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.”
After much discourse and explanation from Burbank Unified School District staff members, the Board of Education approved — with some apprehension — the memorandum of understanding between teachers and BUSD during Thursday’s virtual meeting. The motion to adopt the 15-page document passed, 4-1. The lone dissenting vote came from Charlene Tabet, who echoed parents’ concerns regarding the schedule that includes four days of mixed live classroom instruction and independent learning — Monday through Thursday — and a “pupil-free” workday on Friday. Community members expressed worry that children would not get enough interaction with teachers, especially on a Friday that does not require students to check in. Tabet said she wasn’t so sure students would take advantage of that time with their instructors, and also expressed concern for those in special education and English-language learning.
A board made up of officials from Burbank and nearby cities is crafting a new strategic plan, potentially expanding its role in coordinating transportation initiatives in the area. Members of the Governing Board for the Arroyo Verdugo Communities Joint Powers Authority expressed interest Thursday in moving beyond traffic and infrastructure concerns to consider other modes of transportation, such as light rail and bicycle paths, for local development, as well as environment-related projects. The joint powers authority was formed in 2017 and includes officials from Burbank, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena and the Los Angeles County Fifth Supervisorial District, which takes in La Crescenta and Montrose.
Roughly a month after the Burbank City Council instituted permit-only parking in Starlight Estates after residents complained about speeding and loitering there, the situation seems to have improved. According to the Burbank Police Department, the number of citations in the area fell from 48 in June to 38 last month as of July 28 as the parking policy took hold. The total number of police activities in the area also declined. In June there were 191 activities, compared with 132 as of late July. Calls for service in Starlight Estates also dropped by more than 28% as of July 28. Sako Semizyan, who has lived in Starlight Estates for roughly 15 years, said there are “not as many [issues]. It did help a lot.”
Roy Wiegand knows that when he makes his 24-hour run this weekend, he’ll turn some heads. And that’s partially by design. “It intrigues people, like why would anybody go run a hundred miles by themselves,” he said. “This is why, because of the Navajo Water Project … It gets the conversation started.” Wiegand, a Burbank resident and ultramarathon runner, is making the solo trek from Ventura to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena today and Sunday, stopping only for brief periods. Besides loving the challenge of the run, he’s also doing it to raise money for the Navajo Water Project, which provides running water to families living on the tribe’s reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. More than 30% of Navajo families don’t have a tap or toilet at home, according to DigDeep, a nonprofit that launched the Navajo Water Project. Many families have to haul water from a public source away from their homes.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino’s SB 1299 passed the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee last week with bipartisan support. The bill previously passed the Senate unanimously. Portantino has long supported incentive-based legislation and SB 1299 is consistent with that approach, according to a spokesman. The Los Angeles County Business Federation suggested the bill idea to the senator earlier in the year to help address L.A. County’s housing shortage. According to a Portantino spokesman, SB 1299 will create a program for cities to convert abandoned big-box retail sites into affordable and workforce housing. Under Portantino’s bill, local governments will be able to use these incentives to replace sales tax revenues previously generated from big-box retail stores.
When 18-year-old Kate Platten heard that she had been named the victor of the Role Model Teen program for the Royal International Miss pageant, she was so overwhelmed with joy that her mind went blank. “The moment my name got called, I don’t remember anything,” she said in a phone interview. “It was such a state of shock, and I was so excited that my hard work and determination had culminated into my goal.” The UC Irvine student and 2019 John Burroughs High School alumna had spent months being interviewed, working on community service projects and, of course, strutting across the stage in lavish dresses. So when her efforts led to her win on July 11 in Orlando, Florida, where the final decision came down to her and one of her close friends, she was understandably somewhat overcome.
After years of dogged pursuit, the city of Burbank is finally getting a park where pups can run free. The city recently accepted a $150,000 donation from the Kari and Dick Clark Foundation, which will go toward creating a dog park section at Johnny Carson Park. The dog park project is estimated to cost between $500,000 and $700,000, according to a staff report submitted to the City Council for its Tuesday meeting, at which it voted to accept the donation. Parks and Recreation Director Marisa Garcia, who presented the report to council members, said in a phone interview that her department will continue to look for funding sources, including grants and additional donations. “We’re fortunate, especially during these economic times, that we’ve had a great sponsor who wants to come in and help us meet these goals,” she said. “Especially during this current pandemic, we know that it’s extremely important for individuals to be outdoors and recreate in a really safe manner.”
The City Council divvied up federal grant funds to several projects Tuesday, including programs for the homeless and the local Boys & Girls Club. But the project that received the most comment from residents was the Burbank Youth Center’s solar panel installation, an initiative council members referenced frequently as they shuffled funds around, trying to determine where to allocate portions of the federal Community Development Block Grant. In nearly all cases, project managers received less money than they requested — funding all the projects in the amount applied for would have put the city more than $350,000 over the line. “Everybody’s in need. Everybody would like to have more money,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said during the panel’s meeting. City staff members recommended that the council not issue any funds to the solar panel project for the BYC, an organization formed by the Armenian Cultural Foundation, believing the money could be better used for housing and homelessness initiatives. But after about a dozen callers asked council members not to divert the grant from the BYC during the meeting’s public comment period, the council agreed to find funding elsewhere for the causes advocated by the staff.
The Burbank Unified School District has reached a tentative agreement on a memorandum of understanding with the local teachers union regarding distance learning during the fall, district Superintendent Matt Hill said in his weekly update. Burbank Teachers Association members will vote on the MOU within the next week and the board of education will discuss and vote on it during a meeting on Thursday, Aug. 6. The MOU states that Google Classroom will be the primary platform used for distance learning, and live virtual instruction will be recorded and posted, if requested by a student or parent, for at least 72 hours. Zoom can also be used by teachers to interact with their students. Remote learning at the high school level includes three 50-minute classes per day, Monday through Thursday, and students will be assigned 90 minutes’ worth of at-home assignments each day with live teacher monitoring and support, according to the memorandum.