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Mailbag: District dodged a bullet when City Council killed proposed real estate exchange

Re: “Council rejects property exchange,” Dec. 8. I read with great interest Lila Seidman’s article about the City Council’s action relating to a proposal that would have the Glendale Unified School District abandon its Wilson Street headquarters for a larger building on Colorado Boulevard. The deal would have the developer, Carmel Partners, obtain the GUSD property on Wilson Avenue, where it proposed to construct a large residential complex.

After a personal inspection of the Colorado Boulevard building the GUSD would have acquired, I believe the City Council may well have saved GUSD from a disaster it would have long regretted. The surroundings are far less desirable than those of the GUSD’s current location and the building on Colorado appears to be inflicted by vacancies. I found only one person working at the site, in the first floor entrance area, pulling a cart loaded with boxes headed for a room jammed full of cardboard boxes. Looking through windows from the outside, I could see several rooms being used as warehouses but none that looked like business offices.

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One wonders whether GUSD failed to understand how much it would cost to make the building suitable for its purposes and how difficult it might be to find businesses interested in leasing space there. Also there is a question about how Daily High School, which was to remain in place next to the proposed residential complex, would fare once construction of the complex began.

It is reassuring the City Council made a hard decision in a complex case against development when it threatens to harm residents and be of questionable benefit to the city as a whole.

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Gerry Rankin

Glendale

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Responding to Sam S. Manoukian’s Dec. 8 letter about city employees paying into the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS): I respect the men and women in our police and fire departments, but I have a problem with their union bosses and how they have been able to manipulate our state government, the Glendale City Council and Glendale voters.

It is true safety officers are contributing a percentage of their monthly salary towards their pension. But about 18 years ago, CalPERS convinced the state Legislature and governor to change the pension pay for safety officers. After 30 years’ employment, officers would no longer receive 75% of their last year’s salary as their pension, but 90% of it. Additionally, an officer going forward could retire at age 50 rather than the previous age of 55.

There are safety officers who, after 30 years of service, are retiring with a final annual salary of $100,000 or more. Upon retirement, each will receive 90% of their last year’s salary as their annual retirement pension for the rest of their lives.

Oftentimes, when the safety officer associations negotiate with a city, the officers may contribute more money towards their pensions, but any contribution increase seems to be offset by a pay raise approved by council members.

Mike Mohill

Glendale

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