Public safety, a balanced budget for fiscal year 2017 as well as continued arts and culture programs were the highlights in Mayor Vartan Gharpetian’s praise for the city of Glendale during this year’s State of the City address Thursday.
Gharpetian pulled data from the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report and touted Glendale’s rank as the fourth safest city in California and sixth nationwide with a population of 201,000 or more during his address. Glendale’s current standing in California is a slight dip from its previous third-place spot.
Also praised were the Glendale firefighters and emergency responders who helped evacuate about 400 residents from the Glenwood Oaks and Mountain Oaks neighborhoods when the La Tuna fire spread into city limits in September.
“Glendale’s emergency operations center was activated at 5:30 that morning, and all key personnel were ready to respond to any threats to our community,” he said. “Trust me, I was there and saw it firsthand. Not only was it a testament to our emergency response, but also our emergency communication abilities.”
According to Gharpetian, fiscal 2017 marks the sixth consecutive year the city has had a balanced General Fund budget, helped by a $4.2 million increase in sales-tax revenues compared to the previous fiscal year.
Glendale will, by the end of this year, lose a key office tenant with the departure of Nestlé USA, as the food company will leave its 518,302-square-foot space after three decades. It will also be taking about 1,200 jobs.
However, the city reported vacancy rates for its high-quality, competitive office spaces at 10.4%, a substantial decrease from when it stood at 24% in 2010.
The renovated Glendale Central Library and associated art galleries opened in 2017, and the city bolstered its arts and culture offerings with a newly drafted Public Art Master Plan, which will serve as an organizing document to help guide about $5 million in the city’s Urban Arts Fund that will be used over the next five to 10 years.
“[City Council] has approved a concept for the future of the Maryland [Paseo] and the city’s official Arts & Entertainment District,” Gharpetian said. “The vision includes art galleries, performances and … an outdoor venue to view sports games such as the World Cup.”
Other major projects highlighted by the mayor for 2018 include a $3.8-million renovation project at Verdugo Park, development of the South Glendale community plan and a feasibility study of a streetcar service that would connect the Glendale Transportation Center to the downtown area.
Gharpetian took time to address the future of the aging Grayson Power Plant, the next looming juncture in the city’s power-generating future.
On April 10, City Council will consider whether to certify an environmental-impact report on the $500-million proposal to to repair and replace eight electrical-generation units at the gas powered facility.
Opponents, who’ve shown up in the hundreds outside City Hall and inside council chambers, are demanding additional study for renewable alternatives from an independent consultant, especially after concerns over conflict-of-interest allegations.
In an attempt to quell what he called “a lot of misinformation about what needs to be done,” Gharpetian lauded Glendale Water & Power’s 47% renewability portfolio compared to California’s 50% mandate for public utilities by 2030.
“Our goal is to meet or exceed current state mandates for clean energy, while maintaining affordable rates, increasing efficiency and, most importantly, keeping the utility reliable,” he said.
Select local residents and businesses were honored at the luncheon, hosted by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, for their contributions to Glendale.
Glendale Chamber of Commerce 2018 Honorees
Woman of the Year: Toni Beck Espinoza, the Stone-Beck Group at Morgan Stanley
Man of the Year: Brent Gardner, general manager, Glendale Galleria
Project of the Year: Glendale Tech Week, city of Glendale
Small Business of the Year: Art Arutyunyan, My Glendale Florist
CEO of the Year: Keith Hobbs, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital