Burbank Approves Major Street Renovations Plan

Photo courtesy City of Burbank
The Burbank City Council voted to approve the new “Complete Streets” plan during its virtual meeting on Tuesday, reserving extra sidewalk space for outdoor dining and identifying a number of priority streets and focus areas based on several factors, including proximity to community centers, traffic and location in disadvantaged communities.

Councilmembers recently approved a sweeping set of recommendations for the improvement of Burbank city streets, including an initial development being built this year.
The “Complete Streets” plan was presented to the City Council during its virtual meeting Tuesday, with city transportation planner Hannah Woo explaining that the recommendations in the plan are aimed at making streets safer and more convenient for those who use them.
Recommendations include adding bike lanes, road signs and highly visible mid-block crosswalks to some streets, as well as expanding curbs with wheelchair-accessible ramps. Woo said that one of the major goals of the plan, which the city has been preparing since the end of 2018, is to help those who may have difficulty navigating Burbank’s streets, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.
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BUSD Evaluating Hybrid, Distance Learning Models for Fall

The COVID-19 pandemic has made planning ahead difficult in every industry, but instruction in the 2020-21 school year is starting to come into focus.
Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill responded to public comments during Thursday’s virtual board meeting with a clearer vision of how students will be attending class in the fall.
Students will be given the option of continuing distance learning or a hybrid option that would include in-person instruction. However, details are still being discussed by the reopening committee, which is expected to present a framework in July.
The constant health updates and mandates by Los Angeles County and the state have made the process a difficult one, according to Hill, who was recently on a conference call with a L.A. County Department of Health official. The superintendent said county officials collected data from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and the State Department to come up with health orders.
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For Guild’s Thrift Store, the Show Goes Online

Behind the camera, director Glenda Jones keeps the show running.
Photo by David Laurell

Look out, QVC and HSN, the women of La Providencia Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are giving you a run for your customers by taking to the internet and offering shoppers some of the best deals to be found on both new and gently used jewelry and designer clothing, shoes, sunglasses and handbags.
The Burbank-based guild’s new online program, “Diva Designs,” which will be hosted by guild members including Jackie Latronica, Teresa Garcia and Max Andrews, debuted last month and now runs live every Friday evening at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live. Continue reading “For Guild’s Thrift Store, the Show Goes Online”

Obituary | George Fredrick Christophersen April 24, 1936-June 3, 2020

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother George Fredrick Christophersen, 84, of Burbank on June 3 of natural causes.
George was born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 24, 1936. He was the second of four brothers born to Mildred and Finn Christophersen. George graduated from Boys High School in Brooklyn. He then served in the National Guard for six years.

Geroge Frederick Christophersen

On May 27, 1961, George married Rosaria Lucia Caminiti, “Lucy,” at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in West Islip, New York. George and Lucy were married for 59 years and had two children, Lynne and Greg. The family settled into their home in Bayshore, New York, for several years before moving to Burbank in 1971.
George worked for 38 years as a painter at the Anheuser-Busch company in Reseda before retiring in 2003. After retirement George and Lucy took several cruises and road trips to points of interest in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
George coached Little League baseball for many years and enjoyed gardening, oil painting, golf and playing slots at the casino. He donated to many charities and was always lending a helping hand to the homeless in the area.
George will always be remembered for his quick wit and sense of humor. He had a joke for every occasion and enjoyed making others laugh.
He is preceded in death by his parents Mildred and Finn and his brothers Roy and Kenny.
George is survived by his wife, Lucy Christophersen, his daughter Lynne Caputo (Tony Caputo), his son Greg Christophersen, his granddaughter Dominique Caputo, his youngest brother Jimmy Christophersen, and many cousins across the United States.
A funeral service in his honor was held Friday at Valley Funeral Home in Burbank (2121 W. Burbank Blvd. 91506).
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked to please make a donation to the charity of your choice in George’s name. The family also wishes to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support during this most difficult time.

