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Smog-Ridden Burbank to Study How to Cut Car Use

Times Staff Writer

Faced with some of the worst air pollution in the Los Angeles area, the Burbank City Council has approved a study of several measures designed to cut down on the number of city employees driving cars to work.

Burbank transportation officials plan to consider seeking more convenient bus service and encouraging city employees to ride bicycles to work or share cars.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is requiring all private and public employers of more than 100 people in Southern California to submit plans to cut down on the number of vehicles that employees drive to and from work.

Those plans are to be used by the AQMD and the Southern California Assn. of Governments to implement a regional plan to reduce air pollution by the year 2007.

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Development Controls

Burbank, which approved the study late Tuesday night, is also considering placing controls on development and rescheduling and reducing work weeks.

In a report to the council, Helene Buchman, the city’s transportation planning manager, said that 78% of city employees at three sites come to work in their own vehicles on a regular basis.

“As a result, the city of Burbank will need to create aggressive programs at each site to encourage more ride-sharing and use of public transit,” the report said.

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However, Buchman added that a survey of city employees concluded that they are not interested in ride-sharing, and it would take considerable effort on the city’s part to encourage participation in such a program.

The workplaces surveyed were City Hall, the Police Department and the main fire station, which are downtown; the Public Service Department at 164 W. Magnolia Blvd., and the Public Works Department at 124 S. Lake Ave.

85% Survey Response

The survey was answered by about 85% of all city employees, Buchman said. It found that between 6 and 10 a.m., 1,717 employees a week arrive downtown to work, 1,410 employees arrive at the Public Service Department and 1,145 employees arrive at the Public Works Department.

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Buchman proposed that an employee transportation coordinator be appointed at each site to form ride-sharing programs, as well as to promote public transit and alternative transportation.

The feasibility of van pools and car pools will also be explored, Buchman said.

An AQMD report released last year named the Burbank area--which includes Glendale, North Hollywood and Van Nuys--as one of three “hot spots” for air pollution in Los Angeles County. Hot spots are areas that show significantly higher concentrations of toxic air contaminants, the agency said. The other two areas singled out were Rancho Dominguez and Hawthorne.

Concentrations in the areas pose a cancer risk that, while low, is twice as high as in other areas of Los Angeles, the report said. The increased risk means that the amount of contaminants could cause cancer in 100 of 100,000 people, based on the assumption that a person could be exposed to the high concentrations over 70 years, district officials said.

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