Dozens of Burbank residents, clad in matching T-shirts, poured into City Hall Tuesday to complain about the city allowing unlicensed group homes, which may include sober-living facilities, in residential neighborhoods.
Earlier this month, the City Council approved — in a 3-1 vote — its state-required housing element to allow the facilities in single-family neighborhoods, and it has three years to implement the policy document through council-approved ordinances.
Councilman David Gordon cast the sole vote against the housing element, and Councilman Gary Bric was absent.
According to the housing element, if six or fewer people live in the home, the facility would be considered a “standard residential use” and, therefore, not have to obtain a permit.
This didn’t sit well with the members of community group called “Save Burbank Neighborhoods,” who said they oppose the idea of unlicensed businesses operating in single-family neighborhoods. Members wore T-shirts with the phrase “Elect to Protect” on them and listed the various residential areas in the city.
“You are degrading our city, depreciating our home values and causing a strain on our streets and resources by allowing large groups of people to live in a single-family home — and all without a license,” said resident Michelle Cloutier.
Other residents shared similar sentiments.
“Do not be scared of a possible lawsuit from Sacramento, be more concerned … in protecting your citizens,” said resident Roy Wiegand.
But City Manager Mark Scott said an effort by the city of Newport Beach that would have required licensing of small sober-living facilities was struck down in court.
City officials, Scott said, are working with state legislators to adopt licensing laws.
“I look forward to being part of the staff team and the city team that makes sure that we do what we can in Burbank to make sure our neighborhoods stay as good as they possibly can be, as long as we remember we also have to deal with the rights of the disabled and other protected classes,” Scott said.
After hearing from the public, Councilman Bob Frutos — who initially voted in favor of the housing element — announced that he would be rescinding his vote. But procedurally, he can’t do so until the council approves rehearing the item. A vote on that is slated for Tuesday.