City Council Candidate Statements
(Election is March 5)

CANDIDATE STATEMENTS ABOUT THE WASH

Due to the nature of our organization, the Verdugo Wash Neighborhood Coalition does not endorse any candidate for City Council. We did, however, ask all the candidates for a written statement, and received feedback from 6 of the 7 candidates listed below (in alphabetical order). 

Candidate Karen Kwak did not respond, but in conversation, she told us she’s in favor of the Wash project despite being aware of all of the issues. If elected she, along with Mayor Dan Brotman would be 2 of 4 votes (Councilmember Najarian is absenting for personal reasons) in favor of developing a pathway between our homes and through our neighborhoods.

The received statements are below in alphabetical order:

Vrej Agajanian

Why should we attempt to construct this massive overdevelopment project in residential areas when it presents two significant drawbacks? Firstly, it involves the expenditure of billions of dollars that we don’t have. Secondly, the residents are against it as it negatively impacts their quality of life. Prioritizing the needs of our Glendale residents should be the Council’s foremost duty.

I am a board-certified engineer in the State of California as well as several other qualifications which are all shown on my website (www.andrehaghverdian.com) and I am hoping by this stage of the campaign a majority of the residents already know my qualification and don’t want to make this email long. My qualifications certainly warrant me the opportunity to dissect the entire project and provide feedback which I am hoping will shed light on this subject.

James Clarke

I am firmly opposed to the Verdugo Wash project. The project’s funding and planning processes have lacked the necessary openness, failing to adequately address many valid community concerns. This approach does not align with my commitment to an open, accountable City Council that prioritizes the voices and needs of Glendale’s residents before the desire of city staff to create a legacy for themselves or push a particular agenda. You can read more at clarkeforglendale.com/verdugowash.

Vartan Gharpetian

I am writing to advise the Verdugo Wash Neighborhoods Coalition and SavetheWash.com that I strongly oppose the Verdugo Wash Project unless it stops at Brand in downtown Glendale. I have been fighting this project since 2015 when I was first elected to City Council and will continue to do so. Go to my website for more information electvartan.com

Andre Haghverdian

In absence of all the information I asked the city for and haven’t received it, I am relying on all publicly available information and diving into this subject, and I will start by pointing out few key issues I discovered about this project as follows:

A. The project cuts through almost every neighborhood of our city and the name of the project misleads the residents to think the project will only affect Verdugo woodland neighborhood.

B. This is not a priority for our city right now when dealing with a mountain of financial obligations and liabilities and when our infrastructure, including our power generation units, are in dire need of upgrade and replacement.

C. The residents and most importantly, the immediate abutting residents to this project have not been completely informed. A project of this scale requires massive outreach, town halls, and focus groups to gauge the community support. In this case, the city failed to achieve this objective.

D. The project is large in both scale and budget. Even if the city phases out the construction of the project, it will have a severe impact on our annual budget for several years. How will all these fit into our annual budget?

E. Safety concerns. We are already dealing with a shortage of police officers and this project will create more area to cover with the same number of officers and reduce our resources to respond to other emergencies.

F. The maintenance cost. What is the city’s plan for maintaining the project over the years?

G. Neighborhood services enforcement to this area such as clean up, graffiti removal, wildlife issues, etc.? Currently, as it is, we are short staffed in neighborhood services enforcement staffing.

H. The project cuts through areas that are fire zones and prunes to fire in hot months. Inviting people into these areas is adding to the fire potential in the neighborhoods and potentially affecting individual homeowner fire insurance cost.

I. The city may suggest that they have secured some grant or funds through LA County or other resources available for the project, however, these funds are unsubstantial to overall project cost. The secured funds will have less construction value when the project is built due to the construction cost escalation.

The city needs leaders who ask tough questions and demand answers from the staff and executives before starting the procurement of the project or wasting public funds on the projects with no community support. We need leaders who can recognize the priorities and invest in the city much needed infrastructure to benefit the constituents. We deserve better.

