Week in review

CITY HALL

City officials will continue to craft a citywide policy for residential wireless micro-cellular sites after the City Council on Tuesday moved to extend a moratorium on the equipment for another year.

The moratorium was put in place to quell protests from north Glendale residents last year over a proposed T-Mobile antenna in the city’s right-of-way, and to allow time for revised regulations to be drafted. The ban was set to expire June 24, but city officials said they needed more time.

A draft ordinance could be ready for the council by the end of October and will unlikely take the entire year allotted, said Christina Sansone, general counsel for the city’s Public Works Department. In the meantime, city officials plan to host community meetings and collect input from cell-phone service providers on the draft ordinance.

 The City Council on Tuesday appeared to embrace the expected return of a homeless winter shelter to downtown Glendale, despite its controversial stay in Burbank last winter.

County and local officials expect the shelter to operate out of the National Guard Armory on Colorado Street this winter. It would be a homecoming of sorts, given that the armory had hosted the Los Angeles County-funded program for more than 10 years before it moved to Burbank in 2007 to allow for construction and building upgrades.

The move to Burbank got an early warm reception, but last year, residents living near the armory there started to complain, sparking community meetings and discord on the Burbank City Council on what to do with the shelter. Then in March, state National Guard officials said the Burbank armory would be closed to homeless shelter programs this winter to accommodate military deployments to the Middle East.

POLITICS

Democratic Assemblyman Paul Krekorian is “strongly considering” a new job.

The Burbank resident, who now has an apartment in Valley Glen, said in a statement that he is contemplating a move to the Los Angeles City Council to replace Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who was elected earlier this year to be L.A.’s city controller effective July 1. Greuel’s seat represents Council District 2, which covers a portion of the San Fernando Valley that overlaps with Krekorian’s constituency, the 43rd Assembly District.

Krekorian has not entered the race for Greuel’s seat, but in announcing his possible switch to city government, he has positioned himself to declare his candidacy before the June 6 deadline.

“I’ve been approached by many supporters who have suggested that I consider serving the people of the San Fernando Valley in a new capacity, and building on the successes I’ve achieved in the Assembly by running for the Los Angeles City Council,” Krekorian said in a statement. “I am exploring this opportunity to serve, and I am discussing that option with friends and supporters whose outlooks I value to inform what will be a forthcoming decision and announcement.”

If Krekorian chooses to run for the council, he must submit a candidate intention form between July 6 and 11 in advance of a special election that Los Angeles City Clerk June Lagmay has scheduled for Sept. 22.

Rumors of a potential Krekorian move have already stirred interest in his Assembly seat.

Krekorian has established himself as a popular assemblyman who has made important strides in helping the entertainment industry, said Lee Wochner, founding president of the Burbank Democratic Club and a delegate for the California Democratic Party’s executive board.

The California Republican Party would also be interested in the possible vacant seat, especially because it might bring about a special election, for which Republicans typically have a higher voter turnout than Democrats, spokesman Kevin Roberts said.

BUSINESS

A day after Star Chrysler-Jeep lost its ability to sell and service new Chrysler vehicles, a team of drivers Wednesday rolled the last of the dealership’s new cars off the Brand Boulevard lot.

For now, the dealership will sell used cars as it sets out to find a new identity.

As part of a bankruptcy restructuring plan for the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker, the dealership will no longer be allowed to sell new Chryslers or conduct warranty service, Chrysler spokeswoman Carrie McElwee said.

Star Chrysler-Jeep had opposed the move, but a New York bankruptcy judge accepted Chrysler’s proposal Tuesday to reject 789 dealership contracts, allowing the company to trim a quarter of its dealership network and save about $1.4 billion over four years.

The dealership was one of two Chrysler outlets in Glendale, but was singled out for contract termination. Glendale Dodge will continue to operate as a Chrysler dealership.

But rather than roll over, Steve Bussjaeger transformed his dealership into Star Pre-Owned Supercenter and Star Car Care Center as of Wednesday. It will sell and service all makes and models of used cars.

 Wardrobe, lighting and catering companies that serve studios across Burbank and Glendale reacted with cautious optimism Wednesday to the possibility of increased business after the Screen Actors Guild approved a new contract with film and prime-time television producers.

The two-year contract ends a nearly yearlong standoff and gives union members an immediate 3% pay raise, with another 3.5% bump after one year.

It also includes a bevy of benefits for actors working on material created for digital distribution, such as residual payments for ad-supported streaming of feature films and television programs.

The agreement could bring about a major boost to businesses in Glendale and Burbank, where large portions of the workforce are tied into activity at local studios, said Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.

Studios were hesitant to start new projects without a contract resolution because of the potential for a strike, which led to reduced spending on rentals, production space and actors, Nakamoto said.

A strike would have effectively shut down the entertainment industry, Nakamoto said, a danger that created a significant financial risk for studios willing to develop projects during contract talks.

