The Glendale City Council this week unanimously approved sending aid to Martuni in the Republic of Artsakh where a humanitarian crisis is underway amid the Azerbaijan blockage of free movement or transportation along the Lachin corridor, known as the “Road of Life.”
“As the main hub of the Armenian diaspora in the United States, Glendale has deep ties to Armenia and Artsakh,” said Mayor Dan Brotman. “With this vote, we declare our commitment to the people of Artsakh and our determination to prevent another ethnic cleansing of the Armenian people from their ancestral lands.”
Martuni is experiencing a humanitarian crisis following the blockade of the Lachin corridor, the only road that connects the Republic of Artsakh with the outside world, which has displaced 120,000 Armenian civilians, including 30,000 children, 20,000 elderly and 9,000 persons with disabilities living in Nagorno Karabakh. The Azerbaijan blockade has left the people of Artsakh without access to basic necessities such as food, water, gas, and medical supplies and services.
The approval of the Glendale Aid for Artsakh Initiative kickstarts the fundraising effort intended to collect funds from the Glendale community to send directly to Artsakh. The city will be working on coordinating this effort with other interested community groups.
To learn more about the fundraising initiative, visit glendaleca.gov/government/city-council/artsakh-aid.
CITY TREE PLANTING
In other action items from the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Councilmembers appropriated the grant funds needed to plant 750 street and park trees throughout the city to promote shade and beauty with tree canopy coverage.
The Public Works Department was awarded a Clean California Department of Transportation grant in March 2022. After working with the grantor, the department has finalized the details, which will fund in the amount of $292,500 the planting of 750 trees across the city to increase its tree canopy coverage.
The city’s report to the Council noted that “a large, healthy urban forest is a critical component of a sustainable community due to trees’ positive impact on health, pollution reduction and water savings.”
Now with the Council’s appropriation of these grant funds, the planting — which will be completed by West Coast Arborist — is expected to begin this fall and winter and must be done in California EPA-defined “disadvantaged communities.” Public Works chose four census tracts that encompass an area bounded by Brand Boulevard in the west, Windsor Street to the south, Broadway to the north and the 134 and 2 freeways in the east.
POLICE OFFICER WELLNESS
The Officer Wellness and Mental Health Grant Program created through Assembly Bill 178 in 2022 focuses on establishing or expanding officer wellness and peer support units, and providing professional mental health services to officers by offering departments across the state grant funds.
The City Council accepted the Board of State and Community Corrections’ $162,884 disbursement to the Glendale Police Department for this program.
“Research consistently shows that police officers are at a higher-than-average risk for adverse short- and long-term physical and mental outcomes including chronic injuries and pain, shortened life span, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, alcohol abuse, divorce and suicide,” according to the Council report prepared by Lt. Steven Corrigan. “Tragically, the Glendale Police Department has not been immune from any of these.”
The department can utilize this funding through Dec. 1, 2025.
SANTA MONICA VOTING RIGHTS LAWSUIT
Following the California Supreme Court’s Aug. 24 opinion on The Pico Neighborhood Association et al. v. City of Santa Monica, a case in which Santa Monica was sued for violating the California Voting Rights Act, the City Council touched on the decision’s implications for Glendale.
The Pico Neighborhood Association won this lawsuit in trial court, which in 2018 ruled that the city’s current at-large voting system for Councilmembers diluted Latino voters’ voices and ordered the city to adopt a vote by district system. Similar lawsuits have occurred throughout the state and are a prominent factor in why the Glendale City Council is currently making plans to create a ballot measure for the city to move to districts.
Santa Monica appealed the trial court’s decision and won in the court of appeal in 2020, at which point, the case was submitted for review to the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court recently sent the case back to the court of appeal because they believe that court “misconstrued the CVRA” in their judgment.
“I hesitate to say there is a victor and a loser because, although it did reverse the decision of the court of appeal, it did remand it back to the court of appeal for further analysis,” City Attorney Mike Garcia said at the meeting. “Essentially, what it said was that you had to prove vote dilution in making such a claim, and to show that vote dilution is established … the minority group would have the potential on its own or with the help of crossover voters to elect its preferred candidate.”
He added that he and city staff are still analyzing the opinion and that it will be up for discussion in closed session before the next public hearing on districts takes place.
Councilwoman Paula Devine viewed the decision as a win for the city of Santa Monica and suggested Glendale pause its efforts for district voting outreach and planning.
First published in the September 2 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.