At the end, I would also like to thank you for providing me the opportunity to get this information out to the public and I also want to thank all the residents who are staying active in the process and have been incredibly supportive and inspiring during this campaign process.

Ardy Kassakhian

I do not support any proposals for any type of project in the Verdugo Wash that do not include input and involvement from the stakeholders involved. As of today, I have not seen nor heard that staff has done any meaningful engagement with the various neighborhood groups that have expressed concerns about this project, and as such, I would not support the project were it to come before us today and had all the funding needed to be built. I firmly believe that if the city wants our citizens and residents to be part of the landing, then we MUST include them in the take-off, not just on this issue but every issue that impacts residents.

As it pertains to the specifics of this proposed project, I have stated and believe that this project is best suited for the downtown area in Glendale, where the topography is flat and the neighborhoods lack open green spaces. It would be great to either create a green space by capping (covering) portions of the wash to create additional green space that can be used to walk or bike or enjoy along Glenoaks Blvd and would be separated from the traffic along Glenoaks. This can be done by capping (covering) portions of the wash to create that additional space and should be limited to the area between Brand and where the LA River meets Glendale. There is potential for this since parts of the wash in the downtown area are already capped/covered and some folks on this thread may not even realize it. But it is true. The Hilton Hotel (formerly the Red Lion) and the green space near it were built over the wash. So there’s some potential for this.

Lastly, whatever the possibilities with this area may be, it will all come down to the cost. The state has given the city $6 million dollars to conduct a study for this project. So, contrary to what you may have heard from some folks, city funds are not being spent on this study. Regardless of the funding source, I would like to limit the scope of this study because no study should ever cost $6 million dollars. That’s too much money, and I have requested that staff break down how that money will be spent. I am awaiting a response, and when I have it, I plan to share it with the public. I also have asked publicly for a cost-benefit study to see the costs of maintaining any project after it is built. If the costs of maintaining it are too great, then we shouldn’t be pursuing this further, and we should look at other ways we can increase the amount of green open spaces in our city’s densest areas. I would like to also share with you and your friends that I will resume my regular Friday morning coffee office hours in Montrose at the Coffee Bean. I held those coffees regularly and consistently for over two years until I had to suspend them because my teaching schedule at Glendale Community College conflicted with the coffee hours. I’ll resume these office hours in the coming weeks and look forward to meeting each of you in person.I hope this helps you get a clearer understanding of where I am coming from, and I look forward to answering your questions on this and other matters of concern to us as residents of our great city.

Denise Miller

Thank you for your time last weekend. Since then, I have met with many stakeholders about this project, including those who support it and those that oppose it. I met with Bradley Calvert last week. And, I’ve talked to neighbors who live in La Crescenta (not on the wash) but have voiced concerns. Lastly, while I have not read the 400-page report in full (by people for it) I do attempt to read parts of it daily, just to ensure I have the full picture. With the above efforts, here is where I stand: I would vote NO and not approve the project as written and instead would propose an alternative that keeps the path closer to the downtown corridor and not in resident’s backyards. I support policies for clean air, the environment, innovations in transportation and bike paths, safe neighborhoods, community impact and safety in one’s home and communities. But I think there is a reasonable and more fair-minded approach to meeting all the needs of everyone who is for it and those who are not than what is being studied in entirety.

As proposed, I would also be inclined to ask staff to study the economic impact of the project concluding closer to Brand Blvd. to understand how it might boost the economy downtown. It could be a reason to entice developers to help us convert some of the vacant office space to affordable housing. Currently, we have a 34% vacancy in office space and although conversion is not easy, in fact it’s hard; I am told that it can be done and it is possible by a few experts in real estate, including developers, property owners and landlords. We need to bring development and a thriving community back into the downtown corridor and this project could help us move the city in the right direction. A reasonable and balanced approach to this project considers all the things I outlined above and takes all stakeholder’s input into consideration. Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions. My cell phone is 818-521-7858.

The Verdugo Wash is currently doing it’s job. Swift-moving storm runoff after a recent rainstorm.