Glendale’s economy is thriving thanks to increased local business activity, but the growth is leaving some residents behind, Mayor Zareh Sinanyan said during this year’s annual State of the City address on Thursday.
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.
An individual’s career “determines a person’s ability to achieve all of the goals that they set for themselves,” said Sinanyan, explaining why he thinks the economy is at the forefront of many residents’ minds.
This past quarter, the city saw a 4.6% sales tax revenue increase compared to the same quarter from the last fiscal year, bringing in an additional $477,853 for the city, Sinanyan said.
Partially driving the windfall is a recent influx of businesses to the area, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Five Guys restaurant, Good American clothing line and Super King Market, he added.
When Nestlé left the city last year — taking more than 1,000 jobs with it — an economic panic seized the city, the mayor said. Less than a year later, Glendale-grown tech startup ServiceTitan announced it will be moving into the international company’s old digs at 800 N. Brand Blvd.
Also poised to add more to the city’s coffers is a 2018 voter-approved sales tax increase known as Measure S. Set to go into effect in April, Glendale officials predict it will raise $30 million for the city annually.
An impetus for raising the sales tax to the state maximum of 10.25% was that it would maintain local control of generated funds, according to Sinanyan.
If the state or county raised taxes before Glendale did, a large portion of those funds would have funneled out of the city, he explained.
“This sales tax increase was not what we wanted, it was what we needed,” Sinanyan said. “If we didn’t do it ourselves, someone else would have done it for us.”
Despite the past year’s economic success, “we know that our community keeps aging, and some of our community members can’t make ends meet,” Sinanyan said.
That reality has put issues like affordable housing and homelessness, with a particular focus on how seniors are affected, at the top of City Council’s priorities, he said.
Besides launching a committee focused on senior needs, the city broke ground last May on a 66-unit, affordable senior-housing project called Vista Grande Court. Construction on the project is slated to wrap up this fall.
An ordinance passed in February called Right to Lease requires landlords to provide tenants with a one-year lease and to pay relocation fees if rents are raised past 7% and the tenant decides to leave. Its passage represents a culmination of the council’s multiyear effort, which gained renewed traction in November, to address rising rents in the area.
Beyond the economic landscape, Glendale is defined by its robust arts and culture scene and maintained parks, Sinanyan said.
Last May, the city’s parks department renovated about seven trails in Brand Park. The trails had been damaged by fire service activity in 2017 when wildfires ravaged the surrounding area.
Sinanyan praised Glendale’s fire and police departments for their work. In 2018, the fire department responded to more than 20,000 calls and transported over 15,000 people to local hospitals, according to city data cited by Sinanyan. Its average response time was four minutes and 26 seconds. Individuals suffering from cardiac arrest were resuscitated at a rate of 37%, which is 17% above the county average, according to the data.
During the same year, the police received 118,193 calls for service. Its average average response time was four minutes and 11 seconds, according to city data cited by Sinanyan. Violent crimes in the city dropped by 26% last year, according to the data.
“It’s a good, positive way to talk about our city,” said Judee Kendall, chief executive of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, of the event that also awards local businesses and their owners for their contributions to the city.
“[The council’s] focus on business is what we as the Chamber are most interested in,” Kendall said, “and we see that as very significant because the city is very pro-business.”
Select local residents and businesses were honored at the luncheon.
Glendale Chamber of Commerce 2018 Honorees
Woman of the Year: Betty Porto, Porto’s Bakery & Café
Man of the Year: David Ho, Jr., owner and president, Pacific BMW
Organization of the Year: Glendale Assn. of Realtors
Business of the Year: Pegasus Home Health Care