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Burbank council adopts stricter regulations on granny flats

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Burbank approved amendments to its ordinances regulating accessory-dwelling units, or granny flats, in the city.
(File Photo)

After having city staff go back to the drawing board regarding accessory-dwelling units, commonly known as granny flats, Burbank City Council members approved amendments this week to the city’s ordinance regarding the matter, but they recognized that more work needs to be done.

Members voted 4-1 on Tuesday to adopt a stricter set of regulations regarding where and in what manner the units can be built within the city.

Mayor Sharon Springer cast the lone dissenting vote.

Maciel Medina, an associate planner for Burbank, said the council had approved and implemented an urgency ordinance on Jan. 7 to implement its own regulations on ADUs and junior ADUs to meet the state’s criteria and avoid having the state’s more lax laws becoming the default.

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During the Jan. 7 meeting, council members also approved the first reading of more permanent regulations that amended the city’s existing ordinance on the matter.

On Jan. 14, when the item came back for a second reading, council members opted to table the discussion to a future meeting to allow city staff to look into how ADUs would affect city services, such as public safety and public utility infrastructure.

Upon further review, Medina said city staff identified that the number of ADUs built within Burbank’s fire zones and the Rancho District — the section of the city where horses can be stabled on residential property — should be limited to reduce traffic concerns in the event of an emergency.

Burbank’s previous law stated that ADUs in fire zones could be between 850 and 1,000 square feet and junior ADUs could be 500 square feet.

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The regulations approved on Tuesday allow for either one ADU or one junior ADU in a fire zone and limit the size of an ADU to no larger than 800 square feet and a junior ADU to no larger than 500 square feet.

While these changes provide for additional protection for those who live in the affected areas, Mayor Sharon Springer and Vice Mayor Bob Frutos argued that the city’s ordinance doesn’t go far enough to protect others in the city, such as those who live in the city’s flatlands.

“This mention in protecting the people [living] in the flats,” Frutos said. “I support protecting the Rancho and support protecting the hillside, but in fairness, there’s nothing there for the properties that cost $1 million.”

Councilman Jess Talamantes countered by saying that voting for these regulations provides the city with some protections from state law and gives Burbank some local control.

He added that city staff needs to continue working on finding ways to further protect all of Burbank’s neighborhoods.

“There’s nothing that you could gain by voting against this,” Talamantes said. “If anything, you’re losing what the staff has proposed.”

Springer said she voted against the item because she wants to make sure there are protections for all residents in the city.

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