Mailbag

Start replanting our bare hillsides

To the residents of Crescenta Valley: It is time for us to pull together and organize. We cannot afford another three to five years of mudslides, evacuation and poor health quality.

We need people to donate money and time to help replant our hillsides. We need to determine what and when to plant. If the local governments have already put together a committee, please reach out to the residents for help.

It sounds like a lot of work, but if we all pull together, we can get it done.

PATSY STANIEC

La Crescenta

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City planning has it backward

This is how the city always works against itself. You want people to live here and pay taxes, but you have the most haphazard, illogical code for what is allowed and what is deemed inappropriate (“Actress' gate must go,” Feb. 11).

A simple gate is not allowed, but countless, tasteless oversized homes that don't fit the lot they reside in or blend in with the current architecture are allowed. How do you justify denying someone security in their own home?

The city makes a big deal out of the things that they should make exceptions for, and they give people permits to destroy the continuity of neighborhoods when they should not.

LISA CHARLES

Glendale

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City is mucking up Alex Theatre again

Regarding the Feb. 1 letter by Peter J. Rusch, “Alex Theatre's plans are too boxy,” his comments on the Alex Theatre plans for “The Ambitious Design” of various aspects of the theater hit the nail right on the head (no pun intended).

As stated, the city staff does not have a very good record when left to their direction on changes to the Alex Theatre. Memories seem to fade when it comes to past efforts to truly restore the beauty of the Alex and make it a pleasure for the public to attend various events.

As a child in Glendale, it was always an eventful occasion to attend a Saturday afternoon movie and enjoy this beautiful landmark. As the years went by, the Alex certainly fell into disrepair and was in need of much attention.

Several years ago the public was asked to help in a drive to restore the theater, and for months there was an effort throughout the city to contribute and be a patron donor to save the theater. I was one who responded and joined and received a lifetime seat assignment for my participation. That program eventually failed.

Now the citizens of Glendale are again expected to support another effort by the city and Historic Preservation Commission to railroad design changes through by suggesting impending deadlines are drawing near.

The City Council, the Historic Preservation Commission and the Redevelopment Agency certainly have their head in the sand and their memory lacking if they think the people of Glendale will be sandbagged again. Please print all the articles about the Alex Theatre that have been published in the last few years, and you will get a picture of the fleecing of the people of Glendale in the guise of improving the Alex Theatre.

Truly, the Alex Theatre is a real landmark in Glendale, and all should be done to preserve and keep it going with a well thought-out plan, but not by the current planning participants.

DAVID FIRMES

Glendale

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Need to be smarter with our resources

Regarding Edwina Hughes' Feb. 8 opinion piece, “Smart meters are an invasion of privacy,” the objective of smart meters is to create efficiencies in the way our utility providers do business and to give us the opportunity to save money.

Smart meters allow us to be charged on a scale, more during peak hours, and less during non-peak hours. Privacy is a nonissue with smart meters.

In addition, damming our rivers is not the solution to our water crisis. Individuals need to be savvier with the limited water we have, because it is a scarce resource, and we've not been using it in a sustainable way.

However, I agree with Hughes that we do need to incentivize rainwater capture. There are many rebates handed out for efficiencies, but why not give me a break for a 500-gallon rain barrel to reduce my reliance on water coming from Northern California?

Any concerned citizen should think of ways to reduce their dependence on resources not easily accessible or sustainable to us like water and energy. Part of living in our society is taking responsibility for one's own actions. If we all had castles and no regulation, the only thing we'd be doing is contributing to the “tragedy of the commons” problem. Frankly, I'd rather be smart about it.

The notion of being free in Hughes' opinion is to break the ceiling, and have more and more and more. Our planet doesn't work in this fashion, and with an ever-growing population and a dwindling of resources, this kind of habit is only going to perpetuate more intervention and regulation, all because we couldn't read the meter.

ALEK BARTROSOUF

Glendale

Editor's note: Bartrosouf is co-founder of Coalition for a Green Glendale.

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City government needs drastic reform

In 1947, I drove to Glendale seeking a house I could afford using my U.S. Army service benefit. As I approached San Fernando Road, a sign read: Glendale Population 90,000.

Succeeding generations transformed the bedroom community into the third-largest city in the county. Bigger has not always been better. Our form of city government is mired in the 20th century. We have 21st century problems that require drastic reform.

First, our election process needs an all-mail ballot with a primary that narrows the field of candidates to twice the number of vacancies to be filled. An able moderator can referee and encourage honest debate — not just sound bites.

The virtues are many: perfect paper trail; fraud-free; eliminates the unsavory practice of candidates mailing applications for absentee ballots with their campaign literature; and cleanses the roster of voters who have moved or died.

Failure to vote in three successive elections strikes the citizen's name from the roster. It works in Burbank and Oregon, where turnout is far higher. The savings for the city for future elections would number in the hundreds of thousands of dollars now spent on polling stations, equipment, transportation, etc.

Second, drastic changes are needed in how we manage city government. We have outgrown our Charter form and need to consider becoming a general law city with an elected full-time executive with authority equal to his/her responsibilities. Our salary structure for police and fire personnel enables gaming the system beyond common sense with retirement 16 years earlier than Social Security and a bizarre instance where a certain employee is paid more than the city manager.

And a city manager who can increase department salaries without council approval is as outrageous as $677,000 for outside legal expenses (“City wants legal expenses repaid,” June 18).

Third, the offices of treasurer and city clerk should be appointed, not elected. Their duties are no more important than the city attorney, police chief and other department heads who are certified engineers. They need to be qualified and integrated as an important part of the management team.

For example: When negotiating a retirement or health plan, the treasurer should assess the long-term costs of the plan and the city clerk must be prepared to conduct necessary elections authorizing these reforms. They need to be certified professionals — not politicians.

And fourth, divide the city into five political districts to enable “neighborhood power” to check powerful commercial interests who currently have control.

The Good Old Boys and Girls pictured on the north wall of the Council Chamber have had their time, and so has this home-grown curmudgeon.

B. RITCHIE PAYNE

Glendale

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Actress didn't bother to look at the code

Laurie Collins is right (“Gate brings zoning code issues to light,” Feb. 13).

Both the zoning administrator and the actress acted irrationally. Actually, the actress was more irrational than even Collins indicates. There was nothing in any of the stories indicating the actress ever spoke to the Glendale police about the alleged stalker.

Glendale police would have given her excellent advice for dealing with any stalker. That is one of the many things they do very well. Instead of contacting the police, she put up an ugly and illegal fence that would not have given her any protection at all.

Although my fence-climbing days are decades behind me, the picture of the gate indicated it had enough toe holds and finger holds to make climbing it a cinch for any agile teenager or young adult.

Councilman Ara Najarian needs to take a close look at the section of the Glendale municipal describing the type of hearing the Planning Commission is authorized to hold on an appeal from a zoning administrator decision. Although the section does not use the term “de novo,” it authorizes the Planning Commission to do all the acts normally done in a de novo hearing.

The actress was not “ambushed.” She just did not bother to look at the code.

STANTON J. PRICE

Glendale


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