City skeptical about indicators report

CITY HALL — Roughly 10 months after officials released a report that found Glendale ranked poorly in some quality-of-life categories, including high marijuana and cocaine use among adults, the City Council on Tuesday finally filed it into the official record.

Nonprofit social service providers had, until now, been unable to tap the report's figures for grant applications because it hadn't officially gone through the note-and-file process at City Hall. Officials had kept the report off the agenda, saying they didn't feel it was an accurate reflection of the city.

While council members agreed to file the Quality of Life Indicators report on Tuesday, they agreed with the concerns of city officials.

Local nonprofit administrators have said the report findings are helpful in determining local grant applications to apply for.

And while the council expressed trepidation over the report, they eventually filed it knowing that local nonprofits had been waiting on their official seal to move forward with grant applications.

"This is a document that should be very valuable to our residents and a lot of our nonprofits who turn to this document in terms of applying for grants and funding," Councilman John Drayman said, adding that the report was "just woefully inadequate."

The report lacked relevance and context, he said. Other council members agreed, and expressed concern that some of the findings could be misconstrued.

"Once again, tremendous limitations on what we can do, and for that reason, I struggled bringing this to you," City Manager Jim Starbird said at the meeting.

Officials convened three meetings in an attempt to amend the report, which is a compilation of data from a number of sources, including Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the U.S. Census Bureau and the city's own statistics. The data were then compared with other cities' numbers.

Some of the report's findings showed that rates of marijuana and cocaine use in Glendale were significantly higher than for Los Angeles County in 2005. Findings also indicated that adult smoking rates in Glendale dropped significantly since 2005, but that obesity rates climbed.

The city created its first Quality of Life indicators report in 2002, but didn't commission an update until last year, Neighborhood Services Administrator Sam Engel said.

The indicators, he said, were not intended to be an in-depth analysis of the city. Rather, it represented a view of issues in the community, Engel added.

"These indicators are guides," he said. "Review of a community's indicators allows the community itself to effectively manage the systems that are in their care."

The 2009 report has 12 indicator topics with 83 subtopics, which were created after officials held numerous community meetings and reviewed data sets, Neighborhood Services Analyst Suzana Delis said.

"The indicators are intentionally a surface view of those indicators that contribute to quality of life," she said. "They are meant to be a starting point for intelligence gathering."

Still, the city can address some alarming indicators and conduct further investigations on the issues to better understand them, Delis said.

To see the report online, visit

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