In Laura Friedman’s eyes, the road to politics is paved with land use policy, especially here in Southern California where it is part and parcel of every major issue that troubles the region. It’s how she got into politics to begin with, and it represents the starting point of much of her legislation, which tends to be focused on three key issues: environmental sustainability, protection of vulnerable populations and her own district. Friedman, who is kicking off her third term representing the 43rd Assembly District, said that the three issues for her merge to end in a singular goal very much in the same manner that they begin. “Land use is the bread and butter of local government,” she explained in a recent interview. “Even going back to my days on the Design Review Board, it was very much about development, growth and balancing what people want in their communities — private property rights and all of those issues — and I find all of that very fascinating. Having had that background and that experience, I bring that interest into the Assembly.”
The City Council voted this week to fund enforcement of Burbank’s face-covering rules through May while also requesting some areas in Magnolia Park be prioritized. The council’s decision Tuesday provided another $100,000 from the general fund to Willdan Engineering, which provides staff at the rate of $65 an hour each to ensure people are adhering to face-covering requirements in busy areas of Burbank. Nearly $100,000 was spent on the initiative from mid-October to late January. In the same meeting, the council directed city staff members to bring back a potential ordinance temporarily limiting the fees third-party delivery services can charge restaurants to 20% of the order price. The proposed ordinance is expected to include — either immediately or eventually — protections for delivery drivers’ pay.
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.”
City Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy this week encouraged her colleagues to form a subcommittee to discuss means of advancing the status of women and other minority groups in Burbank. The request came at the end of a Tuesday meeting in which council members tackled a packed agenda including topics ranging from sidewalk vendors to issues with local coyote populations. Gabel-Luddy’s recommendation contained few details, but she made it clear she wanted the potential subcommittee’s scope to go beyond simply analyzing the status of women.
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.
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.”
The Burbank City Council confirmed the extension of social distancing rules to match those of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and reviewed possible reopening dates for outdoor areas during its virtual meeting on Tuesday.
The confirmation of the social distancing order, first issued by City Manager Justin Hess on April 23, will mirror L.A. County’s extension of its “Safer at Home” order to the same day, which also keeps Burbank eligible for potential state and federal reimbursement and aid for costs brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s transition into Stage 2 of reopening procedures on May 4, L.A. County and Burbank began allowing certain retail businesses to reopen for curbside pickup. In a staff report on Tuesday, Fire Chief Eric Garcia emphasized that though Burbank is working on its own set of initiatives to further reopen, the city will not go beyond the county’s guidelines. Continue reading “Council Crafts Outdoor Facilities Reopening Amid Social Distancing”