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”

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 Officials Hold First Equity Subcommittee Meeting

A Burbank City Council subcommittee on racial equity and diversity had its first meeting last week, with members discussing potentially providing training to city employees.
The subcommittee, which met virtually on Feb. 24, was formed late last year following renewed outcry for racial justice and equity. The group, which includes Mayor Bob Frutos, Councilwoman Sharon Springer, Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, Assistant City Manager Judie Wilke and other municipal staff, will meet “as needed” to discuss potential initiatives for promoting equity and diversity.
Frutos emphasized that the early meetings of the subcommittee would be “flexible and fluid,” allowing the members to develop ideas to present to the full City Council.
“We are committed as a city and as a council to discuss the tough painful issues to make sure our city is working toward [being] inclusive of everybody,” he said.
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City Revenue Likely Lower Than Expected, Officials Say

Revenue for Burbank’s municipal government is projected at lower levels than previously anticipated, city staff members said this week, due mostly to underwhelming tax receipts during the pandemic.
In a report to the City Council on Tuesday, interim financial services director Jennifer Becker said projections for this fiscal year’s sales tax revenue dropped nearly $2.45 million compared to the estimate given during the first-quarter update in October. Projections for revenue from the transient occupancy tax, also called a “hotel bed tax,” decreased by $2 million.

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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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