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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Eviction Protection for Commercial Renters Ends

Burbank’s ordinance prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic expired this week, leaving a similar state measure to protect residential renters — though not commercial tenants.
However, following the recommendation of City Attorney Amy Albano, the City Council is scheduled to consider an extension of the ordinance to cover commercial renters during its next meeting on Tuesday. If passed, it would retroactively cover the gap between local ordinances.

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Judge Rules Against City on Proposed Rent Measure

Photo courtesy Miki Jackson
Konstantine Anthony, who hopes to win a Burbank City Council seat in November, speaks at a rally near a Los Angeles courthouse. For months, Anthony has been embroiled in a legal battle against the city over a potential rent regulation ordinance for which he petitioned.

After a lengthy legal process between Burbank and a City Council hopeful, a judge has ruled against the city, likely placing rent control on the ballot in November.
In a decision announced a day before the official hearing on Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel said the city failed to make a “clear showing” that a proposed rent regulation ordinance would require the rewriting of its charter, a move that would need more voter signatures than were collected in the petition for the potential ordinance.
The Burbank City Council met Friday afternoon to decide whether to adopt the proposed ordinance or place it on the ballot, but had made no decision by The Leader’s deadline. The council, however, did not appear likely to adopt the measure.
“Although [the] City asserts reasonable arguments in support of its position, Petitioners also assert reasonable counterarguments,” Strobel wrote. “For the reasons discussed above, City’s substantive challenges to the Initiative should not be resolved prior to the election.”

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Eviction Moratorium, Rent Payment Deadline Extended

The City Council voted on Tuesday to extend the local eviction moratorium and push back required rent payments to six months after the moratorium is lifted.
Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader

Ramping up efforts intended to mitigate the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic to tenants, the Burbank City Council has voted to extend the municipal eviction moratorium and further defer rent payments.
The latter measure, which was passed unanimously on Tuesday, gives residential and commercial renters six months after the eviction moratorium is lifted to repay the rent they owe. That moratorium, which was first issued in March, was extended to Sept. 30, lining up with a similar countywide ordinance, but could be extended again.
An ordinance giving residents and businesses extra time to pay rent was already in place, setting the deadline at Nov. 30. However, City Attorney Amy Albano and Community Development Director Patrick Prescott noted in a staff report that renters may not have the financial means to pay their debts by then.
Landlords are also not allowed to charge interest for unpaid rent during the moratorium and six-month grace period.
Between 10.8% and 12.1% of local renters either deferred their rent payment or entered a payment plan in May and June, according to a city survey of local apartment owners. Between 2.4% and 3.3% did not pay rent at all and are not on a payment plan.
Andrea Ureno, a Burbank renter and single mother who explained that she takes care of her mother and daughter, called the council in support of the moratorium extension during its Tuesday meeting. Her rent, she said, has increased by $150 every year — but her wages haven’t.

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