Supervisor Barger Addresses Chamber of Commerce

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual chat on Thursday with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who addressed COVID-19, the economic fallout from the pandemic and protests.
Barger wanted to clarify statistics pertaining to the coronavirus and assure the chamber and public that the county is hard at work to help the local economy recover from businesses shutting down because of the Safer at Home directives.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger

“This pandemic has truly been devastating to the health and economy of the county, as you all know,” she said. “ … The county and its residents have done a great job in flattening the curve, and I know it’s been painful for many people. By all accounts we have kept the case numbers low, prevented our health-care system from being overwhelmed and are moving into the stages of recovery.”
There has been a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, increasing the total number to 68,875 and 2,813 deaths as of June 11.
However, Barger attributed the surge in cases to the fact that more people are getting tested and the spread rate has gone down.
“Prior to the civil unrest, the spread rate for every one person that was positive was less than one person that would come in contact and possibly get it,” said Barger, who also informed the chamber the positive rate has remained at 8%. “At the beginning of Safer at Home, for every one person who had COVID, it was spread to about five people. So we truly did slow it down.”
She did express concern for a possible increase in coronavirus cases with the recent protests.

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Protesters Encouraged to Seek Change at Ballot Box

As with demonstrations around the nation, recent Burbank protests have been driven by a serious purpose: demands for racial justice and police reform. But as a Tuesday march through the city highlighted, there can also be an expression of solidarity through music and movement.
“Things like music connect us every day,” said Benjamin Abiola, an organizer the protest. “Everyone feels that soul in their body, and it just shows people that there’s nothing different between us besides our skin color. And if we can both dance and sing to music, then why can’t we stand in solidarity against people who want to oppress us?”
But even as protesters danced the “Cupid Shuffle” in 95-degree heat, the signs they carried bore grim references to the issue that led to their presence in the street: the recent killings of black people. Continue reading “Protesters Encouraged to Seek Change at Ballot Box”

Budget, Schools’ Reopening Are on BUSD Leaders’ Minds

Though no public meetings were on the Burbank Unified School District’s agenda this week, Superintendent Matt Hill updated the community on the state of the budget and the reopening of school for the 2020-21 year — issues that have prompted keen interest among residents in recent weeks.
No agreement had been made between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature as of Friday regarding the state budget, which is supposed to be ready by June 15. Suspension of operations because of health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic gave lawmakers less time to negotiate.
The May budget revise from the governor proposed drastic cuts in school funding, a big concern for small districts such as Burbank’s. BUSD would have to cut more than $13 million, and Hill urges parents and guardians to continue writing to political leaders.
“We need to continue your advocating and email the governor and the legislature,” Hill wrote in his weekly update. “Without the support of the governor and legislature, BUSD will be forced to adopt the governor’s May revise.”
The BUSD staff will have a study session on Wednesday, June 17, and the Board of Education will convene the following day for a regular virtual meeting at 7 p.m.
Hill also notified parents that the Reopening Committee — which is separated into four subgroups and takes into consideration guidelines provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and California Department of Education — will work with the Burbank Teachers Association and California School Employees Association and is expected to share proposed instruction models on July 2. Continue reading “Budget, Schools’ Reopening Are on BUSD Leaders’ Minds”

