City Pursues Protections for Area Near Restaurant

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Among the Burbank City Council’s decisions this week was a move to update a neighborhood protection plan for an area near an incoming Raising Cane’s restaurant and a state-mandated zoning code change.

The Burbank City Council voted this week to direct staff to update protective policies for a local neighborhood in response to the imminent arrival of a Raising Cane’s restaurant.

Residents of the Rancho Providencia neighborhood, located south of Olive Avenue near Orchard Drive, addressed the council in March regarding their concerns with the fast food eatery’s potential impact on their community. Many said they feared the restaurant drive-thru would introduce traffic, noise and trash issues in the area.

On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved a recommendation by the Community Development Department to update a protection plan for the neighborhood, which includes the residential streets near the future Raising Cane’s location. The department aims to implement measures, which could include new crosswalks, intersection adjustments and parking permit requirements, that might reduce the potential impact of the restaurant.

David Kriske, the city’s assistant community development director of transportation, said the Raising Cane’s at Olive and Orchard is expected to open in September. He added that other neighborhood protection plans have taken as long as 18 months to finalize.

“We’re going to be a little under the gun,” Kriske said.

The council could implement temporary measures, as it did in the Alameda North neighborhood in 2015 and 2016, to mitigate traffic before the panel finalizes the update. In that instance, the council approved temporary street closures to test the effectiveness of permanent closures and other responses.

The Community Development and Public Works departments plan to hold a number of meetings to get input from residents in the neighborhood. Several community members previously expressed frustration to the council that they weren’t consulted about the arrival of the Raising Cane’s.

“One thing that has become abundantly clear to me through the process is that the neighbors in that area have not felt involved in the process at all,” said Councilman Nick Schultz. “They have felt blindsided.”

The area could also be affected by the proposed North Hollywood-to-Pasadena bus line, Kriske said, and potential revisions to the intersection at Olive and Verdugo avenues and Spark Street. City officials have taken issue with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bus line proposal, opposing a design that would replace street parking on Olive with dedicated bus lanes.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, that’s how it happens,” Kriske told council members. “We’ve got lingering issues that we should address, and then a hot-button issue comes to the fore and shows we have a need to investigate and update the [protection] plan.”

The council created the neighborhood protection plan for Rancho Providencia in 1998 to deal with traffic, speeding and limited parking space, Kriske explained. Raising Cane’s, the announcement of whose arrival spurred several residents to petition the City Council for aid, published an online brochure regarding the project earlier this year at raisingcanes.com/burbank.

However, Kriske confirmed, the restaurant will not be helping pay for the costs of whatever protective measures the city decides to pursue. Funding for such updates will likely come from impact fees paid to Burbank by developers whose construction projects negatively affect the community, though Raising Cane’s did not pay those fees as it did not add square footage to its space.

The council allocated $150,000 on Tuesday to pay for consulting services supporting the protection plan update. The city will draw that money from funds given to it by the NBC Evolution development project for neighborhood protection.

COUNCIL APPROVES
ZONING CODE CHANGES

With representatives holding to their earlier positions, a divided City Council also voted to codify state-mandated changes allowing transitional and supportive housing to be built in single-family areas.

Council members first considered the update — which officially allows the construction of the affordable, service-supported units in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes — during their June 8 meeting.

City staff members said at that meeting that the policy has been in Burbank’s housing standards for years, and that the change was needed so the standards — which they are submitting to the state housing department this year — can receive approval.

The updates also allow, in accordance with state law, development of supportive housing by right in single-family zones, allowing developers to avoid the city’s discretionary review process. All development, however, would need to comply with local requirements regarding density, size and other metrics.

Failure to make the update, the representatives warned, could make the city vulnerable to lawsuits from the state and keep it from getting California grants.

Despite that, Mayor Bob Frutos and Councilwoman Sharon Springer voted against the changes on Tuesday, as they did in the initial vote on June 8. Springer argued that the update would invite commercialization into single-family residential areas, though city staff members insisted otherwise, and took aim at what she viewed as the failure of state representatives to fix California’s housing crisis.

Frutos, who previously did not explain his rationale for his vote, struck a similar note this week, expressing frustration that state leaders were not consulting municipal governments before making sweeping reforms.

“Sacramento continues to strip away our local community, and this is one more thing I can’t support,” he said on Tuesday. “I never get called to the table.”

In a phone interview, Frutos also said he was prepared for the threat of legal action if the council had rejected the zoning changes, adding that he hopes other cities will take a legal stand against the state’s mandates.

“The residents, they’re really angry,” Frutos said. “They feel we’re not doing anything for them.”