First published in the March 26 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
Glendale’s resiliency after the pandemic was the prominent focus of Mayor Paula Devine’s State of the City speech on Wednesday.
The event, hosted by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce in a full ballroom at the Hilton Hotel, stood in contrast to even a year ago, when vaccinations against COVID-19 were only beginning to ramp up and what few events occurred came with strict mask-wearing.
Through 2021, optimism surrounding vaccinations and the discouraging rise of the Delta and Omicron variants made for “unique challenges” for the city, Devine said.
“With the help of our exceptional hospitals, our schools, our thriving business community, we remain strong and resilient,” Devine said during the address. “We were able to safeguard the health and safety of our community and we are well on our way to rebound from this global pandemic.”
City Hall remained very busy in its work for a city of around 200,000 residents and multiple thriving commercial sectors. A video presentation highlighted the city’s achievements for the year.
In a collaboration with Adventist Health Glendale and Glendale Community College, the city hosted the Jewel City Vax Clinic at the college, and held numerous vaccine pop-ups throughout downtown. More than 160,000 grab-and-go lunches or frozen meals were delivered to Glendale’s homebound seniors, who were most at risk during the pandemic.
More than 6,700 children were enrolled in seasonal childcare programs, and a partnership with the Glendale Unified School District reserved some summer camp programs exclusively for district students. The library department also launched a robust homework assistance program and a reading challenge program, all online, for local students who remained at home with remote classes.
Three affordable housing projects were developed, with work having started on two of them this year.
In response to the 2020 racial reckoning and the implementation of the city’s Sundown Town resolution, the library department’s ReflectSpace gallery developed the interactive online “Reckoning” exhibit, which examined the racist past of Glendale and also sponsored the “Be The Change” speaker series.
The city said it collected 5,500 tons of recycling material and 8,500 tons of green waste, and conserved 306 million gallons of water through its water-use restrictions implemented during the ongoing drought. Additionally, the city’s energy portfolio boasted 64% “clean energy” sources and the council approved construction of a biogas power-generation facility atop Scholl Canyon Landfill.
The City Council also implemented a single-use plastics ban for city functions, a ban on flavored tobacco sales throughout the city and a ban on the sale of metallic balloons.
Crime levels were 35% lower than surrounding communities, according to city officials, and Glendale police officers issued more than 3,000 speeding tickets, made 113 arrests for street racing or reckless driving and confiscated 177 guns.
The Glendale Police Department also used a $440,000 grant to connect 117 homeless individuals with housing and other essential services.
The Glendale Fire Department responded to 20,091 incidents and the Verdugo Fire Communications Center handled more than 166,000 calls directed to its 13 firefighting agencies. GFD also held a number of community emergency response team, or CERT, classes, held an evacuation drill for Glenoaks Canyon and deployed goats for fire-prevention brush clearance.
“You can see that the council has been very busy this entire year,” Devine said. “There are so many accomplishments that this council and staff have done this year. I think it’s incredible during this pandemic and what we’ve been through.”
The chamber also recognized its 2022 honorees.
Economy Office Supply, represented by President Deborah King, was named Business of the Year.
The Glendale News-Press, with current publisher Charlie Plowman Jr. accepting the award, was recognized as a 100-year member.
The Glendale Latino Association, with President Marisol Chianello, was named Organization of the Year.
David Viar, outgoing president of Glendale Community College, was named Man of the Year.
Laura Duncan, executive director of Ascencia, was named Woman of the Year.