Police, City Council Address Oversight Concerns

While protesters marched through the streets of Burbank this week with cries of “Defund the police” and “This is what democracy looks like,” the City Council heard from residents concerned about their local Police Department.
The virtual council meeting took place as protesters assembled in front of the Men’s Wearhouse at the Empire Center, one of several demonstrations that have arisen in Burbank while hundreds have been held across the country to demand police reform and justice for black people killed by officers.
Those demands were echoed at the council meeting, with residents requesting that members review the Burbank Police Department’s budget and use-of-force policies.
However, those matters, which were brought up after a brief report from Chief Scott LaChasse, were not addressed by council members during Tuesday’s meeting.
“It is important for us to be clear and specific right now, because we are at a pivotal moment in history,” said Heather Robb, who called in from the protest to comment at the meeting. “I hope this moment does for Burbank what we see it doing in cities all over our country, causing us to examine and reflect on the role that police play in our communities.”
Robb also asked the council to revisit the department’s budget, saying that the percentage of funds allocated to it does not reflect the community’s values. The department’s $61.76 million general fund budget is about 31% of the city’s total proposed general fund budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, though city staff members have previously warned that there remain many financial unknowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sgt. Derek Green, public information officer for the BPD, said in an emailed statement that “the Burbank Police Department believes that adequate training and equipping of police officers is essential to public safety and safeguarding our community. Training and equipment comes at an expense. Any reductions in funding would have a detrimental effect on the Department’s ability to continue on its path of progressive law enforcement reform.” Continue reading “Police, City Council Address Oversight Concerns”

Council Members Updated on COVID, Housing Permits

Burbank City Council met virtually earlier this week, discussing a multitude of issues, including reopening plans among businesses and amenities amid the continuing increase in coronavirus cases. Council members also addressed protests that have occurred in the city.

Recent protests and reopening of certain businesses could contribute to an uptick in coronavirus cases going forward, city officials said at the Burbank City Council meeting this week.
Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Baumgardner told council members that though there has been a recent increase in COVID-19 infections, it remains difficult to attribute it to a single cause. The timing of protests and mass demonstrations, he explained, has coincided with the county allowing the reopening of restaurants and retail businesses, with limited capacity.
Additionally, Fire Chief Eric Garcia noted that more information may need to be gathered as county testing centers reopen after being inactive amid widespread protests.
As of The Leader’s press time on Friday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported there have been 431 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Burbank, with 42 deaths related to the disease. A rise in those numbers has been consistent with that experienced throughout the county, which has shown an increase of roughly 1-2% per day, Baumgardner said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Among Burbank’s cases, 120 people were nursing home residents and 72 were staff members at such facilities, according to the county, which also said 32 deaths resulted from those cases.
Officials also explained some of the health protocols being implemented for city staff members as the county moves into the third phase of the state’s reopening plan. The city plans to bring back most of its employees, according to Baumgardner. Safety measures have been implemented or required at city offices, Garcia added, citing the use of Plexiglas shields, mandated social distancing and face coverings. Businesses that the county allows to reopen will also have their own set of protocols to follow.
The county announced Wednesday that it would allow reopening of several sectors starting on Friday, including gyms, day camps, hotels, museums and professional sports events without live audiences. Music, film and television production will also be allowed to resume.
All sectors will have county-mandated health guidelines for their operations, and the county could reverse the openings if it sees a spike in cases.

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‘Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere’

By Charlie Plowman
The Outlook

Charlie Plowman
Charlie Plowman

It’s been a dark and emotionally draining week. It has been much longer than a week for people of color; a few centuries, perhaps.
It goes without saying that this is a brutal time for our nation. How often are we under two emergency orders simultaneously?
Last week’s death of George Floyd was horrifying. We’ve all seen the video multiple times: Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. As a TV reporter astutely pointed out, the video appears to show the officer shifting his weight after a few minutes to seemingly apply even more pressure while already in a dominating position. And as we saw, in the final three minutes the 46-year-old Floyd lay motionless.
Pastor Albert Tate from Fellowship Church used the terms “execution” and “evil” in describing the death during the streaming of his Sunday sermon. It was the first time that I’d heard those two words mentioned in this context.
And Tate is not alone in looking for words that fit the enormity and gravity of what we saw. People from all walks of life, regardless of their skin color, are outraged by the senseless death of George Floyd.
Many of the protests that I watched on television featured ethnic diversity. In fact, the news showed a protest march in Santa Ana on Sunday that seemed to be mostly Latino. This is obviously not simply a black issue; this is a human rights issue.
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