Burbank rejects referendum petition on LaTerra Select project

Developers plan for the LaTerra Select Burbank project to have 573 apartment units, 1,067 square feet of retail space and a seven-story, 307-room hotel. Burbank City Clerk Zizette Mullins rejected a petition seeking to overturn the City Council's approval of the project because the document was deemed incomplete.
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With their decisions on Super Tuesday of which candidate to support for president and whether or not to vote in favor of Burbank Unified’s Measure I behind them, Burbank voters face another election in November — but one local issue will not appear on the ballot.

Last month, Burbank City Clerk Zizette Mullins rejected a petition submitted by a labor union group called Unite Here Local 11, which looked to overturn the City Council’s Dec. 17 approval of the LaTerra Select Burbank project at 777 N. Front St. on the basis that the petition was not in compliance with election codes.

In a letter dated Feb. 13 sent from Mullins to Kate Spear, a representative of Unite Here Local 11, the city clerk wrote that about 607 referendum petition sections, which contain the collected signatures and copies of the ordinance the referendum seeks to overturn, were submitted to the city clerk’s office on Jan. 17 and were reviewed by Mullins and her staff.

During the review process, the city’s clerk’s office determined that the cover page of Exhibit E of the development agreement relating to conditions of approval was omitted from each petition section.

The cover page in question contained the first six conditions of approval tied to the project. Without that information, those who were asked to sign the petition were not given all of the information of what, exactly, the city was requiring of the developer in terms of public health and welfare.

Of those conditions, one of them allows the city to modify or revoke the project if it is determined to be detrimental to the health and welfare of the public.

“Without the Exhibit E cover page, neither the potential signers nor the signature gatherers would have been able to clearly identify the conditions of approval to consider and evaluate,” Mullins wrote in her letter.

The proposed mixed-use project by developer LaTerra Development would erect a seven-story building with 252 apartments, an eight-story structure with 321 apartments and a seven-story 307-room hotel, with 28,000 square feet of public open space on a 7-acre lot next to the 5 Freeway.

Opponents of the project have previously voiced concerns about potential increased traffic in the area as well as environmental impacts if the project is built at that location.

The referendum petition sections were also delivered to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office to verify the 8,118 signatures that were collected — 7,814 were found to be sufficient and valid.

The number of signatures needed to qualify the petition was 6,837, which is 10% of the number of registered voters in Burbank as of Oct. 1, 2019.

Had the referendum petition gone through, it would have appeared on the upcoming November ballot, leaving it up to Burbank voters to decide the fate of the project.

“We disagree with the decision of the city clerk and intend to challenge it,” United Here Local 11 wrote in an email on Tuesday.

Vice Mayor Bob Frutos declined to comment on the matter, and Charles Tourtellotte, president and chief executive of LaTerra Development, could not be reached.

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