In the wake of the assault last week on the U.S. Capitol, some local gun store owners are saying that customers are flocking to their shops. Jonathan Solomon, owner of Redstone Firearms, said he has seen an increase in gun sales of about 30% to 40%, with a substantial number of customers being first-time firearm buyers. Many of the customers, he added, mentioned the attack on the Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 as their reason to purchase a gun. The riot, aimed at overturning Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer and a man who suffered a heart attack. “Anytime there’s any kind of civil unrest, gun sales do spike,” said James Janya, co-owner of Guns Direct, “because people are a little bit concerned about what’s going on in this country.”
The City Council voted this week to approve a resolution apologizing for racist “sundown town” policies in Burbank’s history and pledging to pursue local, state and federal measures that promote equity. A sundown town is defined as a city whose practices discriminate against non-white ethnic groups, particularly Black people, such as by requiring them to exit city boundaries by sundown. The resolution itself contained no concrete policies aimed at combating racism, and there was little discussion from the council on the item during its Tuesday meeting, but city officials have hailed it as a critical first step that could later lead to action. “It’s OK to go wrong, but it’s not OK to stay wrong,” said Councilman Jess Talamantes. “And this is one thing that we can change, this council and future councils can definitely change, moving forward.”
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.
Voicing some frustration that they hadn’t been consulted, Burbank City Council members voted this week to send a letter to Los Angeles officials to state their opposition to a potential Griffith Park project that could adversely affect local equestrians. The neighboring city is studying the feasibility of a closed-loop gondola system that would allow tourist access to the Hollywood sign in Griffith Park. Though the possible project is meant to decrease traffic congestion in the area and the system would not cross Burbank’s borders, council members expressed concern that it would scare horses on the trails of the park. “An overhead gondola traveling only a few feet above a horse is a predator in the mind of a horse,” Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy, who rides horses herself, said during the Tuesday meeting.
Burbank could have a new guiding document for its downtown area by December 2021, with city planners aiming to add housing and promote transit. The downtown Burbank Specific Plan will guide land use in the roughly one-mile area, according to city staff members, who added that its principles will aim to “create a pedestrian-friendly environment,” introduce housing units and protect existing residential neighborhoods. The project area is bounded by Lake Street, Victory Boulevard and Mariposa Street to the west, San Fernando Boulevard and Amherst Drive to the north, Glenoaks Boulevard and Fifth Street to the east and the city boundary with Glendale to the south. A report on the plan, which was presented to the City Council on Tuesday, is an early step in a roughly yearlong process. A virtual community workshop on the plan is scheduled for November 2020, while plan adoption and implementation are projected for December 2021.
Burbank’s budget is anticipating a dour economic outlook due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that could force the city to continue its hiring freeze and cancel events. Municipal staff members approached the City Council with an update during its Tuesday meeting, explaining that the city expects to operate at a General Fund recurring deficit of nearly $11 million this fiscal year, followed by additional millions of dollars in deficits annually through the 2024-25 fiscal year. Without intervention, by the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year the General Fund balance will likely be in the negatives. For the current fiscal year, city staff members project a decrease in “recurring revenue” of about $18 million from the original projection of $177 million, due to drops in sales, property, parking and hotel taxes.
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.”