Former Mayor Stamper Dies at 86

First published in the Oct. 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The Rev. Larry Stamper, who served as Burbank’s mayor in the ‘80s and was a longtime pastor of a local church, died this week at the age of 86.
Stamper was on the Burbank City Council between 1981 and 1985, holding the seat of mayor from 1983 to 1984. He was the pastor of Burbank First United Methodist Church for more than 30 years, retiring in 2004, the Leader reported at the time. Stamper was also regularly involved in various local charitable events, such as collecting donations for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center.
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Council Rejects Parcel Tax Idea After Fierce Debate

First published in the Oct. 2 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Following an intense discussion, the Burbank City Council voted this week not to pursue a ballot measure that would tax the city’s biggest parcels to fund the school district and municipal services.
Little information regarding the potential tax was available at the council’s Tuesday meeting, as city staff members had brought only a first-step agenda item to gather input from the group about how — and whether — to craft it. If approved by both the council and more than two-thirds of Burbank voters, it would likely have taken aim at the parcels on which Burbank’s major corporations, such as Amazon and Warner Bros., are located.
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Mixed-Use Development Approved for Former Fry’s Site

First published in the Oct. 2 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The Burbank Planning Board this week approved a project that is expected to bring offices, restaurants and hundreds of residential units to the site of the now-defunct Fry’s Electronics.
The mixed-use project at 2311 N. Hollywood Way, dubbed Burbank Aero Crossings, will feature two seven-story buildings with a total of 862 apartments ranging from studio rooms to three-bedroom spaces, with 80 units designated for very low-income tenants. A restaurant will be located on the ground floor of one of the residential buildings, while another will stand on its own. A five-story office building is also planned for the space.
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Police, Fire Unions Open to Vaccine Policies

First published in the Sept. 25 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Local police and fire labor groups say they will abide by vaccine and testing requirements affecting their respective personnel, including a rule the city recently passed for municipal workers.
The Burbank policy, which the City Council approved on Sept. 14, requires all city staff members to be tested for COVID-19 weekly unless they are fully vaccinated. The testing mandate is tentatively expected to go into effect on or around Oct. 11. New hires must be vaccinated unless they have a valid medical or religious exemption. Continue reading “Police, Fire Unions Open to Vaccine Policies”

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”

City Workers Must Be Vaccinated or Tested, Council Says

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

Burbank city employees will soon have to choose between submitting to regular COVID-19 testing or getting the vaccine, with new hires required to be vaccinated.
The City Council voted 3-1 to implement the policy during its Tuesday meeting. When the requirement begins, tentatively on Oct. 11 but potentially later, municipal workers will have to undergo weekly testing for COVID-19. Those tests will be provided free of charge and during work hours, and employees who show proof of vaccination are exempt from the requirement.
The requirement for prospective employees to be vaccinated in order to be hired is a new addition to the policy, which City Council members first discussed about a month ago. The rule allows exemptions for those with valid religious beliefs or medical conditions. Continue reading “City Workers Must Be Vaccinated or Tested, Council Says”

Housing Controversy: Senate Bills 9 and 10, Explained

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

It’s easy to agree that California is experiencing a housing crisis. What’s far more contentious is what to do about it.
On Aug. 30, the California Legislature presented a couple of plans. It approved Senate Bills 9 and 10, which are aimed at boosting the state’s housing supply but have attracted stern opposition from many cities. Gov. Gavin Newsom received the bills on Sept. 3; he must sign or veto them by Oct. 10, or they will go into effect.
To explain the conflict over SB 9 and 10, the Leader has summarized key details about the bills and who supports or opposes them — and why. Continue reading “Housing Controversy: Senate Bills 9 and 10, Explained”

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”

Census Data Shows a Growing, Slightly More Diverse Burbank

Burbank’s population grew by nearly 3.9% between 2010 and 2020, according to census data released last week.
The city’s estimated population rose from 103,340 in 2010 to 107,337 in 2020, census data compiled by the Associated Press and Big Local News shows. Considering past growth estimates, the data is perhaps surprising; the U.S. Census Bureau previously estimated that Burbank’s 2019 population was 103,703. Claritas 360, a demographics analysis service used by the city, had calculated the 2020 figure at 106,801.
The number of housing units in Burbank increased by an estimated 1,300 over the decade. Burbank’s population in 2000 was 100,316, according to the Census Bureau. Continue reading “Census Data Shows a Growing, Slightly More Diverse Burbank”

Council Wary of Law’s Impact on Local Housing

A visibly frustrated — and at times, seemingly defeated — City Council dove into the weeds at its meeting on Tuesday as it sought to clarify the requirements of state Senate Bill 35 and its potential repercussions on housing density across Burbank neighborhoods.
Ultimately, however, the council voted 5-0 to resume discussion of the subject at its next meeting, on Sept. 14, after requesting that the city staff provide more details on the bill’s language and key provisions.
SB 35, which took effect in 2018, streamlines approval of housing development project applications that meet specified criteria, bypassing the conditional use permit requirement in cities — like Burbank — that have failed to develop enough residential units as required under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment. The legislation essentially removes local control in the approval process and prohibits the often nuanced decision making through which the council and Planning Commission decide if a proposed development is appropriate for a site or meets a neighborhood’s character. Continue reading “Council Wary of Law’s Impact on Local Housing”