Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian touted the city’s accomplishments over the past year — including affordable housing, transit, environmental and public-safety initiatives, while lamenting the local effect of some state-level mandates during the annual State of the City address on Wednesday.
Hosted by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, the address traditionally focuses on highlights from the previous year, as well as city plans for the future.
“We will always have plenty of challenges and obstacles to navigate. However, with solid and strong leadership as well as a supportive community, we will flourish,” said Najarian, who was tapped as the city’s mayor for the fourth time last April.
During the past year, Glendale officials have attempted to combat a local affordable housing shortage that reflects a statewide crisis, which Najarian lauded as a “comprehensive approach.”
After adopting a renter’s rights ordinance last February, the city passed an inclusionary zoning ordinance, launched a senior housing subsidy program and purchased a pair of properties for $25 million to develop into affordable units.
However, Glendale needs to zone to allow for 14,000 new residential units, according to a state agency’s most recent regional housing needs assessment, or RHNA.
Painting the mandate as unreasonable, Najarian said he would seek support from colleagues to challenge it and “reject the mandate that the state has impressed upon us.” The city would then propose a reasonable number of units, he added.
Glendale was ranked the nation’s fourth safest city in the country last year based on FBI crime data statistics, something Najarian attributed to the city’s fire and police departments.
Last month, six people, including an infant, were rescued from a Glendale apartment fire by local firefighters, Najarian said, lauding the department for its skill in handling the situation.
Najarian said local crime fighting has been hindered by state prison reforms over the last decade including a state bill, AB 109, and two voter-passed initiatives, Propositions 47 and 57. The voter initiatives reduced some low-level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and offered parole to some nonviolent felons.
He said crime in California is going up, and after the address said crime in Glendale in particular has been rising.
Between December 2018 and 2019, violent crime in Glendale rose 12.5% and property crime rose 5.9%. However, the previous year violent crime dropped 35.6% and property crime dipped slightly, by .3%.
Violent crime in Los Angeles slid by 3.6% last year, marking the second year of decline. San Francisco crime also dropped, but Oakland’s rose.
To combat the local increase claimed by Najarian, he said he supported the rollback of some of the prison reforms, which have been consolidated into a measure that will appear on the November ballot.
Should it pass, Najarian said the initiative “will help restore our law enforcement’s ability to do what it does best — protecting all of us and ensuring that Glendale remains one of the safest cities in the state.”
Held at the Glendale Hilton, the event also recognized some of the city’s business leaders.
Chamber president Judee Kendall said the crowd that gathered was a testament to the honorees — and the greater business community.
“We’re thrilled that there was a wonderful turnout,” she said. “It says a lot about people in the community that we serve.”
Glendale Chamber of Commerce 2020 Honorees
One-Hundred-Year-Member: Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Business of the Year: The Accountancy
Dennis De Pietro Award: Greg Tan
Man of the Year: Philip Lanzafame
Woman of the Year: Helen McDonagh