Burbank Mayor Will Rogers and several residents made it clear Tuesday that they don’t want the herbicide Roundup used in any city park.
“I don’t want that crap anywhere near our parks,” Rogers said, which was followed by applause from about 30 people in the audience.
Council members came to a consensus Tuesday to direct city staff to stop using the glyphosate-containing product that’s used to kill weeds in city parks and areas where the public gathers, such as the Chandler Bikeway, for one year.
Roundup was recently placed on the state’s Proposition 65 list of known carcinogens.
However, city officials will allow the Public Works Department to continue using the weed killer from Monsanto on sidewalks, alleys and street medians.
During the one-year ban, council members directed the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments to try alternative and safer products to remove weeds and to come back with a report about whether a replacement to Roundup was found.
In March, Burbank Unified school officials decided to stop using the weed killer after several concerned parents and residents called for the end of its use. Since then, the district has been using Avenger, an organic herbicide.
Glendale Unified officials also announced that month that the district would stop using any weed-killing product that contains glyphosate.
Over-the-counter, not commercial-strength, Roundup is still being used by the city of Glendale, but only when needed by the city’s parks department, said Glendale spokesman Tom Lorenz in an email. He added that city staff has been testing some organic solutions to remove weeds.
Jim Biery, the interim public works director for Burbank, told council members that the city had been using Roundup since the late 1980s and it was the most effective product to remove weeds.
He added that public works employees who use the herbicide are trained and are told to not use the product when it is windy or raining and to wait until the chemical has fully dried before leaving the treated area.
“The staff that uses it is highly trained to apply Roundup,” Biery said. “They do it in small doses under very controlled conditions.”
However, several Burbank parents and residents told council members during a lengthy public comment period on Tuesday that they disagreed with the city’s staff report about the use of Roundup, saying that agencies such as the World Health Organization have determined that using glyphosate can lead to cancer.
“I personally feel that it would be reckless to continue using Roundup when there are now so many viable, cost-effective, organic alternatives that don’t carry the same public-health concerns,” said resident Leigh Ann Kato. “It is true that not all Proposition 65 chemicals carry such great risk, but I would ask you to keep in mind, in this instance, children, adults and pets do not have a choice about their exposure to this toxin. That should never be the case in a cancer-causing agent.”
Burbank resident Erin Vierra said there have been several people in her family who have died from some form of cancer and she is concerned about the future of her 4-year-old son and 16-month-old daughter, “who is notorious about eating grass at our public park.”
After learning about the potential harm that Roundup can do to her family, Vierra said the city needs to switch to something safer for her children and for everyone in the community.
“It might mean more dandelions, but the bottom line is a dandelion won’t kill my daughter, poison will,” she said.