Despite objections from some prominent business owners, the Burbank City Council has approved renaming a section of 1st Street in downtown to Ikea Way to help reduce confusion among shoppers headed to the Swedish retailer's store, which will be its largest in the United States when completed.
Council members said the change would create a more favorable traffic pattern, and with directional signage, make the store easier for out-of-town shoppers to find from Interstate 5.
"I think, ultimately, it does the community good," Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy said. "That's more important than this name or that name."
But some business owners and residents objected to aspects of the proposal, which will affect the section of 1st Street between Santa Anita and Angeleno avenues.
In October 2014 the City Council approved naming a new segment of the street — from Santa Anita to Providencia Avenue, where the entrance to the store's parking lot will be — to Ikea Way.
Ikea did not request the extension of the street name, but former Traffic Commission member Ralph Herman suggested it. In a recent letter he said that it would enable the city to seek California Department of Transportation signs along the freeway pointing drivers to the Verdugo Avenue exit. Caltrans will not point specifically to a business, Herman and others said.
Of the four businesses in the affected area, Black Angus Steak House and Residence Inn favored the change, according to a staff report. The others, TrueGrain Inc. and Keller Williams, opposed it.
The Traffic Commission, which includes three Keller Williams Realtors, voted against the proposal in December, voicing concerns that it would set a precedent for other businesses and might not comply with city code. A review by the city attorney's office found that the commissioners who work for Keller Williams did not have a financial conflict of interest, the report stated.
Council members were not swayed by the business owners' concerns, in light of what they felt were broader benefits of the new name.
Resident Sharon Springer pushed for selling the naming rights and using the proceeds to ensure pedestrian safety along San Fernando Road.
"It's not something that we should give away, especially if we're facing a deficit," Springer said. "If Ikea won't pay ... I think we should sell it to someone who will."
City Atty. Amy Albano and some members of the public expressed concerns that selling the rights could complicate the city's ability to refuse an undesirable name once the rights are purchased.
The council declined to seek payment for the naming rights.
Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes said Springer's idea "sounds good, but in practicality, I don't feel it's going to work."
Garland writes for Times Community News.