Smart meters arrive at GCC

UCLA professor, and director of SmartGrid Energy Research Center, uses his smartphone to take pictures of a historic display of electric meters for use in his class at the conclusion of a ceremony on the fifth floor of the Glendale Community College parking structure to show the installation of the final smart meter on Thursday, September 15, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Coyotes and Capote, political comebacks and smart meters, as well as controversy and intrigue in the quaint, but not-so-sleepy community of Montrose, gave us a year that included a fascinating set of story lines that will continue to reverberate into the New Year.

Here’s a look at some the more impactful news events of 2011.

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Americana, Galleria go tit for tat

Rick Caruso’s ambition produced another year of tumult and change in Glendale’s downtown retail core.

After a public feud with Golden Key Hotel owner Ray Patel that turned up the heat on redevelopment and eminent domain powers, Caruso struck a deal in March to purchase the hotel, setting into motion a number of major changes for the area.

The biggest among them will be a new Nordstrom store that will anchor the Colorado Street frontage of an expanded Americana at Brand. The project, expected to be completed in 2013, will strip the adjacent Glendale Galleria of a large and prestigious anchor tenant.

But the Galleria had a coup of its own this year when it announced that Bloomingdale’s would move into a long vacant space on Brand Boulevard, formerly home to a Mervyn’s. The mega-mall also submitted plans to revamp its drab red-brick façade.

Wild things

Mountain lions, coyotes, bears, bobcats — during the summer, hardly a week went by without some sort of wild-animal sighting.

Glendale was thrust into the spotlight after a pack of coyotes took up residence in an abandoned home, spurring debate over coexistence after the public learned that “relocation” wasn’t an option, just euthanasia.

The coyote pack quickly moved on as television news vans and others converged on the site.

But while coyotes have certainly played a role in pet deaths, it was the recurring reports of prowling mountain lions that generated the most worry among residents.

In November, a 150-pound lion killed a 4-year-old Chihuahua in the backyard of a North Glendale home as its owners looked on in horror.

Mountain lions were also spotted in backyards — and prowling among parked cars — in the hills above Burbank. Animal control officers also rescued two lion cubs from underneath a parked car earlier this month after they apparently were abandoned by their mother.

Bears also spooked mountain bike riders and hikers in local hills and homeowners in La Cañada Flintridge.

And how could we forget the flock of pigeons near Bob Hope Airport that led to misdemeanor public nuisance charges against a man who authorities say was feeding the flock and creating a safety hazard for airplanes.

Pachyderm pandemonium

It started out innocuously enough. Sharon Weisman, a resident and fixture at City Hall, addressed the City Council to complain about the design of Glendale’s float for the annual Rose Parade — a circus elephant with carriage and the logo, “Stepping out in style.”