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Burbank officials hold emergency meeting to extend expiring measure regarding housing units

Burbank City Hall
The Burbank City Council held an emergency meeting on Monday to extend a measure that caps the number of residential units in the city.
(File Photo)

An oversight by Burbank city staff resulted in the City Council having to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to extend a 30-year-old measure involving residential units.

Council members unanimously voted to extend Measure One, an initiative first approved by Burbank voters in 1989, for an additional 10 years, through Jan. 1, 2030.

Fred Ramirez, assistant community development director for Burbank, said Measure One, which was going to expire on Jan. 1, is a growth-control ordinance that prohibits the city from increasing the number of allowed residential units beyond what was approved by city officials in 1988.

More than 30 years ago, the city capped the number of residential units allowed at 63,704, assuming that all of the parcels in the city had been built out.

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Measure One was originally set to expire on Jan. 1, 2000, but was extended twice — the first time in 1999 and again in 2009.

Then in 2013, city officials adopted the Burbank2035 General Plan and established a new cap on units, restricting the number to 61,647 units, 2,057 fewer than what was established originally under Measure One, Ramirez said.

There are currently about 45,000 units within the city that have either been built or approved to be constructed, Ramirez said.

The intent of the initiative, Ramirez said, was to ensure responsible residential growth in the city so that the city’s infrastructure, such as water, electricity and sewer capacity, was not compromised, as well as to protect Burbank’s neighborhoods from overdevelopment.

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Councilman Tim Murphy, who was on the City Council in 1989, said residents then were concerned about overbuilding. He added that the issue still remains.

While some people may view Measure One as a control on the number of units allowed in Burbank, Murphy, as well as Vice Mayor Bob Frutos, said they see the initiative as a way to retain local control on housing issues, a matter that has come up again recently.

City Council members said they view new state laws regarding accessory-dwelling units, which went into effect on Jan. 1, as an overreach by state legislators to address the housing shortage statewide.

Frutos said that had city officials let Measure One expire, it would have given future council members the ability to raise the residential-unit cap.

“I’m all about preserving the voters’ rights and what they fought hard for before I even showed up,” Frutos said.

Ramirez said city staff members own up to the fact that they nearly let an initiative as important as Measure One fall through the cracks.

So, in addition to extending Measure One for another 10 years, the action taken by the City Council also requires that city staff update council members on the initiative no less than six months before it expires.

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