With an agreement finalized, studios will now be able to sign so-called completion bonds, or contracts that guarantee films will be completed on time and on budget, Nakamoto said.

The union agreement was also expected help salvage worsening unemployment figures for the local film industry, which were depressed more than 25% as the contract dispute played out, he said.

As the effect of unfrozen projects began to ripple out across the industry, job numbers would likely rebound in late summer, he added.

The rebound couldn’t come soon enough for Jeff Stansfield, owner of Advantage Jewish Catering and Event Planning, which offers production catering and craft services for Warner Bros., Disney, HBO and Yahoo Music.

In November, Disney, HBO and Yahoo all canceled company parties planned for December, and sales over the last year and a half have been off $300,000, including $150,000 worth of lost business with Warner Bros. and $100,000 with Universal, Stansfield said.

The extended contract negotiations cut sales to entertainment industry-oriented businesses in a way that other recent disputes from screenwriters and directors had not, said Peter Cohn, owner of Solar Studios, a sound, animation and filming space in Glendale.

Burbank, home to Disney, Warner Bros., NBC, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, and Glendale, which boasts DreamWorks Animation SKG and the Walt Disney Creative Campus and Imagineering Library, have for decades provided trickle-down business to countless local vendors.

Warner Bros. alone pumped $427 million into the pocketbooks of Burbank vendors two years ago — $576 million when including the 2,000 residents employed by the studio, said Lisa Rawlins, a senior vice president for the studio.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The state Fourth District Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is the legal owner of the St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church property on Foothill Boulevard, throwing the fate of the Anglican congregation there into deep uncertainty.

In issuing the ruling Tuesday, the court agreed that the Episcopal Diocese had the right to restore the church to its authority after the current congregation severed ties over theological differences.

After splitting in 2006, the congregation pledged allegiance with the Anglican Province of Uganda, but remained at St. Luke’s, arguing the property belonged to them, not the Episcopal Diocese.

When its parishioners voted to split in February of that year, the congregation “denounced their prior promises to be subject to the governing documents of the national church and the diocese, abandoned their membership in the corporation, and lost the power and authority to be directors of the corporation, as they were no longer members in good standing of the Episcopal Church,” the appeals court ruled.

St. Luke’s officials declined to comment on the court’s ruling, saying they had yet to completely read it through.

In 2003, the now-Anglican parish began eliminating references to the Episcopal Church in their bylaws after an openly gay man was ordained as a bishop in New Hampshire earlier that year, though the congregation did not split from the church until 2006. That year, the Episcopal Diocese sued St. Luke’s congregation after it joined the Anglican Province of Uganda.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge sided with the diocese in July 2007

 Shop owners along South Central Avenue are on heightened alert after police said a man matching the description of a suspect who robbed a Pizza Hut on the strip two weeks ago tried to rob a Domino’s Pizza up the street Tuesday.

Two Domino’s employees were preparing to close the restaurant on the 700 block of South Central Avenue at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday when a man, who was holding a gun, began banging on the front glass door, Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

As he tried to get inside, he pointed a gun at the employees as he yelled at them to open the restaurant, Lorenz said.

Fearing the gunman would fire shots, the employees hid under the counter and called police, he said. They remained hidden underneath the counter until officers arrived.

Detectives were looking into whether the gunman — described as being black and in his early to mid-20s — is the same suspect who robbed the Pizza Hut on the 1200 block of South Central Avenue on May 31, shooting the lone employee in the shoulder.

The shooting took place at about 11 a.m. The 18-year-old employee, a Glendale resident, was able to activate the silent alarm as she followed orders to hand over several hundred dollars and her purse.

NOTABLE QUOTABLES

“There are lots of conversations going on.”

Lee Wochner, founding president of the Burbank Democratic Club and a delegate for the California Democratic Party’s executive board, referring to the possibility that Democratic Assemblyman Paul Krekorian might run for Los Angeles City Council and create an opening for aspiring state politicians.

“It’s sad on one hand and it’s exciting on the other. As emotionally draining as it was to have something taken away and to close the chapter, it’s extremely exciting and mentally stimulating to be able to start something new.”

Steve Bussjaeger, owner of Star Pre-Owned Supercenter and Star Car Care Center, previously known as Star Chrysler-Jeep, after his dealership lost the ability to sell and service new Chrysler vehicles on Wednesday and started operating as a used car lot.

“If a strike had occurred, that would have absolutely shut down everything in the entertainment industry — television production, motion picture production — everything would have come to a complete halt.”

— Verdugo Workforce Investment Board Labor Market Specialist Don Nakamoto, discussing the conclusion of extended contract negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild and major motion picture studios that had already forced a delay in some productions and cut business for local companies.

“Everyone is pretty much at risk.”

Linda Foley, founder of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, of the prevalence of identity theft.

“I am going to be totally helpless. I think we will be secluded and isolated. I think we will likely go to the grave very soon.”

Asmik Gasparyan, an adult day health-care center participant, of the possibility of the centers closing.

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