Former Council Members Reflect on Their Service

In March 2019, the Burbank City Council voted 4-1 to approve the Avion Project, a business park near the Hollywood Burbank Airport. Only Councilman Tim Murphy voted against it, concerned that the new hotel included in the project would worsen traffic in the area.
“I don’t know about you, but [if] you’re driving in your car, you’re sitting in the intersection for five or six lights, that’s not good,” Murphy said about the vote recently. The council member lost his bid for reelection this year, leaving the panel along with colleague Emily Gabel-Luddy, who decided not to run for reelection.
Thinking back to the same vote, Gabel-Luddy said she was “totally mystified” by Murphy’s standpoint, arguing that hotels don’t generate much travel.
But, as both said while reflecting on their time on the council, disagreements between members were always left behind.
“I didn’t take a sack on my back and fill it with grudges against council members who didn’t vote my way,” Gabel-Luddy added.

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Frutos to Serve as Mayor for Second Time

Bob Frutos

City Councilman Bob Frutos was appointed this week by his fellow members to serve as Burbank’s mayor for the next year, with Jess Talamantes to hold the position of vice mayor.
Frutos, who was Burbank’s mayor from 2015-2016 and has been a council member since 2013, was quickly appointed by his peers — who include newcomers Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz — during the council’s annual reorganization meeting on Monday. Frutos was nominated for mayor by Talamantes, who was in turn nominated for the vice mayor position by Anthony.
Frutos, a former Los Angeles police officer and Burbank police commissioner, has served for the past year as vice mayor. Former Mayor Sharon Springer, whom he replaced, remains a City Council member.
“I know the road ahead of us will be the most difficult in modern history to serve on any council,” Frutos said Monday. “Like so many other cities across our nation, we’re just beginning to see the economic devastation of a sort that we really haven’t seen since the Great Depression. … Our top priority will be maintaining the fiscal health of our city and to continue to work on the economic recovery of our city.”

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Konstantine, Schultz Lead as Ballot Counting Winds Down

With Los Angeles County election officials whittling down the number of ballots remaining to be counted, the leads of Burbank City Council candidates Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz late this week showed little sign of fading.
Anthony and Schultz have led the race for the two open City Council seats since the first wave of results was announced on Election Day. With 17,448 votes as of this Tuesday, the most recent count available, Anthony’s place as a presumed council member-elect seemed unshakable.

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BWP Could Cut Power to Some Nonpaying Businesses

Starting in December, Burbank Water and Power could once again shut off power or issue late fees to medium and large businesses that are behind on their bills from the utility.
BWP representatives told City Council members on Tuesday that residential and small commercial customers would continue to have late fees and shutoffs suspended. But having those options reinstated for other entities, representatives added, will help the BWP negotiate repayment schedules with such customers.
According to a BWP official, the agency will begin notifying substantial commercial customers of the revised policy on Dec. 1. If a customer does not agree to a payment plan, the utility could cut off power less than four weeks later.

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Advice for Future Mayors From Those Who’ve Done the Job

In the east wing of Burbank City Hall, just off the rotunda, you’ll find a portrait gallery. The gallery isn’t exactly a big draw for tourists visiting Southern California. In fact, it’s probably fair to assume that most Burbankers don’t even know it exists.
If you are ever in City Hall, you may want to check out the gallery, which will give you a gander at the official portraits of the 62 men and women who have served as the city’s mayor.

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Netflix Leases Building Near Empire Center

Streaming service Netflix recently signed a lease for a new Burbank office, according to a news report.
The office is located at 2300 W. Empire Ave., near the Burbank Empire Center, said an article from real estate news website CoStar News on Monday. The site called the lease Netflix’s “most aggressive move into a territory dominated by its rivals.” A recent tweet from the official Burbank Twitter account called the newly leased space “Netflix’s first dedicated Animation studio.”
Netflix is leasing about 151,000 square feet, according to Simone McFarland, Burbank’s assistant community development director and communications manager, who said the “Media Capital of the World” has been working with the streamer on its leasing plans for months under “tenant improvements” and possible building adjustments.

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City Council, Treasurer Candidates Give Statements

There will be eight Burbank residents running for two open City Council seats in November, with three people looking to nab the position of city treasurer. Local voters will cast their ballots on Nov. 3, with the newly elected council members holding their seats for four years and the treasurer holding his or her seat for two years to finish the unexpired term of former City Treasurer Debbie Kukta. Each candidate submitted a statement to The Leader for publication, explaining why he or she should be elected to a city position.

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Council Candidate Schultz Reaped Most Early Donations

Burbank City Council hopeful Nick Schultz raised more than $25,000 in campaign contributions from May 3 to June 30, according to city records, by far the most for any current council candidate for the first period in which donations were reported.
The California deputy attorney general’s campaign gained $7,000 of those funds through a loan from himself and an additional $500 of his own money during that period. Contributions could not be received before May 3.
Among donations of more than $100 — which require identification of the donor — only $550 came from people with Burbank addresses, not including Schultz himself.
Disability services provider Konstantine Anthony had the second-most campaign dollars at nearly $15,500, including a total of $1,000 from himself and his treasurer. He also had the highest percentage of small-dollar donations, with about 27% of contributions he received during the period being less than $100.

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Possible Mask Enforcement to Return to Council Agenda

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Whether to have police issue citations to those who fail to observe face covering requirements — unlike the men pictured above — is scheduled for discussion at a City Council meeting on Sept. 15.

After hearing from some residents who voiced frustration that the topic hadn’t been discussed, the Burbank City Council will review the possibility of fining people who don’t adhere to face covering requirements.
Council members Emily Gabel-Luddy and Timothy Murphy led the push during the panel’s Tuesday meeting to return a report on the subject to the agenda. The matter is scheduled to be discussed when the council next meets on Sept. 15.
The report, drafted by the Burbank Police Department, had been placed on the agenda before the council’s Aug. 11 meeting after Councilman Jess Talamantes requested it. But when the meeting began, Talamantes abruptly pulled the item, later saying he “didn’t feel it was the right time to discuss it.”

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City Seeks State Aid to Bolster Local Housing

Burbank expects to receive about $477,000 from the state for housing programs, the city’s staff announced recently.
The funds for which the city is applying come from the California Department of Housing and Community Development and would pay for the costs of new initiatives supporting low-income families and those at risk of homelessness.
For example, the city’s Community Development Department is proposing a pilot program that would give matching contributions to homeowners who convert a garage into or build a new accessory dwelling unit. The unit would need to be rented out to a very low- or low-income household. Funding for the program is estimated at $127,182, enough for an estimated six ADUs.
Another $350,000 is also proposed for a rapid rehousing rent program that would give rental assistance and guidance to households at risk of homelessness. The program would be able to help about 60 households struggling financially.
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