You would have to be from another planet to have missed all the recent news about unidentified flying objects, or what the government calls “unexplained aerial phenomena.”
If you’re feeling a bit like you’ve stepped through Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, where up is down and right is left, there’s not a soul who would blame you.
With the memories of Passover and Easter celebrations still fresh in our minds, Friday night football is taking place featuring the high school teams from Burbank and Burroughs.
What Burbanker would have ever imagined that a time would come when the local gridirons would be seeing action at the same time the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is staging its annual Spring Egg-Stravaganza?
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.
In Laura Friedman’s eyes, the road to politics is paved with land use policy, especially here in Southern California where it is part and parcel of every major issue that troubles the region.
It’s how she got into politics to begin with, and it represents the starting point of much of her legislation, which tends to be focused on three key issues: environmental sustainability, protection of vulnerable populations and her own district. Friedman, who is kicking off her third term representing the 43rd Assembly District, said that the three issues for her merge to end in a singular goal very much in the same manner that they begin.
“Land use is the bread and butter of local government,” she explained in a recent interview. “Even going back to my days on the Design Review Board, it was very much about development, growth and balancing what people want in their communities — private property rights and all of those issues — and I find all of that very fascinating. Having had that background and that experience, I bring that interest into the Assembly.”
Nearly a month after the eatery announced it would serve diners in-person, despite prohibitive state health orders, Burbank officials have pledged to revoke Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill’s permit unless it complies.
Community development director Patrick Prescott issued a notice of violation to Baret Lepejian, owner of Tinhorn Flats, on Jan. 8, saying the restaurant must return to offering only delivery and take-out services and require all employees and patrons to wear face coverings by Tuesday. If Lepejian continues to keep his eatery’s outdoor patio open, the City Council will hold a public hearing to consider suspending or revoking Tinhorn Flats’ conditional use permit on Feb. 22.
Less than two weeks after Burbank surpassed a total of 5,000 COVID-19 cases on Dec. 29, it appeared that the city would breach the 6,000-case mark as a nationwide surge continued.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported on Thursday that 5,856 people in Burbank had tested positive for the coronavirus as of the previous day, putting the seven-day average of new daily cases in Burbank at 106.3. That average had been as high as 114.3 on Christmas, thanks partially to a case backlog.
Also as of Wednesday, 129 Burbank residents had died due to the disease since the pandemic began. More than 65 of those deaths were connected to cases at nursing facilities, according to the city’s emergency management coordinator, Eric Baumgardner.
Public Health officials also reported this week that more than 200 people were dying from the coronavirus every day in the county, and that more than 8,000 were hospitalized with the disease. One in five people getting tested for COVID-19 are testing positive.
As of Wednesday, more than 871,000 people in L.A. County had tested positive, and more than 11,500 people had died. Those figures were roughly 458,000 and 7,900, respectively, a month earlier.
When Bob Frutos was appointed by his peers on the City Council to become Burbank’s mayor in December, he immediately identified what he called the city’s most important issue: the economy.
Like other governments on every level, Burbank is reeling from the impacts of a pandemic that is surging to record levels. City officials have credited financially conservative policies for somewhat cushioning the economic blow of reduced tax revenue, but the General Fund is projected to reach a deficit by the end of fiscal year 2022 unless new measures are taken.
The financial pain is perhaps felt even more acutely by Burbank’s employees and small business owners, as shops close their doors for good and thousands of local workers remain unemployed.
But since Burbank is subject to the health orders of L.A. County and the state of California, Frutos is faced with a dilemma. He knows the local economy needs to be helped and people allowed to return to work — but how?
“People look at us at the local level wanting their local elected officials to go against the state or the county,” he said. “The local government is really in a tough position because there’s nothing that we can do.”
City Councilman Bob Frutos was appointed this week by his fellow members to serve as Burbank’s mayor for the next year, with Jess Talamantes to hold the position of vice mayor.
Frutos, who was Burbank’s mayor from 2015-2016 and has been a council member since 2013, was quickly appointed by his peers — who include newcomers Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz — during the council’s annual reorganization meeting on Monday. Frutos was nominated for mayor by Talamantes, who was in turn nominated for the vice mayor position by Anthony.
Frutos, a former Los Angeles police officer and Burbank police commissioner, has served for the past year as vice mayor. Former Mayor Sharon Springer, whom he replaced, remains a City Council member.
“I know the road ahead of us will be the most difficult in modern history to serve on any council,” Frutos said Monday. “Like so many other cities across our nation, we’re just beginning to see the economic devastation of a sort that we really haven’t seen since the Great Depression. … Our top priority will be maintaining the fiscal health of our city and to continue to work on the economic recovery of our city.”
Anthony Surges, Second City Seat Contested
Days after the election, Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz continued late this week to be the front-runners for two seats on the Burbank City Council, though Tamala Takahashi added suspense to the race by hovering in third place.
Anthony’s expected presence on the council would be only the latest development in his complicated relationship with the city: If he clinches victory, the disability services provider will have gone from suing Burbank this year to joining its lead panel in December.
As of the most recent update from Los Angeles County on Thursday evening, Anthony had 15,222 votes, or 20.7% of the total of votes counted, while Schultz had 11,328 votes, or 15.4%. If their leads hold, the two will sit on the council for the next four years.
Takahashi was not far behind, however, nabbing 10,862 votes, or 14.77%, in the Tuesday election in which eight candidates vied.
After weeks of pressure from some residents — and a bit of backlash from others — the Burbank City Council directed municipal staff members to create a fine enforcing face covering guidelines.
The staff still needs to draft an order that the city manager will give, but it will be shaped according to directions the council gave on Tuesday. Notably, the order will not be administered by the Burbank Police Department, something the agency strongly opposed when the matter was raised at previous meetings.