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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Burbank Rescinds ‘Friendship City’ Status with Hadrut

The City Council voted unanimously this week to sever Burbank’s Friendship City relationship with Hadrut, an action that proponents said was necessary because of Hadrut’s capture by Azerbaijan and the resulting displacement of many Armenians there.
The council also agreed to consider a resolution to recognize Artsakh, a self-declared republic whose jurisdiction included Hadrut until a recent war, as an independent state. Both motions were approved Tuesday at the urging of community groups, as well as state and federal politicians.
The City Council has rarely taken a public stance on international issues, but has made an exception recently for the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Council members voted to condemn Azerbaijani aggression last October, about a month after the two nations resumed armed hostilities over Artsakh, also called Nagorno-Karabakh.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim historical ties to the region. The majority of Artsakh is Armenian and its leaders have expressed support for uniting with Armenia in the past, though it is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan’s territory.
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City Council Sets Goals for This Year

Economic recovery, tackling climate change and promoting diversity were just some of the ideas City Council members put forth during their annual goals-setting meeting this week.
The purpose of the Wednesday meeting, city staff members reminded the council, was to provide direction to the city manager and his/her team about what aims they should pursue for the year. As per their annual practice, council members also approved an agreement with the city manager outlining the expectations for both sides.
“Enough detail to make it understandable,” said Betsy McClinton, management services director, of the council members’ task. “But, again, we’re not looking for a detailed plan.”
Common goals suggested by council members included restoring a local economy shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, promoting diversity and equity within city commissions, upholding eviction moratoriums and increasing housing affordability.

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City Expands Mask Enforcement to More Areas

The City Council voted this week to fund enforcement of Burbank’s face-covering rules through May while also requesting some areas in Magnolia Park be prioritized.
The council’s decision Tuesday provided another $100,000 from the general fund to Willdan Engineering, which provides staff at the rate of $65 an hour each to ensure people are adhering to face-covering requirements in busy areas of Burbank. Nearly $100,000 was spent on the initiative from mid-October to late January.
In the same meeting, the council directed city staff members to bring back a potential ordinance temporarily limiting the fees third-party delivery services can charge restaurants to 20% of the order price. The proposed ordinance is expected to include — either immediately or eventually — protections for delivery drivers’ pay.

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City Pursues Potential Mylar Balloon Restrictions

Photo courtesy Burbank Water and Power
The City Council asked municipal staff members this week to bring the panel some options to regulate metallic, or Mylar, balloons in Burbank.

Following a unanimous vote this week, the Burbank City Council will consider regulating Mylar balloons, which utility representatives said are often the cause of brief power outages.
Burbank Water and Power has a 99.99% reliability rate, meaning outages are fairly uncommon, BWP executive assistant Lyndsey Kramer said during the council’s Tuesday meeting. But when outages do occur, there’s a chance that they were caused by metallic Mylar balloons floating away and coming into contact with power lines.
Since 2000, Mylar balloons have been the No. 1 cause of outages — 206 of them, accounting for 189 hours of service interruption. Between January 2016 and December 2020, Mylar balloons have been responsible for 36 “momentary outages” — more than any other cause — which last less than 60 seconds.

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