Councilman Bob Frutos on Tuesday requested a closed-session performance evaluation of City Manager Mark Scott, a move that follows weeks of criticism by residents centered around the issue of group homes in residential neighborhoods.
When reached over the phone on Thursday, Frutos declined to comment on why he made the request, citing personnel privacy laws.
Scott, however, has come under fire by residents in recent weeks following a couple of public outreach blunders.
In January, residents were not adequately notified about a public hearing for the state-required housing element. The policy document was approved by City Council and included a section allowing supportive housing — which could mean sober-living facilities that don’t require licensing — in single-family residential neighborhoods, which didn’t sit well with residents.
“I can’t go back and undo it, but I can certainly go forward and try to do it right,” Scott said at the time when confronted by residents at a town hall meeting about the lack of outreach.
But some residents were outraged again when a community meeting on the group homes — for which the city had recruited land-use attorney and expert Barbara Kautz to address concerns — was not recorded for residents who couldn’t attend, especially because some residents were under the impression that it would be.
The complaints by residents prompted Scott to make a public outburst in which he called Burbank a “very frustrating place to work.”
“I’ll try to help as much as I can help but my God, people have some decency. We deserve to be treated with at least a scintilla of respect in what we do for a living and we don’t get it here,” he said at the meeting. “This kind of week-after-week beating that we take here — it’s just not normal, it’s not human to treat us like that. I’m tired of it.”
After Scott made his comments, some residents voiced their appreciation for his efforts.
“I know Mr. Scott was feeling a little bit unloved this evening, but we do really appreciate your efforts,” said resident Julie Fisher. “He even went so far as to email me and ask us when our spring breaks were, and when the meetings would be convenient for us, and we really, really do appreciate that.”
When reached by phone on Thursday, Scott said he stood by his comments and did not want to speculate on what Frutos was going to discuss behind closed doors.
“He’s been very respectful in asking for this. I absolutely have no objection if City Council members want to talk about how they think their city manager is doing,” Scott said. “I’m very fortunate to be able to work in a great city like this, so I’m happy with that opportunity, I’m happy being a resident here and I hope to do a very good job for the people who live here.”
Scott, who has been Media City’s top executive for roughly eight months, was plucked from the city of Fresno, where he spent three years as city manager. Before that, he led the cities of Beverly Hills, Spartanburg, S.C., and Culver City.