Judge Rebuffs Eatery Over Preliminary Injunction

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Representatives of Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill (above) attempted to persuade a judge to dissolve a court order that prevents the eatery from operating. The judge refused on Friday, pointing out the restaurant still doesn’t have the required permits.

A judge on Friday rejected Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill’s request to end the court order prohibiting it from operating and to fine the city of Burbank for fencing in the restaurant.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff’s ruling retained the preliminary injunction against the controversial eatery, which for months has faced lawsuits from Burbank and L.A County in connection with its refusal to abide by former health orders prohibiting in-person dining.

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City Awards Funds for Nonprofits, Homelessness

A line of people stand for the Burbank Temporary Aid Center food bank line
The City Council allocated $28,000 in federal funds to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and several other local nonprofits this week. BTAC said it plans to use the money to provide rental assistance and bolster its food bank (above). Photo courtesy Burbank Temporary Aid Center

The city of Burbank recently designated more than $1.1 million in federal funds for several local nonprofits along with one of its own departments that is tasked with addressing homelessness.

The federal government provides Community Development Block Grant funds annually to cities, which then distribute the money to organizations serving low-income populations. On Tuesday, the City Council gave those funds to programs and initiatives for next fiscal year, including homeless prevention, health services and after-school activities.

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Grocery, Drug Store Workers Could Get Hazard Pay

After intense debate, the Burbank City Council appears poised to pass a temporary wage increase for grocery and drug store workers later this month by a narrow voting margin.

The City Council approved on Tuesday the introduction of an ordinance to provide a 60-day wage increase of $5 an hour to workers at large grocery and drug stores. If the council adopts the ordinance during its May 18 meeting, it would go into effect starting June 18 — three days after Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to fully reopen the state’s economy.

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Tinhorn Flats Removes City’s Padlocks from Doors

Locks on Tinhorn Flats’ doors placed by city workers on Wednesday morning were later removed. Photo courtesy Jarrod Moore

Just hours after the city of Burbank padlocked Tinhorn Flats’ doors this morning, the restaurant announced it had removed the devices.

Baret Lepejian, the owner of Tinhorn Flats, told the Leader on Monday that he was “pretty sure” he was going to open the locks, though he acknowledged the city could push against him harder for defying a temporary restraining order.

But by around 11 a.m. today, the restaurant posted a picture on its social media page showing a metal tab that had attached the lock to the door had been broken and announced it would open as usual.

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City Sues Tinhorn Flats, Revokes Permit

Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill was open on Tuesday, Feb. 23 — illegally — in light of a City Council decision the night before. But customers filed in all the same.

It wasn’t that they were unaware that the council had revoked the restaurant’s operational permit. Several mentioned it explicitly. Some seemed to see ordering a burger and beer as an act of rebellion against what they saw as government overreach: the issuance of restrictive health orders aimed to slow a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans.

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Discussion of Police Officer Presence at Schools Continues

In response to a recent joint Burbank City Council and Police Commission meeting that included a discussion about law enforcement presence in schools, the Burbank Unified School District invited Sgt. Stephen Turner to explain the roles of school resource officers in a board of education meeting on Thursday.
Turner, who works in juvenile detail for the Burbank Police Department, provided an update on the SRO program and informed the board of education that the officers respond to high-risk or criminal activity in or around schools. Most of their time is spent investigating suspected child abuse reports and performing student wellness checks. SROs are also cognizant of bullying, victimization and students with suicidal or homicidal tendencies, and work closely with staff and mental health professionals to resolve each situation.
“I want to be clear: we’re not armed sentries at every campus,” Turner said. “We wear many hats as an SRO.”
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City Council to Consider Recognizing Artsakh

Following a letter from a local Armenian group, the Burbank City Council will consider a proposal to recognize the disputed territory of Artsakh as an independent state.
Councilman Nick Schultz, who requested the item from city staff members at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, also asked for an option to terminate Burbank’s friendship city relationship with Hadrut, a city in Artsakh. The two municipalities declared that relationship in 2014.
An estimate for when the items would be presented to the council was not available this week.
Schultz’s requests were made after the Burbank chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America sent a letter to the City Council last week. The letter notes that, following last year’s fighting between Turkey-backed Azerbaijan and Armenia, Azeri forces now occupy Hadrut.

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Council Projects Optimism Despite Gloomy Budget Outlook

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
A woman enters municipal headquarters, where the Burbank City Council was reminded this week that the General Fund will be in the red by the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year unless measures are taken.

The Burbank City Council appeared confident this week that the municipality would find ways to address a projected General Fund deficit caused by the pandemic, though it is not yet clear what a budgetary response would look like.
The city does have some time to figure out its next steps; as staff members reminded the council on Tuesday, the recurring General Fund balance is not expected to be in the red until about June 2022, that fiscal year’s end. At that point, recurring expenses are projected to surpass revenues by $4.1 million.
The annual deficit, according to city projections, will then shrink to $1.9 million in fiscal year 2022-23 and $2.8 in 2023-24, before widening again to $4.3 million in 2024-2025.
“Even though the five-year projections show recurring deficits,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said during this week’s meeting, “it’s not 10s and 15s and 20s [of millions].” He added that it was up to city staff members to determine a budgetary course of action.
Councilman Tim Murphy also pointed out that other cities have announced layoffs due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

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Local Restaurant Defies Dining Ban

Dozens of patrons sit at the outdoor patio of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill in Burbank

Baret Lepejian, owner of Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill in Burbank, said he loves the city’s Police Department. But the only way he’s closing his restaurant, he added, is if officers drag him away at gunpoint.

Lepejian is no stranger to controversy; his Facebook posts declaring that his business would not enforce face covering requirements for customers earned him condemnation from many local residents and praise from some others in October.

But the restaurateur’s decision to reopen Tinhorn Flats’ patio on Thursday despite a statewide health order banning in-person dining — a defiance not shared by most of Burbank’s businesses — seems to echo some of the growing desperation felt by many eateries’ owners.

“What have I got to lose? If it stays this way, I’m going to lose the restaurant anyway,” Lepejian said. “I would rather go down with the ship than close.

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Konstantine, Schultz Win Council Seats

Nearly a month after Election Day, the final ballot results from Los Angeles County are in: Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz are expected to join the Burbank City Council in December.

Anthony soared into first place early in the ballot count process, with 17,529 votes as of Monday, Nov. 30 — when the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk certified the results. Schultz maintained a consistent lead for the second open council seat, with 13,105 voters having cast a ballot for him. The pair will be sworn in to the City Council at a reorganization meeting on Dec. 14.

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