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Burbank Leaders Object to Welfare Office Proposal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

City leaders expressed anger Monday over a proposal by Los Angeles County officials to move a welfare office, which attracts 1,400 recipients per day, from Glendale to Burbank.

Assistant City Manager Steve Helvey said Burbank has enlisted the help of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich to deal with the city’s concerns over the proposal by county officials to locate a new office at the east end of the city at Winona Avenue near Hollywood Way.

“We’d be more than willing to have an office serving our residents,” Helvey said, saying that most of the thousands of welfare recipients the office would attract come from elsewhere. “We’re concerned about the impacts on our community, which would become a central office for surrounding cities.”

The Glendale office--one of 33 across the county--has been at 225 E. Broadway for 21 years, providing services including general relief, Medi-Cal, food stamps, in-home supportive services and Calworks.

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Under the new plan, expanded facilities in Burbank would continue to provide aid for 36,000 recipients, including 17,365 from Glendale and 13,570 from the city of Los Angeles.

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In addition to those cases, the county would be able to accommodate an additional 150,000 families in the Burbank-Glendale area who are expected to enroll in state-mandated welfare-to-work services by the end of the year, according to a recent memo to city officials.

“Work requirements are mandatory and welfare is not temporary,” the plan reads. “In order to implement the new requirements, we urgently need to acquire new and additional space to serve the participant population and house the additional staff.”

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But some city leaders said the district welfare office should stay in Glendale, which supplies the majority of cases.

“If we had 17,000 people on welfare in Burbank, then I would invite them here,” said Burbank Councilman Bob Kramer. “But that’s not the case.

“It’s a really stupid idea. We don’t have that many clients as compared to Glendale. Why would you want to move it into Burbank?”

The former mayor said residents and some city leaders were willing to fight the proposal, saying the area cannot handle the additional traffic, has little available parking and insufficient public transportation.

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Not everyone was averse to the proposal, however. Glendale mayor Larry Zarian said his city is not opposed to locating the new facility there, depending on the location.

“The organization is much needed and serves a community that needs its services,” Zarian said. “But they don’t have to be in a downtown real estate location. They would be welcome in an area that did not have the parking demands.”


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