Environmental Approval Given for High-Speed Rail

First published in the Jan. 22 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Despite ongoing concerns from Burbank officials, the California High-Speed Rail Authority approved the final environmental impact report for the Burbank-to-Los Angeles portion of the project this week.
The high-speed rail, once completed, will connect Sacramento and San Diego via a rail system capable of reaching speeds of 200 mph, with an underground station planned for Burbank. On Thursday, the authority approved the findings of an environment report they said sufficiently addressed local officials’ primary concerns regarding future development, clearing a major hurdle to the design and land acquisition stages.
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Power Surge Possibly Caused by Squirrel Bite

First published in the Jan. 1 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Crews from Burbank Water and Power work on utility poles along Orchard Drive on Tuesday, after receiving reports of a power surge at about 8:50 a.m. Burbank Fire Department officials said the surge sparked a few small fires in home dryers, though no injuries were reported. Workers shut off the power to surrounding homes but fixed the issue with a few hours, saying it appeared that a squirrel had chewed on some wires, leading to an unbalance in the electrical system.

Burbank Budget Recovering from Pandemic Fallout

First published in the Dec. 11 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Burbank’s municipal revenues, though still reduced by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, is bouncing back faster than expected, officials said this week.
In a report to the City Council on Tuesday, financial services director Jennifer Becker said that Burbank’s tax revenues were generally higher last fiscal year, which ended in June, than staff members had hoped. The city’s recurring General Fund revenues — the receipts it anticipates with high certainty — for fiscal year 2020-21 came in at nearly $181 million, about 4.8% higher than the roughly $173 million forecasted, though they were still 2.4% lower than they were in fiscal year 2019-20.
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Rose Parade Float Close to Completion

First published in the Nov. 27 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Jon Reeves is building a dragon.
Late at night, he and between six and a dozen people gather in a warehouse at the Burbank Water and Power yard. For hours, they weld steel, carve foam and install electronics, building the 25-foot-tall beast in preparation for New Year’s Day.
That morning, millions of people will watch as the dragon glides down Orange Grove Boulevard as part of the 2022 Rose Parade.
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Resident Appeals Major Mixed-Use Project

First published in the Nov. 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The Burbank City Council will consider a resident’s appeal against a large development project planned for the former site of Fry’s Electronics on Tuesday.
The Burbank Aero Crossings project would build 862 apartments units — including 80 allocated for very low-income households — two restaurants and a five-story office structure at 2311 N. Hollywood Way. The defunct Fry’s, which closed in February, sits empty on the roughly 450,000-square-foot lot. The Burbank Planning Board unanimously approved the project in late September.
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BWP Can Issue Bonds to Boost Infrastructure

First published in the Oct. 30 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Burbank Water and Power received permission this week to issue up to $31 million in bonds to pay for upgrades and maintenance to its water infrastructure.
The Burbank City Council’s unanimous vote on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to the municipal utility, whose officials said they will also use the funds to pay off the remaining $5.5 million in loans received from the State Water Resources Control Board. Another $24 million will go toward replacing old pipes, repairing a leaky city reservoir and accomplishing other local projects. The rest will pay for the legal consultations associated with the issuance and serve as a contingency fund.
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City Settles Discrimination Case With Former BWP Worker

First published in the Oct. 16 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The city of Burbank has settled a lawsuit in which a former Burbank Water and Power employee alleged he was unlawfully fired after his managers refused to accommodate his disability.
Plaintiff Evan Ayers filed the settlement notice with the Burbank Courthouse on Oct. 6; he had filed the complaint against the city last Dec. 15. In court documents, Ayers claimed his superiors at city-owned BWP fired him after pressuring him to perform jobs that required him to climb or work at “dangerously high heights” despite his severe anxiety, fear of heights and vertigo.
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BWP’s Stricter Water Use Rules Approved

First published in the Sept. 18 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Burbank residents will only be able to water their lawns with sprinklers once a week between November and March, the City Council decided Tuesday, a restriction aimed at conserving water during a statewide drought.
Besides limiting irrigation to 15 minutes on Saturdays, the City Council’s unanimous vote to approve implementation of the second stage in Burbank Water and Power’s water-use ordinance also bars residents from using non-recycled water to refill artificial or ornamental bodies of water. BWP officials said they intend to return to the City Council in about two and a half months with a plan to fine residents who violate the restrictions and a request to add a drought surcharge to water rates. Continue reading “BWP’s Stricter Water Use Rules Approved”

BWP Wants Stricter Rules on Water Use Amid Drought

First published in the Sept. 11 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

With the effects of a statewide drought intensifying, Burbank Water and Power plans to request permission next week to tighten rules on water usage.
The utility will ask the City Council during a public hearing on Tuesday to allow it to move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of Burbank’s water use ordinance. Under Stage 2, residents would be able to water landscaped areas via sprinklers for only 15 minutes once a week between November and March. They would also be prohibited from refilling artificial or ornamental bodies of water that don’t use recycled water. Continue reading “BWP Wants Stricter Rules on Water Use Amid Drought”