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

In addition to the help for homeowners, the bill would also provide reimbursement to the counties for property tax losses related to the legislation.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition on Tuesday was awarded a major federal grant that will total $625,000 over the next five years as they work to thwart substance abuse among local teens.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy selected the coalition and 168 other groups to receive the funding after determining they had show "significant reductions" in substance abuse over a 30-day period for teenagers, said the agency's spokesman, Daren Briscoe.

The coalition will get $125,000 every year for five years, with the first check issued Sept. 30, he said.

To receive the grant, the coalition had to supply the agency with extensive data on drugs and alcohol, Briscoe said.

The coalition also had to prove that they had been working at least six months on reducing youth substance abuse, that they represented 12 different community groups, had developed a long-term plan for reducing youth substance abuse and commit to participating in a national evaluation, he added.

With more than 500 applicants, Briscoe said the selection process was highly competitive.

——

A Glendale man who was stabbed last week after a road-rage incident was recovering from his injuries at home Tuesday, police said.

The man was released Saturday from a local hospital after having sustained a stab wound that sliced his liver, Glendale Police Det. Keith Soboleski said.

Also on Tuesday, detectives released additional details about the attack as they continue to seek the public's help in identifying the suspects who fled from the scene on the 1000 block of Western Avenue after the attack on Thursday.

The road-rage incident began on the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway and Western Avenue when the victim was cut off by the suspect's vehicle, police said.

Both vehicles exited on Western Avenue, and then stopped at a red light at the intersection with San Fernando Road, police said.

While waiting at the light, the victim and a woman, who was a passenger in the suspect vehicle, yelled profanity at each other, Soboleski said.

The light turned green and the suspect vehicle followed the victim along Western Avenue, before blocking the victim about 7:30 p.m. near his home.

——

CITY HALL

A simple trip abroad once again turned into a head-of-state affair for Mayor Ara Najarian, who during a weeklong visit to Glendale's Korean sister city was courted by both frontrunners in the nation's upcoming presidential election.

His scheduled itinerary for the official trip to Goseong, one of Glendale's six sister cities, had included meetings with a range of local government officials, as well as visits to other cities in the region in order to enhance relations and learn more about the culture.

Once he arrived, a member of the Korean parliament arranged for Najarian to meet with Geun-hy Park, a fellow member of parliament and current frontrunner for the 2012 presidential election.

Within hours of the meeting, Najarian had been invited to see her opponent, Moon-Soo Kim, governor of Gyeonggi Province, who is planning an October trip to Glendale, Najarian said.

Najarian was accompanied by Planning Commissioner Chang Lee, who acted as an interpreter and helped arrange many of the meetings, which spanned into the night.

Najarian's official trip was paid for by the Goseong government, which extended an invitation for his visit. Several meetings focused on Goseong's plans to develop an exchange program with Glendale Community College, he said.

He also visited the city of Gimpo, which has indicated interest in becoming another sister city to Glendale.

——

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Comments
Loading