Group Honors High School Seniors with Gifts

Photo courtesy Gladys Ríos
John Burroughs High School student Gael Grajales hands a St. Patrick’s Day basket to Hayley O’Leary, a senior at Burbank High School. O’Leary was “adopted” by Grajales’ mother Gladys Ríos, who has been sending her gifts to honor her upcoming graduation.

A Facebook group is helping local high school seniors celebrate graduation despite their tumultuous final semester by providing them with some of their favorite gifts.
The group, “Spoil (Adopt) a 2021 Senior,” connects community members with graduating seniors from local institutions, including the John Burroughs, Burbank, Providence and Monterey high schools. Participants purchase items for their “adopted” senior and deliver the gifts.
The group’s efforts are aimed to help seniors retain a sense of celebration and achievement for graduating, an event which due to the pandemic may not be honored with the usual festivities.
“We’ve all been through this [process] of how we tell these kids how great your senior year is,” said Michelle Pinto, who formed the group. “How much fun you get to look forward to, things you get to do — and these kids have nothing.”

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Son of Tinhorn Flats Owner Arrested After Removing Lock

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Lucas Lepejian, the 20-year-old son of longtime Tinhorn Flats owner Baret Lepejian, removes a latch city workers placed on the restaurant’s door on Wednesday. He was arrested Thursday evening on suspicion of violating a court order.

The 20-year-old son of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill owner was arrested Thursday night after removing a city-placed lock from the restaurant’s doors and welcoming patrons inside.
The arrest came just a day after Lucas Lepejian, son of owner Baret Lepejian, sawed off the latch to a crowd of cheering supporters. The restaurant, which has operated without its health and conditional use permits for weeks, was “red-tagged” — or declared unsafe and thereby not legally accessible — on Wednesday. On Thursday, Tinhorn Flats also reported it had removed boards the city had placed to block its doors.

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Unemployment Dropped Steeply in February

Hundreds of local residents returned to work in February following the lifting of statewide coronavirus restrictions, reversing a steep increase in unemployment reported at the beginning of the year.
The Burbank unemployment rate fell from 13.3% in January to 11.2% in February, according to preliminary data from the state Employment Development Department. The drop reversed some of the recent increases in the city’s unemployment rate, which was 10.4% in December.

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Contentious Delivery Fee Cap Approved By City Council

After several close calls and failed attempts, the Burbank City Council narrowly passed a temporary ordinance limiting fees third-party delivery platforms can charge restaurants.
The ordinance, which council members approved with a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, will prevent services such as Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats from charging a vendor more than 20% of the online purchase price of an order. City staff members said those fees have reportedly been as high as 40%.
The initiative will go into effect at the end of April and will expire when indoor and outdoor dining return to full capacity, unless the City Council extends or terminates it before then. Food delivery platforms will also be barred from reducing drivers’ pay or tips because of the ordinance, which additionally requires services to provide customers with an itemized receipt.
Restaurants who allege that a service has violated the ordinance can sue it in small-claims court.

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Neighbors Remain Concerned About Raising Cane’s

Addressing residents’ worries about an incoming popular fried chicken restaurant chain, city officials said this week that they will monitor noise, traffic and trash around the establishment.
A facility for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is being built at 1750 W. Olive Ave., at the corner of Olive Avenue and Orchard Drive. The close proximity of the location, which will include a drive-thru, to a neighborhood has some residents concerned. Municipal staff members and Raising Cane’s representatives have pledged to mitigate potential issues, actions City Council members pushed for during their meeting Tuesday.
Neighbors have rallied against the construction, with a flyer opposing the drive-thru being distributed in the nearby residential area at one point. Several have contacted the City Council during public comment periods, including this week, expressing concern that traffic will spill from the drive-thru into residential streets.

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Unemployment Dropped Steeply in February

Hundreds of local residents returned to work in February following the lifting of statewide coronavirus restrictions, reversing a steep increase in unemployment reported at the beginning of the year.
The Glendale unemployment rate fell from 12.1% in January to 10.4% in February, according to preliminary data from the state Employment Development Department. The drop reversed some of the recent increases in the city’s unemployment rate, which was at a pandemic-era low of 9.9% in December.
The decrease likely reflects Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lifting of restrictions in state regions whose intensive care units were overburdened. His lifting of the stay-at-home order in late January, which allowed in-person dining to resume outdoors and loosened capacity limits for other businesses, accompanied falling COVID-19 hospitalizations and mounting political pressure, including a recall campaign.

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3 Arrested After Burbank Couple’s Death

Law enforcement said they arrested three people this week on suspicion of being connected with the death of a Burbank couple whose bodies were found in November.
A snowplow driver found local residents William and Yesenia Larsen, ages 35 and 30, respectively, dead on the shoulder of Highway 395 about 10 miles north of Bridgeport, California, on Nov. 9. Because they had no known connection to Mono County, according to the Sheriff’s Office there, the deaths were investigated as a double homicide.
Mono County Sherriff’s Office investigators said that “several former business associates” of the couple were connected to their deaths, with three Montana residents arrested this week. Bradley Kohorst, 35, was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday, while Cory Spurlock, 33, and Orit Oged, 32, were arrested in Missoula, Montana, on Thursday. All three suspects remained in custody this week, law enforcement said, awaiting extradition to Mono County.
“Every member of the Mono County Sheriff’s Office played a part in solving this crime,” a spokesperson said in a news release announcing the arrests. “Our investigators worked tirelessly to find justice for the families of William and Yesenia Larsen. This investigation proved to be complex and required the assistance of local, state and federal partners.”

Thefts, Other Crime Fell in February

Reports for major crimes in Burbank dropped about 22.4% from January to February, according to recently released data from the Burbank Police Department.
The overall drop in Part 1 “index crimes” — which include an aggregate of incident types tracked to gauge a city’s crime statistics — from 277 in January to 215 in February reflected a less dramatic decrease in theft reports between the two months, from 189 to 164. The number of reports for auto thefts, burglaries and violent crimes also fell.
February’s report total was the lowest for the month since February 2018, when there were 198 incident reports.
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Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Sparks Grief, Worry

In late January, a Thai man in his 80s was taking a walk in San Francisco when he was violently shoved to the ground. He died days later.
On Feb. 20, a person walking in Burbank told Los Angeles County’s “L.A. vs. Hate” report line that someone driving past had yelled, “You … Asian people spread the virus.”
And on March 16, law enforcement said a 21-year-old man shot and killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, and injured one other at three Atlanta-area businesses.
Some residents of Burbank, where about 12.1% of the city identifies as Asian, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 estimate, have echoed the national sense of anxiety and mourning over the shooting. But there has been plenty to fear and mourn in the past year amid an escalating number of reported harassment, attacks and discrimination against those in the Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, community.
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