ECO-RELATED ITEM NOTES—SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 MEETING (6 pm)
Metro and Metrolink News
The LA Metro Board directed its CEO to study a way to make all transit fares on the system free, reported Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian, who sits on the board and represents the North LA County area. Free fares will presumably increase ridership, thereby reducing greenhouse gases as people take the bus or light rail instead of using their cars. Najarian suggested that Glendale consider the impact of free fares for its Beeline service the next time council reviews transportation or mobility plans. “The point is to get people out of their cars and onto transit.”
Najarian also reported that Metrolink has a new weekend fare program, allowing all children under age 17 accompanied by an adult to ride free (with the adult weekend fare of $10). This will allow families to travel locally for recreation on the weekends at low cost, and is “one more way to get people out of their cars.”
Welcome to New Sustainability Officer David Jones, and Reviewing the proposal for a Glendale Sustainability Commission
At 39 minutes into the council meeting, City Manager Yasmin Beers introduced the Action Item on establishing a Glendale Sustainability Commission, noting that the City Council had directed staff to create a Sustainability Office awhile back.
Assistant City Manager Roubik Golanian introduced the city’s newly hired Sustainability Officer, David Jones, who most recently served as the City of Lancaster’s Environmental Compliance Manager. Prior to that he was Sustainability Manager at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Jones has an M.A. in Ecological Economics from Edinburgh University, Scotland. This was Jones’ first day on the job, and he jumped in by presenting the staff report on a proposed City of Glendale citizens’ Sustainability Commission.
Proposed duties and functions of the commission appear on PowerPoint slides (photos below). The proposal is just that and staff presented it to get direction and comments from city council members. Mayor Vrej Agajanian immediately commented that the duties and purview of the commission overlapped with those of existing commissions. City Manager Beers emphasized that after taking direction from council, staff would draft specific language about the commission’s expected activities.
All the council members warmly welcomed Mr. Jones to Glendale, and all provided detailed input on the proposal. Dan Brotman wanted to make sure the commission plays a meaningful role in formulating policy and in engaging the community. “I want it to have real influence,” he said. He listed parameters he wanted to see. The commission should:
- Advise city council in putting together a climate action plan (CAP), selecting the consultant, framing the goals, and be directly involved in engaging the community
- Be responsible for measuring and monitoring achievement of goals in the CAP and a city Sustainability Plan. He emphasized that the commission needs a clear set of Key Performance Indicators to establish ongoing accountability.
- Be focused on achieving the city’s 100% clean energy goal, acknowledging there is an overlap with the Glendale Water and Power commission
- Advise on policies to electrify buildings and transportation
- Recommend policies that shift us to a less car-centric system (again Brotman mentioned that it isn’t bad to have two commissions looking at similar issues)
- Look at how to implement a zero waste program, and reduce / eliminate dependence on landfill. Using Environmentally Preferred Purchasing and Extended Producer Responsibility policies in this area.
- Address climate resilience and adaptation, things we are going to do to make the city livable as the city gets hotter, as we need to conserve water and plan for / prevent wildfires.
- Look at how to reduce embedded carbon and carbon emissions in our building practices
- Have a strong community outreach function
Brotman and other council members welcomed the idea of two ex-officio student members for the commission – one ideally from Glendale Community College and one from a high school within the city.Ardy Kassakhian asked about providing a budget so that the commission could provide some funding or grants. He also recommended that the commission report back to council regularly and provide something like an annual audit report of their activities: their scope of their work and what has been accomplished.
Council member Paula Devine asked about how the post of Sustainability Officer was funded. Golanian replied that the cost burden is shared across two departments, with 65% paid by Glendale Water and Power and 35% paid by Public Works. Sustainability Officer David Jones reports to the City Manager directly, and the proposal for the Sustainability Commission places it under the direction of the City Manager as well. Devine said that the commission is very important for Glendale’s future progress toward sustainability; that we have lofty goals and we want to make sure that we get qualified, and committed environmentalists to serve.Devine noted that student members of the Commission on the Status of Women provided great perspective and they also learned so much by participating, so she was also very supportive of the idea of ex-officio student members.
Ara Najarian noted that among the many qualified candidates for the post of Sustainability Officer, David Jones was chosen, and his work in Lancaster is a good example. “I know they’ve been at the forefront of much environmental work in the county of LA, going almost to net zero for their solar as well as many other things.” Najarian said that he wanted Jones, as Sustainability Officer to set direction, with the commission’s role being to vet ideas, not to allocate a budget. He wanted a “bright line” between the interest areas of the new Sustainability Commission and the other commissions.Najarian also asked that the Sustainability Officer look at Glendale’s recent history: “Do an inventory on everything the city has done, because we’ve done a lot. We don’t have it in a neat little package…I would like to see all of that brought together.” A work plan, he said, should start with what has already been accomplished, and ideas and discussions will stem from that assessment.
Mayor Agajanian said he had the same comments and concerns as his council colleagues. He was concerned about the commission’s specific responsibilities and felt that overlap of duties would create problems. Brotman noted that sustainability cuts across everything we do and said there isn’t any harm in having a group look at policies and programs from a sustainability perspective. “I don’t think you can draw bright lines. Look what is important for sustainability: power, transportation, the environment…”
Assistant City Manager Golanian said that staff would take all these comments into consideration in drafting a possible ordinance. Monica Campagna called in during the hearing on behalf of GEC to welcome David Jones to Glendale and to thank him for joining us to help propel all the things we have undertaken. She also thanked staff for being supportive of the idea of a Sustainability Officer and Sustainability Commission.
At the conclusion of the discussions, Council member Devine moved the agenda item directing staff to draft specific language for a Sustainability Commission. Dan Brotman seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
CITY COUNCIL RECAP – 2 PM Meeting: Pilot Bike Share Program
Meeting Link + Agenda + Report
Council members considered a proposal to launch a pilot bike sharing program in partnership with Velvioo. The proposal was to install 200 bikes and e-bikes in an effort to connect Zarian Transit Center with downtown Glendale. Council rejected the proposal, in favor of an RFP process that would consider two companies (instead of one.)
MOTION (proposed by Brotman and seconded by Najarian): Have staff come back with an RFP with a proposal that would seek out bids from 2 companies for around 500 bikes to include scooters, bikes and electric bikes and will work with Metro Bike Share to bring that program into Glendale. PASSES with four votes.
Councilmember Devine voted NO, as the RFP proposal included scooters, which she is not in favor of including. Mayor Agajanian voted in favor despite similar concerns. It is possible one of the bids will NOT include scooters, as the original company presented which will probably bid, does not do scooters.