Residents Debate Police Presence in Schools

Burbank Police Commission Chairman Nidal Kobaissi, pictured here at a January meeting, presented a series of recommendations to the City Council this week, opening the door to hours of discussion.

On the same night the Burbank City Council designated February as Black History Month for the first time, the panel heard a commission’s recommendation to establish an annual appreciation day for local police officers.
The council quickly moved over the recommendation without adopting it, but some of the nearly 40 people who called during the public comment period for Tuesday’s meeting were frustrated it was included at all, pointing to Black History Month’s significance. It was one of several grievances expressed that night regarding the Police Commission’s recommendations.
The meeting, which stretched past midnight — forcing officials to push the planned discussion of homelessness to a future date — served as the culmination of months of work by the Police Commission to generate recommendations for the Burbank Police Department, a task the City Council charged the advisory body with following the death of George Floyd and widespread calls for police reform.
But when those recommendations were presented to the council, many residents took issue with their content, particularly with the advice that the school resource officer program — which assigns two specialized officers to the local school district — be retained or expanded. Several callers said they were concerned that the program intimidates and criminalizes students, particularly students of color, with some alumni saying they or their children had bad experiences with the officers.

Continue reading “Residents Debate Police Presence in Schools”

City Pursues Potential Mylar Balloon Restrictions

Photo courtesy Burbank Water and Power
The City Council asked municipal staff members this week to bring the panel some options to regulate metallic, or Mylar, balloons in Burbank.

Following a unanimous vote this week, the Burbank City Council will consider regulating Mylar balloons, which utility representatives said are often the cause of brief power outages.
Burbank Water and Power has a 99.99% reliability rate, meaning outages are fairly uncommon, BWP executive assistant Lyndsey Kramer said during the council’s Tuesday meeting. But when outages do occur, there’s a chance that they were caused by metallic Mylar balloons floating away and coming into contact with power lines.
Since 2000, Mylar balloons have been the No. 1 cause of outages — 206 of them, accounting for 189 hours of service interruption. Between January 2016 and December 2020, Mylar balloons have been responsible for 36 “momentary outages” — more than any other cause — which last less than 60 seconds.

Continue reading “City Pursues Potential Mylar Balloon Restrictions”

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.”

Continue reading “Frutos to Serve as Mayor for Second Time”

BHRC Gathers Art for Exhibition Denouncing Hate

Photo courtesy Burbank Human Relations Council
The Burbank Human Relations Council will hold an exhibition of posters online. The pieces will also be viewable at the Geo Gallery from Monday, Nov. 30, to Friday, Dec. 11.

The Burbank Human Relations Council is asking community members to drop off poster board art to be displayed at an upcoming exhibition as part of “United Against Hate” week.
Anyone in Burbank can submit an art piece, which must be made on standard poster board that is no larger than 28 inches by 20 inches. Pieces are being accepted today, Nov. 28, between 9 a.m. and noon at the Geo Gallery at 1545 Victory Blvd. Contributors can schedule other drop-offs by texting or calling (818) 860-2472.
The BHRC will then display the pieces, representing the theme “Stand Together Against Hate,” from Monday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 11 at Geo. Only two viewers will be allowed at a time because of restrictions related to COVID-19, but the pieces will also be viewable on the BHRC website and Facebook page.

Continue reading “BHRC Gathers Art for Exhibition Denouncing Hate”

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.

Continue reading “Advice for Future Mayors From Those Who’ve Done the Job”

City Council Backs Fine to Enforce Mask Rules

After weeks of pressure from some residents — and a bit of backlash from others — the Burbank City Council directed municipal staff members to create a fine enforcing face covering guidelines.
The staff still needs to draft an order that the city manager will give, but it will be shaped according to directions the council gave on Tuesday. Notably, the order will not be administered by the Burbank Police Department, something the agency strongly opposed when the matter was raised at previous meetings.

Continue reading “City Council Backs Fine to Enforce Mask Rules”

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.

Continue reading “City Council, Treasurer Candidates Give Statements”

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.
Continue reading “City Seeks State Aid to Bolster Local Housing”

Council Members Updated on COVID, Housing Permits

Burbank City Council met virtually earlier this week, discussing a multitude of issues, including reopening plans among businesses and amenities amid the continuing increase in coronavirus cases. Council members also addressed protests that have occurred in the city.

Recent protests and reopening of certain businesses could contribute to an uptick in coronavirus cases going forward, city officials said at the Burbank City Council meeting this week.
Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Baumgardner told council members that though there has been a recent increase in COVID-19 infections, it remains difficult to attribute it to a single cause. The timing of protests and mass demonstrations, he explained, has coincided with the county allowing the reopening of restaurants and retail businesses, with limited capacity.
Additionally, Fire Chief Eric Garcia noted that more information may need to be gathered as county testing centers reopen after being inactive amid widespread protests.
As of The Leader’s press time on Friday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported there have been 431 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Burbank, with 42 deaths related to the disease. A rise in those numbers has been consistent with that experienced throughout the county, which has shown an increase of roughly 1-2% per day, Baumgardner said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Among Burbank’s cases, 120 people were nursing home residents and 72 were staff members at such facilities, according to the county, which also said 32 deaths resulted from those cases.
Officials also explained some of the health protocols being implemented for city staff members as the county moves into the third phase of the state’s reopening plan. The city plans to bring back most of its employees, according to Baumgardner. Safety measures have been implemented or required at city offices, Garcia added, citing the use of Plexiglas shields, mandated social distancing and face coverings. Businesses that the county allows to reopen will also have their own set of protocols to follow.
The county announced Wednesday that it would allow reopening of several sectors starting on Friday, including gyms, day camps, hotels, museums and professional sports events without live audiences. Music, film and television production will also be allowed to resume.
All sectors will have county-mandated health guidelines for their operations, and the county could reverse the openings if it sees a spike in cases.

Continue reading “Council Members Updated on COVID, Housing Permits”

Mayor Addresses COVID-19 Pandemic

By Sharon Springer
City of Burbank Mayor

Mayor Sharon Springer

Hello Fellow Burbankers. L.A. County began reopening golf courses and trails along with some retail businesses that are offering curbside pickup. In Burbank, DeBell Golf Course is now open. Stough Canyon was closed this week for a few days of maintenance. Wildwood Canyon and its parking lot are open and will remain open.
While out on trails, please wear facemasks and follow all posted guidelines. Children older than age 2 are also required to wear facemasks at trailheads, in parking lots and destination points. We must continue to practice social distancing and regular hand washing. These are simple things we can do to ensure everyone’s safety and hopefully not have restrictions again in the future. Thank you for being kind. Many are stressed during this difficult time and a kind word or thank you can help.
Continue reading “Mayor Addresses COVID-19 Pandemic”