After seeing the highly debated Talaria project approved and with several mixed-use developments in the pipeline, Greg Sousa said he thinks it is time for a change on the Burbank City Council.
Sousa, 53, a studio transportation driver, said that he has had enough of developers coming before the City Council and getting what they want, resulting in Burbank’s small-town feel starting to fade away.
“I’m running for City Council because the current council majority all too often ignores the legitimate concerns of residents while pursuing misguided policies that promote overdevelopment,” he said.
What convinced Sousa was a 2014 City Council vote of 4-1, with Councilman David Gordon dissenting, to approve the Talaria project, a mixed-use development under construction with a 241-unit luxury apartment complex above a 43,000-square-foot Whole Foods at the ground level.
Since that approval, Sousa said there needs to be someone other than Gordon standing up against irresponsible development in Burbank.
“Burbank needs to strike a balance between commercial and residential interests,” Sousa said. “Unfortunately, we now have a City Council that emphasizes development while our city services have been struggling to keep up with current demand.”
Sousa is not a stranger to running for public office in Burbank. In 2015, he ran for a seat on the Burbank Unified School Board but fell short of election by several hundred votes.
However, during his campaign that year, the Burbank Leader learned about prior legal matters from the candidate’s past.
In March 2011, a jury convicted Sousa of assault and battery on school grounds and was sentenced to three years of probation, 15 days in jail, 25 days of community service and the completion of a 52-week anger management program.
Additionally, a stay-away order was placed on him that stated Sousa could not come within 25 yards of the woman he was accused of hitting.
Sousa appealed the ruling, and the assault charge was dropped.
The stay-away order expired on Jan. 27.
In January 2013, an injunction was placed on Sousa after a woman he was dating claimed that she was concerned for her safety after Sousa came to her home unannounced, made multiple phone calls and texts.
A Van Nuys Superior Court judge that approved the woman’s petition said that she would have denied the request if she solely relied on the woman’s testimony, which the judge believed had inconsistencies. However, the testimony provided by the woman’s daughter, who was in elementary school at the time, was deemed credible, and the judge based the ruling from her statements, according to the Burbank Leader.
“I believe people are able to understand that anyone can make these kinds of accusations at any time,” Sousa said. “A lesson I’ve taken away from all of this is that it is best to avoid toxic people, and sometimes it’s better to not engage.”
What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing Burbank today?
“The biggest issue facing Burbank today is the unbearable traffic, which is the predicable result of overdevelopment and inadequate parking,” Sousa said.
All the congestion in Burbank, Sousa said, is starting to make the city less desirable, threatening residents’ quality of life.
He believes more up-to-date and thorough traffic studies are necessary whenever a development is considered.
“The notion that we would base today’s planning decision on a study done decades ago is simply absurd and reflects the extent to which the city is willing to go to justify a bad idea,” Sousa said.
How would you ensure that the members of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority stick to what they told voters they would do?
The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority is beginning to move ahead with its plans to build a 14-gate replacement terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport.
Sousa said that many Burbank residents were made uneasy when the city, they believe, gave away citizen control to the airport authority, fearing they will not have a voice regarding large-scale decisions the airport makes.
“Holding public officials accountable to the people is a function of the free press,” Sousa said. “Can the people count on the Burbank Leader to ensure that members of the airport authority board follow through on the promises made to the voters?”
How would you ensure that the city’s budget is balanced without pulling money from the General Fund?
Burbank finance officials are projecting an increasing deficit in the city budget over the next five years.
Sousa said the city has too often given away properties to developers and offered them “sweetheart” deals. He said that all those arrangements need to stop.
“We may, in fact, have to face some tough choices in the years ahead, but it’s certainly possible to reign in some of our expenditures,” he said.
Additionally, Sousa believes some of the city departments, such as the city attorney’s office, are overstaffed and may need to be reduced.
“For years now, we’ve expected our fire department to provide outstanding service with fewer people” he said. “So, if our fire department can get by with three-man engine companies, certainly our city attorney’s office can get by with fewer attorneys.”
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