In the first six months of this year, City Council candidate Paul Herman had raised only $2,500 — a single loan he himself had given to his campaign. Less than two months later, he had raised more than $36,000. With that total, Herman became the candidate with the largest campaign coffers through Sept. 19, the most recent contribution reporting deadline, and surpassed Nick Schultz, the previous leader in contributions this year, who trailed at about $32,700. Close behind him was Konstantine Anthony, who had raised roughly $31,600. Contributions totaling tens of thousands of dollars for the local election are nothing new; in 2015, current Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy’s campaign collected nearly $25,000. But records available on the city’s website, which go as far back as 2013, don’t show dollar figures as high as the ones seen in this year’s race.
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.
Ramping up efforts intended to mitigate the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic to tenants, the Burbank City Council has voted to extend the municipal eviction moratorium and further defer rent payments. The latter measure, which was passed unanimously on Tuesday, gives residential and commercial renters six months after the eviction moratorium is lifted to repay the rent they owe. That moratorium, which was first issued in March, was extended to Sept. 30, lining up with a similar countywide ordinance, but could be extended again. An ordinance giving residents and businesses extra time to pay rent was already in place, setting the deadline at Nov. 30. However, City Attorney Amy Albano and Community Development Director Patrick Prescott noted in a staff report that renters may not have the financial means to pay their debts by then. Landlords are also not allowed to charge interest for unpaid rent during the moratorium and six-month grace period. Between 10.8% and 12.1% of local renters either deferred their rent payment or entered a payment plan in May and June, according to a city survey of local apartment owners. Between 2.4% and 3.3% did not pay rent at all and are not on a payment plan. Andrea Ureno, a Burbank renter and single mother who explained that she takes care of her mother and daughter, called the council in support of the moratorium extension during its Tuesday meeting. Her rent, she said, has increased by $150 every year — but her wages haven’t.
Although people across the country usually celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, some in Burbank have been setting off the explosives early this year — except they are illegal.
Sgt. Derek Green of the Burbank Police Department said via email that “estimations are that [fireworks] complaints have about doubled compared to last year.” But some comparisons showed a much greater difference: There were more than 100 firework-related calls in June 2020, compared to only 10 in June 2019.
Green also said that fireworks activity appears to have started much earlier this year than in previous years. Residents have shared worries on social media that the noise from the fireworks could negatively affect people with post-traumatic stress disorder and frighten pets.
“We just don’t know what to do,” resident Robin Randell told the City Council during its Tuesday meeting.
Randell, who called the council during its meeting’s public comment period, said that she represented more than 90 other residents concerned about the use of fireworks, with some members of her group telling her “it’s a war zone.”
Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy added at the meeting that she has received numerous reports about the fireworks, with some residents saying that they’ve seen drivers throw fireworks out of their windows.
Fireworks, included those labeled “safe and sane,” are illegal in Burbank, Green said. Those caught using fireworks can also be held liable for any injuries they cause. Continue reading “Illegal Fireworks Spark Complaints in City”