The Burbank City Council on Tuesday continued the discussion on how to effectively and legally regulate group homes in residential neighborhoods, ultimately requesting that city staff bring back more information on a number of ideas generated by council members, residents and a land-use expert.
The issue has caused a stir in Burbank since the city adopted its state-required housing element in January to allow community-care facilities — which may include sober-living facilities that don't require licensing — in single-family residential neighborhoods to comply with state law.
Burbank is reportedly home to at least three such facilities, as the state law has been in effect for years, though just one is located in a single-family neighborhood.
At a community meeting on Monday, land-use law expert Barbara Kautz advised the public and city officials to explore neutral, nondiscriminatory standards to ensure the homes are managed properly while still being compliant with fair-housing laws, as well as to more clearly define what constitutes a household versus a boarding home.
Councilman David Gordon on Tuesday pushed for a moratorium on major home expansions, which would prohibit home buyers from, say, converting a three-bedroom home into a six-bedroom one to give city officials time to draft more robust regulations, an idea City Manager Mark Scott called "clever."
"I don't want to turn, overnight, our beautiful, single-family residences into boarding-type houses, and every house has six bedrooms in it and is so crowded, you can't park your car and you can't walk on the street," Gordon said. "You want to have some controls to protect the integrity of our residential neighborhoods."
But Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy argued that the idea was no more than an anti-mansionization ordinance that wouldn't address the larger issue of group homes in residential areas. Gordon's initial motion requesting a draft moratorium was shot down in a 2-3 vote, with Gabel-Luddy, along with Councilmen Gary Bric and Jess Talamantes dissenting.
The contentious debate lasted almost two hours, with the council ultimately — in a unanimous vote — requesting information on how to implement some of Kautz's suggestions, as well as, at Gordon's repeated requests, further details on what a moratorium would look like.
Members of Save Burbank Neighborhood, a community group that's been vocal about the issue in recent months, supported the idea of a moratorium, which resident Mike Moynahan said would prevent single-family neighborhoods from becoming "institutionalized."
Moynahan did, however, express disappointment at how Burbank's elected officials treated each other.
"It's just embarrassing," he said. "I hope you watch yourselves, your behavior."